Skinny Jeans Toile 1

Well, yesterday was horribly stressful (so much so that I was too tired to go to the Tolkien Society at UOY), but today was very good, so “swings and roundabouts” I suppose. 🙂

I toiled the “skinny” jeans for The Shire, but I hadn’t thoroughly checked the pattern before printing it, so it was a bit of a disaster (although it sewed what was possibly the neatest fly front zip I’ve ever sewn!).

These are the pages from my sketchbook:

The Shire Skinny Jeans Lay plan

These jeans are going to be made from stretch denim, with stretch needle cord knees (if I have enough fabric, otherwise, it may be the other way around).

The Shire: Tee 1 Toile

Following on from the Viking Dress toile, I made some changes to the pattern and commenced toile 4 (of the collection):

  • widened sleeves a bit (though evidently not enough)
  • took it in at the body
  • shortened to make it tee-length
  • added lace inserts

pattern-changes-tee-1

Looking at my illustrations, I can see that I forgot to add the asymmetrical hem. -_- Never mind; I needed practice with the coverstitch machine anyway (still do).

Also, I accidentally made it a size too small. This is because the size chart in Metric Pattern Cutting (which I Googled for quickness) does not agree with the dress forms at college. A size 10 dress form fits size 12 in the book, so when I made a size 10 according to the book, it was a size 8 according to the dress forms. Confusing? It can be. -_- So now it’s a nice fit on me, and a close fit on the dress form.

 Details

tee-1-side-view
Lace Inserts
Free-motion lace
Free-motion lace and cutwork (like the cobwebs of Mirkwood)

Seeing this now, I notice I forgot the top inner bar of the Celtic Knot. It could be neater and I regret marking the circle with a Sharpie (lol),  but everyone seems to be impressed with it (and I’m my own worst critic).

Neck facing
Neck facing

I was looking at my store-bought t-shirts (I acquire them via uniforms) and the back necklines are faced or bound (not sure what to call it) to cover up the overlocking. I’m trying to figure out the best way to do this. So far, I cut a shape like this, press up 0.5cm on the lower edge and short ends, sew it on after the ribbing, and then edgestitch it down. It’s not perfect, but I’m getting there.

Lay plan

tee-1-lay-plan-1

This was my first lay plan (not exactly zero-waste, but I cut the fabric too short, and this is a work in progress. I’m sure there’s a better way.

tee-1-layplan-2

Realised I could cut the ribbing on the fold, so I could rearrange things to waste less fabric. I’m beginning to think kimono sleeves are not very economical.

The Whole Tee

The Shire tee 1 front view

The neckline ribbing actually sits nice and flat when I don’t have my shoulders raised. 🙂

The Shire tee 1 Back view

(The colours in the first photo are truer to life). I like it. But, of course…

Changes to make

  • lower sleeves underseam by about 2-3cm
  • make the correct size
  • widen shoulder lace by 1-2cm
  • widen front lace to match shoulder lace
  • move back sleeve seam closer to CB
  • make asymmetrical hem

I’ll make these changes and toile again. The next top is slightly different. The lace is differently placed and there is different embroidery. It will have the wrong hem on the toile, but the actual one for the next tee is very simple so I don’t need to practise it. 🙂

I’m quite pleased with myself. I’d never made a t-shirt till this term, and almost never used an overlocker, but I think the quality on this is pretty good!

This is how the new pattern is looking so far:

The Shire tee 1 pattern

 

I have a to-do list that is a spreadsheet. I might miss college. :/

Viking Dress in Jersey

As the Hobbit and LOTR are largely inspired by Nordic legends, I thought I’d put a Viking dress into my final collection. It’s pretty much zero-waste too.

viking-dress-pattern

 

I recently got an overlocker on eBay (Toyota SLR4D) and finally have it working properly! And learning to work with jersey is one of my goals for my FMP, so I’m making this dress from either jersey or ponte knit (which I have to test sew because I haven’t used it before and it’s different).

This dress took me about 4 hours to make including cutting. I’m reasonably pleased with it and I will be wearing it, even though it’s a size 10 and I’m a 6.

