Monday, September 18, 2017

I've Landed....

After a swirl wind summer, I have landed in my new house. So much has happened since I was last here - new house purchase, family death, ankle surgery, parent's 60th wedding anniversary, starting work on new house, getting old house ready to hit the market, death of family pet, packing the house for a move, and moving.

My ankle surgery was a success as in from constant pain to no pain.  I would do it again in an instant.  The sell of my home in PA happened much faster than expected.  It was on the market for 6 days and then had a 30 day closer.  I have been running non-stop since mid-June when the surgeon said I could take my boot off my foot.  I am ready to sit down and relax but it's not quite time yet.  There is still lots to do.

Here's a glimpse at my new sewing space:

It's not a great picture and it doesn't feel like a large room but I'm going to try to make it work.  When the previous owner's furniture was moved there were holes in the walls to deal with and lots of crayon drawings.

The one thing about moving is you get to see just how much stuff you own.  It has been a real eye opener for me.  I need to sew sew sew and quit collecting.  Currently, I'm working on furniture layout and trying to get organized.

How was your spring/summer?

Happy Sewing!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Seam Rippers and Life....

Seam Rippers?  How often do you use one?  How often do you think to replace one?

I have been working on a quilt for the past year that requires me to use my seam ripper a lot.  Granted, I always have two seam rippers just in case one does a vanishing act.  Because of the amount of ripping I have done in the past year, both of my seam rippers have been present - one at the ironing board and one at the machine.  What do you do when both of them do a disappearing act at the same time?  I searched desperately for them because you only notice that seam ripper is missing when you need it.  I have no idea how two disappeared at the same time.  Fortunately, it wasn't too late to run over to Michael's and pick up more.  Yes, I purchased two more seam rippers.  When I returned home, I found one of the missing seam rippers.  So, I didn't bother opening either of the new seam rippers that I had purchased.  Fast forward a couple of weeks and the disappearing act has returned and I open one of the seam ripper packages.  Folks, I'm telling you the difference is night and day between the old seam ripper and the new seam ripper.  They were the exact same type of seam ripper.  So, what was the difference? The old one is dull and the new one is sharp.  You don't have to work as hard to use the seam ripper.  Lesson learned, I hope.

Now on to Life...I was going to start a new series but I wasn't sure that I would be able to keep with it on a regular basis.  Life is happening in a good mostly way. We've purchased a new house 1000 miles away.  My current house needs to be ready to put on the market by August.  The new house needs work done to it before we can move into it.  This means that there will be a lot of traveling back and forth.  In the middle of this, I'm having surgery on my ankle which means no flying.  This means all the traveling both and forth will be via car for me until I get clearance to fly again.

So, with all that, I've decided to take time off until all the dust settles on this new adventure.  I haven't lived near family in over 25 years.  It will be a good adventure. Have a good summer and fall.

Happy Stitching!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Fitting Dresses...Hem Difficulties, Part 15

Continuing with the "Fitting Dresses" booklet from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Hen Difficulties

Pleats at hem line spread and sag.  On a skirt with one or more pleats, the hem line and the lower pleat edge may not be turned on the straight of the goods.  In other cases, the tops of the pleat insets may not be properly tacked in place.  Or the waistline may be fitted so loosely that the weight of the pleats pulls the skirt down from the waistline unevenly.  Or the dress may be so tight that the pleat spreads (figure 26, A).

Often rehemming the pleat inset corrects the sagging.  When the pleated section extends part way up from the bottom, tack the top of the section to the skirt or reinforce it by stitching on the right side.

On a straight pleated skirt or one with inverted or side pleats, if the sagging sections of the pleats at the waistline or yoke line until the pleats fall straight and do not spread (see figure 26, B).  Or, if the seam allowance permits, lower the other sections of the skirt from the top.

When necessary, tighten the waistline by taking up extra fullness at the seams or in hip darts.  This holds the skirt up in the proper position.

If the skirt is fitted too tightly, let out the side seams to give additional width.

