Archive for January, 2016

Interfacing Day

There are three or four cut-out shirts in their ziplock bags that need interfacing to be applied to collars, facings, and cuffs.  To try something new, I set up a table in the living room, made an ironing surface (cardboard cutting board, towels and an old tablecloth) and got busy pressing multiple pieces at once onto the sticky side of the interfacing.  I use the iron tip to tack the garment piece onto the interfacing, then cut it out, then press it according to the interfacing instructions.

DSC01852After everything is nice and dry, the pieces for each new project go back into the ziplock to wait for the day it stops being a UFO and becomes a shirt.  I find that I am more likely to sew up a project if the interfacing has been done and I can just sit down and sew.  The gray fabric is a new shirt for A and it is going to have contrast cuff and collar lining.  The gray has pinky/purple undertones, so I found a scrap of fabric that coordinates with it.  It made me think of all the small lengths of cute fabric I have that are too small for a top but could be useful as interesting collar and cuff linings.

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Jungle Print Top


Though I have made many of these New Look 6871 tops, I have never before made one from a knit.  Printed knits like this one are often easier to sew than stretchier knits but I was thinking that the usual yoke construction method would create a bulky seam.  I decided to do the neckline in the usual way but to sew the two yoke layers as one unit to the gathered lower part.  It seems to have worked fine.


Topstitching holds the seam in place and also goes around the neckline and armholes.


I was a little surprised how neatly the hem turned out.  My usual method is to hand baste a 1/4″ turnunder, then press up another 3/4″.  I stitch from the wrong side near the folded edge with a narrow zigzag ( a ‘1’ on my machine) and a stitch length that is stretched out and not dense.  I experimented with different sewing feet and ended up using this one:


This foot came with my Elna SU when I bought it used over 25 years ago, so I have no idea what the foot was originally for since the accessory box had some non-Elna feet in it too.  It slides smoothly over the knit without pushing it out of shape,  so I’ll be using it for knit hems from now on.  It’s a low shank foot so I use it on my other low-shank machines too (right now it’s on my Kenmore).


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Pink Raw Silk Blouse

This former UFO sat around for years just because I didn’t feel like making the buttonholes and sewing on the buttons.  Did I say I was a procrastinator?  Finally, one day I just found the buttons and finished off this project.




I think this is McCall’s 8082:

Fullscreen capture 1252016 14750 PM

I’ve made lots of these shirts over the years since I used to have a job in an office where I had to lift and carry lots of heavy boxes full of documents.  This shirt looked office appropriate but had enough room for movement.  It also was modest enough for bending over and lifting things.  Why is it that large offices always seem to have That Creepy Guy Who Looks The Girls Over that you steer clear of?

Now I have an extra ziplock UFO bag that I should go fill with another cut out project.

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This morning I was thinking about the Bunka sleeve draft that I wanted to try out, and I was wishing I had the book:  http://www.amazon.com/Bunka-Fashion-Garment-Design-Textbook/dp/B004XYLRVK/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1453500755&sr=1-1&keywords=bunka+fashion+college .  I looked the sleeve up on the internet and found various instructions, and read the instructions in my Japanese sewing magazines (looked at the illustrations, rather, since I don’t read much Japanese).  Eventually I figured it out:

DSC01826  I’m interested to try it out on my blouse pattern because I had moved the shoulder seam forward and this draft seems to account for that.  This will let me match the top notch to the shoulder seam and will let the sleeve seam match the side seam again.  DSC01828

I finally made my TNT blouse pattern into a sloper of sorts by cutting it out of poster board and trimming off the seam allowances.  Now I can use them to try some Japanese sewing patterns I have saved.  The photo below shows how the sloper (the red portion) is used as the base for the new pattern.  You trace out your sloper and make the changes and additions as shown in the pattern graphic.

DSC01829Now that that is all drafted, I can start sewing a new top for M.  I cut out the Jungle Print top and cut two sets of front and back yoke pieces.  One will be the lining and one will be the right side.  It is a large print, and the color scheme of each set was so different that I took pictures of them and sent them to M so she could decide which she liked best.

2016-01-21The one on the left has more animal print and lots of black and white, and the one on the right has more teal (which she likes).  She chose the one on the left, so now I am going to go thread the machine and get started.

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Now that I have tried out Sure-Fit Designs pattern drafting system, I have decided that I like it a lot and that it really works well.  It makes it very easy to draft up a sloper to use to fit commercial patterns and to draft patterns for yourself or others that fit well.  When I was in college, I used to go to a nearby bookstore and buy the Dressmaking Magazine copies with some of my very meager spending money.  I still have all the old copies of this Japanese magazine.  I recently found out that there are copies of recent Japanese pattern drafting and sewing magazines on ISSUU, and I realized that I could use my SFD sloper to produce some of those fashions.  The magazines use different slopers including the Bunka sloper which seemed to be really interesting, so this morning I tried drafting that one.  It is very scientific and involves calculations and angle measurements which made it really different from the effortless and easy SFD method.


My Dressmaking magazines

DSC01804Starting the Bunka draft

Below is my finished Bunka sloper.  I used my real shoulder length instead of the calculated one, and used the SFD method of locating the bust point, but otherwise followed the Bunka method.  One thing that helped a lot was to do all the calculating ahead of time so that the results were already noted down when I started drafting.


I compared the Bunka sloper to my SFD sloper (which has seam allowances added and a lowered neckline) and they were very similar.


I got a little carried away printing off copies of Japanese designs I want to draft so I made up a new binder to hold them and other sewing info.


It’s like playing grown-up paper dolls with all the cutting and taping, but this time the clothes are for me.

Last weekend I was in San Jose with my husband so we stopped in at Kinokuniya.  I thought I had seen the Bunka textbooks there and wanted to get one, but alas, it turns out that I saw them at the LA branch.  I did find these excellent magazines, though, and the Pattern Magic book which has a short section on the Bunka sloper drafting technique.


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DSC01806This has been hanging from the sewing room door waiting for its photo session, and since M would like to take it home, today is the day.

DSC01808One of my daughters got a whole set of sewing machine feet for me for Christmas, so I have been trying out different types of feet to see how they work for top stitching.  I don’t have to wait for an opportunity to top stitch since I use it on every garment.

I cut out another one of these in a knit to see how the pattern sews up and wears in a stretchy fabric, and right now I am thinking about how to change the method of construction to avoid thick seams.

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This top is so easy to make and so flattering that it is simple to see why I have made so many of them.

DSC01796 This picture was taken in a different location from my usual spot, and the lights caused Madam Merp to become golden.

DSC01798The yoke was fussy cut so that there would be a centered motif.  I forgot to avoid ‘bullseyes’ but lucked out anyway.  This top should look cute as a work top under a black cardigan for M.

This top has only been cut out for a week or so which is amazing for me.  It never even got to be a UFO. At the same time this was cut out, I cut out a denim blue top which will be next in line.  I already have the sewing machine threaded in the correct color.  I think I have mentioned before that in my youth (and adulthood) I was a terrible procrastinator, but in recent years I have been trying to improve in this area.  It used to be that just having to change the thread color would be something I would put off doing for some reason, but now I try to decide what I am going to sew on next and get over there to the machine and change the thread.


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