Friday, 31 May 2013

May Wrap-up

May just flew by! I have been a very busy sewist. How did I go with my goals for this month?

1. Finish DDs tutu.
Did I do it? Yes!!!!! She danced on stage about 8 hours after I made the arm bands! It's not perfect and still needs a bit of tweaking, but I am very proud of myself.

2. Update my blog regularly.
Did I do it? Mostly! I have blogged some things, but have more to do to be up-to-date.

3. Sew 2 garments for myself.
Did I do it? Yes! I made a long sleeved V-neck J. Stern Designs tee and sweater from an old Burda pattern (3097 - now out of print). I love the tee, but the sweater will be an "around the house" kind of thing.

4. Lose weight
Not this month. :(

I also received my Sure-Fit Designs Dress Kit this month and am making my "body blueprint". It's exciting to be sewing with a pattern made for my body. Hopefully it will make my garment sewing much more satisfying, and I can spend more time sewing than doing pattern work. Fingers crossed!

I almost forgot to mention the 2 pairs of velvety pants I made from Kwik Sew 3498 and the NeoClassical costume I have almost finished from combining the leotard of Kwik Sew 3774 with the skirt of Kwik Sew 2733.

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

A Coat and Tails for Song & Tap

Yes folks, it's still dance costume time in my house. This time I was looking for a Song and Tap costume with an old Hollywood theme. I decided on a coat and tails and went looking for a pattern. McCall's 6143 was perfect. It's an American themed set of costumes from the Statue of Liberty to Abraham Lincoln to Uncle Sam. I worked with the Uncle Sam costume.

The waistcoat came together very easily. I made it in a gold 4-way stretch lycra even though the pattern is made for woven fabrics, and crossed my fingers! I needed to topstitch around all the edges as lycra doesn't press very well and I'm very happy with the result. I didn't have any black buttons, so I used black sequins. There were ties extending around the back, but I cut them off as the lycra stretched completely around her back, and I replaced them with a large press snap. I also added press snaps to the front to keep the coat in place while she dances. You don't see them once the outfit is on.

The only part I did have find a bit tricky was the dickie. It looks like such a simple piece, but somehow I managed to misread the instructions about how to attach the collar stand to the bib part and I sewed it together with only one of the seam allowances tucked under. Luckily it was on the wrong side. It was no drama, really and was fixed with a bit of topstitching. I made the bow tie with offcuts of the lycra. I think I'll be replacing the gold one with a black bow tie made from the waist ties I cut off as it would stand out more on stage.

For the coat I used a polyester interlock which was quite thick. I didn't want to coat to look flimsy while she danced around. I also wanted it to have plenty of give for movement. So again, I crossed my fingers that a stretch fabric would still work and not cause fit problems. I needed to topstitch seams with this garment also, but I think this also makes it look better.

For a costume pattern, this coat has quite a nice shape.
The only adjustment I made to the pattern was rounding off the tails. I think they look better rounded off than straight cut.

I added the large gold sequins to outline the collar. I still need to add a bit more bling. The collar area needs to be filled in with black sequins, and a couple of big gold buttons will set off the back of the coat nicely, and possibly on the sleeves too. There are also 2 large snaps on each inside front to secure it to the waistcoat.


Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Understanding Knit Fabrics - Sewing Class Review

I sew with knits fabrics frequently, but my results have always been a bit unpredictable, and I have never been able to pinpoint why things went wrong or right. I had seen this class on Pattern Review previously, but had decided to enrol in a cheaper course on Craftsy. The Craftsy course came with 5 pdf patterns, so it seemed much better value. Unfortunately, it wasn't particularly helpful to me. Here's my review of that class if you're interested.

When Sarah Veblen's Understanding Knit Fabrics course came up on Pattern Review again, I signed up. The course consists of pdf lessons, a kit which is mailed out on enrolment, optional video lessons, a class message board and a couple of online class chat sessions with the instructor. The cost of the kit and the video lessons does add up, but I believe it is worth every cent.

As the title suggests, this course is all about understanding knit fabrics. The swatches in the kit are examples of all kinds of knits, with different fibre content, different manufacturing processes, different appearances and hand, and a variety of possible uses. There are also examples of knit interfacings and 2 types of needles to try. There is also a small scale pattern for a knit top to be made from 2 fabrics to demonstrate the difference the amount of stretch in a fabric makes to the finished garment. From the photo below, I clearly haven't done that exercise, but now I get it!

The first pdf lessons go through the swatches in groups. Sarah has included a lot of technical information about each fabric from manufacturing processes to tips for successful sewing to possible garment choices. You handle each swatch while you read about it, stretch it, imagine sewing with it. This tactile way of learning really embeds in your brain the information you'll need to make great garments.

The class then moves on to sewing techniques for overlockers/sergers and sewing machines, needle choices, graining knits fabrics, and pattern choice.

The optional video lessons complement the pdfs very well. They are short and to the point, giving clear demonstrations of particular techniques like checking your stitches for holes or sewing button holes in knits.

I learned so much in this course that I immediately enrolled in the follow-on course More Knits by Sarah Veblen. I really do feel much more confident in my ability to assess a knit fabric for a particular use and sew the garment well.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Leotard - Kwik Sew 2679

I needed a leotard as a foundation garment for my daughter's song&tap costume. I chose Kwik Sew 2679 because of the high neckline. It is to be worn under a coat and tails with waistcoat.
My practise leotard went together like a dream. It also fitted her perfectly! The centre back seam really helps get a good fit, and the elastic guide was spot-on.  I used this bright pink foil printed 4-way stretch lycra. The back of the neck was secured with press studs as I didn't have a bikini closure on hand.

For the costume leotard I used a plain black 4-way stretch lycra. I also invested in the plastic clasp for the neck. The neckline sits  much nicer with the clasp. I also like the cut out design feature in the back. Something different.

This pattern has quite a low leg as you can see from the picture below. You could almost call it a "boy leg" style. This is ok for younger girls, but it's not really the done thing for tap dancing costumes. They are cut higher to make the legs look longer.

So I'll be making yet another leotard. This one will be in a sequinned black stretch lycra (for the bottom half which shows below the waistcoat) with a higher cut leg. As a costume it needs a bit more bling! Costumes always look over the top up close, but we need to make them pop from a distance.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

May Goals

I can't believe it's May already. How did that happen?

This month I'm keen to:

1. Finish DDs tutu
2. Update my blog regularly with reviews of the books I've read, the classes I've done and show off the sewing projects I did manage to complete.
3.Start sewing for myself. Complete 2 garments from the fabric I recently purchased in my "colours". For this I will be getting plenty of pattern manipulation practise as I'll be needing to trace off the smaller sizes and do new FBAs and my other usual adjustments.
4. Continue to lose weight.

April Wrap-Up

It's not been very long since my March Wrap-Up! Nothing  has changed here. I'm still behind on my goals. I have started DD's competition tutu. I did review some of my March sewing. The rest - Pffft!