Hem line is uneven.  An uneven hem is often due to poor cutting, or making a waistline too loose or a skirt too wide at the hips.  Sometimes the trouble is that the belt to be worn with the dress was not put on before the hem was marked.    In such cases, refit the dress at the waistline or hip line, and the mark a new skirt length.  It is well to let a dress hang, to stretch out, for a day before marking the hem.

This is the end of this series.  Hope you enjoyed it.

Happy Sewing!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Kitchen Towel....

I've been having a lot of fun with my knitting.  I know I should be sewing but I do have a monthly knitting group that I go to and always need a little project for it.  Here's my latest completed project:

The completed towel is about 10" wide by 13" long, I think.  This took a couple of months to complete and made for great conversation at the knitting group since everyone loved the way the stitches.   For me, it was a freebie from Knitpicks but it is no longer free.  Here's the link for the Dish Towel Set just in case you might be interested.

I think I will make another one in the reverse colors.  It will make for a nice take along project and I will be needing one of those in the next few weeks.

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Machine Applique...

It's been a while since I talked about the monthly sewing with my sewing buddy.  It was my turn to decide last and I picked machine applique.  Who knew there was so many types of machine applique?  I found The Crafty Quilter and she had tutorials on machine applique.   So, here are the types of machine applique that I chose:

1.  narrow zig zag
2.  satin zig zag
3.  blanket stitch
4.  blind hem applique

The first three were fairly easy to do.  The fourth one, we never quite able to get it right and finally gave up.  Here is my stitch sampler:

Starting at the left:

1.  narrow zigzag - the settings used are .9L/1.5W, .5L/1.3W, .4L 1.0W.
2.  satin zigzag - the settings used are .5L/3.0W, .4L/2.5W, .3L/2.0W.
My machine had different types of blanket stitches.
3. blanket stitch #11 - the settings used are 3.0L/3.5W, 2.5L/2.5W, 2.0L/2.0W.
4.  blanket stitch #15 - the settings used are 2.0L/2.0W, 1.5L/1.5W.
5.  blanket stitch #19 - the settings used are 3.0L/3.0W, 3.5L/3.5W, 3.5L/4.0W
6.  blind hem - the settings used are 2.5L/0.5W, 2.5L/.8W, 2.5L/1.3W

My samples have already been stitched together but here is what they look like:

The narrow zigzag is in the upper left hand corner and the satin zigzag is in the lower right  hand corner.  I really liked the narrow zigzag. The upper right hand corner and the lower left hand corner are both done with the blanket stitch.  This also has very nice results.

The blind hem applique ended up not working well.  I think I need to do a little more research and practice before giving up on it.  Has anyone tried this type of applique?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Fitting Dresses...Fitting The Hips, Part 14

Continuing with the "Fitting Dresses" booklet from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Fitting The Hips

When the skirt fits correctly, the center front and center back hang straight down without swinging out in the front or back.  The side seams also hand straight down, giving the appearance of continuing the underarm seams of the waist.  The crosswise grain of the goods is parallel to the floor.  The space between the waist and the hips is fitted smoothly but not tightly.  The only exceptions to these rules are skirts with special styling. 

The first step in fitting a skirt is to see that the crosswise grain of the goods is in a straight line around the hip line.  If it is not, raise or lower the waistline a the points where the grain is out of line or rip the skirt at the seams and raise or lower the sides as necessary.

A well-fitting skirt of any kind, plain or fancy, does not draw or pull when the wearer is sitting or standing.  When the fitting is complete, ask the wearer to sit and also to move around naturally to see if the skirt will be comfortable and will hang gracefully when worn.

Side seams of skirt are crooked and puckered.  The dress may be poorly sewed together.  Careless joining of the side seams (one seam edge eased too much onto the other), crooked sewing, or too tight sewing machine tension will cause puckered seams.

Restitch a straight seam if stitching is crooked or loosen any tight sections in the seam.  Otherwise, open the side seams, pin, and bast, matching the grain of the cloth at the hip line.  Avoid drawing the basting thread too tight.  Try on.  If satisfactory, stitch carefully.

