Archive for the ‘work in progress’ Category

Fly front

July 19, 2007

Step 2 in the evolution of Simplicity 7513 is to add a fly front. Again, I’m cribbing from another pattern in my stash — this time, Vogue 7481, which is a simple pair of fly front pants (designed for stretch wovens, but we’ll ignore that).

There are two pattern pieces for the fly front — the right facing and the left facing. They look like this:

fly front facings

Instructions on putting them together below the fold.



Pants pants evolution

July 18, 2007

So my blue sandwashed silk is going to turn into pants. I’m basing the pants on the Simplicity 7513 pants, but I feel this pattern needs some tweaking to justify the fabric.

There are three things I want to do to the pattern:

  • 1. Add a side seam
  • 2. Add a fly front
  • 3. Add a separate waistband

And possibly (4) take the pattern in at the waist.

The original pattern is what is known as “one seam pants” — I’m not sure why, since there are in fact 2 seams in the pants; a crotch seam and an inseam. Adding a side seam (1) will mean that the grainline of the fabric will run down each leg rather than running down the side of the pants. This will give a better drape to the pants, and it also will allow me to add some pockets in the side seam. My original version of these pants is seriously missing pockets.

(2) I think just looks nicer, and is a prerequisite if I want to nip them in at the waist.

Adding a separate waistband will also improve the hang of the fabric, and it can be interfaced.


Sewing tools — Dritz snap setter

July 9, 2007

I bought a snap setter. I nearly took it back to the store.

The directions on this thing are one of the most unintuitive and difficult to process examples of the genre I’ve ever seen.

Snaps have two halves; an innie and an outie. Before they are attached, each one consists of two pieces — the innie (or outie) and the ring-and-prongs. The snap setter is basically a pair of pliers with which one compresses the prongs into the back of the outie (or innie).

First time I tested the device, I successfully attached an innie to a piece of scrap fabric. So far so good. Then I went to attach the outie. Pulled the snap setter away, and all that was on my fabric was a set of prongs sticking out. The outie part had wedged itself into the machine’s innie. I didn’t know the machine had an innie!!!

I tried various removal techniques. Letter opener. Screwdriver. Pliers. Teeth. Dental floss. Verbal abuse. Fishing line. Pliers again. More verbal abuse.

Spouse Phor came home and managed an extraction by jamming a nail into the back end of the thing.

Set it up again, and had luck with the outie parts, but all the innies fell off as soon as you breathed on them. Swore at it. Went to bed.

Next day, I did some internet research. Joann’s has some heinous reviews.

  • Never again will I buy this. I have again resorted to banging in the snaps with a hammer.
  • I finally gave up and donated the plier kit and a large package of snaps and eyelets.
  • This product would have been great for the price had it worked…all the snaps I have are now a crumbled mess from “testing” The instructions are vague and the dritz website is not helpful. I am very disappointed.
  • all it did was ruined the clothes I was sewing for my baby.

But. There are some folks in there that are saying “what?? worked fine for me!!”. (They don’t say “you idiot”, because Sewing World is a politer corner of the internet, I guess.)

  • It worked perfectly the first time and I was very proud of myself and my new friend the snap and eyelet setter.
  • In my opinion, the directions are perfectly clear and the product does what it’s supposed to.

Now, see, I’m taking that as a challenge. Because I refused to let the machine defeat me. Because that would be admitting that I couldn’t understand the directions.

When you insert the innie part into the slot, it tells you to do so “with the raised center exposed”. Problem is, both sides of this piece have a raised center. I googled some more, and I found these directions, which explain that if you feel for it, one side has more of a raise than the other.

After a few practice tries, I figured I had the hang of it. I finally managed to get all of the snaps on to the McCalls 3665 onesie. Took me down to my very last one. I pressed it. I took pictures. Triumph was mine! At last!

Then Spouse Phor came home, looked at the garment and managed to pull off the top snap when he opened it. Oh well. At least it was him, and not someone I’d given it to as a gift.

McCalls 3665: Pattern Analysis

July 6, 2007

Another kid pattern, this time a knit pattern for a newborn.

I’m making view D, the short-sleeved short-legged bodysuit.


Finished Object: Gold silk dress

June 11, 2007

I managed to smooth out the puckers in the gold silk dress thanks to the good folks at Pattern Review. I clipped the zigzag seam, then washed and ironed the dress, and the puckers are (mostly) gone.

Here’s the finished product:


Finished gold silk dress

Links to previous posts on this garment:

Oh, Pucker!

Problem Solving

New Project

Oh, pucker!

June 4, 2007

So I did some more work on the gold silk dress today.

I rechecked that I had the waistline in the correct place, and then I marked a 1 inch seam allowance. You can see the fine blue line below the elastic in the picture below.

mark and pin

Because I didn’t want the fabric to slide around on the cutting table, I cut this directly on the dressform. Notice the line of pins about 3″ below the cutting line; those are there so that the cut-off fabric does not hang down and weigh the upper part unevenly.


My next step was to determine how long I wanted the skirt to be. So I stood on my trusty bathtub ledge and measured the edge of the bodice to my knees. (That’s 25″, if you are playing along at home.) I took another measurement at the side (26″) and figured I’d make the back 27″ for luck.

Then I laid the excess fabric on the cutting table, and cut it from the hem to fit. There was about a nine inch strip of fabric over, which is intended for the shoulders.

It was at this point that I realized that this fabric is not cut on the bias. It’s a knit!!!! I was looking at my excess strip, trying to figure out how to square off the edge while keeping the bias true, and I couldn’t see any diagonals. It’s a very, very fine gauge knit, shiny on one side and matt on the other. And as far as I know, it’s 100% silk, although I haven’t done a burn test to check.

