i have plans… OAL-plans

I’m chipping away at my ufo-pile that I posted about last month… um, two months ago (how in the world did that happen?) – I’ve finished the Grainline Portside travel set and just need to stuff it with pillows and photograph it, tackled a few easy repairs, and gotten back into muslin making for the Robson coat. I’ve been telling myself to knock out these unfinished projects before starting anything new, but then Lauren and Andi’s Outfit Along shows up and disturbs all my plans! In the best way, of course.

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Lots of pops of pink on my sewing table! Really my family inherited dining table, but… um, covered in planned and potential sewing projects now. A lovely little corner of my lovely new apartment!

The Outfit Along is a challenge to, between June 1st and July 31st, knit one garment and sew one garment to create a complete outfit. Technically you’re meant to start from scratch, but reading Lauren’s post got me so very inspired to build an outfit around a half-finished cardigan that I’ve lacked the drive to finish, so I’m bending the rules as I see fit. :) It took me about ten seconds to decide on a pair of shorts, another ten to realize I had a pattern in my stash that would work well (Simplicity/Built by Wendy 3850 pants), a minute to dig out a fine-waled grey corduroy I think will be perfect, and (I will admit it) a whole day to land on a magenta crinkly chiffon underlined in dark brown-grey chiffon for a sleeveless Pattern Runway Pussy Bow Blouse.

Going through my UFO-pile made me realize I tend to abandon projects when I deviate too much from the pattern or instructions, and run into fitting issues or problems that require a bit of effort to work through. I want to finish these garments that I’m planning, not add to my pile of stuff – so I’ve decided to really hold back on alterations I make to these patterns. For the shorts I’ll raise the center front though, as I’ve seen that is a recurring comment from others who have made it, and for the blouse I want merge the ties and the collar stand instead of having a separate tie. I’ll probably also raise the underarm slightly since the blouse isn’t drafted to be sleeveless.

So, I’m going to finish a longstanding UFO, make two pieces of clothing I’ve been wanting in my wardrobe, using fabrics and patterns from the stash. Win, win, win, win, huh? I’m excited! Anyone else participating in the Outfit Along?

ufo spring cleaning

Happy Easter everyone! I hope these days off are a welcome break, filled with all the things you want to fill them with. For me, its crime shows on tv (a Norwegian must! I don’t know why, but Easter is all about the murder mystery books and the who-dunnit on tv), chocolate, reading, knitting, and…. spring cleaning.

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There are several reasons why the cabinet with my in-progress sewing projects is getting emptied and scrutinized these days. One is of course that I have a very generous two weeks off from working, thanks to the local school system adding winter break onto this years early Easter. Another is (exciting things up ahead!) I’m looking to move soon – this time into my own apartment! Nothing is finalized yet, but I’m making every effort to become a homeowner this spring! This is beyond exciting and also terrifying, but mostly I’m feeling the happy feelings. This is also an excellent opportunity to sort through my things, and in the spirit of Marie Kondo and her life-changing tidying magic – only bring with me what sparks joy.

So, unfinished sewing objects… Some of these are years old, and have felt like a cloud hanging over my sewing time – “I should be working on that dress that only needs buttons, but…” I wanted to clear out the projects that no longer thrill me, and at the same time I was a bit curious why exactly I stalled. This might be more to my benefit than of interest to others, but here is an overview of the projects I found lurking – and why I’m giving away two incomplete dresses if there is someone who wants them and finish them. 

There were three categories I found:
– Simple projects that really just needed 20 minutes of attention. I tried to knock these out straight away, and managed to hem a dress that has been waiting for 5 months, mend a hole in a knit sweater, and patch up a pair of jeans.
– Slightly more involved projects that should still be doable in a few hours, like the several pouches below, a pair of zippered welt pockets in an otherwise finished jersey dress, a leather bag that needs assembly, and an umbrella destined to become a reusable shopping bag.
– The bigger projects I found were a trenchcoat with a partially assembled muslin, a lace skirt, a muslin for a bias cut silk slip, and a pair of pants with serious fit issues.