Skirt draws across hips and tends to ride up.  The skirt is too small.  If the side seams are wide enough, let them out until there is no stain across the hips.  Keep the side seams hanging straight.  If there is not sufficient side allowance for this and the skirt is long enough raise the skirt at the waistline and refit it.  It may be necessary to face the hem.

Skirt cups in the back and the side seams swing forward.  The back of the skirt may be too long between the waist and the hip -- thus allowing the grain of the goods to drop at the hip line.  This causes the side seams to swing forward (see figure 24, A).

Raise the skirt at the back waistline until the grain of the goods is straight across the hips (figure 24, B). If this makes extra fullness at the waistline, take it out in two darts.  Trim off the top of the skirt in the back, at the waistline.  

If the dress is one-piece, without a waistline seam, rip the underarm seams, raise the back at the shoulders, then recut the back neck and armhole lines.

Lower edge of skirt swings out in back.  The side seams swing back (see figure 25, A).  This may be because the figure has a sway-back and large hips.  Extra length is therefore needed in the back of the skirt.  Sometimes the crosswise grain of the goods is pulled up out of line.  In some cases, the flare of the skirt in the back may be too pronounced for the type of cloth used.

Rip the back of the skirt from the waistline, letting out any extra seam allowance so as to drop the back of the skirt and thus straighten the crosswise grain.  

If the seam allowance is too small to let out the seam, rip the skirt and waist apart, and lift the front and side front gores of the skirt until the cross wise grain of the goods is straight all around the hip line (figure 25, B).  Mark a new waistline on the skirt, pin, baste, and try on again before stitching on the machine.

When the grain of the goods is straight at the hip line and the trouble seems to be only in the flare of the skirt, it may be eased out some at the seams.

Crosswise folds across the back between waist and hips.  The skirt may be too tight at the hips or the figure may have a sway-back.

If the skirt is too tight, rip the side seams (if necessary, also the back gore seams) and let the skirt drop into an easy position.  Pin and baste.

If the side seams are too narrow to let out, raise the skirt at the back so as to take out the fold, keeping the crosswise grain of the goods straight across the back hip line (Figure 24, B).  Trim off the extra goods at the waist.  If there is extra fullness at the waistline, take it up in the seams or, if necessary, in back skirt darts.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017


It was the annual craft sale at the Salvation Army this past Saturday.  I meant to be there very early, like an hour before the sale started but it didn't happen.  Fortunately, a friend was there a head of me.  I felt bad for cutting in line but I've never seen anyone get upset about it at this sale.

There were bargains to be had just like there are every year but really how much stuff do you need to have especially when you're suppose to be clearing out getting ready for a move.  So, here's my finds for the year:

How could I resist these Calvin Klein patterns?  You know actually see these available very often and not for the price I paid.

A couple of pieces of fabric.  They're suppose to be cotton but I don't think so on the solid.   I'm thinking skirt on the blue and a top on the print.  Specially, I'm thinking about trying the revised Sorbetto.

I picked these up to make some little charity pigs for a local animal haven that takes in the unwanted pot belly pigs and rabbits.  How could I resist helping a little bit?  Now, I just need to find time to work on it.

I can't pass up a super bargaining on knitting supplies.  6 sets of circular knits and a baggy full of other knitting supplies.  I did realize what the blue thing was till I got home.  It's a peg board system for keeping up with your stitches.  I wish I had picked up a second baggy because each one contained different items.  The little things tend to disappear fairly quickly.

That's all folks.  I'm really not a big spender at this sale.  As much as I would like to spend a lot of time looking at the fabrics, there are just too many men/women digging through stuff and you really have to fight to even get a place in line.

Happy Stitching!

