Thursday, 7 May 2015

Sewing School Scoop - Volume 3

Well, I’ve been going to sewing school weekly now since March, and of course REALLY enjoying it. There are so many gaps in my sewing knowledge and this week I worked out I've been sewing my own clothes for FOURTEEN YEARS. Blogging about my sewing for 8 years (could it really be?) as well. But the gaps in my technique have become bigger and bigger and it's weird now because I have a high expectation on myself and what I can produce, but realistically I do need to spend time and learn and relearn some things. Plus, I think a lot of techniques, when we don't do them frequently or know a nifty way to do them, we just put to one side ... like my button holes for example. I haven't done them for AGES and now I'm like, I don't need them!

In these Sewing School Scoop blogposts, I hope to do a round up of what I've been learning ... for myself mostly, but they seem to be really of interest to you too, and I love hearing some of your suggestions! Keep them coming... So, here's my round up of what I'm getting from my sewing school:

1. The last pattern I made for myself was the Manado Dress, and while it's a perfectly normal lovely dress to wear (I've worn it already for MMM '15) it could do with a better fit and here Teacher Catherine is showing me some different ways to draw my pattern next time for that better fit... it's lowering the neckline (I think we thought 2.5 cm was best) and perhaps dropping the armhole a little. I need to get one of these rulers!

To find your mark in lowering the neckline, you measure 2.5cm on the front, underneath the original neckline, then draw a line 90 degrees out from the fold line... then you can see how this ruler will give you a gradual shape to that line. I'll try this next time on my other traced pattern.

2. My next Sewing School project were the Hanoi Trousers for kids, and you can see them finished here for Kid's Clothing Week. I bought a big roll of tracing paper from Teacher Catherine's supply: 135 RMB / $27 Australian / $21 US / 14 pounds. Nice price I reckon! For me, I have only really traced a few things, so now I'm learning there's a few ways to go about it... You can trace the pattern of course, but Couture Nomad like a lot of European patterns (I'm told and know though Burda Style online) don't include seam allowance... so I tried that out first (but promptly forgot this when I went to cut)...

I cut the bottom of the trousers, the hemline first (the pattern is just one piece with no side seams, just the inner crotch seam)  and then remembered I needed to add the seam allowance, so one way you can do that is draw in chalk the seam allowance.

3. Do you know a good way to join elastic together? I learnt a good way! See below photo, I drew Teacher Muriel the original way I would use a normal straight stitch to join the elastic together...  basically layer the pieces and sew a square and then just go around and around until there was no square just a bit mess of thread. The elastic always slipped into the casing, so no one ever saw! But now you see my PERFECTLY zigzagged and joined ever so nicely elastic... zigzag twice on one side and then zigzag twice on the other. So both ends are sealed.

4. I have a new habit! I actually double back on all my ends now! Before sewing school I never sew-ed forward, then backwards, then forward again on my machine. What a time saver I was! What a dickhead! Because then darts would come undone after 3 or 4 washes or other slow burns like that. Now I do the thing where you double back and nothing ever comes undone! Very good for ironing/pressing too! Yes I do a lot of that now also!

5. So as Couture Nomad uses 1cm seam allowance on the patterns and I tried this myself recently on a shirt I drafted from a couple of existing woven bodice pieces and an old RTW tshirt sleeve… and it’s so much easier on my overlocker to do the corners… it’s actually dreamy. I feel like I’m ‘driving’ it a whole lot better...

6. But yes, I may actually be a pattern tracer who needs to include the seam allowance because luckily I only stuffed up the hemline! I cut the size 4 just to be safe around his middle, but he really only needs a size 2 in the length... so I was saved by the bell. Or the size. or the shortness of my son? But anyways, Teacher Muriel then showed me what to do to pattern to make sure I had enough fabric along the hemline...

It's not super exaggerated because it's a small size but you fold the pattern piece up a few times and you'll see the gap in the hem... just a slither of fabric less, so you want to ADD more fabric to the trouser hem, so that when you fold it, the amount of fabric is even and then makes it better to hem. YIKES this was very helpful and worked no problem!

So there's a few little techniques to help out with my tracing and cutting....

Sometimes when we sew and post photos on our blogs or to our flicker or wherever, garments can look so polished and so much more complicated and I know I’ve made plenty of outfits over the years where I was amazed how GOOD it looks. When I started blogging my sewing adventures I was just so excited by everything I made, and each time I’d finish, I’d be like “This is the best thing I’ve EVER made”...  now I'm really keen to learn more about what makes a good garment for really real... I've had at least 5 years of 'good' made garments in my wardrobe... so now I'm keen on that 'well made' garment. I don't want to be making a million outfits (during Sew Weekly in 2011, I made at LEAST 52 items, and before that in 2009 I made 100 outfits - many for friends but still) and they just don't last because the stitches weren't secured or the hem just never sits right unless it's ironed... I want my slow fashion to be well-made slow fashion.

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