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What: First up, a ufo I’ve tackled and want to show off as a finished object! I’ve had a scrap of black pleather lying around for ages, and at one point decided I wanted to make a lined clutch with gold teeth zippers and a gorgeous golden-green dupioni silk.
Why did I stall: I didn’t have a pattern, and the odd shapes of the scraps meant this was an excersise in creative patterncutting, and it just required too much brain power to get started.
What now: Yesterday I was finally in the right mood to figure out construction details and cut out pieces. I really like how it came out! Save from a small corner of the lining that I left open to pull everything through, this is all machine stitched, and the challenge of finding the right order of operation was a lot of fun and very satisfying. The proportions are a tiny bit off I think, and the top zipper is really a bit too long for the edge I sewed it to (see the slight puckering?), but for the satisfaction of those colors together and the top stitching, I can live very well with the imperfections. Mostly it just feels good to have finally finished it and not have it “waiting”!

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What: Next up, the two smallest pieces of the Grainline Studio Portside travel set. I made the dufflebag itself last summer, before my sailing trip on the Statsraad Lehmkuhl, and it was great.
Why did I stall: I had all the self/outside patternpieces cut and interfaced, but not the lining. I think also I lost the sense of urgency as I barely managed to finish the dufflebag before my trip, and that’s why I was making the set.
What now: I lost a couple of the self pieces, so I had to recut those, and then I cut the lining pieces. They now just need to be slip-stitched to the zipper, and anchor the corners. Also, I forgot that I had added an extra inch of width, so the bottom of the dopp-kit is a little wonky. This is why leaving projects for months and years suck – you totally forget all the little changes and choices you’ve made!

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What: Smaller repairs – zippered welt pockets, and interfacing a floppy collar and buttonstand on a blouse.
Why did I stall: Tedious unpicking ahead. Decisionmaking – where to place the zippers? How much of the buttonstand to interface? Remove the  buttons and the collarstand to really get access? Annoyance – why is this blouse made without interfacing? It’s so floppy and unsymmetrical! Impracticality – I actually wear the blouse quite a lot, now it will be out of commission for a while (well, given my track record at least! I’m hoping to change that!)
What now: Just do it.

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What: Oh, wow. This is an oldie. I’ve had this bag planned since my senior thesis collection (in 2011!). I didn’t have time to make it for the fashion show, and I don’t remember when I actually cut it, but.. here it is.
Why did I stall: It’s like a kit that didn’t come with instructions. Last time I had it out I got totally overwhelmed with trying to figure out the spacing for the holes along the edge that I need to punch out, so I just put it away again. Also, I’m not in a very dire need of a small leather bag, even though it will be cute.
What now: Well, some math and a good album is maybe what this requires?

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What: Lace skirt, from pattern testing Sewaholics Rae skirt pattern.
Why did I stall: I want to make this into an underlined pencilskirt (check out my asking for input on lining choice here), but that means unpicking 8 serged seams, drafting a panelled pencil skirt pattern and underlining each panel piece.
What now: I know, I could make this much easier on myself, but I think this is a project I would enjoy doing very thoughtfully and thoroughly. I should probably start by seeing if I have a suitable skirt pattern in my stash somewhere – that feels like the biggest hurdle to keep going. I almost decided to get rid of this project, but something keeps holding me back. I think I will like this skirt once I finish it!

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What: This is also from last summer – a pair of Named Patterns Alexandria pants.
Why did I stall: I really did not like working with this pattern. It put me in a bad mood. Then the fit was not good, so I tried to slim the legs down and made it worse.
What now: I’ve decided I think a crotch gusset might be the solution. I’m wondering if the width across the hips and… crotch width perhaps? is not wide enough, making a very unflattering “tent” when I sit down. This will need some trial and error to get it to fit, and that requires patience on my part.