Monday, April 10, 2017

Fitting Dresses...Fitting The Waistline, Part 13

Continuing with the "Fitting Dresses" booklet from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Fitting The Waistline

Where the waistline of a dress should be placed -- at, above, or below the normal waistline --- depends on the style of the dress and the position most becoming to the figure.  To find the normal waistline, place the hands with the curves between the forefingers and thumbs in with the lowest rib or the slight body indentation.  The forefinger curving  around the front and the thumb curving around to the back indicate the normal waistline.  The waistline of a dress is usually made slightly higher in the back than in the front but gives the effect of a straight line.

A snugly fitted waistline helps keep the skirt as well as the blouse in proper position.  When fitting the waistline, keep the seam lines and darts entering the waistline at right angles to the floor.  Special style features might indicate otherwise.  On the pleated skirts that must be straight at the lower edge, the bottom is finished first and the length adjustments made at the waistline.

Skirt too loose at waistline or hip.  The pattern may be too large for the hips and waist of the figure.  Or the
waistline may not be properly fitted and map slip down below the belt line.

A slight amount of extra width can be taken out by the deeper seam lines.  Side back darts also help to shape a skirt into a smaller waistline.  Extra fullness in the blouse waistline is eased into gathers or darts.

If the skirt is much too large, refit it.  Rip the side seams to below the hip line.  Put on the skirt, right side out.  Pin front, back, and side waistline to the foundation garment.  Fold under a deeper seam allowance on the front side seam.  Lap this over the back seam.  Place pins at right angles to the fold.  (See Figure 22)   Work first
from the hip line to the waistline, then from the hip line to hem line.  Keep crosswise grain of goods straight at hip line.  Keep underarm seam line straight directly under armpit.  Adjust both side seams and, if necessary, any other seam line.  Remove the skirt.  Use top basting to mark and hold the new seam line.  After basting, try on again before final stitching.

Skirt too tight at waistline or hip.  The waistline of the figure may be larger than the waistline of the pattern or dress.

Let out any seam allowances as well as skirt darts in order to straighten them and relieve the strain. If there is not enough seam allowance, insert a gusset above and below the waistline in the side seams to give extra width.  Taper the gussets to fit the figure.  Facings, hem, or belt may be used for the gusset.

Lower edge of skirt pokes out in front.  The side seams swing forward and diagonal wrinkles extend from the center front of the waistline toward the hem (See figure 23 A).  This may be because the blouse is so short in front that it pulls up the grain of the goods in the skirt.  If this is the case it can be corrected by following the instruction (see below) under "Waistline Pulled Up Above Belt", or by raising the back of the skirt slightly at the waistline.  This brings the crosswise grain of the goods at the hip parallel to the floor and straightens the side seams.  Mark the correct waistline on the skirt and blouse.

Another way to correct this difficulty is to rip the side seams and front waistline.  Lift the front of the skirt at the sides until the grain of the cloth is straight across the hip line (Figure 23, B).  Pin and baste the side seams.  Fit the waistline, tapering the seam allowance on the skirt to normal width at the center front.  Baste and try on again before stitching.

Blouse sags over belt in front or back.  The blouse is too long between the bust line or shoulder blades and the waistline.  This often occurs on a short-waisted or sway-backed figure.

Rip the blouse from the skirt wherever the extra length is located.  Tie a cord over the blouse at the waistline, leaving some fullness above the cord for comfort.  Keep the grain of the goods straight across the bust and the back.  Mark the new waistline along the cord with pins or chalk.  Take off the blouse and fold it so that the corresponding seam lines are together.  It helps to pull one sleeve into the other.  Pin the sides and lower edges together.  Even up the pinned or chalked waistline, adding a seam allowance.  Cut away the extra length.  With the help of the pattern, mark again the position of the waist fullness, front and back.

Waistline pulled up above the belt.  The blouse is too short.  Women with prominent busts have this fitting difficulty.

