It's about exploring and sharing my creative adventures (mostly sewing these days) ~
~those activities that sometimes obsess, usually inspire, occasionally frustrate
~and always provide a delightful maze to wander through.

Friday, February 25, 2011

I will not build a Wadder...

At least, I haven't had a wadder yet.   I'm either lucky, or stubborn, but I will re-work something until it DOES work for me.   This one wasn't looking so good at first...
Ok ok, I know the collar isn't supposed to be worn like that....but here's the best I could get out of it:
 And this is after chopping 3" off the length of the cowl!

Here's what it's supposed to look like:
Now, in a thin little, very drapey knit, I suppose that cowl would look quite nice.  A 6" neck like the model has would help too.  (My fabric is a stretch cotton, bought online in one of those enticing hooks from know the ones ~ "Spend THIS much & you'll save SO much more!  And a free box of something you may or may not ever use thrown in!!!"   Hey, I love feathers...the fabric has feathers....what could go wrong?

Actually, it IS very nice fabric.   But the colors on me?   Not so much.

However, back to my refusal to create a wadder...   I slashed off the cowl.   All of it.   This, of course, entailed unsewing all of the (already serged) seams around the shoulders & recutting them.
I'll cut the neckline lower still...I'm taking baby steps.   The color is still too pale for my taste though, so I looked through my stash for something else, & came up with a gingko leaf patterned cotton (which I LOVE); there's enough there for a neckband & wrist accent, so I think I can save this top.
It's a little not quite my style.  Yet.   But getting there.   Maybe.  Plus I'm trying to spiff up my wardrobe a bit & step outside my funky, casual, comfort zone...just a little.  I'm open to creative ideas.....

To be continued......

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Fun & Funky, Fabulous, Functional Fleece!

Snow in San Francisco?   This year, yes!   Well, close enough anyway - close enough to justify my fleece wardrobe!   My poor old fleece pieces, all old enough to remember my days of active kayaking and camping, have uglied out to the point of really not being suitable for public viewing in any place BUT a campsite.   And even that is questionable...   

At last, I'm starting to replace those poor old tired pieces - here's #1, Jalie 2911:

This pattern rocks!   Because of the collar.   Note:  the green bits are my own embellishment, but the pattern stands on it's own very nicely, even though it does lend itself to having some fun with embellishments.   I just felt that my brown was a little too.....drab.   It's still winter, & I'm tired of drab!   So I funked it up a little with the green additions.

Another plus with this pattern is that it's Very Easy. Some folks had trouble installing the collar at the lower neckline, but I found that if you follow the instructions exactly, it goes on nicely. This picture shows the stitching on the lower ends of the collar before installing.

The two ends are overlaid on top of each other.  The zz'ing on the left shows the narrow seam peeking out beyond the seam on the top piece; the zz on the right overlaps the bottom piece.  Sew the seam (at the top of this picture) with these overlaps in place, and your clips & corners in the right places, and the collar fits perfectly when you install it on the rest of the garment.

What I learned about Working with Fleece: I used a Polartec 200 double faced velour fleece from Stonemountain and Daughter in Berkeley.   They have a limited selection of fleece, but they do carry the good stuff.  This is a midweight fleece, very toasty, absolutely perfect for lounging in, layering, & even going out in public.  This was my first fleece sewing project, & I ended up using it as sort of a play piece - trying every technique I could think of to sew seams & fiddle around with. I zigzagged edges & used a long straight stitch on some seams, used a stretch stitch & left the edges raw on some, serged a few seams, used the triple stitch to topstitch the collar, topstitched the green bits with a stretch stitch, & probably a couple of others that were rejected. 

 Zigzagged edges with a long straight stitch on the seam.   Too much work for a fabric that doesn't ravel!
 The brown shows the edges left raw - on most of the seams I did this, using a stretch stitch, & stretch needle (75/11)
I am totally a fan of this triple stitch!   It's great for a nice beefy topstitch, especially on knits.  I used this to topstitch the outer edges of the collar.

