Monday, 25 February 2013

Do You _Need_ a Stretch Buttonhole Stitch?

There seems to be conflicting information regarding buttonholes on jersey. Some say that they should stretch with the fabric, others say that you must use a gimp thread to prevent the buttonhole from stretching. I've tried both ways and the latter seems the most satisfactory. Besides, if you have a stretchy buttonhole, what's to stop it from stretching undone?

The question becomes: is there a need for a stretch buttonhole? If you look a ready-to-wear t-shirts with functioning buttonholes (they're rare, but they do exist) you will see that the buttonholes look just like regular ones. So yesterday, after shortening a t-shirt dress that was too short to be a dress and too long to be tucked into my jeans, I used the extra to try some buttonholes.

I had seen on PeacockChic that kitchen paper makes good stabiliser for buttonholes on stretch fabric. I didn't have any kitchen paper handy so I used tissue instead.

The first buttonhole was without stabiliser, and with a ballpoint needle, you know, the ones that are supposed to prevent skipped stitches. As you can see, that was a waste of time.

Next I tried with a universal needle and tissue as stabiliser.

That looks much better, but not quite as tidy as I would like. I also wanted to try a horizontal buttonhole:

In fairness, I had stretched this buttonhole to see the result. This is why you need a gimp thread (for which I used topstitching thread). Take two:

That's much better. If I had been making a garment, I would have used matching-coloured gimp thread and taken the ends through to the inside of the facing, but for practice there wasn't much point.

Now of course, if you have a tug-of-war with it, it will stretch (what wouldn't?) but for real-life use I think this is perfectly fine.

So you don't need a stretch buttonhole on your sewing machine, even for jersey. (I have one, but I like this buttonhole, don't you?)

Sabrina Wharton-Brown

Sunday, 24 February 2013

I Think I Finally Understand Kimono Sleeves

They have been a bit of a puzzle to me insofar as getting a really close fit (like Gertie's wiggle dress). What confused me was the kimono block in Metric Pattern Cutting for Womenswear - see how low that curve (black line) is at the underarm? It starts at most a few inches above the waistline. That is definitely not the silhouette I have seen elsewhere!

But look a couple of pages later, at the styles with panel gussets. They fit more as I want, more like a regular dress. I saw in Natalie Bray's book (I think it was More Dress Pattern Designing from the library) a design that had a large gusset that was cut from the bodice pattern and arranged so that it had enough fabric to function ss a gusset, like the designs below where I have drawn in blue (water disolving pen).

And yesterday morning I thought, what if the segments were cut very narrow, maybe an eigth of an inch wide? (The blue lines on number 45 give a better illustration of what I mean.) That would give the same fit but with a much more traditional/discreet gusset. This way I can have a high-cut underarm for a kimono sleeve pattern. And there I was thinking that the instuctions on page 63 were the only way to get a comfortable fit! Thank goodness for the Internet, sewing bloggers and Google Images!

I've thought about it again, and I wonder if Aldrich only considers is to be a true "kimono" sleeve if it has the curve at the underarm, and without it, she calls it a cap sleeve (even if it's long)?

Update: I thought I was forgeting something!

For a closer-fitting sleeve, I wonder if it would be alright to use the "close-fitting sleeve" adaption (number 5 on page 51).

I'm wondering about the bias-cut. I think Gertie's dress was cut from a stretch fabric so that wouldn't be an issue. But what about wovens? Vintage dresses were cut from wovens and they often had quite close-fitting kimono sleeves, if the pattern illustrations and fabric recommendations are anything to go by (and I hope they are!).

Thursday, 21 February 2013

My Sewing Pattern and Rulers

One of these drafts is my old (uncomfortable) one and the other is the one I made after adapting the method in Winifred Aldrich's Metric Pattern Cutting for Women's Wear (5th Ed.). The one on top is the old one (it has an orange outline) and the one underneath is my new one with seam allowances.

It's quite bizarre how different they are, especially the back pattern. What happened there? The bust dart is the right size though (not standard; I had adapted that far).

Now for the sleeve:

There is a profound difference in the size. The old one is on top. I'm not sure if I used this pattern (it's likely though). No wonder my old sleeves were so uncomfortable. But still, you can see that the neither sleeves is  symmetrical, which is good. I agree with Kathleen on that matter.

