Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Using Directional Prints


Using fabrics that have a print or design that must be matched takes a little know-how, and a lot of forethought. Have a look on BurdaStyle for my tutorial.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

If it looks like trouble . . .

it probably will be. The curve in between the center front and the dart marking on the paper pattern looked "off" to me. Still, this pattern is the work of someone who has no small estimation of her skills. So I cut out the skirt front and marked the darts.

Sure enough, the center front has a very noticeable "dip." If I go ahead and form the darts, that dip will be even more of a problem. (The darts aren't drafted correctly, either.) This skirt is supposed to fit smoothly into a waistband. It's never going to, and come out right.

What to do? Be very glad my fabric wasn't expensive and that I was only testing the pattern. I moved on to different project. Sometimes there is just no salvaging a lost cause. This was one of those times.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Tack-It: A Forgotten Sewing Tool That Deserves a Revival

Once nice thing about sewing (among so many!) is that your non-sewing friends like to support you by gifting you with odds and ends from their parents' or grandparents' sewing rooms. "I don't know if you can use this, but …" What a great way to show love!

I recently received an item this way. It's called the Tack-It, and while a quick Internet search revealed that many sewists out there already know about this wonderful marking tool, it's new to me. As we join our garment pieces together, we rely on marks to make sure we are sewing the correct pieces together, or setting in a sleeve in the right place in an armhole, oh, just so many times we must mark our pieces well or we'll get lost and forget what we were supposed to be doing.

Begin by cutting out all the pieces of your garment from the fabric. To use the Tack-It, first slip a double layer of dressmaker's carbon on the wrong side of your fabric. (Your paper pattern piece is still pinned on.) Then slip all the layers — paper pattern, fabric, carbon — into the Tack-It. It's shaped a bit like a stapler, don't you think? Line up the punch right over the paper pattern's markings. (I was marking some "circles" on this waistband.) Give the Tack-It a slap, as though you were stapling all these layers together.

You get pattern markings that are neat and symmetrical. This tool seems to have first been on the market in the 1950s and was manufactured under several different labels. They are widely available from eBay, and Etsy sellers, but I sure think it's time to revive the Tack-It for mass production again!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Sewing Lace and Thin Fabrics — How to Begin??


There was a time when I would have just stuck this little piece of lace in my sewing machine and sort of hoped for the best, but I recently learned a technique for sewing on open weave fabrics that is really pretty genius!

Lapped Zipper Application Without Pins

Head over to BurdaStyle for my post there on setting a lapped zipper in a skirt back. I learned the technique from a Threads article written by the aforementioned Rosebud!


Friday, February 11, 2011

Bra Making!

Sure, you can make a lot of your own clothing and accessories, but would you want to sew underwear? I would! I've been dying to. I'm picky about my bras and it's hard to find ones I like. I'm at the Education of the Textile Arts Dallas sewing expo, where I came for the express purpose of doing a daylong seminar in custom bra making with the fabulous Anne St. Clair, teacher and proprietor of Needle Nook Fabrics in Wichita, KS.

Here's what we started out with in our bra kits: power mesh, tricot, elastics, twill tape, hook and eye bra closures, channeling, interfacing, and a pair of premade bra straps (for our convenience). We also had pattern pieces from the bra patterns she designs herself. Ann measured each of us yesterday when we arrived at the hotel, so our patterns are tweaked personally to our bodies.

 Janet, one of Anne's assistants, showed us the finer points of laying out our pattern pieces on the slippery fabric.

 A rotary cutter isn't much good on tricot — the soft, spongy fabric slides up ahead of the blade and you get distorted pattern pieces. Their trick? A pair of really cheap ($2) scissors. I thought it worked smashingly well.
Power mesh, the friend of ice skating costumes everywhere. It's also in bras. You need to use it with the most stretch going around your body. How to tell which direction has the most stretch? The "eyes" of the mesh close up when you stretch it. They seem to open if you stretch it in the other direction.
Buttery soft tricot. Find its most stretchy direction by noticing if it curls to the right side of the fabric.

 My cut out pieces. The purple marks are from a fabric marking pen and marking is a MUST in bra making. (They'll fade.)

Anne had us use a pin weaving technique to hold the slippery layers together before we put our work in the machine.

Anne helped all of us, all day long. I was glad she was comfortable at my Pfaff ("This is my mother's machine!" she said).

I got my bra cups joined at the cross seams, interlined lightly with fleece, lined, joined at the center seam (which is reinforced with twill tape. Next was attaching channeling to the bottom of the bra cups. It's for underwires, which I skipped.

Next, I sewed bottom elastic, center front elastic, and side elastic. The back closure was next. Then, the straps. It took all day, but the time just flew.

The completed bra. It really fits! I can't wait to try making more of them.

Like this one that has red flames printed on it, which Grace, Anne's other assistant is holding up.

Wow, what a day. There were several machine failures and plenty of operator error, but Anne was still smiling at the end of it all.