Monday, September 19, 2016

Of Skirts, Blouses, and Forgotten DVDs

Well, looky what I found in my studio the other day, all brand-new, still wrapped in cellophane and nearly forgotten in a corner! 

Threads Magazine Blouse DVD
It appears that, amongst my many purchases at last year's Sewing and Quilt Expo in Atlanta, I bought a Threads DVD featuring Sandra Miller's blouse construction techniques.  In my defense, I crashed on my bike a week after returning from the Expo, smashing my collar bone into little pieces and snapping all the way through the bone at the tip of my left thumb.  Humpty Dumpty didn't get back to her sewing room for a few months, and by then I didn't remember what all I'd bought and planned to work on.

Sounds like EXACTLY the supplemental information I need to walk me through my first blouse project, don't you think?  Anyway, before I spend any money on any online blouse sewing classes, I'm going to go through this DVD and watch the whole thing.  And take notes.  And maybe practice stuff.  We'll see.

Harrison Blouse Pattern, available from Cashmerette here
Another blouse resource that I discovered this week comes from Jenny of Cashmerette, an indie pattern company that specializes in patterns that fit and flatter curves.  Jenny's new Harrison Blouse pattern, shown above, fits exactly the way I'd hoped my White House Black Market blouse would fit after alterations (didn't work out that way, though).  I really like how the double princess seams on the Harrison blouse originate from the armscye instead of being straight lines from the shoulder seams; I think that will be more flattering on me.  The Harrison Blouse is available either as a PDF download or as a paper pattern, and they even have an online "Plus Size and Curvy Shirtmaking" workshop that walks you through their pattern step by step.  The only glitch is that the smallest size the Harrison Blouse comes in is a 12 and that might still be too big on me in the upper chest, shoulders, and upper back.  But it's nice to know I have some options.

Meanwhile, my skirt looked like this a few days ago after I'd cut everything out and then walked away from the project (again):

Paralyzing Mess Prevents Progress!
You are looking at not just the skirt pieces, but stacks and stacks of fat quarters for those 6" Farmer's Wife blocks, and a pile of prewashed and folded fabric and templates for Anders' quilt.  Too much started, not enough finished -- and I hardly had any time in the sewing room all week, because I've been working on a project design for a client.  Work before play.

But I'm trying to maintain that elusive balance in my life by observing a work-free weekend rule, or at least a No Working On Sundays rule, so I did manage to sneak into the sewing room for a bit on Sunday afternoon.  Now, my skirt looks like this:

One Side Seam Accomplished
You are looking at the right side seam of my skirt, and you are supposed to be admiring the precision of my pattern matching.  So, what I accomplished so far was to stay stitch the top of the skirt front and back and the lining pieces.  Then I sewed that right side seam in both the skirt fabric and the lining fabric, and serged off the raw edges of the seam allowances.  The skirt and lining were matched up, wrong sides together, and I basted the two layers together at the top of the skirt inside the seam allowance.  This took more time than you might imagine due to the slippery, shifty voile and my determination to match that pattern as precisely as possible at the seam.  There was obsessive pinning and basting involved, and I am pleased.  My skirt is an A-line shape, so the rows of flowers converge diagonally at the seam line, but I am satisfied that the rows of flowers will appear to be straight on the finished skirt.  Now let's hope I can match up the print so nicely on the other side, when I install my invisible zipper!

I still have to make and attach the yoke thingy to the waist of the skirt before the zipper goes in, and I'm still kind of foggy on just HOW I'm going to put that zipper in, because I am adamant that it's going to be an invisible zipper (in defiance of the dorky pattern instructions) and I am determined that the zipper tape is going to be hidden between the skirt fabric and the lining, just like it would be in a nice store bought skirt.  I found a couple of video tutorials online for inserting invisible zippers into skirts, a few that even showed how to do it with lining, but I'm going to have to adapt and combine techniques from different videos to make it work for my particular skirt style.  ALL of the video tutorials say to put the zipper in FIRST, before sewing any side seams, and I have to say, it does look like that would be easier.  Too late now! 

I don't know whether I'll get a chance to do anymore sewing before the weekend, but may be able to conduct additional zipper insertion research at odd moments in the carpool line.  Wish me luck!


Karen - Quilts...etc. said...

Neat that you found the instructions! Understandable that you forgot about it - ouch! That accident sounds like it was a bad one. Good luck on making the clothing

SJSM said...

Love how you were able to line up the flowers on the seam. A nice high-end look. I'm sure you will figure out a way to put in the invisible zipper. The zipper will allow you to sew that side seam just as perfectly as the other side!

Rebecca Grace said...

Thanks, Susan! It just annoys me that the New Look people don’t include real instructions for the zipper in the pattern. They don’t even tell you to stabilize the fabric where the zipper goes in – and they are recommending voile! I understand there are space limitations on the paper patterns, but in this day and age there is no reason why major pattern companies can’t have additional instructions and video tutorials on their web sites. If beginners had resources like that available, they would be sewing up more successes than failures, and BUYING MORE PATTERNS…


Jenny K. Lyon said...

Niiiice matching on that side seam! You can choose to do things simply you know! Just a thought. I love your work and your attention to detail always pans out. I am impressed.

Marti said...

That accident sounds terrible. I hope you have fully recovered now. I'm looking forward to seeing your finished skirt. And you are right in the above comment. If pattern companies would put in complete instructions, they WOULD sell more patterns. I am so glad I've kept patterns from 30 years ago when they did have better instructions - even if I can't wear those sizes anymore.

greg @ grey dogwood studio said...

Your side seam is amazing - I had to enlarge the photo so I could see it! I find that videos are easier for me to follow than photos, so I often search for them when trying something new. I know that you'll figure out how to do that zipper! (And yes, there's a trend in RTW with exposed zipper tape. It's ugly and it needs to go away!)

Cyn said...

Beautiful ! But totally off topic if you don't mind . . . Back in 2013 (yes 2013!)I just found a post on the Bernina 7 Series Yahoo Group where you mentioned the embroidery hoop basting stitches on the 750QE. I have been searching for the those and can't find them anywhere :( I have looked everywhere for this information and your post was the first I have heard them discussed. If you have a moment can you tell me where to find them? I am specifically looking for the Maxi Hoop (the largest hoop made for the 7 series) The only other basting stiches I found were on the Bernina Website but they don't include these newer hoops. I would be forever grateful ~ Cynthia (Sequim, WA)

Rebecca Grace said...

Cyn, I tried to respond to you directly but you are a "no reply" blogger. Do you have a 750QE? Look in your user manual on page 144. That page shows what the icons for selecting the automatic basting stitches look like. It's on the same screen where you can choose to move the hoop or park the module to the side, and it looks like a square made out of dashed lines (stitches). Hope that helps!

Creations by Paula said...

I saw that same Cashmerette pattern earlier this week and immediately thought of you. Your skirt is looking great, and I have confidence you'll figure the zipper out! Can't wait to see it.