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What: Sewaholic Robson coat! I’m actually really looking forward to working on this! I bought the fabric several years ago in London specifically for this coat.
Why did I stall: That lovely printed cotton voile is to become bias binding. Something like 14 metres of it. That is stalling me, as is the fact that I made the decision to grade between several sizes while cutting out the pattern for the muslin, and now I don’t remember what sizes I used and where. Once I have the muslin sewn up I anticipate fitting changes that needs to be transferred to the paper pattern. Also, the amount of fabric is a little daunting!
What now: Now that I write this out, it doesn’t feel all that undoable actually. I think when I work on this coat it needs to be the only project I’m working on – or else I will lose track and get confused.

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What: Pattern Runways Gathered sundress. I blogged about it here.
Why did I stall: I’ve worn this twice. I really love the fabric, a soft cotton silk in lovely colors. It’s just that the fabric reads very differently at a bit of a distance, as a garment, than it does up close. I used a gold-colored silk as an accent in piping along the waistline and the pockets, and I thought changing out the waistband itself would break up the print a bit. I did a lot of unpicking, and then… I don’t think this is my style anymore.
What now: I loved making this dress – I put a lot of effort and care into it, but it’s not for me anymore. If anyone wants this, and put it back together, I will be happy to ship anywhere. (The zipper is included, it needs to have the waistband reattached to the bodice and the skirt, and the lower portion of the zipper attached again. It measures 98 cm/ 38,5 inches in the bust, 75,5 cm/ 29,5 inches at the waist, and is 94 / 37″ cm long in total from top of shoulderstrap to hem)

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What: 0451/2246 Traveler dresses by Lisetteblogged about in progress here.
Why did I stall: My sewing machine doesn’t make button holes. Or, it does, but it’s totally anti-automatic. I’ve been waiting for a chance to borrow someones machine and make the buttonholes, but it’s become clear now to me that even if I finish the dress, I won’t wear it. So, again – if anyone wants this and finish it, I will be happy to ship anywhere in the world.
What now: I really enjoyed making this dress as well – as you can see, I took great care to match stripes, made interfaced bias sections for sleeves and hem, and I did a small FBA as well. I made alterations to the pattern, which I’m glad for – if I want a shirt dress, I have a fitted pattern ready to go! But the colors and the plaid isn’t for me anymore, so it’s free to a good home if anyone wants it! It measures 98,5 cm/ 38,75 inches in the bust, 77,5 cm/ 30,5 inches at the waist, and is 95,5 cm / 37,5 inches long in total from shoulderseam to hem). The fabric feels like a wool/linen blend, but there could also be some polyester in there. It’s a tiny bit scratchy, in other words. 😉

What is the main thing I’ve realized going through my UFO’s? For one, I think I should try to only have one sewing project going at a time – maybe two if the second is a fairly simple one. The choices and changes I make as I’m underways will be forgotten if I put away a project for too long. Another thing I’m realizing is that I stall out when things veer off course. Some days I’m up for the challenge of figuring out things, and other days I just want to follow directions and use sewing as my meditation time. It feels really good to go through these old projects and sort out the ones I actually want to finish! And maybe I can be a bit more mindful about new projects that I start – that I am exited enough about them to work through any problems that might arise?

How about you out there – any spring cleaning or finishing up projects? Regardless – Happy Easter!

winter woolens

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… or “Loki mittens and the third watch-cap”. It’s winter! I made wooly stuff I can wear! Let’s have a look.

Mittens
Yarn:
 Random scraps of yarn – most of it gifted balls of Icelandic yarn from the stash of a friend who’d been there.
Pattern: Made up, based on Loki sweater pattern. (my ravelry project page)
Techniques: Stranded colorwork, ribbing.

Cabled hat
Yarn:
 Merino wool from a frogged sweater.
Pattern: Cabled watch-cap by Kristen Orme
Techniques: Ribbing, cables.

So, the mittens are a figment of my imagination. Not in the sense that they aren’t real (they must be – the keep my hands warm every day!), but the pattern is made up. I came across the Loki kid sweater on Ravelry a really long time ago, and immediately thought they would make cool Icelandic-inspired mittens with some Icelandic coarse wool I’d just been given by a friend. It took several years to make this happen, but here! Finally!

