THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

December 29, 2009

Oh! The Things You’ll Sew

Filed under: Designing,Fabric,sewing — georgene @ 9:43 pm

There seems to be a boatload of glittery fabric, as always, at this time of year. I was at my local independant fabric store where this display confirmed my suspicions that heat transfer sequins are the glitter fabric of choice. I am having my own moment of agony with this fabric, and thought some of you might also be in the throes of working with it too.

 

I just finished the first half of my year as artist-in-residence as costumer in the Theatre Tech department at San Francisco School of the Arts.  The upcoming  production is Seussical: The Musical. There is a heavy Cirque de Soleil element in the show, as SOTA  has a circus arts program included in the dance department. All of the cast and crew are in full body unitards, so costuming this is whimsical and fun.

 Though many of the costumes are created by the students, I have been asked to make some of the principal characters. Imagine my horror when the director brought me 3 yards of this tissue thin lurex jersey with heat transfer sequins to make the Ringmaster’s tailcoat.

The first thing I did was block-fuse the entire yardage with a medium weight tricot fusible. For this task I put a beach towel on my cutting table, laid the sequin fabric face down with the fusible on top, fusing the 2 layers together. Only then did I cut the jacket. For the pattern I adapted a Burda menswear jacket from the 1980’s.

I fused an additional layer of weft insertion on the collar and lapel facing, as the fabric was still pretty soft and drapey. I used a matching color of cotton for the undercollar. I did tape the roll line and around the lapel edges just to give some kind of structure to this otherwise limp piece of goods.

The real problems started when I sat down to sew and the machine absolutely refused to stitch – missing stitches, gummed up needle –  all the nightmares you can imagine. Somewhere in the recesses of my brain I remembered Diva Ann’s advice to use wax paper while sewing this kind of fabric. It worked like a charm.

Just tear away the wax paper and your seam is perfect.

I was amazed at how well this fabric tailored up.

To finish the edge of the tails I used a lurex flat border from an old sweater project that was a perfect match. Lurex fiber comes in standard colors, so I am guessing that this royal blue is the same, even though the sweater project had to be about 10 years ago. I am hoping that the director agrees with me that the unlined tails are a good thing  – just say no to lining this!

The bi-colored look for the Ringmaster is a nice touch added by the director. (Somewhere there is another pair of black/white boots just like these.) The hat is probably a Mad Hatter hat from Alice in Wonderland.

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December 23, 2009

It Only Comes Around Once a Year

Filed under: Designer Inspirations,Embellishment,Georgene — georgene @ 9:30 pm

Christmas is the only time of year that this sweater can be worn. Not exactly a candidate for the Ugly Christmas Sweater contest, it  only comes out in December.

It was a sample, made in China,  for a collection I worked on a couple of years ago. It got rejected for its ‘unusual’ color combination. The factory just  decided to use what they had on hand, not the colors I had requested. That’s often the way with prototypes, they use what’s lying around, just to give an idea of the design, so that the next piece can be corrected. This poor sample never had a chance to go any further than the first piece.

It’s beautiful, its flawless embroidery and dazzling rhinestones are perfection. But everyone blinks when they see it, and it languished in the showroom until I rescued it and put it in the archive.

Here is the inspiration for the artwork of the embroidery – a Persian carpet my friend brought back from Turkey.

The beautiful but lonely sweater is the result.

Season’s best to all. It’s so great to share this sweater with those who might appreciate it for the little gem it is.

December 7, 2009

Sew your own ribbing fabric

For a lot of patterns you need a knit fabric, like a jersey or wool plus some ribbing to finish the sleeves or sew a neckband.

I know it can be difficult to find a matching ribbing for the knit fabric you want to use. I have bought cotton and acrylic ribbing in bright colors when I was making sweaters for my kids but I never found a wool ribbing.

If you can’t find the right matching ribbing you can make your own faux ribbing, using the same  knit fabric, and a twin needle.

I learned that technique from a Threads magazine article “RIBBING” FOR ANY KNIT FABRIC”
by Dorothy Amo back in 1996 April/May issue 64.

Years ago I made a wool jersey sweater and made the ribbing from the same fabric using a twin needle size 4.0×75

I made the neckband from a folded pin tucked piece of the wool.

After the pintucks were sewn I measured the needed wide and sewed the band together with a regular stitch and finished the outer edge and attached the band around the neckline with a 3 thread serger/overlocker.