I found this fleece very easy to work with.  All of the stitches I played with worked, to some degree. The only place I had some trouble was when I was working on multiple layers with the stretch stitch.   I used my basic little Janome, which has no adjustable presser foot pressure    Adjustable pressure and feed dog adjustments would have been a BIG plus (I'll upgrade some day....)

Notes on the pattern & my alterations: According to other reviews, this pattern has a lot of ease compared to most Jalie patterns. Because my fleece was on the thick side, I cut a size U (a size up from my measurements) & graded out at the waist & hips. I also did a full arm adjustment of about 1". With fabric this thick, I actually could have used a little more wiggle room in areas, just to have more layering possibilities.   It's perfect with nothing but a very thin layer underneath, though.  All Jalie patterns, I am convinced, are made for Skinny Minny Arms. Not mine.

For the green hemming, I sewed a very narrow seam, right side of the green to the wrong side of the brown, folded the green over to show on the outside, & rolled it just a little further to show 1/4" of the brown at the bottom. I stitched the ditch between the brown edge & the green. The upper edge of the green is pinked, then sewn down with a stretch stitch. 

I will definitely be sewing this up again! I think it will lend itself to a number of different fabrics; it can be plain or embellished, casual, funky, or even a bit dressy.

By the way, I am toasty warm in my office right now, LIVING in this top in this chilly California winter! 

Friday, February 18, 2011

I never did, nor will I ever, look like her....

You know the woman ~ the one with mile-long, shapely legs, 6 feet tall, no boobs....the one who looks smashing in the 20's & 30's styles that I drool over from afar and never wear.

Like this (Decades of Style #2001, 1920s Tulip Kimono):

Early last year, when I started dreaming about re-learning how to sew & re-vamping my wardrobe with all these super fabulous new outfits, I saw myself wearing this sleek and elegant 20's kimono.   Me.  All 5'3-1/2" of me, me with the aging, athletic build.   I found luscious silk & cotton fabrics that I loved together, as I dreamed of elegance, high heels, & seamed stockings.  Me??? high heels & seamed stockings???  Hush, those of you who know me well.   A girl has her fantasies...  

After numerous fits & starts, I eventually ended up with this:

which has been hanging on my dress form, in various forms of unfinished, since last spring.  Not only does it not look good on my frame, it's Just. Not. Me.  I kept asking myself "Where will I wear this????"

But I can be determined if I set my mind to something.  So I'm at it again, completely re-working it, and I hereby declare that this will get finished!  And wearable!   By Me.   Soon.  Really.  After all, the is the piece that was the inspiration for all those practice welt pockets.

Weekend Update:  I got a picture taken before I got sidetracked.   By fleece.  (Translation:  It's cold in California, so I'm sewing fleece right now!)

The wannabe welt is pinned on to give a sense of what it will look like.   I think I like it.  :^)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Welt Pocket Construction Methods - Phase Three (Judy Barlup & other general notes about Welts)

I'll start with some short notes on what I've learned so far, a.k.a. "Welt Pockets for Dummies", or "Welts 101".  The welt is the strip of fabric that is attached to the slit that forms the pocket opening.  The welts formed by the previous two methods are really designed to be pocket openings in an area where the pocket bag is held in place & stabilized by a waistline, or side seam, like you would find in trousers.  Judy Barlup's method involves attaching the pocket bag during the welt construction, and the bag is firmly attached to the welt opening itself - so this is more suited to a jacket or other garment where there is no waistline or side seam to stabilize the pocket bag.   Nope, I didn't realize this when I started, and none of my reference materials had the Dummies opening paragraph....I hope I'm not the only sewer around who dove into welts with so little knowledge, and that my little 101 paragraph will be helpful to some kindred souls.....

Onward now, to the third version.  (And yes, I did again peek at the Vogue book, and my old Singer book.   And again, my eyes glazed over & my brain started getting fuzzy, so I put the books down & just replaced them back in the bookshelf this time.)