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I used the repeat pattern from the original kid sweater and repeated it eight times, following the decreases from the chart exactly. It made a sort of funny cone-like shape that isn’t the best for.. you know, hand-shapes. I’m on to the second pair (this time for a friend), and making improvements to get a proper hand shape instead. Meanwhile, I washed, blocked and stretched this pair, and it works just fine. It is very rustic looking – both in yarn and stitch quality! In my defense I will claim that the gorgeously colored green yarn (which a burn test revealed to be some sort of acrylic I think, though oddly stiff) was really hard to work with. I didn’t make it easier on myself either by choosing to combine three different weights of yarn! Especially in the middle section where all three colors are in play at once – it got thick and dense real fast. Surprisingly though, for being a stranded pattern *and* real sticky Icelandic wool, these mittens are not very warm. On their own they are barely good for a crisp fall day, which doesn’t quite describe the season we’re in. I wonder if the gauge might be too loose to get a real dense fabric? Regardless – a pair of thin gloves underneath and it’s all ok. Plus, I love how well these mittens match my woolen hats, and my winter jacket, and generally the rest of my wardrobe. I’ve decided they are kind of charming in their rustic-ness!

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I had a lot of fun knitting these mittens – I’ve forgotten how much I love doing colorwork! It is a fairly small project, and with changes to pretty much every row it is excellent entertainment… Just one more row! I have two more of this type planned out/started, and another fingering weight colorwork pair of mittens  at the top of my ravelry queue (this one). I’m thinking of using my Barcelona souvenir yarn and some thin brown alpacca yarn. It will be sumptuous!

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Ok, and now the hat. It might look familiar. It’s the third time I’ve knit the exact same hat in the exact same yarn. I posted about the first time I knit this hat here (it ended up being to big and I gave it to a friend), and here is the post for the second one (which apparently I’ve lost).

I’m not quite sure what to say about this hat other than 1. I obviously love it since I’ve knit it three times, 2. I actually finally almost used up the rest of this merino wool! It came from a thrifted sweater and the yarn is so fine I’ve been knitting with four strands, 3. I like the wider ribbing of the second version the best, and 4. I’m particularly pleased with how I did the increases between the ribbing and the cabled pattern in such a way that the pattern grows naturally from the rib pattern.

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Oh, I wanted to talk a little about photo editing! That was a topic on Katie’s blog in connection with her Better Pictures post on indoor photography, as well as Gillian’s post on using Lightroom. Personally I use a combination of Bridge and Photoshop, which I have since I got a really great deal on the Adobe CS-package while still a student at an art college. Sidenote – there at school I took a digital photography class where we used Lightroom, and I thought it was really good, and easy to use. When my current set-up is outdated beyond repair, Lightroom would be my dream choice for blog photo editing.

The set-up I’ve got going now is pretty much a substitute to the Lightroom setup in many ways. I use a Nikon D600, and I have it set up to save in both RAW and jpeg formats. I got used to working with RAW-files in the digital photography class, and I’m just not going back if I can help it! There is so much information in the unprocessed files, which in many ways makes photo editing much easier, since there is more you can do before your photos look… you know, really edited. Anyways, I open my photoshoot folder in Bridge, and look through what I have. As I go along I label the pictures I like (you can use a star rating, or different colors). Then I filter to show only labeled photos, and start comparing and deselecting the good but not great ones. Once I have my selection I mark them all and open with Photoshop, which will go straight into RAW-editing mode. From there I can play with temperature, exposure, black level, brightness, recovery and fill light (the last two are great for overexposed white areas, and those times when the light source is behind me or not strong enough). Those are the things I pretty consistently adjust. I have set up an action to save my photos, so a keyboard shortcut will resize the photo optimized for web, into a folder I’ve specified, and close out the photo from Photoshop so I know I’m done with it. It works really well. I’m very in favor of actions – once you’ve taken the trouble of setting them up!