Now, you may have noticed that the sleeves are a little snug in comparison to the dress form. This is one of the reasons we toile. 🙂 I have made them bigger on the pattern.

The pockets were going to be sleeve segments, but I thought pockets would be better (because who doesn’t love pockets?!)

New skills used in this dress: ribbing, overlock seams, overstitching, using clear elastic as a stabiliser on knits, and marking jersey (use a marker pen). I haven’t perfected the neckline though (and it bothers me).

I got the fabric yesterday at The Shuttle in Leeds. I went on a fabric sourcing trip with the class, which was fruitful, though I still have a few more things to get, like sweatshirting and gold-coloured denim. I estimated my final collection will cost up to £300 in supplies. Not bad really, considering in London it’s not unusual to pay £7,000 (but that includes paying people to make it for you, which we don’t because we learn technical skills 😛 ).

I have updated the pattern to work with the changes in the sleeves, and will try it next in a t-shirt, perhaps with the lace at the shoulders too. 🙂

 

If you’d like more timely updates, don’t forget to check out my Instagram!

 

Twisted Seams in Jeans

I know I haven’t mentioned it on here yet, but I’m onto my final collection of my BA (Hons) Fashion Design & Production at York College. It’s called The Shire and is based largely on The Hobbit and LOTR (follow my Instagram for better updates). I’ve more or less got my final designs and two of the garments are jeans (oh yeah, I now work at Levi’s in York City Centre as a stylist and tailor). There will be a pair of Mom Jeans and a pair of skinny jeans. First I’m working with the Mom Jeans.

At Levi’s we have some jeans like this. They’re a slim, relaxed fit in the leg, with a good fit in the bottom, and a fairly straight waist. The latter is something I will not be incorporating because I like my jeans to stay up without a belt, but the legs are good and I want to use that look. So I compared the cut with those from Metric Pattern Cutting for Womenswear and found that they are wildly different, but both look good. The latter didn’t look Mom-jeanish though when I toiled them.

This is what the Metric Pattern Cutting Jeans look like if you widen the legs to  make them Mom-jeanish
This is what the Metric Pattern Cutting Jeans look like if you widen the legs to make them Mom-jeanish

 

This is the shape of Levi's jeans like the 501s, Wedgie-fit, and 501CT (from memory)
This is the shape of Levi’s jeans like the 501s, Wedgie-fit, and 501CT (from memory)

Now, bear in mind that the first ones are size 12, and the latter ones are my size (approximately 8) so mine are narrower. The legs on the Levi’s jeans are much straighter at the outseam than the Metric Pattern Cutting ones. The alignment is also a lot closer to the side seam; you could very nearly make selvedge jeans with that pattern!

So I printed it out in my size and toiled it. All going to plan, but I made the pattern too long and shortened it on paper. This is where things began to go awry. When truing the side seam I forgot to take account of the yoke on the back, so the front pattern ended up 3cm too short, and of course I didn’t realise at the time.

I noticed something was wrong when I was sewing the inseam and the back was not only not shorter than the front (it should be) but it was too long by a fair bit. I just cut it off the crutch with the overlocker (bad move). Now the inseams matched. So I sewed the side seams, and realised that it wasn’t just the inseams that wouldn’t have matched. I carried on sewing and tried the toile on afterwards.

Now, the first problem was the bum-nose. I do not wish to appear as if I have a tail tucked in there. I assumed that this was probably due to the issue with the crutch seam, so I moved on.

Another issue came to my attention when I looked down. The legs had twisted symmetrically. I could not fathom why. Levi’s jeans didn’t. And my toile wasn’t even in twill so that couldn’t be it. Surely it must be the fit?

I cut up one leg and examined the new shape. It was… odd.

Front leg of toile

 

Rear leg of toile

Now, I assumed, based on half-remembered facts about twisted seams, that I must adjust the pattern to make the jeans hang right when I wear them. So I spent a good few hours playing with the pattern on Illustrator, in vain, because I couldn’t get the seams to be corresponding measurements. After said good few hours it occurred to me to get the toile out and examine it again. I thought, What would happen if I lay the legs as they would have, had they been the same length to begin with and I hadn’t chopped that bit off?

