Friday
Oct262012

petal sleeve

Petal sleeves are so much fun.  I mean, they look like a flower.  No way you can hate that.  

Now, if you've got an underarm seam on your petal sleeve, each sleeve will be cut in two pieces.  The sleeve we're doing today doesn't have an underarm seam, (we can do that with petal sleeves) so we're working with one piece.  (One pattern piece, I mean.  Which we'll then use to cut a sleeve and a lining.  Don't get all confused on me.)

So, from the petal sleeve pattern, cut 1 of fabric, and 1 of lining:

This sleeve looks lopsided because we've put the overlap, the part that looks like petals, on the front of the arm instead of the top.  This way it'll be visible when you're looking at the sleeve from the front.  

Make sure you cut your two sleeves out as mirror images of each other, so that they look the same when they're finished, even though they go on opposite arms. 

Lining and sleeve right sides together, sew the hem:

Trim the seam, turn the lining to the wrong side, and press the hem, pulling the lining to the inside ever so slightly so that it doesn't show on the right side, thus:

Here it is from the right side.  

You'll notice that now the lining pokes out above the sleeve fabric.  Fine.  We could have solved this already by cutting the lining out using a separate pattern, with a little shave taken off at the hemline, but in my opinion, this is easier.  Just so you know it's not a problem with cutting, or drafting, or planning, or you, it's expected and we fix it on the fly.  Because we're versatile like that. 

Now we'll need to mark the underarm seam (so that we know how to place the sleeve in the armhole) and the overlap line.  We'll get those markings from the pattern.  The underarm seam is the set of pins on the right here, the overlap line on the left:

Match up the overlap lines on either side of the sleeve, making sure that the sleeve cap also lines up:

And baste along the top of the sleeve cap to hold those two sides together:

Now we'll treat the sleeve as one piece.  

If there's fullness in the top of the sleeve, add gathering threads to gather that up:

and now you're ready to set in your sleeve

Bravo!  Petal sleeves!

~E~

Saturday
Oct202012

bodice linings

A bodice lining has several purposes.  It adds fabric weight to the bodice portion of a dress or top, which makes it sturdier and longer-wearing, for one thing.  It finishes the inside of the bodice, since at least some of the seams will be encased between the two layers.  In fabrics that wrinkle, the extra layer stiffens them up a bit and cuts down on a little ironing, I've found.  I usually line the bodice of dresses I sew, for all these reasons and because I'm not a fan of facings.  Facings tend to flop around and end up in the wrong places.  Linings generally stay put.  

A bodice lining can be made in the same fabric as the dress, because it's easy to just cut another set of bodice pattern pieces from the fabric you've already got spread out, or they can be cut of another fabric.  If the fabric you're using for the garment you're making is heavy, or expensive, or hard to work with, or very thin, you might want to use a lining that compensates for those qualities.  You can see in the photos below that I've used "self-fabric" (the same fabric as the bodice) for some of these bodices, and a different fabric for others. 

The first step to lining a bodice is to sew the shoulder seams in the bodice itself, and then sew the shoulder seams in the lining. 

Here, then, is a bodice ready for joining up with its lining:

To this particular neckline, I've added piping.  If you're doing that, baste it along the neckline.  If not, disregard the piping in the following photos, because the process is the same. 

Here's the back, with the piping basted in place:

The bodice is right side out.  Now turn the lining wrong side out and slip it over the bodice.  Right sides of the bodice and lining are now facing each other.  Match up the shoulder seams, center fronts, center backs, and front neckline shape. Pin like a madperson.

Now stitch the bodice to the lining at the neckline. 

Okay, a few things here.  

-If you've put in piping, you'll need to sew close to that, probably using a zipper foot or something similar.  (I have used a pintuck foot to work with piping, with very good results.)  

-If you're working with a slippery fabric, or you're at all concerned about the layers shifting while you sew, begin at the center front and sew to the center back, then come back and do the other half of the neckline. 

-If you're using a button closure, you'll want to pivot at the back neckline edge and sew all the way down the back to the waistline, like this:

(I've added a strip of interfacing here, on both sides of center back, to help this quilting-weight cotton fabric take the stress of buttons and buttonholes.)

-If you're adding a zipper, however, you'll want to stop sewing the neckline at the center back, like this:

to allow you to put the zipper in. 

Now you'll need to clip the neckline's seam allowance.  Necklines with angles need to be clipped into the angles, not cutting through the seamline, thus:

And those with curves will need to be clipped like so:

Before turning right side out and pressing.  Don't, please, put the iron down where you've clipped and hit the steam button.  The fabric will collapse down into the little gap and look ugly.  Turn the steam off, if you can, and just use the edge of the iron to press the neckline seamline only, not the seam allowance.  Roll the lining slightly to the inside as you press, especially if it's a different color than the bodice.

If you're going to add sleeves, baste the lining to the bodice all the way around the armhole, on the seamline, to keep the layers from shifting while you do that: 

Now those layers will be treated as one when you set in the sleeve.

