Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Fabric Selection is Key....

The journey toward the completion of this project went awry due to my inattentiveness to the "suggested fabrics" printed on the back of the pattern envelope.   This garment stalled because the weight of the fabric I chose affected the garment's final finishing touches.  Let me first confirm what the suggested fabrics for the top were:  charmeuse and crepe de chine.  I knew what both fabrics were, having worked parttime in fashion fabric stores (and sewn) for many years. I bought a beautiful piece of yardage from Gorgeous Fabrics I thought would be great and began the project.   (Thank you, Ann!)
Vogue 1039

I usually study a pattern before I begin to sew and I mean study---not just look at.  If I understand all the steps, the instructions become a guidepost to the sewing process and are referred to as a reminder of the construction sequence.  My sewing improved the minute I adopted this practice.  I definitely caused myself problems if I started to sew something when I didn't fully understand the instructions.  Nothing is worse than looking at the instructions in Step 'x,' and not understand what on earth they are asking you to do!  Hate it!  

During the time I spend studying the instructions, I make notes on the instruction sheet of the places where I plan to add or change a design feature or sewing technique.  I make written notes for things like label placement, where and how I plan to finish seams, how I plan to transfer the all-important dots, squares, and triangles (both large and small) from the pattern to fabric, and what colors will represent each shape.  Often I use different marking mediums; choosing between the chalk, crayon, tracing paper and/or tailor tacks that could all appear in the same garment.

My goal when I sit down at my machine is to change threads between the straight-stitch and overlock as few times as possible.  I sew in what I have learned are called 'units.' I begin with completing all the stay-stitching (or doing double-rows of gathers), attaching interfacing, then end by finishing all the seams.  Any foundation or detail work is usually done next (thread tracing, basting, pad stitching, welt openings, bound buttonholes, etc.).  Depending on the type of garment, these steps vary.  When I can put all the 'units' together without having to stop to baste, interface or pre-finish anything, I really feel my sewing session has been productive and it appears as if I accomplished a lot.

Because of how I work, my son has always thought I was an amazingly fast sewer.  He would wake up in the morning and he would have a new shirt after seeing a stack of fabric beside my sewing machine the night before.  He had no idea there was a lot of 'pre-work' being accomplished before he noticed the garment in-process.  I didn't think he was paying any attention!...lol.  This myth was uncovered when I began sewing Halloween costumes for my grandchildren.  He now knows how much time and love is invested in a Mom-made garment.  I had that superwoman illusion going for a loooonnngg time, didn't I?!  psssst...he'll be forty as of this Sunday!!!...((grin))  Happy birthday, son!

Neckline View
Bosom Toward Toes on Dressform
This pattern was categorized as being "Advanced/Plus Difficile" as far as Vogue's skill level estimates go.  I wouldn't say it would be more accurately described as 'tedious.'  This squared-neck tunic has 10 pieces; which I should have recognized as the first indicator it was going to challenge me to carefully handle the bias edges, tiny pleats, and gathered strips that are part of the design.  My disappointment has to do more with the way the neckline's pleated yoke was made unnecessarily complicated.  If I were to remake this garment, I would definitely re-draft it and omit the yoke's pleats.  This design has the front and yoke facing sewn together and finished with understitching at the neckline edge.  The pattern then instructs you to make the three box pleats in the front.  Next, the instructions say to stabilize the pleats at the front neckline (the three pleats can be seen in the picture above) by centering and stitching the pleats at the top neckline edge and again about 3 inches away around the yoke bottom.  This top almost became a wadder right here. 

The beautiful fabric I had selected was to lay smoothly at the neckline, and the top of the pleats were to be kept stationary by topstitching through all six layers of the pleats in the front and continuing on around the three other sides of the neckline.  You know I complained to myself, "There must be a better way!!!"  This was where I realized my fabric would not lay smoothly or appear as a single layer because it had much more 'body' or 'heft' than the fabric pictured on the envelope.  Well,....I thought about picking the yoke, front and pleats apart, removing the yoke facing pleats entirely and encasing pleats at the neckline in a neckline seam with the unpleated inside yoke.  I decided not to.  I ultimately concluded I'd done enough to make this garment any more different or unique. I blame myself for not picking a tissue weight fabric and missing the construction of this design element while I was 'studying.'  I do like the top, though.  The fabric feels sooo good, and I like the added color detail because it's slimming.  I have made written notes all over the pattern instructions in case I try it again to remind myself to use my alternate solution for finishing the neckline.  Moving on....  Here are some final garment pictures. 




Time to share......I went to the Pacific International Quilt Festival XX at the Santa Clara Convention Center this past weekend.  What fun!    Now, I'm not much of a quilter, specifically....but I do admit loving to be around creative energy, and am always awed by the meticulous handwork of women (and more and more men) world-wide.  This is the largest quilt festival on the west coast, and is the gathering place for enthusiasts from all over.  The adjacent hotel is filled ladies dragging rolling carts flashing credit cards used exclusively for this four-day annual event.  I was with a good girlfriend of mine who has similar creative interests (quilts and purses/totes) so, we were able to leisurely stroll every aisle and look for new products and notions in addition to admiring hundreds of quilts.  We stayed all day...dragged our old legs home after walking that cement floor all day!  .... Loved It

...Remember, just keep sewing!
                               one stitch at a time....

1 comment:

  1. It looks wonderful from here! I love the black contrast in back. I can see how that would be very slimming.