And this is what happened…

twisting-legs

The back leg’s inseam was 3cm lower than the from leg, but sewn to match it, so the grainlines were not level. This meant the leg was trying to level itself out. As it couldn’t do that magically, it twisted round like a spiral staircase. It sort of makes sense and evidently is what happened, as you can see in the above photo. Accidental Pattern Magic. As proof, if I lay the front leg properly across (as it should have been) all it well. I wore it pinned for a while correctly and it didn’t twist. I didn’t take any pictures of this (but I’m going to retoile to eliminate this issue and check the fit otherwise).

So there we have it: the (or a) cause of twisted legs in jeans is when either the front or the back isn’t level (maybe because the seamstress/seamster stretched one of them and cut it off to match). I think this happens more if the problem extends below the knee.

I’m glad I learned that little tidbit, especially as I want to be a Master Tailor at Levi’s. 🙂

Summertime Shorts

We’ve been having a heatwave here in Britain, and I needed some more shorts. I had what I thought was a pretty good pattern, but measuring the waistline I wonder how on Earth I ever managed to zip my un-stretched shorts up! I must have made some colossal mistakes when measuring or something because I’ve had to increase the waist measurement considerably (and, no, I haven’t got that much bigger — as if I could gain weight!).

The inspiration for these shorts is a blend of Audrey Hepburn’s shorts in Sabrina, and some shorts I have already designed and made. They are quite short, but not hot pants, and I’ve flared the legs a bit since toiling so they will hopefully be a bit more elegant.

Toiling

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The initial fit (after adjusting the waist measurement on Illustrator) was pretty good. The waistband pokes out a bit at the front, but I think that’s due to the fairly straight waistline on the front pieces. I’ve corrected that since. The waistline fits actually on my waistline all the way around. They’re comfortable.

I did have a 1cm discrepancy on the inseam — the back needed lengthening there, but now it matches the front. I think that may account for the funny fit on the toile.

I’ve since flared the back leg pieces so they don’t cup the cheeks so. I was working off a photo of Audrey Hepburn:

Audrey Hepburn filming for the film ‘Sabrina’

There seemed to be some variable camel toe on the front. It wasn’t major and I wasn’t sure what to do about it, so I’ve left it for now. We’ll see if it disappears when I use proper fabric. 🙂

 

Making

Summertime shorts, making

Now, partly in an effort not to use the iron (I don’t want to use too much electricity) and partly because I don’t know where my interfacing is, I have not fused the waistband on these shorts. Instead I am using my favourite notion: cotton tape. I stitched to the waistband on one seam-line before I did anything else, and I will stitch it along the fold-line next. On this line of stitching, I will ease it in by 0.5cm to give the fit of a contoured waistband, without the bother of actually drafting and cutting one (save fabric). This is kind of an experiment and we’ll see by the end of this post how it goes.

I am using an invisible zip because they are the easiest to sew, and you only need a 1cm seam allowance, so they’re the easiest and most economical to cut as well.

I have lined the back pockets too. I liked in inside, so I’ve left one the WS out, which you’ll see at the end. 🙂

(Bother! I just remembered that I forgot to use cotton tape on the hip pockets; they seem to be okay…)

Fabrics

Both of the fabrics for these shorts came from a previous college project (which was heavily inspired by Colette Sewing Patterns). One is a stretch jade denim, and the pocket linings are Liberty, both from eBay.

I was going to use the WS of this denim, but I kind of like the RS too. We’ll see if I make another pair from it, or if I use to for something else. 🙂

I’m a teensy bit out of practice with stretch fabrics, so the back pockets were minutely distorted, but I think I soon got the hang of it again. 🙂

 

The finished shorts

Annoyingly, my sewing machine pedal stopped working, so I had to sew using the start/stop button, which makes it harder. Anyway, I finished the shorts last night. I hand-stitched the waistband down inside, after bagging it out at the ends.

I hemmed the shorts by hand, and then found that I had to TS the edge down by machine anyway. I should have increased the hem allowance because, for some reason, I only used a 1cm hem allowance. I need about an inch. I could have used a bias facing, but I don’t know how much binding I have left…

Click on the images below for more details. 🙂

(Just trying out the gallery thing on WordPress — every one of those cuts my head off! lol)

All in all, I LOVE these shorts! They’re so comfy! They fit just right too.

