Monday, July 31, 2006

Shoulder Seams

Sorry for not blogging lately - family things. I have only managed to finish the shoulder seams on the jacket but I am hopeful I will get back at it tomorrow.
shoulder seam
In this photo, the shoulder seam has been sewn and I am about to press it as flat as I can. It is difficult with this fabric that does not crease easily.
shoulder fell
Since the fabric doesn't crease easily (good for later when my niece is wearing it however!), making the fold for the flat fell on the shoulder seam is tricky, especially at the bulky points where other seams intersect. But I persevered.
shoulder pin
I wasn't going to pin down the fold as I usually do around the armscye but I realized that I could get myself into trouble at the halfway point, when the folded fabric would begin to lump and buckle. So I stuck a thimble on my finger - the fabric is very tough to stick pins through - and slowly folded and pinned my way around the armscye. Then I went 'round again with the zipper foot, sewing down the flat fell. I'm glad that's over.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Time Spent So Far - Seven and a Half Hours

Finally I have resumed work on the jacket. I just added up the time I've been careful to track and up to finishing the yoke, I have spent 7 hours and 25 minutes.
tomato cut
Plus I found myself slightly handicapped by a slice on my left index finger, managed whilst I was cutting a tomato one day. You don't realize how much you use that finger nor how many times thread has a way of wrapping itself around a finger until it keeps getting in the cut. Ouch! Anyway, it has healed over more since yesterday, when I took the picture so I am practically ignoring it now.
collar and facing
I left off work on the jacket just as I was about to put the collar on. With the collar, you also attach the front facing and yoke facing. Lots of layers! To stretch the neck edge to fit the collar, I made tiny cuts in the neck edge (and the facing edge, as it mirrors the jacket edge). Here, you are looking at the facing (wrong side) just before I clipped its edge so I could attach it to the jacket and collar which I already had pinned together. I do it all at once, rather than basting the jacket to the collar and then sewing the yoke to the rest of it.
I took a photo of the corner here even though you can't see what I am about to refer to. When I get to a corner, I change the stitch length on my machine to small stitches and sew about 1/2 inch on either side of the exact corner turn with extra small stitches. In this way, when I trim the corner tightly to the stitching to reduce bulk, there is less chance of the fabric fraying loose.
topstitching corner
Here I am, already on the outside, topstitching the corner. When I was done sewing the collar on, I trimmed the seams and then spent quite a while turning the garment right side out. I had to press both the inside and outside of the yoke and then pound all those layers with my clapper. This is the first line of topstitching, close to the folded edge. I have turned the corner and am coming up on where the collar joins the jacket.
topstitch detail
To make the junction of where the collar meets the jacket as flat as possible, I continued with my first line of topstitching along the neck edge. All the while I am sewing (and it is a very slow process), I am feeling underneath for the yoke facing, to make sure it is stretched away from the stitching line. On the top where I can see, I sew about two inches at a time before resting the needle in the fabric and gently pulling the fabric taut away from the stitching line. In this photo, you can see where I have just stitched, behind the needle. In front of the needle, the fabric has not been pulled flat yet.
second line topstitching
Here I have just finished the second line of topstitching up the left front, making the corner at the collar and backstitching for an anchor. I won't make two lines of topstitching around the neck edge.
looking good so far
I hung the jacket up at this point so I could admire how it was looking so far. You can see that I have not yet sewed down the yoke facing on the inside.
yoke facing
To get the yoke facing so it lies nice and flat, you have to lay the jacket out flat on the ironing board and smooth everything down.
pinning yoke
Then I start folding under the seam allowance and gradually pinning it over the stitching line. All that pink chalk in the photo at the point is because I marked the wrong dot and had to mark it twice. It'll disappear with a damp cloth.
yoke point
On the outside yoke point, when I sewed it to the jacket back, I folded the point one way. On the inside, I am folding the point the other way to balance the bulk. I have never noticed any lumps in all the jackets I have made so I am not trimming any of this seam allowance away.
yoke both sides
In this photo, I have finished the first line of topstitching, as well as I have sewed the yoke to the jacket around the shoulders. I have folded the right hand side of the yoke so you can see the inside and the outside. I stitched close to the seam line on the outside but on the inside, the stitching line is farther away from the folded edge. I don't want to make the mistake of not catching in any of the yoke because I am sewing from the outside, so I extend the fold a little far over the stitching line just to be on the safe side. It is on the inside of the jacket after all and hardly anyone will have the chance to see it. And even if they do, I'm betting no one notices. After I sewed the first line, I sewed a second line of topstitching parallel to the first along the bottom edge of the yoke.
Now for the sleeves.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