I wanted to try Judy Barlup's method - another rather complicated method, but it promises less bulk because there are no seams at the edges of the welt.   Judy Barlup welt pocket tutorial

I'll start right off with a pic of the finished pocket, since there aren't any actual photos in the tutorial, and I wasn't clear about what I would end up with.  This is actually a single welt pocket, with some topstitching showing on the outside.  It is necessary to construct and install the pocket bag during the welt construction.    This phase is very picture heavy, and is sort of a companion to Judy's tutorial.   What I've added is a way to make your own welt pattern based on the size you want.   What I've left out is a lot of the fine tuning details of the actual construction, or else I'd be typing all night.   And I'm too lazy.

Note:  This welt is over an inch high, & 5" wide, so the balance is off, IMHO.   But hey, it's just a practice piece!

This is a step by step tute on making the pattern for your a welt, using whatever measurements you want.   I used a 5" x 1" welt, just because that's the size I used for the other welts I made, although this one is halved like the others were. 

1.  Draw a rectangle, using the measurements for your finished welt.  Extend the lower line by a couple of inches in both directions.  (No need to be exact on any of the extended lines)

 2.  Draw a 45° line at each of the top corners of the welt, extending to the base line, and extending upward a bit.

3.  Draw a line parallel to the your long welt sides, the same width as your welt (1" in this case)

4.  Add your seam allowances.  Here I used Judy's suggestions, but it actually messed me up a bit later.  I would suggest being consistent all the way around.

Finished Pattern.  You will need to cut a piece of interfacing the size of the welt area.  (Barlup calls for interfacing the SA below the welt as well...I don't know why this would be necessary; it just adds bulk, imho). Note the cut off corners at the bottom, and the dotted fold lines.   This is where it's helpful to have your SA's all the same - the dotted fold lines need to intersect the corners of the welt, and if your clipped corners match up to the top line when the piece is folded, it's easier to know that the fold is in the correct place.

I cut the pocket bag pieces, according to Judy's suggestions.   The Stay & the Facing are 2" wide, and the width (i.e., the long side) of your welt plus 1-1/2".    The pocket bags are also the width of the welt plus 1-1/2".   The depth of the bags are up to you, but the Outer Bag will be about 1" shorter than the Inner Bag.   (Note:  I ended up using silk organza for the Stay instead of a thicker fabric, as suggested)

Welt, interfaced, with fold lines showing.

Flipped over, folded & pressed.

Open edges stitched, 1/4" from edge  (this is assuming 1/4" Seam Allowances)

Press this seam open, using a point presser.  (Don't skip this step!)

Turn open, & press.

Mark the pocket placement line on your garment, and pin the Stay to the wrong side.  Mark your stitching line on the back side of the welt.   (Note:  See the two lines on the welt?  Judy suggests bowing the center of the stitching line just a bit away from the folded edge, because even a perfectly rectangular welt has the appearance of the ends being wider.  I'm not so sure about this.  I stitched mine on the bow, but I just ended up with a welt that looks wider in the center!   It may be because my welt was so wide in the first place)

Welt stitched in place.  It's definitely a good thing to refer to Judy's instructions from here on out - hers are MUCH more detailed than what I'm writing here; I just have some added visuals.

Outer Bag placed over the welt

Outer Bag stitched on, stitching from the back.

Inner bag (with pocket facing already attached to Inner Bag) butted up against the Outer Bag, ready to stitch.

NOTE:  (Later addition)  Here are Barlup's Step 10 instructions:  With facing right side against garment right side, butt inner pocket bag to outer pocket bag. Stitch through facing and pocket bag 1/4" from edge, beginning and ending about 1/2" shorter than lower row of stitching on outer pocket bag. Backtack at each end. See illustration 10, stitch #5. By making upper row of stitching shorter, seam will not extend beyond the edge of the finished welt.

I got utterly confused here in a later project.  What's missing is  (in blue) With facing right side against garment right side, butt inner pocket bag to outer pocket bag. Edges of bags need to be butted against each other; do NOT sew through outer bag, DO sew through INNER bag.  Stitch through facing and pocket bag and garment 1/4" from edge, beginning and ending about 1/2" shorter than lower row of stitching on outer pocket bag. Backtack at each end. See illustration 10, stitch #5. By making upper row of stitching shorter, seam will not extend beyond the edge of the finished welt.

Bags stitched on, Inner bag & facing folded over.

