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Wednesday, May 29, 2013

PPM #5 Playing with Facings

This is the first project of the second book. It was hard to choose one, there are so many interesting patterns in this book. But I decided to start with something simple and wearable. There's a series for patterns that show how to alter the neckline by altering the facing. Marianna already showed one of them on a dress. An interesting concept, changing the outside by shaping from within.

Drafting and cutting
Drafting was easy, this is a quick one. The pic above shows all there is to it. I used my own slopers. I took the opportunity to draft a low V back as well, I've been wanting to do this for a while. Cutting was a bit tricky, I discovered my fabric was only 110 cm wide (43"). I had two metres and the book recommends that you cut the bodice on the bias. And I wanted a half circle skirt. With some puzzling it worked out, I even managed to get a facing for the back out of it as well.

The book does not always mention what kind of fabric to use. To me it looked like the fabric should have some weight to get a nice fold. I had found this beautiful quilting cotton at the shop the week before, but at 21,95 per metre it was way over my budget. Fortunately there was a one day 50% off sale going on. Lucky me!

The sewing process went nice and smooth for most of the day. I took my time even though I had to finish the dress the same day. I staystitched all the bias cut edges of the bodice, necklines and skirt right after cutting. I payed attention to the pattern an finishing the seams. I didn't have to get my seam ripper out until the very end, when I messed up the blind zip. It was funny, because it happenend right when I thought 'hey, I haven't messed up one stitch yet' and also 'I don't understand why people don't use blind zips all the time, they're not hard to put in at all'. HAH. Well now I know not to think these things until after I'm finished. Usually I would have stopped sewing before that point, but I wanted to finish it today.

The Magic
Although I'm happy with the dress, it's obvious that this magic is done by an apprentice. It's just a bit messy, the fold is there but there's some more bulgeing going on on the other side. I don't know where that excess fabric comes from, I thought I'd followed the diagram. So I thought this would be an easy one, and for drafting and sewing it was. It's just that the magic is not accomplished as easily. I should have stopped and taken a step back to really look at what was going on at the neckline, instead of thinking it would sort itself out. Ah well. I learned and tried some new things, like the V back and using a bias cut bodice. And I practiced the Ann approach, which is still working very well. Right now I'm very tired of all this work in one day, so my opinion of this dress is no quite clear and might change. Is there some magic or is it just a messy cowl? I'd love to know what you think!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Souvenir Giveaway Winner

Mr. Random number generator chose nr. 21, Kata! These goodies will end up in Estonia, how exciting! Kata, please contact me so I can send it on it's way.

Seam rippers seem to be the most valued sewing tool, and I have to say altough it's not my favourite (because that means I did something wrong), I wouldn't know what to do without it. Thanks everyone for participating and sharing!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Why Size Charts are not Based on Actual Women

I made an interesting discovery about sizing, combining the knowlegde other pattern designers shared with us and the knowledge I gained making our first pattern. I've read something about this before, but I didn't fully understand at the time. So in case that goes for you too, I'll explain again here. A lot is said and discussed about the size charts different pattern designers use, whether they are based on actual women and the frustration that comes with not fitting into one size column. My survey showed that 78% of you generally do not fall within one size column, so this is a widespread problem. And one of the factors that are responsible for this, is the way sewing patterns are drafted.

When I was doing research for my own size chart, I found StephC's very helpful blogpost about the waist/hip ratio. The results from her surveys are based on the measurements from over 300 women. They showed that the ratio increases with size. If you go up in bodyweight, the difference between your waist and hip does not stay the same: the waist increases more than the hip. That means that the ratio for someone with size 4 (W/H = 69/94 cm = 27/37") is 0.73, but that for size 14, the most common ratio is 0.79 (W/H = 84/107 cm = 33/42"). So if you'd draft patterns based on the actual most common size proportions, you would use these ratios.

However, when you draft patterns and you need to grade them (derive other sizes from one size), and to do this your size chart needs to be proportional. That means that the difference between your hip-waist and waist-bust need to increase and decrease with the same amount. If you don't do this, you'll need to draft each size from scratch, which is a lot more work than grading based on one master pattern. Even though every designer puts a lot of work into her sizechart, all size charts show this, as explained by Dixie. This means that, looking at the above examples, when you choose 27/37", a difference of 10 inches, your larger size can't be 33/42" because that would be only 9" difference. You'll have to adjust your sizechart, moving it away from the most common size for the practicality of pattern grading, and make it 33/43". Most designers draft patterns in such a way that it's easy to cut between sizes, but the only pattern designer who found an actual solution for this problem is Cake Patterns. She lets you connect the dots on her patterns that correspond with your size, thus customizing the pattern. Very clever!

Does this clarify things for you? It certainly did for me. If you have any thoughts, questions or corrections on what I've explained, please leave a comment!

P.S. Don't forget to enter the Tiny Tools Giveaway!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Souvenir Giveaway

So far my giveaways always had a reason, something to celebrate. This time it's very simple: I went to Portugal and brought you something :) I found this tiny shop full of cute quilting fabrics and buttons and a very sweet girl who spoke very softly. This is where I found the tools below. I also visited a few fabric shops that House of Pinheiro recommended. There was only one I actually entered because some had men in suits patrolling the stores. I wouldn't have dared to touch a thing when there's men in suits looking over your shoulder! In the end I went regular tourist and bought a gorgeous maxi dress at Kookai. Call it inspirational shopping. Anyway here's something for you to win if you leave a comment!