A Brief Hiatus

my poor sewing room
Our condo is having all the windows replaced but when they went to take out the one in my sewing room, they discovered a nest of wasps in the wall and all work there ground to a halt. Now we are waiting on the pest control guys who are hyper busy this Summer for some unknown reason with bees and wasps. Once they rip the wall apart to get the bugs, then we will have to have it repaired and THEN I can have my window replaced. In the meantime, I don't want to put my table and stuff back because I don't know when I'll have to move it again. Plus there is that lingering sense of evil (like in the movie "The Birds"), where I am wondering if the wasps can now come into my room because all the trim has been removed and the window half wrenched out. Yeesh. So I must do other things than sew. Sorry about it.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Mostly Pockets

Continuing on...
yoke point
if you really look closely (i.e., pump the photo up on Flickr), you can see the pink chalk mark on the jacket centre back, where the point of the yoke on the seam allowance meets the clipped edge of the centre back. This is how you sew a v-shaped piece (the yoke) to its corresponding v-shaped mate. At the very centre point, you put the needle down through the fabric, lift the presser foot and turn the piece 90 degrees. Then put the presser foot down and sew along the second side.
pocket facing
On to the front chest pockets. This pattern calls for facing the edge of the pocket. I suppose you could roll the edge in some way and facing does create more bulk but I do it the way they suggest.
pocket bag
Once the pocket edge is finished, you apply the pocket bag to the wrong side of the front. This is where my stitching around the edge is going to pay off.
pocket from outside
Now I have also attached the pocket flap and you can see how the shaped line of stitching around the pocket bag matches the shape of the flap on the outside.
first row topstitching
Next come the top parts of the front pieces, above the pocket line. I have attached those pieces and am topstitching. Here I am using the zipper foot and stretching the fabric away to either side so I can get a nice tight line of stitching close to the fold.
11 layers
As my needle plunged down through the edge of the pocket flap, I paused and counted that I was sewing through about eleven layers of fabric at that point! The pocket flap itself is six layers - two fabric and one interfacing, doubled because of the seam. Then there is the upper part, the lower part, the pocket bag and maybe two layers of the pocket facing.
second row topstitching
I switched presser feet to do the second row of topstitching because I could then use the width of my straight-stitching foot to gauge the width between rows of stitching.
shoulders and facing
I have sewn the jacket fronts and back together at the shoulders, along with the facing fronts and pack. These seams I will merely press open, as they are going to be hidden inside the facing. Plus, if I made flat fells, it would just add bulk where I don't need bulk. Next - the collar. I seem to have, even after all these years, a mental block about attaching collars. I think I had a terrible time with some of my first-ever collars and I always think of them as the "hard part", even though I now know better.

Monday, July 10, 2006

A Start to the Sewing

This was going to be a short entry but then, before I had a chance to write and load it, I went upstairs and spent another two hours sewing!
Here I am, sewing one of the tabs that go on the bottom band. I decided to sew the two tab sides together, right sides together, with the interfacing also pinned on to the wrong side of one tab piece, rather than sewing the interfacing first and then sewing the tab sides together. It saves one tiny step. This was at the end of sewing all the interfacing on all the other pieces and in the brass dish are all the pins I pulled out as I sewed.
pocket bag
I usually zigzag stitch around the "pocket bag" (that's what they call it on the pattern instructions) to keep it from fraying. However, I noticed that this fabric doesn't want to fray much. Plus I had pinked the raw edges so I decided to leave it alone. Instead, I sewed a line around where I am going to sew the bag to the jacket, so I will be able to make the nice curving shape better than by guessing, as I usually do.
trimming flaps
I sewed the interfacing to the pocket flaps in the same way as I did the tabs, all in one go. Now I am trimming the seam allowances off in preparation for turning them right side out.
pocket flap inside
Here I am showing what the pocket flap looks like, peeking inside through the top opening. You can see the two suede layers plus the sewed-in interfacing.
pocket flap not pressed
This is the pocket flap turned right side out but before I pressed it.
pocket flap pressed
And here it is pressed and pounded with my clapper. This fabric doesn't want to crease so I have to use the clapper with more vigour but I also have to be careful because there is a nap and I want to press down the nap.
pressing with the nap
This is the first sleeve seam and I am pressing from the top to the bottom so I go with the nap.
holding down the fold
I find it kind of aggravating that the colour changes so much from one shot to the next but seem unable to do anything about it. Oh well. Here I have decided to hold down the flat fell fold with pins, so I can get the iron in there and follow with the clapper and get that seam allowance pressed really tight and flat. If you don't have a third hand, pins work pretty well.
sleeve ease
Before I got to the point where I was pressing that sleeve, I had to make the seam first. Here I am showing the ease in the one piece of the two-piece sleeve. I just stick a pin in one end of the seam and gently stretch and use more pins than usual, rather than basting. As I got ready to sew this sleeve seam however, I suddenly realized that I might want to sew the other sleeve seam first.
another jacket
So I got out another of my jackets from this pattern and looked at how I had done the underarm seam. I want to sew the sleeve around the armscye first so it is an easier flat fell and I didn't want to sew up the wrong sleeve seam. I found out that the underarm seam is the one that doesn't have the vent in it so I was good to go.
trimmed for the flat fell
I sewed some of the vertical body seams and here is the front, made out of three pieces. I am going to fold the seams away from the small centre piece and I have trimmed the seam allowances accordingly.
topstitched pieces
Because I had switched to my zipper foot to do the flat felling, I also did all the top stitching that was available - collar, tabs and flaps.
close up of topstitching
I always feel more efficient when I do similar steps all together, rather than in the order that the pattern instructions tell you. But I think you can only do this (with confidence) after you have had some experience sewing.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Suede Jacket, cut and interfaced