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I thought about all of this because while editing the photos I hit the auto-option for color temperature and general exposure (like I always do – at the very least I want to see what the program thinks I should do!), and it made the colors really warm, and it made for a nice-looking photo. My first thought however was “This is all wrong! It was a really cold day, with the sun setting early in the afternoon and I had a pale, low sun as the source of light. It should look cold!”. So I left the pictures looking a little cold. I’m not entirely sure what my point is, other than maybe that I edit the pictures to reflect how I think it looked or felt that day. Which this day was pretty damn chilly. I think maybe my frosty breath is visible in some of the pictures!

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Anyone else have a system or agenda with their photo editing? Or, use the “I’m just adjusting my hat/scarf/hair-pose to avoid awkward idle hands in photos? Or, have knitted some warm wintry goodness lately? It’s the season! (Or maybe… it’s the season for having them finished already so they can be put to use!)

sewing-themed charms necklace

I have to confess – I’m not crazy about charms bracelets. It’s not the charms I don’t like, I’m just not a bracelet person when it comes to jewellery! I find them often just being in the way, I guess in the same way sleeves can be – more often than not I push my sleeves up to the elbow. I feel like I’m more concentrated and ready to work then.

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Anyways! I got a charms bracelet from John’s mom a few years ago, and being sewing themed, the charms were adorable. I just had to find a way to display them that worked better for me! I had a vision of a necklace with a sort of bar with rings on it. I looked and looked, and finally came across TexasBeadz on Etsy, who has lots of jewellery making supplies, and was able to custom order the antique silver color I was hoping to find. It doesn’t look like she has the same item listed anymore (and I’ve already forgotten what the jewellery world term for this bar-thingy is! Anyone know? Please share if you do!), but the owner was very lovely and nice to work with so I wanted to mention her store.

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I bought a set of jewellery rings from my local crafts store, and spent 10 minutes getting the charms on the bar. So now have a necklace with a sewing machine, ruler, scissor and iron on it! I’m not quite sure what the cog-looking thing is supposed to be, but it’s cute. The third charm from the left is a small freebie pendant I got to match a pair of earrings I bought through the Norwegian version of Etsy, which is called Epla. The jeweller is Sølvsmykkeriet, and she too had excellent customer service and ended up custom making a pair of earrings for me that I absolutely love. I don’t think I have a close up of those, but they should be in pretty much every post the last year since I hardly ever take them out!

Oh, and happy March everyone! At the moment Bergen is greeting it with heavy, wet snowfall. Isn’t March the first spring month? Anyone else having non-spring-like weather? Or – anyone else itching to start making spring-like things? I definitely am!

how to take in a dress shirt, part 2

I’m back with part two of how to take in a shirt! This post is a little more specific to dress shirts and their construction than my previous post on measuring and marking. I hope you guys find it useful!

howto_shirt_hemBefore we get going, make a note of how the seams are constructed. We’ll be putting everything back in the same way, so we want to note down how big the seam allowance is, if the seams are pressed to the front or the back, if one layer of fabric has been trimmed back or not. Jot it all down! This will be happening both before you start seam-ripping, and during.

Now we’re on to cutting, seam-ripping and re-assembling the shirt. Making sure you’ve removed all the pins, go ahead and seam-rip the side seams to within 3 or 4 inches of the cuff seam on the sleeves. Trust me when I say it’s super difficult to get close to that cuff seam on a sewing machine! The topstitching can be seam-ripped back a little further, as we need the fabric to lay flat to join the old and new stitching, and the topstitching is in the way of doing that.

howto_shirt_sleeveYou can see with my sleeve that the two layers have been cut to the same width, and folded under before topstitching. You can also see I’ve put my final pin right where I’ve stopped ripping the structural seam, while the topstitching is undone a good inch or two further.

Oh, the fun part! We are going to do the whole business with the pins one more time, just in reverse. Mark every two inches as before, and measure in at each point the amount you determined in the last round of measuring and note-taking. I like to pin with the pins pointing towards me, so that when I’m cutting the head of the pin isn’t in the way of the scissors and I can cut just on the inside of where the pin is. When I get to the point in the picture below I pull out the pin and aim for the next one. Try to maintain a smooth cutting line. If you’d rather use chalk or something instead of the pins, that’s totally fine.

howto_shirt_cutBut wait, I hear you say, what about the seam allowance? What if it isn’t the same as the shirt I’m showing you? Actually, it doesn’t matter one bit! As long as you resew with the same seam allowance as the original was done, you’re good. Since the original measurement was from the sewn edge to where we want the new sewn edge to be, that exact measurement still holds true when we measure from the original cut edge to the new cut edge.