The benefit to having such a full back sleeve (even if there may be no ease) is that the fabric acts as a sort of gusset that lets you bring your arms forward. With that and the correctly drawn armscye, I can stretch my arms right out in front of me. (Of course the bodice comes up a little, but I have had much worse sleeves on a jacket from a book called Make Your Own Clothes from PatternMaker software. That jacket never worked for me...)

On another note, I've been designing and drafting a new blouse and I have two options. Option one:

And option 2:

At first view, the designs might not look that different. They're not. The only differnce is the opening. The first option is a standard button-up. The second one has a "closing under a box pleat" with instructions similar to those in A Nu-way Course in Fashionable Clothes-making from (I think) 1926. It was on when it was up and I copied and pasted to and edited on Word (that took a very long time, but it was worth it). You can find it on Google's Wayback machine now.

I think I'll go with option 1 because I drafted it before I figured out how to draft option two, and it uses less fabric anyway.

On a third note, have you ever had something for ages and only then realised how incredibly useful? I have, and this is that thing:

The Pocket Shoben fashioncurve. (6" ruler in there for comparison of size). I got it for my 19th birthday in set when I got my full-size Shoben Fashion Curve. It should come in handy when I go to college in September. Anyway, is useful for smoothing out small curves (like a French curve is) and it's also great for adding seam allowances to small places. It's much more convenient than using my full-size fashion curve on something like a neck-line. This is the full set:

The rectangular thing is mainly for adding button placements to patterns. The corner thing is a scale ruler in 1/4 and 1/5 scales and is very good for that. Also included are 1/5 scales master patterns on card, but I didn't take a photograph of them.

That's all for today.

Toodloo! : )

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

"Redrafting my Sloper" or "Updating Aldrich"

For some reason when I tried on my old sloper (the one whose shoulders I found out needed squaring, after making my French Dart Dress and having the neckline gape) it didn't fit at all. That put me in a dreadful mood for the rest of the day. Today I drafted two new ones using a modified version of Aldrich's close fitting block. I drafted one to have 6cm bust ease but it ended up with none (or as good as)! It had been taken out in the shaping of the seams and darts. So I drafted new one with"10cm" ease. It fit much better so I checked the measurement along the bust line. There was only about 7.6cm ease (not what it said on the tin but fine with me and actually a "close fit"). What effect will this have on the lingerie block adaptions and the strapless bodice? The latter will have negative on the bust. That can't be right, can it?

To understand what on earth I am talking about in this post you will have to get your copy of Metric Pattern Cutting out and turn to pages 16 and 17.
Anyway, the adaptions I made to the method are these:


Centre Back Length:
0 -- 5: Full back length
5 --1 = centre back length ( gives much better fit at the back neck).

Back Shoulder Slope/Pitch/Squareness:
To get the shoulders the right amount of slope, use your ruler as a giant drafting compass from 5 to draft an arch for the shoulder pitch. To get the shoulder point do  similar thing from 9 using the shoulder length plus 1cm for a dart.

Armscye Depth:
0 -- 2 = Armscye Depth + 2cm (I used the standard measurement).

Centre Front Length:
For front length go down from 4 the full front length measurement and mark "x". Measure up from x the centre front length. This gives a more comfortable neckline. 20-27 = DART WIDTH. 20-26 is bust depth marked along the dotted line.

Front Shoulder Slope/Pitch/Squareness:
The shoulder is drawn much like the back shoulder was, but using 27 as the neck point. For the pitch, go up from x to the bust point and then use the bust point as the pivot point. Arch from 27 the shoulder length. Where the arches cross is the shoulder point. On my new sloper it is level with the back shoulder point even though my front pitch is 2cm longer than my back pitch.

Divide 29-22 in half and mark. Connect the point and 32 straight. Slide your square along this line until its arm hits 22. Connect straight, divide into 3 and mark the point nearest 22. Curve from 30 to half-point to third-point to 32.

Repeat for the back armscye except that you use the third-point further from 14. You will probably have to draw these curves by hand (i.e. without a french curve).