If you'll be treating the bodice and lining as one layer at the waist seam, baste all along the waist seam now.  

If you'll be using the lining to cover the waist seam, then leave the lining and bodice unbasted at the waist.  After sewing the bodice to the skirt at the waist, you'll then turn up the seam allowance of the lining and handstitch it to the waist seam.  The finished product will look like this:

 

Or you could use a slipstitch, instead of my whipstitch, for a less-obvious finish.  I do like finishing the bulky waist seam in this way, but I find that it's tough to get the bodice and lining to end up exactly the same shape somehow.  One or the other is always a hair tighter, leaving the looser layer to end up a little baggy looking.  So I do this:

I find that careful pinning and smoothing, making sure the seams match and everything's in place, and then folding up my seam allowance and hand stitching it to the waist seam makes the end product look much more professional, and I get to keep my covered waist seam.  

I do love a lined bodice.  Don't you?

~E~

Monday
Oct082012

grading seam allowances

When several layers of fabric are sewn together, and the seam allowance is to be turned to the inside, "grading" is a good idea, so that the seam allowances don't end up in a thick block inside.  The thick block thing can make your finished product look funny, so we simply trim the layers to different lengths.  

Grading is just turning your scissors at an angle like this:

And cutting the seam allowance so that each layer of fabric ends up a different length, like this:

No thick block, and everybody's happy. 

~E~

Monday
Oct082012

rolled Peter Pan collar

In order to understand drafting collar patterns, please read Drafting Collar Patterns.  

A Peter Pan collar like this consists of two pieces, the upper collar (which we see) and the undercollar (which we don't, because it's on the bottom against the shoulders of the garment).  We want the undercollar to pull the upper collar slightly to the bottom, so that the undercollar doesn't show.  To achieve this, we'll trim 1/8" of fabric off all the way around the outside edge of the undercollar.    

In this example, the upper collar is pink fleece and the undercollar is gigham.  

First thing to do is get the undercollar and the collar sewn together at the outer edge. 

They're different shapes now, these two, so in order to fit them together, we'll pin them at the center back/outer edge, and sew from there around the curve to the neckline edge at the front.  While we're doing that, we're pulling and shaping the undercollar to the collar.  It'll do that, since most of the edge is on the bias there.  Then we'll go back to the center back and do the other side, shaping as we go.

When we've done that, we end up with this:

Now.  At this point, do not. DO NOT panic and grab your scissors and cut off the little bit of the collar that's peeking out at the neckline.  It's okay, we put it there.  Don't let's forget and take it off again. 

Grade that seam allowance. 

See how the fleece ends up being a different length on the top and the bottom?  Also, see how I'm not clipping the curves?  This weakens the seams, and never ends up looking like I want it to, so I just trim seam allowances on curves on the thin side and they usually don't complain. 

Then we'll turn it, and press the edge, rolling the undercollar slightly to the inside. 

Next, starting at the center back of the neckline, we'll baste the two necklines together, pulling the undercollar to fit the collar. 

Now, in order to see how our collar is going to look on this dress form,  (it's really just a display mannequin, I know, I know, but "dress form" is quicker to say than "display mannequin" every time, so we'll pretend, okay?)  we'll have to pin it first up like this:

"Like a pink vampire," my son says. Because this is a rolled collar, it goes upward from the garment neckline before "rolling" back down to the shoulders.  To visualize how it'll look finished, we have to do what it'll eventually do, which is why we pin it upward. 

Then, when we pull it down, we get this:

So cute!  And it lies good and flat at the front bottom edge, because of all that pulling we did with the undercollar. 

A closer look at the "roll" we were going for when we overlapped the pattern at the shoulder:

Very nice!

~E~

Thursday
Oct042012

sleeve header

Sometimes we want a little more shape to the top of a sleeve than the fabric can provide by itself.  If we're sewing with a limp fabric, or if the sleeve is very puffy or large, a little help on the inside of the sleeve can make the difference in a sleeve that looks lazy and one that stands up and sings. 

Behold the difference:

On the left here is a juliet sleeve without a sleeve header.  On the right is a sleeve with one.  Not a huge difference, but enough to make it worth doing, I think.  

What we'll use for this tutorial is a really stiff net called "petticoat net", but any sort of stiffish fabric you can get your hands on is good.  Net is extra good because it adds stiffness without adding bulk. 

Here is a piece of our petticoat net:

It's doubled over, and cut on a curve.  The folded edge is what will eventually end up sticking out, into the sleeve.

Now we'll fold the cut edge up into box pleats, just roughly, no precision here:

Pulling the cut edge straight as we go, and letting the folded edge (which was straight to begin with) curve around. 

The sleeve is already sewn into the armhole, and we're applying the header to the armhole seam here:

So that when we turn it outward, toward the sleeve, we get this:

Which should hold the sleeve up nicely.  Turn it all right side out and we'll get the puffed-up version that we saw in the first picture, up above there.  

~E~