By the way, in the picture above you can see that I move the pins marking the 2 inch points to the new cut edge after I’ve cut each section. I still need to keep my layers together when I sew the side seams!

howto_shirt_dart2At some point you’ll need to sew the two darts in the back. I don’t have a strong preference on when I do this; as the first thing; after seamripping; after sewing the side seam… Whenever you want to is fine – shirts are big enough that it’s not too much easier to do this flat than when the shirt is sewn up. Same procedure here as earlier – re-mark the measurements you calculated earlier, and sew.

howto_shirt_flatfelled_downloadBack to the side seam! I’m demonstrating how I’m folding my seam allowance in half and pressing under, in preparation for the flat felled seam to come. The picture isn’t quite accurate, as I went back and trimmed down that inner layer to about half the width. I found it difficult and lumpy to do both layers! I know that’s the way it was sewn originally, but factories have special machinery that does all the work, and I don’t. So I just find a way that gives as similar as a result as possible.howto_shirt_armpit-e1392730229537

If the shirt has a staggered seams (as in, one seam has already been trimmed before being sewn) you can either trim each layer independently the same amount, and then layer them staggered before sewing again, or you can measure in from the outermost cut edge, trim away the excess, sew, and trim down the inner layer before continuing with the flat-felled seam.Here is a tip, which is related to not having factory-style equipment as home sewers: Trim away a triangle from the inner layer, right at the underarm seam. There are so many layers of fabric at this intersection of seams, that trimming away one of them allows the other to fold over much more neatly. This is a matter of “turn of cloth”-allowance, which Sherry has written about on her blog.

howto_shirt_sewWhen you’ve pressed under the seam allowance you can take your nearly finished shirt to the sewing machine, and edgestitch the pressed under edge. You should be sewing this from the inside of the shirt, at least with traditional flat felled seam construction. The final step will be to resew the hem across the side seams – same goes here as with everywhere else, which is to sew it back the way it was done originally.

Step back and enjoy the results of your hard work! Model checking himself in the mirror optional…

john_shirt_front_after3I’d like to add on a “part 3” to this at some point, showing how to deal with the shoulder if it needs to be moved up. I’m not sure when that would be – John and I will have to inventory his shirt-collection and see if we find a candidate.

I hope this is useful information to those of you wanting to make this kind of alteration, and please do ask if you have any questions!

how to take in a dress shirt, part 1

As I mentioned, here is the first part of my tutorial on how to take in a dress shirt! At least, the methods and tricks that have worked for me the last few times I have taken in John’s shirts. I’ve separated this into two posts; this one on pinning and measuring, and the next on cutting and general tips.

Let’s start! You can kind of tell that I’ve pinned in the sides in the picture below, but I also added another to show where the pins are. I pin the shirt in while on the person of course, making sure to make it as even as possible from side to side. For the sleeves I taper from the elbow down to a point 3-4″ up from the cuff seam, since it is very difficult to get close to that seam with a sewing machine. Make sure to always put the pins in pointing to the floor – it’ll reduce the chance of the person wearing the shirt pricking themselves! The whole point of taking in a shirt is of course to make it slimmer, but keep an eye on draglines.

There is a limit to how much you can take in without distorting the fit, so I’d recommend not taking in much more than 4 inches total at the armpit / side seam intersection. If you need to take in more, you might want to think about reshaping the armscye and sleeve head (not covered here).

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I find that the biggest job in taking in (or letting out) any garment is this next step of recording the points you’ve pinned, then averaging those numbers out. This is the same technique I used when working in the bridal shop, and in pretty much any setting where I need to let out or take in seams equally on both sides of a garment. It makes sure you get a smooth line from top to bottom, and of course – being the same on both sides!

