Sunday, May 27, 2012

Fitting a commercial pattern: Pants

Recently I  attended my second class on fitting and modifying a commercial pattern. Last time it was a dress, this time pants.

I have wanted to make the Colette Clover pants for sometime - so cute and versatile but I was intimidated mainly because they are PANTS and they are fitted! Plus I've never made a pair of pants before.


So best to get help from professionals - I'm glad I did. So, I completed a muslin (in calico) based on the sizing on the chart I thought. Not good - too small around the hips and way too low at the back. Also there's something strange going on in the crotch area of the pattern and it was a bit full at the front.

Source - not my pants btw
So quite a few modifications needed and a second muslin will have to be done. Having read other blogs on the Clover pants, fitting this pattern (or maybe all pants) can be an issue but when people get it right, they seemed to be happy with them.

My suggestions:-
- definitely make a test garment (ideally in a similar stretch fabric)
- Colette as a series of blogs for her Clover Sewalong which includes fabric select and fitting - definitely worth a look

Despite making the muslin in calico (I couldn't find any cheap fabric with the right stretch), I will be using fabric with stretch for comfort. So I'll be checking the fit again in the fashion fabric. I want to include stretchable interlining in the pants to help minimise the stretch fabric growing as I wear it (I hope). And I'll be lining them for luxury and comfort. This could be overkill but I'll see how we go.

I've found a thick French blue cotton with some stretch which will be excellent for my first attempt. Fingers crossed.....

Monday, May 21, 2012

Finished garment: Vintage red sheath dress

You may remember I finished a couple of courses recently:-
- Susan's Khaljie's online The Couture Dress course
- Fitting a commercial pattern course

I decided to apply what I had learned to a vintage sheath dress pattern I'd collected some time ago. It ticked all the right boxes for us curvy girls:-

  • the bodice and skirt darts allowed for figure flattering fitting
  • the skirt was not quite pencil straight so was hip/thigh skimming
  • the 2 side slits allowed for ease of movement
  • there was a nice V neck feature at the back of the dress
  • there were some subtle tucks at the waist making the stomach area more flattering
  • I left the overskirt option off but having seen the dress, it could be quite cute in the right fabric
So to the fabric and construction:-

  • Fashion fabric: Red/black digital print cotton with a subtle sateen finish. Originally I was thinking silk but I chose a lower cost option so I could test the outcome and also wear it more often. I also wanted a slightly retro look in the fabric
  • Interlining: lightweight cotton (not my best choice as it did not have great body and was difficult to handle but then I did want a washable option)
  • Lining: Red poly acetate - cost related choice again but it was a pain to handle (especially during cutting and marking)
Not the greatest photos but I promise to post photos of me wearing the dress...
Front - boat neck fitted bodice

Side view
Side view - hand inserted side zip

Back view - V neckline

Here's what I learned:-
  • After the muslin fitting, I spent ages adjusting the muslin (darts etc) and reassembling the toile to make sure I had the fit correct. It was worth it. It was so fantastic to have a garment that fitted regardless of size or shape. It make a huge difference
  • I followed Susan's assembly techniques pretty much to the letter. Hand basting, interlining, inserting the lining by hand - the whole nine yards. Again, it was so worth it - the dress is an absolute dream to wear! The interlining and lining makes the garment feel more "substantial", "luxurious" and comfortable to wear.
  • I enjoyed the handsewing! Not so much the thread tracing but inserting the lining and zip by hand was easier than I thought and you get more control. Even prick stitching the lining so it didn't roll past the fashion fabric was really satisfying to do. 
  • I will absolutely use this muslin pattern again. I could use it to adjust the front neckline for variety. Because the shape is so classic - it lends itself to variation in fabric and some alterations eg. sleeves.
  • I learned lots of patience and I can still hear my other half say "is it worth it?" The answer is "yes, absolutely!".
  • I've resolved to make fewer garment (not than I'm a prolific sewer anyway) but make them better. I'm aiming for a couple of garments a season. 
How do you feel about the garments you make? Which ones do you enjoy wearing often or make again?

Monday, May 7, 2012

My Sewing (and Knitting) "To Do" list

I'm not a "Do To" list kind of person. I tend to flit from project to project depending on what takes my fancy at the time.

But....I started one on this blog. Mostly to give me visual inspiration and keep me focussed - I get distracted easily by other possibilities.

You can  find my list on this page (we're heading into winter now). I'll continue to add to it but the main purpose is to  do a good job on things on the list and not get too ambitious. Let's see.....

Do you have a "To Do" list? What projects have you got planned for the upcoming season?
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