Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Class Assignments

So here we are nearly at the end of January and I haven’t really accomplished what I was hoping to this month. Oh well. It’s not like I’m getting marked on my work or anything! I certainly haven’t earned too many gold sticker stars. I think I’ve learned a lot anyhow. I have been studying. The future will tell how much that will affect my projects. Knowledge isn’t much good sitting around in my head. I need to apply it to the real world.

I forget now on whose blog I read the recommendation (sorry!) but I recently picked up a digital copy of a book from 1998:

Linings book

Easy Guide to Sewing Linings by Connie Long might be an oldie but it’s a goodie! (This link takes you right to the page on Taunton’s website. For less than $12 you can download the complete but otherwise OOP book.) If you were ever confused about lining vs underling or full vs partial linings or wondered how to make a pattern for a lining when yours doesn’t include one, this answers every question. I’m still savouring it a chapter at a time.

Another learning opportunity came recently when I finally succumbed to a class on Craftsy. I think the idea of well-produced and filmed lessons with the ability to message the instructor with questions is a good one particularly when the price includes permanent access. I never like being forced to show up to this kind of thing at a certain time or it all goes away. Of course you have to be realistic that as time goes on and the instructor goes on to other things, you might not get timely responses. So be it. I’ve heard that there have been issues with unanswered questions eventually disappearing from the site which I think is a little unfair. They need to date messages and possibly leave them up indefinitely. Perhaps they have server limitations. Who knows? The video lessons are still there and I haven’t had any difficulty watching them, even on my little netbook computer.

Anyhoo, I succumbed to Sew the Perfect Fit with Lynda Maynard and so far it’s quite good. There are several models with different body shapes to work with. Lynda doesn’t use a lot of measurements to start, just high bust, waist and hip and picks the pattern size from there. All the rest is done directly on the muslin. She has an interesting method where she blithely slashes with scissors along a line over the bust to add more room there – while the model is wearing the muslin. Yikes! Later the muslin changes are transferred back to pattern paper. The class is supposed to come with a Vogue pattern which of course I haven’t yet received even though it’s been about 3 weeks. Patience is a virtue, right? I don’t really care since I probably won’t get to this for at least another week or two.

Speaking of Vogue, I know I said that I wasn’t going to buy any more patterns since they take so much work to fit, but… I slipped and fell for the current sale on $3.99 Vogues at BMV. Oops. In my defence, I tried to pick things that would be difficult or impossible to draft myself. Ones where I admired what others have done with them and looked at over and over with covetous thoughts. Some Marcy Tilton, Sandra Betzina and a few others. More on this when the postman knocks.

I really enjoyed the bra sew-along over at Cloth Habit. Between blogger Amy and Norma of Orange Lingerie there was a lot of great information on fitting and customising. I joined the private Flickr group as well – even though I never made anything to upload – and diligently read all the comments on everyone’s fitting issues. I now have both books by Beverly Johnson (on DVD in PDF format) and have read every word. It’s lovely that she doesn’t overlap information – the second book adds to the first. Beverly has written these books for professional bra-makers so you might not need every tiny detail but I found it all quite fascinating. There are no other publications that go into this kind of depth on the single subject of making custom bras.

However even with all that studying I’ve been pretty much stymied by the bra-making experience. Again. Here’s where I’m at currently: I think I have a bra wire size that will fit. It in turn fits into a bra size pattern where the cups are absolutely gigantic on me! (I told you I had footballs – ones where half the air has been let out too. Heh.) So now I have to do one of two things: make a tester bra in the gigantic size and pin out all the extra fabric or use the information in Beverly’s second book and draft a pattern from measurements. I may have better success with the second method so I might just try it first. Eventually I’d like to get a basic pattern that fits so that I can experiment with different cup designs, particularly adding a “power bar”. My favourite unwired bra has that feature and it helps a lot to hoist things in at the sides and project them out front where they belong! I’m trying not to despair that I’ll ever get there.

I have really been procrastinating on the bra stuff though. I guess because I feel so frustrated with it! I know it’s just this blobby old body that’s giving me the usual fitting issues. However I am nothing if not stubborn and persistent, so I keep pegging away at it but in short bursts so I don’t get too cranky. Meanwhile, I’ve been pattern fitting for another knit dress:


This is Butterick 5246, View A. I also liked View B with the cowl but although I adore cowls, I find that they limit the wearability somewhat. I can’t wear my usual scarves and they don’t always fit under outerwear comfortably. So instead I decided to go with the regular neckline and hope for more wearing options. I also decided to leave off the twee back ties and plan to turn under the neckline instead of completely lining the bodice. The fabric I want to use is a beefy cotton/lycra double-knit, one of four pieces of this that I got in the free box when my across-the-street neighbour moved out. The only drawback is that it’s all screaming hot fuchsia pink! Not my most favourite colour. The fun exercise will be trying to overdye such an intense colour to get something I’m happier with. Since I have 4 lengths of just under 2 yards each and it didn’t cost me anything, I can go crazy without fear of ruining it. I’m planning to do a low-water immersion dye for the first try and use navy and emerald over it which should tone things down some. It’ll be like a print only not actually printed, if you get what I mean! Judging by the results of this first overdye will help me decide what to do with the other 3 pieces.

So I’ve already got the pattern adjusted. (Must have been feeling somewhat better, huh?) I used my basic stretch blocks for the bodice’s neck and shoulders and the sleeves. My sleeve is inches narrower than the smallest size at the cap! I also had to lower the yoke line an inch since it was about to cut across right at the bust. Then I added inseam pockets while I was at it. I discovered that if I cut the back with a seam, I can fit this pattern on much less yardage plus I can shape the back a little to prevent gapping at the neck and waist. Just to give you an idea how much fabric my pattern changes saved, the original View A calls for 2.4m of 150cm wide. I fit it on about 1.5m of slightly narrower width thus saving nearly a whole metre. To be fair, I would probably have used the bodice facings if I was making this out of a flimsier knit. BTW, interestingly nobody on PatternReview managed to make the overlay View C work for them and only one person actually kept the ties.

Now off to dye!


Dixie said...

This cotton knit dress sounds like a fun project. I envy your dying skills. I know the colors will turn out well and you'll have a great dress at the finish.
I hope you can find the mojo to persist in your bra making challenge. Maybe those footballs need a couple of wide receivers to cradle them. No? Then how about a bra that's custom made by you? Better?

Jean at www.drossintogold.com said...

Louisa, I'm exhausted just reading about what you're doing!! (That's a compliment, by the way.) I know I've said it, but the thought of sewing a bra boggles my mind. It's hard enough finding something that fits, looks half way decent, and is flattering AND comfortable...whew.

I think a dress is much more up my alley. I like the pattern you're working with. I never buy patterns because I'm lazy and cheap. I make super easy shapes using clothes I already own for the pattern. One day I'd like to get a little more refined.

Anonymous said...

I like that dress pattern. I went and looked at the bra and panty site, lots of lovely work.

pao said...

ooo, so what patterns did you get from the Vogue on-line sale? I bought 3 from them too. All Marcy Tilton ones. Did you know she has a blog too where she describes alterations she makes to her own patterns and another site where she has tutorials? Very interesting. The fact that you can dye cloth is fabulous. Can't wait to see what transpires.

Good look in the bra wars!