Now, finally, it's time to cut the fabric!  

Note that the stitching line on the Inner bag is shorter than the stitching line for the Outer bag & Welt.  When you cut the fabric, the cut will be about 1/2" shorter than the shortest stitching line.  Clip your "V's"  (which 
are lopsided - that's OK) exactly to the end of the stitches.

Again, I'm deferring to Judy's instructions for this entire last half....way too many words for me to redo!  If you're still with me, this is just meant as a helpful add on to her tutorial.

Judy wants you to open out the V's & stitch them down on the facing, claiming that this creates less bulk, and that the V's & the stitching will not be seen.   It's sort of true that they won't be seen, but that's only if you don't look under the welt.  I would clip the ends of the V's off a bit to make sure they don't show up.  Also, my stitching here is a bit of a joke....getting tired, it's just a practice welt, yadda yadda......

Now you fold your welt back to the outside, top stitch up & down the ends
and you're ready to stitch up the edges of the pocket bags & be finished!


For an all around, good looking, easy to do welt pocket, Anna Zapp's method wins, hands down!  (See the prior post for instructions on this....)

Ann of Gorgeous Things has, imho, definitely improved on the traditional method of creating the opening and then inserting the welts.   Adding the ease of stitching up the center of the welts ahead of time makes things MUCH easier, and I think this method would be great to use in cases where you want to create some unusual shapes, or curves, or you have a patterned fabric that you're being anal about what shows up in the welt, or matching it to the garment fabric.

Judy Barlup's method is very time-consuming, if you don't have your welt pattern made up already for a standard size.   She has a whole different pattern for an angled welt!   Although I tried both a horizontal welt and an angled welt on the other two methods, I had no desire to go through all of that with Barlup's method!   However, if you're working with very bulky fabric, and/or only want a single welt, her method does create less bulk, so it could certainly have its place.    Also, until I find a better method for a jacket pocket (i.e., no waistband or other seams to secure the pocket to), this is certainly a good option.

Next up:  I'll be practicing adding the pocket bag to Zapp's welts, and then it's on to the Real Thing!  (which, btw, happens to be a jacket with an angled opening.....ummmm.......Judy?  I may be practicing your other welt yet!)

Welt Pocket Construction Methods - Phase Two

My second method of trying out welts is from Ann of Gorgeous Things.    I won't copy everything, since she's already done it so beautifully here:  Gorgeous Things Welt Pocket Tutorial

My first welt is made following her instructions.   On the second one, I tried a slightly different technique, with much better results!

I thought that marking the lines on the fusible interfacing, not the fabric, was brilliant!  Fusible interfacing is pressed on the wrong side, (with pinked edges), and organza, the same size as the interfacing, is pinned onto the outside.

All 4 edges stitched, through all layers (interfacing, fabric, and organza), using tiny stitches on the corners & ends, longer stitches on the long edges.

Fabric cut, including "V's".  Ann calls for the V's to be marked 1/2" from the ends, which makes more sense to me than the 5/8" called for in Zapp's method.

Pull the organza through to the wrong side, and press, press press!   Theoretically, you now have a perfect rectangular opening.

Here's where I think the issues (i.e., lots of opportunities for messy errors) can happen.  You baste the welts in place, then sew the welts onto the garment fabric, near the original stitches.  My results are far from stellar:

Oooooh, you can see my mess on the inside!

Next Day:  I had another go at Ann's welt method, making two major adjustments from my first attempt, and got MUCH better results.

The first major change I made was laying one welt on top of the other, right sides together, and stitching them together straight up the center.  Then fold each welt back & press open.   This holds the center, where the welts meet in the pocket opening, together while you're stitching the welts in.   BIG help in keeping everything straight!!!

The second change I made was in the basting.   I was actually doing everything yesterday with printed instructions & no pictures.   This does not bode well for a highly visual person like me!   This time I basted by just picking up a few threads at the edge of the pocket opening fold line, & on the welt close to the fold.

Inside view, with welts pressed open & basted in place:

Finished pocket ~ MUCH better than yesterday's!

Inside view ~  again, big improvement!