FLTR: a pair of tiny scissors with a little eye that would make a cute necklace, a pair of thread snippers (I got one myself, very handy!), a thimble and a dragonfly safety pin.

If you'd like to win these goodies, leave a comment below stating your favourite sewing tool. Giveaway ships anywhere, winner will be randomly chosen, and ends on friday May 24th. Boa sorte!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

How to Tie a Bow

Today I'll show you how to tie a nice bow on the Musubu dress (or any other dress with a bow). Tying a bow when you're looking at it from above can take some attempts to get it right. Follow the steps below and you''ll get it right the first time!

This is what the ties look like hanging loose. 
Tie a knot, in a way that the left tie ends up on top. 
Form the first bow with the bottom tie.
Wrap the upper tie around the bow, moving it behind the bow and to the front from left to right.
Pull the tie through the hole at the back of the bow, forming the second (left) bow. 
Straighten it out and pull it tight. Tadaa! 

Thursday, May 9, 2013

PPM #4 Knot Dress (Musubu)

The results of the poll were very clear: 68% of you wanted to see the Musubu as my next project. 25% chose Dekoboko, and only 6% chose Otoshiana. So I guess you still have a preferance for pretty dresses with big bows, huh? It was funny to see the result, I thought as a pattern the Musubu was the least interesting and not something I'd wear even though it looks the most wearable. Turns out I was wrong! I had so much fun making this. And as a bonus it turned out to be very wearable even for me, so you chose well. Thanks for participating! I included some sewing instructions, because I have a feeling you'll want to make one too. I'll do a special post on how to tie a nice bow later this week. I hope it fulfills your expectations!

Drafting and cutting
Drafting this pattern is not very difficult. Ofcourse I know by now how the slash, spread and redraft method works, but still I think there is enough explanation in the book. Other people also noted that this is no a hard pattern to draft. I used the sloper that comes with the book, and then compared it to my own sloper. The terms sloper and block are used interchangeably in the book, but normally a block has ease, and a sloper doesn't. Since every magic pattern adds ease first, I guess they are slopers. Anyway, I found out my waistline is more than an inch lower than that of the sloper, but only after drafting. I guess I had noticed before but forgot. I didn't draft a new one, but if you make it and you have your measurements, check your waistline against the Bunka sloper. I won't go into drafting too deeply here, if you do draft this you can always ask me if something is unclear. Another thing I did differently is move the zipper from the CB to the side seam. This way I could cut the back on the fold and have a more clean look. Widen the neckline if you do this too, or you'll not be able to pull it over your head. I also think my bow sits a bit higher than others, maybe I could have lowered it a bit.

I didn't expect this to turn out wearable so I didn't want to use an expensive fabric. Since this was a project you chose I didn't want to use muslin. I was curious what the pattern would do with stripes (and the other way around), and thought these irregular stripes were pretty. It's always hard to estimate the amount of fabric you need for these patterns, it's never specified. I got 2 yards but at 120 cm (47") it was not enough to get the full length. I could have left it that way but got the idea of colorblocking. The black fabric is a heavy bi-stretch from my stash. Stretch is not needed, but it's what I had and it worked fine. The stripes created a nice circle effect at the top of the dress, so it worked out very well.

I stared long and hard at some other knot dress projects I found on Burdastyle to confirm what I thought was the right sewing order (my favourites here, here, here and here). The sewing instructions on this pattern consist of ONE sentence. I started with sewing the separate front pieces, matching points C and A on each piece and sewing between these letters. You'll have to make a bit of a weird turn there, but it'll be fine. Then you can join the fronts at the CF and follow the one sentence: sew the bow section into a tubular shape up to C. Prepare the back by sewing the pleats and shoulder darts. I made my pleats a good inch deeper to get some more shape, and lowered them by more than an inch to get them to sit just above my waist.


I channeled Ann from GBSB through the making of this dress, and I was very pleased with the outcome. Every time I wanted to rush, I stopped myself and took my time to try and get it right the first time. It worked very well, I hardly unpicked any stitches. The blind zip went in like a dream. I used a combination of french seams and the turnover edge trick to finish the raw seams. I used bias tape to finish the hem, armholes and neckline, and the tubular sections of the bow. Quite a lot of work all in all, I sewed for about 11 hours in two days. But I'm very pleased with the result, I've never made armholes this nicely with bias tape.

Now onto wearability. For a lot of people this dress is probably very wearable. For me, I like the way it looks but you know that big bow doesn't really suit me. But lo and behold, when you lengthen the straps, this dress has some serious possibilities! What about tying the straps behind your back? Or tying a knot and just letting the straps hang down? These options make it much more likely for me to wear this dress. I love that you can dress it up or down by just tying the straps in a different way. I'm curious what you think, and how you'd wear it. If you like the result, I'd recommend this one as your first Pattern Magic Project!

Next date will be May 29th, the first pattern of Book 2. I'll try to be on time :) As always, if you have pattern magic projects to share, please do! Previous projects in these series can be found here.