Post Category: Patternmaking


Massively huge update

Thanks to my friend Mary, the most productive sew-er and crafter I know, I’ve had a renewed interest in, well, sewing and crafting. During the last several months, I’ve started and finished a number of projects. While I’d like to say I’ve recovered from my procrastinating ways, the truth is that I still have roughly a million unfinished projects around my sewing room. Oh well!

Here’s an overview of what I’ve been working on — complete with pictures!

First, there’s my most recent project, which has been on my to-do list for over four years: a custom dress form! I don’t recall if I mentioned this in a previous post, but the last attempt at a custom dress form didn’t go so well. It involves taping me tightly with duct tape, and as I learned the hard way, I pass out when my entire torso is wrapped up. It makes me all claustrophobic and stuff. I paid for an online class after this fiasco — this was almost exactly four years ago. This particular taping system leaves the tummy and chest untaped until the end. I guess I didn’t have any real reason for putting off making a dress form for so long, but I recently discovered that I couldn’t go without one any longer. So I enlisted the help of John and Mary to tape me. Last weekend was the scheduled taping date.

This time, the taping went much better. Until the end. As soon as the tape started going up my neck, I suddenly got that familiar clammy, hyperventilating feeling. Luckily, the form was pretty much done by then, but it definitely was not my finest moment there at the end. I’ll just skip over the details.

The good news is that I now have an almost-completed form. I just need to double-check the stuffing, tape up the back, make a cardboard bottom, and make a cover.

The bad news is that the form isn’t as exact as it could be. It’s about an inch larger than my actual circumference measurements at the waist and hips. And…well, let’s just lay that taping during severe PMS and directly following a large meal is not advised when you want an accurate dress form in the stomach area. The belly protrudes out about two inches further than my actual measurements. As John pointed out, at least I’ll be able to eat large meals and breathe easily in whatever clothes I make.

Here are the pictures of the form so far:

Front view
Back view
Side view

I can take some comfort in knowing that that’s as pregnant as my body will ever look. :P

Next we have some items that I finished in April, but didn’t have a spiffy dress form to put them on. The first is the last of three tiered skirts that I bought material for over a year ago. This one was a particularly tricky polyester material that did not want to stay on grain. Luckily, the fabric design, color, and nature of the skirt pattern helped cover up my off-grain cutting. I painstakingly hand-hemmed the skirt to prevent the problems I had with the other two.

Flowered skirt

I bought some material at CraftyPlanet and sewed up Simplicity 3867. I made a test garment from muslin first, and to my great surprise, the pattern fit without any alterations. Which is good, because I didn’t have the dress form when I made it. The dress includes pleats at the front shoulder and the skirt. The bodice is lined, and although the pattern instructions have the raw edge of the zipper tape exposed (sewn on top of the lining), I changed the instructions to cover the raw edge of the zipper with the lining. I also finished the inside edges with my serger. I used an invisible zipper instead of a regular zipper (and changed the pattern instructions accordingly) and did a hand hem. I’m finding that I get much better results when hemming by hand, even though it takes a lot longer.

Front view
Back view
Back closed with invisible zipper
Lining stitched to zipper
Hand hem and finished inside

The pattern also includes an option for a shirt version, which I’m currently working on. Here is a close-up of the material (it has bunnies!) and lining:

Bunny shirt bodice

Sewing isn’t the only thing I’ve been up to. I bought some earring kits at The Bead Monkey. I put them together last month. One goes with the mauve tiered skirt I sewed a year ago and the other goes with my summer dress.

Mauve chandelier earring
Blue-green waterfall earring

Last but not least, I was inspired by a recent post on the CraftStylish blog and decided to try my hand at Amigurumi. I picked up this book and learned some basic crochet stitches. Having never crocheted before, I’m very, very bad at it, but I still completed a couple of small pieces from the book. I’ll post them here for amusement value.

Egg — my very first attempt at this
Chick in an eggshell — this one is a little better

Whew! That’s quite a lot of stuff. I also finished the bunny decoration for Mary, but stupidly forgot to take pictures of it. Derp!

More updates to come! For real!


Endless Pattern Drafting

I can’t figure this one out, unless it had to do with extreme fabric distortion. But when I sewed up Version 2.0 of my bodice sloper, the armholes didn’t fit at all. This is the pattern I traced directly from the altered sloper that I was wearing, so you would think, if there was anything logical about this whole sewing thing, that sewing another one from that pattern would fit. I was wearing a thicker bra when I tried the second sloper on, but I don’t think that would really explain it.

It doesn’t matter because I opened the armholes way up (and let out the side seams at the chest level, which will hopefully accommodate the thicker bra) and traced a new version.

I drafted some sleeves from the original Version 2.0 sloper measurements, and had some really weird discrepancies. With the new measurements from the armholes that actually FIT, the sleeve measurements worked out almost perfectly. So I have high hopes that the sleeves might have a chance in hell of fitting when I sew them.

So it doesn’t make much sense for me to post my original bodice sloper images that I promised. I’ll have to take pictures of the new versions.

I sewed up the skirt sloper with minimal issues, thank god. Someday soon I hope to be able to design and sew things (and alter existing patterns!) that actually fit.