Up Next:  Judy Barlup's Welt w/ Less Bulk!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

An Exaltation of Welts (Welt Pocket Construction Methods, Phase One)

Welt:  Strip of material stitched to seam, border, or edge.

I've been putting it off long enough - the whole welt pocket thing.  A beautiful jacket has been hanging on my dress form for nearly a year now, awaiting (among other things) a welt pocket.  So I committed to Perfecting The Welt this month, and I've been gathering info & getting ready to put that info into practice.

It's time!

The first thing I did was look at my Vogue Sewing book (the 1982 version).  My eyes glazed over, my brain started getting flooded with memories of my former sewing life - a time when I remember constructing horrid looking pretenses at welt pockets, & decided they were just.  too.  hard.   I put the Vogue away.

Luckily, a new (used) copy of Anna Zapp's "The Zapp Method of Couture Sewing" arrived just in time!  (I got mine through Amazon - there is a HUGE wealth of info in this book.  Highly recommended!)  I took a look at her section titled "The World's Easiest Welt Pocket" and decided that would be my first go.   Here are the results.

Step 1.  Mark the pocket placement on the right side of fabric with 2 lines, 1/4" on each side of the center line.  (NOTE:  Instructions call for drawing 2 parallel lines 1/2" apart; it was late at night when I made this pocket & somehow I translated that into one line in the center, which you will see in the first pic worked, but this is a case of do like I say, not like I do....)  In my defense, I think that while Zapp's overall method (and results) are fabulous, her instructions do not go in the category of Sewing for Dummies.   I'll actually try to dumb down her instructions a bit for the rest of us.....

Mark, with dots, the corners of each welt.  These should be 1" apart.

Step 2.  Press fusible tricot or other interfacing to the wrong side of the fabric, extending c. 1/2" past the marked areas for the welts all the way aroung.

Step 3.  Press fusible interfacing on the welt fabric, and cut 2 strips the length of your pocket plus 1-1/4", and 1" wide.  These can be cut crossgrain, lengthwise, or bias.

Step 4.  Fold the strips in half lengthwise, press, and mark the center 5/8" from each edge.

Here is the marked fabric (with only one line in the center of the pocket), and the 2 welts, pressed and marked.  Note that I'm making this pocket at a slight angle - the pocket is on the bias.  My welts are cut on the crossgrain:

 Step 5.  Place the welts on the garment front, line up your dots.  The raw edges of the welts will meet in the center.  Baste in place.

Step 6.  Stitch down the center of each welt, from dot to dot.  Use small stitches, and secure each end with backstitching.  (Note:  this is where precision is important!  Your dots need to be exact, and the stitching needs to end right on each dot)

Step 7.  Check the back of fabric, making sure your stitching lines are exactly 1/2" apart, and exactly the same length, with the ends lined up.   If they are not, determine which line is right, and correct the other one.

Step 8 and 9.  On the wrong side, mark a dot centered between the stitch lines, 5/8" from each end.   Cut ONLY the fashion fabric (not the welts) down the center, stopping at each dot.  Cut a V from each dot to each corner, using a very sharp pair of tailoring scissors.   Your cut should end exactly at the end of the stitch line.

Step 10.  Pull the welt to the inside of the garment.   Turn the corner "V" inside and press (press press press!)  Grade the layers, leaving the longest layer toward the outside of your garment.  

Outside after pressing.  Not too bad for a first attempt, if I do say so myself!

Inside after pressing:

Step 11.  On the inside, fold back your garment fabric and stitch through the "V" and the ends of the welts, securing the short ends of the welts.

Step 12.  Hand baste or zigzag the welts together, in preparation for sewing the pocket bag.   Leave this in place until the garment is finished.

Inside view, with graded layers.

Okay.  So now I'm feeling pretty good about this whole welt thing, and it's time to look at another method.   I picked up the Vogue Sewing book again.   Again, my eyes glazed over & my brain fogged up.   I put the book down.

Practice session No. 1 is over, but I've found some adjustments that may make Ann's method more do-able.    I have 2 or 3 other methods lined up to try as well, so hang in here with me; I'll be back....