I topstitched the band seam allowances around the neckline again with a twin needle.

For the sleeve cuffs I sewed pintucks for a length of 20 cm and finished both edges with a 3 thread serger and traced the part of the sleeves which I wanted in pintucks , sewed the ends together , attached to the sleeves and used 4 cm for the hem wide and hand stitched the hem since I did not want to use a visible line of stitching.

As you can see the sweater is old but it is only to show what is possible if you make the matching ribbing your self.

I made a new sample from a purple knit

I marked the knit fabric on 10 cm and starting to sew pin tucks, the wide between the pin tucks is 4 mm and I have 13 pin tucks for the 10 cm wide fabric which leaves me with 8 cm wide faux ribbing.

The size of the stitch length I used was 2,5 and the tension on high at 8. I used my normal sewing feet and set the needle on 4 towards the right.

I used my sewing foot as a guide for the previous sewn pin tuck.

wrong side

I used the sample to make a cuff for the sleeve .

The amount of stretch depends on the stretch factor and stretch recovery of the fabric plus the amount of pin tucks. In this case the cuff 10 cm wide and it can stretch towards 14,5 cm.

It is best to make a sample first.

but did not finished the edges as you can see inside the sleeve.

If you want to explore more about this sewing technique try to find a copy of Threads magazine issue 64 which shows detailed pictures and a lot more information.

   or find a copy of the “Book Sewing with Knits” by Connie Long , she also covers this type of sewing ribbing in her book.

December 3, 2009

Warm Winter Sheath Secret – Tricot Lining

Filed under: Fabric,Mary Beth,sewing — Mary Beth @ 3:44 pm

(Crossposted at The Stitchery)

I made this simple sheath in the early 2000’s.  I call it my walk to church dress because it is so warm. It’s only been washed by hand, never dry cleaned.

Front of Wool Jersey Sheath

It hangs ignored in the closet for most of the year until it becomes very cold outside.

"Old Faithful" Winter Sheath

I lined this wool jersey dress with nylon tricot and the tricot lining is what makes this dress so perfect for when the temperatures are at, or below, freezing.

The substantial, low static, and inexpensive tricot, a nylon knit, is from SewSassy.  This little company is a wonderful fabric and notions source and I’ve gotten excellent advice over the phone when I’ve needed it.  If you haven’t tried this sewing source you should do yourself the favor of adding them to your list of trusted suppliers.

I am not affiliated in any way with this shop, just one who, almost 10 years ago, purchased elastic that remains fresh and stretchy and this lovely 40 denier tricot in black and champagne.

But back then I was returning to sewing after many years without a sewing machine and I didn’t use commercial patterns.  All my sewing was based on patterns designed by me and generated using the pattern drafting software and there were no how-to instructions.  I relied on the training I had from growing up with my mother; and information I could get from the software’s message board.  I don’t think I had even joined Pattern Review yet since I didn’t use patterns.

So here I had rather scratchy wool jersey from FabricMartFabrics.com.  I had never sewn wool jersey before but I knew I didn’t want it next to my skin!  The tricot would feel so much better and it would stretch!

I dove in and lined this dress by joining the tricot to the dress at the neckline (Amazing, I remembered to  under stitch)

Inside of dress at the collar band

and hand hemmed the sleeves after serging the jersey and tricot together at the cut edges (I didn’t have any way to get a correct sleeve length at the flat pattern stage, oh my! and I was in love with my very first serger, a used Janome LOL)

Sleeve Hem - What a Mess!

and hemmed the bottoms separately

Machine Hemmed with Twin Needle and Wooly Nylon!

Today, I would worry more about the construction details like thread colors, stitch length and seam techniques but back then I was hurrying to finish for a function where I needed to wear it.  I remember stitching the sleeve hems in the hotel room.  You just never know when the inside stitching will need to be gorgeous!

Little did I know back then I’d be blogging this dress so that you could make something very warm this winter if needed.  But enough of my illiterate wanderings in the sewing desert that was my life:  the point of this post is:

Tricot: it’s not your old clingy slip, anymore

November 22, 2009

Hot Patterns Free Slinky Shrug Download Simplified

Filed under: Mary Beth,Pattern Reviews,Patterns,Technology — Mary Beth @ 3:40 pm

Free Pattern HP's Slinky Shrug

The Slinky Shrug is available through yet another collaboration between Hot Patterns and the folks at Fabric.com.  The link to download the pattern is http://csi.fabric.com/shrug

This could be such a quick and easy gift done in elegant fabrics 🙂 and a wonderful bed jacket for reading in bed or shoulder warmer to wear while hand sewing in a chair by the window.  Imagine how pleasing that would be for your special person to receive.