I did finish the mauve satin skirt. Like I said in the last post, the fabric was much harder to work with. Overall, the skirt is fine, but the hem — how to put this politely? — sucks. Next time I work with this type of fabric I’m either going to hand-sew and/or roll a narrower hem and/or use some kind of basting tape. When I’m feeling less lazy, I’ll set up the tripod so that I can get a picture of me wearing the skirt. I don’t have a dressform, and for some reason throwing the skirt over the back of a chair doesn’t make for fine photography.

I know this is technically my sewing blog, but I’d also like to post pictures of other craft projects as well. I finished a beaded ornament that I’ve been working on for YEARS. No, it wasn’t so complicated that it took me years to finish. To make a long story short, I messed something up and I really didn’t feel like redoing it, so I procrastinated like crazy. The sad part is, it was a gift for my mom. A gift that was a few years late. I’m so proud.

Stay tuned for pictures, hopefully before the end of the year.


Sewing room cleaning and bunny hanger

I really have no excuse for not updating in the last eight months. It hasn’t been for lack of projects. In fact, I received a pattern drafting book for Christmas and I’ve been (slowly at times) teaching myself how to draft my own patterns. I’ve also completed a skirt pattern and prototype for my Rikku costume.

My current project, an extremely belated Christmas present for a friend, is a bunny wall hanger (Simplicity 4389). I already made one for another Christmas gift, which allowed me to work out most of the bugs. Here are some pictures of the work in progress:

In pieces
Stitching detail on the wrong side
Stitching detail on the wrong side 2

I took the pictures of the stitching detail (the brown line, not the yellow basting line) because I was particularly proud of it. The first one I made was pretty pitiful at this point. Unfortunately, the ears — which are basted to the head on the inside at this point — were much better on the first one. I didn’t clip the seam of the ear before I basted it, so when I turned it right side out, the ear was not totally caught in the seam. I had to re-stitch the seam on the top of the head, moving it down farther (and ruining my awesome first-time stitching job…*sigh*). I also had to do some hand-stitching to cover up the ear seam. It was a mess, but it looks fine from the outside.

The other challenge involves the ears as well. The pattern instructions call for floral wire inside the ears to make them stand up. The ends of the wire are taped together inside the ear at the bottom. Since I didn’t want to repeat the mistake of the first time where I had to sew over the wire (not good for the machine), I tucked the wire ends far enough up inside the ear that they would not be sticking into the seam. Unfortunately this (or perhaps the heaviness of the wire) doesn’t allow for as much support at the seams. When I hold the head in the center (where the plastic loop hanger goes), the sides of the head collapse, making the ears hang forward. To get around this, I’m going to sew a loop hanger to the back of the ears rather than the head. It will be more annoying to hang up, but it’s really the only way it’ll work at this point.

To be fair, the first iteration, even with its wires in the seam, may also collapse in this way — when I made it, I couldn’t find the plastic loops, so I didn’t get to test it properly.

Anyway, those problems are easy enough to fix, so I’ll just be happy that I’ve become more successful at stitching around a curving outline.

In other news, I’ve been working on cleaning up my sewing room. Not just the usual picking up, but a whole new reorganization. I don’t have a good “before” picture, but some of my earlier photos of the room show how I used to store my fabric and such. I did snap some “before” pictures this time around, but only after I’d already pulled a bunch of stuff out of my closet and reorganized the fabric.

Looking into the room
A look at the partially-organized closet and the not-at-all-organized sewing machine table
Another look into the room

Organized closet
A wider look at the closet and the pattern cabinet
Looking into the room again
Ironing board and bookshelf
Pattern-drafting area
What’s behind the door
Clean sewing table
Bulletin board
Bookshelf and sexy entertainment center (with TV, DVD player, stereo, and iPod hookup)

I feel very good about this current organization. It makes me feel more creative for some reason.

I have some more pictures of the skirt prototype and my bodice pattern coming up!


Long post!

I’m currently reading this book, which I bought ages ago and never read all the way through. Holy crap, it answers a lot of the questions I had regarding the basics of sewing. The thing is, I didn’t really understand a lot of it before I a) did a little bit of sewing, and b) took all those classes at the Sewing Expo in November. So I guess I needed a little more background.

I’m currently studying pattern alterations. Some of it, like adding more fabric for the bust, confuses me. Luckily for me, I have a tiny bust, so I will not have to deal with this any time soon. Joy!

I’ve also seen good reviews of this book on and on Amazon. So maybe next time I go to the bookstore I’ll have to pick it up. I have $60 in B&N gift certificates, which I will use on a pattern-making book I want.

I have a Joann’s credit card, from which I’ve already received $40 in gift cards. I have more on the way, which is good because I already spent the others (plus some) at Joann’s last week. I got a whole bunch of stuff, including (but not limited to) a style ruler, some more pressing equipment, eyelet pliers, sewing machine needles, and some new presser feet (from Viking, in the Joann’s store).

My current project before working on any of my character costumes is a dress pattern (Simplicity 9891). I’m doing the one with the collar. I picked out some light green stretch velvet with some off-white patterned satin for the collar.

I also bought some tracing paper last night for making my own alterable copies of the pattern. I took some of my measurements, and to no one’s surprise, I’m much, much smaller on the top half than on the bottom. I also have long legs, a very short back waist length, and a longer waist-to-hip length. :P

Oh, and the sewing room is finally clean!