 

Sabrina

 

My blouse is finished

This is my blouse now that it’s been washed and pressed. Now, I know the fit is off, but I found out why: when I fitted the sleeve I didn’t finish altering the pattern and then when I was cutting the blouse fabric, I didn’t notice the notes I had made on the pattern to change it later. There’s another reason to make a toile.

Next time I make a blouse I will of course make sure the sleeve fits right. I ought also to underline or “back” it. And press as I go because somehow, the collar still isn’t quite right at the back.

I don’t remember if I mentioned it last time, but I have added sleeve heads. I think I may have to stitch them down somewhere because the left one keeps coming out of place. Next time I may make them wider.

Still, it’s a nice blouse and a good first try, don’t you think?

Muslin Vs. Toile

And while we’re briefly on the subject of toiles (or as the Americans call them, “muslins”) let’s clear up the issue of which fabric to use. Given that the Americans publish far more sewing literature than we British do, we often read of making a muslin. That can be confusing because we would naturally assume that a muslin ought to be made of muslin. Not so.

In England, we call muslins “toiles” (a French word, pronounced “twals”) and we make them out of calico or cheap cotton. Muslin fabric as we know it is for face cloths and cloth-nappy linings. It’s far too sheer for making test garments when we are going to make the real garment out of an ordinary fabric.

In America, they call calico “muslin” and make their test garments out of calico, just a we do (or ought to do). I don’t know what they call muslin fabric.

I hope that has cleared the matter up for people. It will certainly help me now that I know. But what am I going to do with the 6 metres of muslin that’s sitting on my sewing desk?

This week I have been studying pattern-making

And I have been looking at BurdaStyle magazine. I have only one issue: October 2010 (our nearest WHSmiths is a bus-ride away and I haven’t another reason to go to town). Two of the reasons I got it are that there are Jackie O. styles and Career clothes (I started learning about Power Dressing when I was about twelve.)

I was browsing though the instructions when I noticed the shape of the collar pattern for blouse style 130. It’s not shaped like a standard convertible collar: it’s curved. I thought they must have drafted an exceptionally well-engineered collar pattern, and they may have, but as it turns out, it’s not a convertible collar as the photo might have you think — it’s a small notched collar. It does say this in the caption, but it hadn’t really sunk in until I noticed the pattern piece’s shape. 
Please ignore the blue lines on the technical drawing – I added those.
(As a side note, they also suggest that we use a bias strip as a back-neck facing. I would have just turned the raw edge in and stitched invisibly by hand. The buttons are invisible in this blouse – the buttonholes are on the facing only, not the outside. How unusual!)
Here’s a photo of inside Metric Pattern Cutting for Women’s Wear by Winifred Aldrich. I think the BurdaStyle blouse must have been drafted like style 19 – the Standard Rever – with a collar with a low stand. It’s the curved shape of the collar that tipped me off. The standard rever collar is drafted like the Gent’s collar (notched collar) but is rounder at the neckline and, in this example, can be shaped more. I suppose the Gent’s collar could shaped in the same way. It would just result in a lower “stand”.
To find out how much the collar pattern had been slashed and spread, I traced it, tore up to neckline (I didn’t have my scissors handy) and overlapped until it was more or less straight. There was a 1cm overlap, which means that they had inserted 2cm, which is how much is in the Metric Pattern Cutting collar with stand. I assumed that Burda, being European, most likely use the metric pattern cutting method, rather than the American one. As an extra clue, their measurements are not the same as other companies, and they are known for their cut.
So that’s what I’ve been doing this week. I hope you found it interesting. You know, when I started to learn to sew, I wanted to be able to make whatever style I wanted, having designed clothes for years, but not been able to make them. It’s only now that I can really start to do that because I am learn pattern-making. I didn’t adapt patterns beyond not cutting holes at the neckline (if you can call that adapting a pattern). Isn’t it great that things are usually really very simple, once you get the basic idea?!
Until next week, happy sewing (and possibly pattern-making!)
Sabrina Wharton-Brown
The Sewing Corner