Having cut my 21st century pattern using teeth on a pattern drafting software program I might have a trick that can make it easier for you to procure this free pattern.

I downloaded the PFD file and saved it to my computer.  Then I examined my printer’s settings carefully.  We want the printer to make no amendments to the pattern size or shape.  We’ll even sacrifice some of the cutting lines to make sure nothing changes.

First, let’s make sure the printer doesn’t distort your pattern.   Turn off the page scaling!  Don’t allow any setting like  fit to printable area!  Don’t have it shrink to printable area.  Make sure all other boxes that might affect the size of the printing are unchecked.

You can print out all the 27 pages like I did

That’s 4 columns of 7 pages each, plus the cover page and 2 pages of instructions…

Or you can take the easy way out, benefit from my compulsiveness, and print only those pattern pieces you really need.

Because the page notations made by the pattern drawing software doesn’t match the page numbers that the printer will print I had to do lots of counting and recounting but I’ve printed everything out using the following commands and got all the pages needed to make up the 2 pattern pieces.  You can see my confused and confusing notations below, but please ignore them and focus instead on the shape of the pattern

The Front

and the Back.

To print the front “cover page” and instructions:   make 3 separate commands to your printer.  Have it print page 1, and then page 8, and then page 15.  Done and there is no need to tape these together although you can see I did tape the first 2 together…Sigh.

To print out the main pattern pieces (there are only two)

Back (cut 1 on fold) make 3 separate commands that your printer print pages 5 – 7, and then 13-14, and then 20-21. These pages will show you sizes 6 through 22.

You’ll need to print page 25 if you are cutting a size 26 and want the reassurance of having the line to cut on.  The cutting line for size 24 lies right on the edge of the page so it doesn’t even print out at all.

No worry, all you have to do is measure the incremental increase between the other sizes and add that much to find the cutting line for size 24 and size 26.

Butt the edges of the pages together and tape.

Front (cut two pieces) print pages 10-11,  and then 17-19, and then pages 22-25.  Tape them together and you are all done with the tedious paperwork.

Butt the edges of the pages together and tape.

Now you can cut out your main fashion fabric.

To make the ribbing cut straight pieces with the fabric stretch going the length (long wise) of the piece being cut.

Remember that the exact length may have to be adjusted to suit the “stretch” of your ribbing so cut long and stretch test!

Front ribbing piece.  Cut one piece on the fold:  11 3/4” wide x 22 3/4 for size 6, add 3/8″ for each size you go up from size 6.  So size 10 would be 23 1/2, etc

Back Hem Ribbing piece:  again 11.75″ wide, cut on on the fold.  The incremental on the back is 1/2 inch so size 6 is 8 5/8″,  size 10 is 9 5/8, etc

Cuffs pieces are 5 3/4″ wide, size 6 is 10 7/8, and sizes up by a 3/8ths increment.

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All that said: I cut the pieces all extra long so I could adjust  for easing and stretching.

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All seam allowances are 3/8″.  I used the serger to join the wool boucle pieces together at the shoulder seams and side seams.  It’s too easy to do it any other way.  Of course you can also cut a lining and bag the ribbing with just a little hand stitching to close it up.

And might you have trouble finding ribbing, you can also experiment with knitting some ribbing or even using a stretch fabric that coordinates with your fashion fabric.

I pretended I didn’t have my stash of rayon ribbing to use because so many of us do not (to your great relief, believe me!) and I looked around for a knit to use.

I found knit faux fur!

It has a stiffening finish on the knit side that can be loosened by steam so I steamed and stretched to match the curves of the shrug:  stretched the cut edges around the neck area and stretched in the fold area around the bodice to the hips.  I also eased in the fur through the rounded front pieces:

I used the exact widths for the cuffs and edge ribbing so you can see the results.  I cut a size 14 throughout but adjusted the lengths of the faux fur since it does not stretch as much as ribbing would stretch.

Woven wool boucle with faux fur knit

Front of Shrug with Faux Fur for Ribbing

Outside our day has turned dark and rainy so I had to seriously alter these photos to show you any details at all

So wouldn’t this pattern make some great Holiday gifts?

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