I am pleased that I decided to keep track of my time on this jacket. Then, when I am done, I will know in case someone asks me, "what would it cost to make a jacket like that?" After the lay-out, I spent 30 minutes just cutting.
interfacing fabric
I went to the store to see what I could use for interfacing. I want to sew it in, not fuse it on. Plus I know that sometimes, you can get a glimpse of the interfacing so I wanted to see what colours they had. Imagine how happy I was to find some lightweight poly-cotton fabric, just like the stuff I used to make Peter's too-big shorts, and in the exact colour of the suede! It's 150 cm wide and only $2.99 a metre so I bought enough for a second pair of those shorts, now that I have taken the pattern in and up.
pieces assembled for interfacing
Today (so far), I unpinned and marked all the pattern pieces, laid out and cut the interfacing pieces, and pinned the interfacing to the pieces where it is required. That was another 45 minutes. I have now spent almost two hours and I haven't sewed a stitch!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Jean Jacket in "Suede"

Here is the pattern I have used many times for myself (Vogue 7610). I am going to use it for Liz's jean jacket and the only change will be to lengthen the sleeves a tiny bit. I have put a sticky note on the envelope so that I can keep track of the time required from start to finish (not including blogging however!) to make this jacket. Today, I spent 40 minutes - ironing the pattern pieces, laying out the fabric, deciding which way the nap went and laying out and pinning the pattern pieces. It was difficult to get the pins through the fabric too and I have a dent in one finger.
This is the fabric in close up. I stuck my finger in the shot to give it a sense of scale. What you cannot tell is how lovely the faux suede feels to the touch - like real suede, almost.
pattern pieces laid out
I have pinned all the pattern pieces and some are hanging off the far end of the table. There are a few pieces that get cut twice (making four pieces) like the tabs and pocket flaps so I'll have to make those up later. I've decided to use non-fusible interfacing so there won't be iron marks or bubbling showing on the right side. That means I have to sew all around the pieces and be careful there are no wrinkles. I have some white sew-in interfacing but I may go to the store to see if they have any closer to the fabric colour because you can see a flash of the interfacing if the wind blows the front facings open once you are wearing the jacket.

A Skirt and Top Outfit

finished outfit
My most recent project was to sew up the black fabric I got on my winning gift certificate into a skirt and top outfit. I choose two patterns I had used several times before - a sleeveless button-front top from one of those "wardrobe" patterns and an 8 panel skirt. I think I had 3 metres of fabric to work with and I was left with not much so it worked out pretty well. The fabric was quite heavy and had a waffle weave kind of finish so it looks pretty substantial but I don't think it looks TOO heavy.
I decided to use sew-in interfacing instead of the iron on kind, partly because I was going to use black and couldn't find the iron-on and partly because the fabric has a little Lycra in it and I thought this would work better. I cut out all the interfacing pieces and then sewed them to the corresponding pattern pieces around the edges of each piece.
facing edge
Even though I had sewed around all the edges (and therefore reduced the tendency of the fabric to fray) and even though the fabric was thick, I decided to finish the edges of the top facing by turning the edge under and sewing it down.
dart marked
I laid out the pattern pieces on top of the fabric with its right side folded inward. This made it easier to see any flaws as well as see anything generally because the fabric is black. When I marked the darts, I used chalk because the texture of the fabric really grabbed the chalk and it wouldn't wear off. Once I had made the markings on the reverse side of the fabric with the pattern piece on top, I took the pattern piece off, turned the cut piece over and using the markings on one side, put pins in where they were and made markings on the other side.
skirt front
With eight pieces for the skirt, I find I can get confused as to which one lines up with which other one, even if I do cut out all the notches and things. What I did in this case was sew the two front and the two back panels together first (finishing the seams in a modified flat fell of course). Once I had two panels together for the front and two for the back, I could then attach the two corresponding side panels. (In the photo above, I am pointing to the single notch that indicates this is a front piece.)
skirt back
When I was done this step, I had two skirt sides - the back and the front - sewn together, with four panels each. I could still tell the front from the back because of the single or double notches still showing. The pattern calls for a zipper on the left side so I put the zipper in next and finished the seam. Then I followed up by sewing up the right hand side of the skirt, completing the circle.

I put the facings on the skirt, hemmed it and it was done. The top was also finished easily. I had some large matte black buttons in my collection that seemed to work really well with this fabric so I used them. They are large so I only needed four for the front.

This was just a quickie project to get that fabric made up while it is still summer. Next, I am going to make up my niece's jean jacket in the lovely faux suede.