You’ll need:
– your pinned shirt
– pen and paper
– measuring tape or ruler

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I start by measuring out every 2 inches (or every 5 cm if you think in metric) starting from the hem and working my way upwards. I mark each point by a pin perpendicular to the stitching line. When I get to the armpit I mark that seam with a pin even if it isn’t quite at the 2″ mark from the previous one. I start counting from zero at the armhole, moving towards the sleeve cuff. Repeat this for the other side.

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Next I revisit all the 2″ marks and measure how far in the pins are from the original side seam. If the 2″ mark is between two pins, just eyeball it the best you can. Note down the distance for each point, first for one side and then the other. As you can see, I curiously marked points in 2-inch segments, but I measured from the side seam in centimeters! I find centimetres much more accurate for smaller distances, but whatever floats your boat works.

Now get in touch with your mathy side. Again, I find the next step easier to do in centimetres, mostly because I can so easily see where the midpoint between two numbers should be. For example, if I’ve measured a particular point on the left side to 2.4 cm and 2.8 cm on the other side, I average it out to 2.6 cm.

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I average out each point individually first, and then I work my way down and make sure my new line won’t resemble a zig-zag, darting in and out. You can maybe make out in the picture above that I changed the average number for the 8″ mark from 1.9 cm to 2.0 cm. Looking at the big picture I can tell that the amount taken in increases steadily from the hem to the armpit, and then back down, so it makes no sense to dip down at the 8″ mark when the big picture tells me otherwise. So I changed it! This is the time to smooth out all these lines, and to trust your eye, your gut and your experience.

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The process is pretty much the same for the darts I took in. The darts are more freestanding in the middle of the shirt back piece, so you’ll have to get some important measurements recorded and evened out. They include how far up from the hem you start the dart, the length of the dart, the deepest point of the dart, and the distance from the side seam to the bottom of the dart. You can see my drawing in the picture below. As with the side seams, I measured out 2″ distances, recorded the pinned in amount at those points, then figured out the averages.

howto_shirt_notesThat’s it for today! And quite honestly, it’s the part requiring the most concentration, and is the groundwork for everything coming after. The hard part is now done! I’ll have the next post on cutting, sewing and general tips up later in the week.

I ♥ reupholstery class: making a seat

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Welcome to another round of red pictures! The light in the basement where we work is pretty terrible, but at least the pictures are consistent in their red glow. Anyways! The last two or three sessions has been about rebuilding the seat. By last post I had the springs all in place, and in the picture above you can see the stitches from attaching each spring at four points to the jute webbing. It reminds me of a funky houndstooth pattern!

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And…. more tying up the springs with rope and string. The first pass was from the back to the front in the middle of each column of springs, then another pass left to right in the middle of each row of springs. Then a repeat of that between the springs (on both the rows and columns) between the springs, attaching to the rope itself. And finally, a metal wire frame at the top edge of the springs, kept in place with more string. These springs are securely in place now!

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Next a base layer of burlap covers the springs, and are attached with more string and knots. First, around the edge of the metal wire frame, and then across each row of springs catching each of them at 3 spots (8 o’clock, 12 o’clock and 4 o’clock). I took that picture to help me remember the locking stitches used for both these steps. It actually reminds me a lot of a regular blanket stitch (here is post at Colletterie with a tutorial and variations).

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My original “wood-wool” (that’s really what they call it!) cushion was pretty intact, so I got to reuse that. It is just positioned over the burlap covered springs, filled with more wood-wool if necessary, and then some running stitches with a crazy giant double-pointed needle secures this cushion to the burlap fabric underneath. Pulling tightly you start getting a bit of a “buttoned pillow”-look, but I think this is all being covered with shredded wool (real this time), so it won’t be apparent in the finished seat.

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There are still quite a few steps before the seat is finished – the sides are all being filled in with more wood-wool and secured down, the burlap top is sewn to define the edge, the real wool is piled on top, then a layer of muslin, and… I think, at that point finally the real fabric. I was surprised to learn that we are finishing the seat completely before even taking the fabric off the back, so I guess I have to live with that old, red, sort of terrible fabric a little while longer!

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