I spent a lot of time pin-fitting until I decided on where I wanted the gathers. I finally went with a flat front, with tiny gathers* beginning a couple of inches behind the side seams. Then I spent a lot of time basting. Once I finally set in the real waist seam, I was pretty pleased with myself, although I had a lot of cleaning up of loose ends of thread.

I pressed the garment and tried it on, and I thought it looked good. Then I set about finishing the interior seam with a zigzag stitch. This might have been my undoing, because now I have a bunch of puckers at the front of the waist seam that no amount of pressing will get rid of.


*Here’s how I sew a gather. I hand-baste two rows of stitching inside the seam allowance on the longer pattern piece. At one end, twist the loose ends around a pin. Pull the threads from the other end until the gathering thread is the same length as the shorter pattern piece, then twist the second end around a pin to secure. Then just even out the gathers created by pulling on the thread.

Problem Solving

May 17, 2007

I posted on Tuesday about my plans to convert a long dress into a cocktail length one.

Now I have some problem solving to do.

1. I need to figure out where to cut off the dress at the waist.

2. I need to figure out how to cut the bottom part so I have the right length.

3. I need to figure out how much to add in the shoulder.

Normally I’d do this by measuring and cutting on a flat surface, but because the dress is bias cut, and because the fabric is slippery, I’m a little worried this strategy won’t work.

I can’t really do 1 & 2 before 3 — because the waistline will shift when I move the shoulder. And I can’t do 3 before 1 & 2, because I need the fabric from the cut piece to add to the shoulder.

Here’s my plan of attack.

Step 1: Open up the shoulder, and pin in some spare fabric to establish the neckline I want.

Step 2: Establish the waistline. I’m doing this with elastic — basically, you take a length of elastic and tie it around your middle, and let it settle at the narrowest point, which is your waist. I did this and then pinned the elastic in place.

Step 3: Establish the length from the hem to the waist. I’d like to preserve the original dress hem, because it’s a lettuce hem, which suits the fabric, and which I don’t know how to do.

Step 3 is causing me some problems. I have already set the waistline where I’d like, and I’m going to cut it on the dress form so that I can get the lines right. But I haven’t figured how to cut the length of the skirt yet.

New Project

May 15, 2007

Somewhere in my head I have this idea that I shouldn’t start a new project until I’ve finished the one I’m already working on. But you know what? Apparently, it doesn’t work like that. When I’m writing, I always find that I do my best writing when I let go and just write what I feel like writing. Trying to force myself to write stuff that I know I should write doesn’t work too well for me. So I’m not sure why I think sewing should be any different. So, a new project. This time, an alteration. Or maybe an adaptation, since it’s a pretty radical alteration.

I have a gold silk dress that’s been sitting in my closet for a long time. I bought it at what was, then, to me, a “fancy” recycling store, as opposed to a thrift store. It cost me thirty dollars, which back then, was a lot of money for me to spend on one item of clothing. I wore it to my graduation, because it was the fanciest thing I had. The last time I wore it was to a wedding, at least five years ago. The problem is, it doesn’t fit very well. (Yes, I’m standing on the side of the bathtub. It’s the only place in the house I can see myself in a full length mirror.)

Gold dress front

It’s bias cut, which can often be very flattering, but I find that if a bias cut garment isn’t cut right for my curves, it has the opposite effect. This has a waist and hip that’s too high for me, and because there is no flare under the hip, it tends to cling around my legs.

It’s also too high in the armscye. See the wrinkles across the shoulder?

Armsyce wrinkles

The only thing I particularly love about it right now is the back view:

Gold dress back

I think it has a lovely drape in the back of the skirt. (Sidenote: Do you know how hard it is to take a picture of your butt? I just about pulled myself into contortions for that picture. Never say I never did nothing for ya, dear reader.)

So here’s what I’d like to do. First, I want to lower the armscye and the bustline. To do that, I’m going to unpick the shoulder seams and then add some fabric at the top of the shoulder. The shoulders are finished with a self-fabric bias binding, and I should have plenty of fabric from the next part of the alteration to add more binding to my insert.

Second, I want to cut the dress off at the waist, and then add a shorter, knee-length skirt. The finished product should look something like this:

Gold dress design

Maybe with a waistband. Maybe not.

p.s. I’m not that demure. I just can’t draw hands.


May 3, 2007

The pinstriped skirt is coming along nicely. (Although it’s one of the slowest things I’ve ever made.)

Pinstriped Skirt in Progress

I drafted the waistband today. Drafting was a simple affair; I just laid the skirt on some tracing paper, and drew along the line of the waist. I wanted my waist band to be 2″ thick, so I extended 2″ from my traced line, then added seam allowances. To draft the back of the waistband, I split the pattern at CB, and added a half inch seam allowance to one piece, and an inch and a half to the other to give lappage for my buttonholes.

Sounds simple, right. Except that I didn’t line up the edges properly when I sewed it in.


Oh well. That’s what seam rippers are for, I guess.

Lining. Or Not.

May 1, 2007

I was planning to line the skirt I’m working on. The wool is kind of scratchy, and I even had a fabric picked out for the lining — and recycled to boot!

These gold silk pants have been with me for a long time, but as you can see, they are through.

Gold pants

I must have had these at least ten years. When they were new, I wore them out clubbing. They picked up a couple of stains in their life, but for years I wore them under long skirts and tall boots in the wintertime. Silk makes fantastic long underwear. (Yes. I’m a woman who’s not afraid of unconventional unmentionables.) It seemed in the right spirit that this fabric should go into the lining of a sturdy wool skirt.