12cm shaping is not going to work for everybody. The amount you need to take the waist in will of course depend on how small it is compared with your bust, i.e. 

(bust + ease of 10cm) - (waist + ease of 6cm)
(79+10cm)-(60+6cm) = 23cm, divided by 2 (for a half-a-person pattern) =11.5cm

Then divided that by 3 (=3.8). We'll call this w.

For the front waist dart you add 0.5cm to this. 3.8 + 0.5 = 4.3cm

For the front side shaping (i.e. how much you take the side seam in at the front) you divide w by 2 and add 0.5. 3.8 / 2 = 1.9cm, + 0.5 = 2.4cm

The back side-seam shaping is w/2 - 0.5cm: 3.8cm/2 -0.5cm = 0.9cm.

The back dart is ((w - 0.5cm)/3) x 2 : ((3.8cm-0.5cm)/3) x 2 = (3.3/3 = 1.1) x 2 = 2.2cm

The centre back waist shaping is (- 0.5cm)/3: 3.3/3 = 1.1cm

I think the CB shaping helps avoid swayback misdiagnosis. This is like a dart that is in a seam so you must still leave the original drawn CB line for when you add extend down to the hip line. Once you have tried this CB shaping I think you will be very pleased with the difference it makes to your dresses and tops.

(12th July 3013) UPDATE: 
The standard proportion of waist shaping show above doesn't work for everybody (me) because some people have more shaping at the back than at the front. Therefore a better, more personalised way is needed, and this is how I do it:

Subtract a quarter of the waist+ease measurement (Here 66 divided by 4 = 16.5cm) from the front bust-line meausurement (3--32 on the above drawing) and call this F. Divide F by three and call this f. The front dart is 2f (so you can just measure out f from the front waist dart line), and the front side waist shaping is f. That's the front waist done.

The back shaping is done like this:
Subtract a quarter of the waist+ease measurement (16.5cm) from the back bustline measurement (here line 2--22). Call this B. The back waist dart is 0.5B. The CB shaping is 0.2B. The side seam shaping is 0.3B. If you like you can probably equalize the side seam shaping.

The darts are extended 3/4 waist to hip (on me 3/4 20cm = 15cm).

Hip measurments:
The back hips should also be bigger than the front hips. This makes a real difference to the hang of the garment when it's unbuttoned (like a dressmaker summer jacket). It you have the pattern's back hips too narrow and the front hips too wide, you will find the garment swings open when unbuttoned and when it's closed, the front will have flare and the back will bubble up above the hem; it won't be smooth. 

So you see, the garment swinging open is not always because of the shoulders or bust. They might be fitted perfectly but the garment still swings. To find out how much bigger your back hips should be compared with your front hips, have the tape measure around your hips with the start at where you feel your side seam should be and the lower numbers to your front. Put your finger nail on the other imaginary side seam and, taking care to keep the measurement "marked", remove the tape measure. Now you have your front hip measurement and your full hip measurement. Take your front hips from your full hips and you have your back hip measurement. (It's worth noting these down by the way).

Divide this measurement in two.
Suppose the full hip measurement were 88cm and the front hips were 43cm. That means the back hips are 45cm. The pattern will use half-measurements so we have:
Full hips: 44cm
Front hips: 21.5cm
Back hips: 22.5cm.

This means that for the pattern's sake we have a difference of 22.5cm-21.5cm=1cm difference between the front and back hips (2cm in real life). So even after ease has been added the hip measurement, and that number divided in four for the front and back patterns, we add 0.5cm to the back hips and take 0.5cm from the front hips for a difference of 1cm on the pattern.
88cm + 6cm ease = 94cm
94cm / 4 = 23.5cm
Front: 23.5cm - 0.5cm = 23cm
Back: 23.5cm + 0.5cm = 24cm
Difference = 1cm on the half-a-person pattern, total 2cm difference in real life.

My Toile/Muslin

[My hat is off to those blogger who can take a good photograph of themselves (especially a backview). Do they have lightweight cameras or tripods or something?]

I think these adaptions should avoid many fitting problems, but I would love to know what you think. If you have blogged about it, please add a link in a comment below and (as long as it's not spam) I'll enable the comment (comments with links seem to go straight to spam).