If the seam allowance at the bottom of the blouse is wide enough, rip the blouse from the skirt and let out the seam.  If this cannot be done, insert a piecing that is wider in the center front and tapers to nothing at side seams.  The belt will cover the inset.  If matching cloth is available, a belt can be set in between the waist and skirt.  An inch or an inch and half can be added to the length of the blouse in this way.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Fitting Dresses...Fitting Armhole and Sleeve, Part 12

Continuing with the "Fitting Dresses" booklet from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Wrinkles form in front and back of blouse below the arm.  The sleeve may also have lengthwise wrinkles under the arm.  These fitting difficulties arise when the blouse is too narrow or fitted too closely at the underarm seam and in the armhole.  The figure may have a roll of flesh directly under the arm and extending to the back.

Release the armhole seams of the blouse to give more room across the bust.  If the armhole is too snug, carefully clip it at intervals at the tight places.  Avoid clipping too deep or beyond the seam allowance.  Examine the fit of the lower half of the armhole.  If the armhole in the blouse was slightly eased into the sleeve around the lower half, wrinkles may result.  Rip out the sleeve and refit the lower half of the armhole.

Sleeve cap twists to the front or back.  When a sleeve cap twists to the back, the crosswise grain of the goods in the cap pulls down in the back and up in the front.  The lengthwise grain slants toward the back at the top.  On the other hand, when a sleeve cap twists to the front, the crosswise grain of the goods in the cap slopes up to the back and lengthwise yarns slant toward the front at the top.

The sleeve may have been set into the wrong armhole.  Or perhaps, when cutting out the sleeve, the pattern was not laid correctly with the grain of the goods.  Twisting to the back may be caused by too much fullness at the back of the sleeve cap.  Or perhaps the sleeve pattern was too short at the back, or there is not enough room for the elbow.  The shoulder bone on the figure may be more prominent than was allowed for by the pattern.  Twisting to the front may be caused by too much fullness at the front of the sleeve cap.

Check the sleeve with the pattern, noting the location of the notches in the sleeve cap and armhole.  Check the marks for the elbow.  If the sleeves are in the wrong armholes, exchange them, and fit again.

If a sleeve has not been cut correctly on the grain of the cloth, no amount of fitting will prevent twisting.  The best solution is to recut the sleeve.  This may mean changing the style of the sleeve if material is limited.  

If too much fullness has been put toward either the back or the front of the sleeve, rip the top half of the armhole seam, and shift the fullness, bringing the lengthwise yarns into the right position.  (See Figure 15)

When many changes are needed, rip the sleeves from the armhole and fit the sleeve while the dress is on the figure.  (see information for Figures 17 and 18).

Underarm sleeve seam twists to the front or back.  If the underarm sleeve seam pulls the top of the sleeve to the back, the back underarm sleeve seam may be too short or the elbow fullness incorrectly placed.  If there is plenty of elbow fullness, rip the seam and release some of the fullness, pushing it up higher.  This gives more elbowroom and helps to straighten the grain of the goods between the elbow and armhole.

If the lower armhole seam twists to the front it may be because there is not enough room at the elbow.  rip the seam below the elbow.  Push additional fullness into the elbow darts or gathers.  Pin and fit the lower part of the sleeve.  This will shorten the sleeve and you may have to change the sleeves to a three-quarter length.  

Back of blouse pulls at armhole line.  The sleeve bins.  At the narrow part of the back, crosswise wrinkles extend from the armhole toward the center of the back (figure 20 A).  The wrinkles may also extend across the sleeve cap.  The dress may be too narrow across the back.

When the armhole seam allowance permits, let out both the back and the sleeve.

If the wrinkles occur on in the back of the blouse at the armhole curve, the sleep cap may not be deep enough.  In other words, the back armhole line is too long for the depth of the sleeve cap.  In addition, the sleeve is probably too small for the armhole.  To give more depth to the sleeve cap, rip out the sleeve from the armhole and raise the lower or under half of the sleeve cap (Figure 20 B).  The extra material on the sleeve seam should be trimmed out after, and not before, the armhole seam is completed.  Pin, baste, and refit.

Armhole tight with crosswise wrinkles in the blouse from armhole and lengthwise wrinkles extending down at undersleeve.  Such wrinkles (Figure 21 A) occur when the armhole is too tight or too high at the underarm.  Or the sleeve may be too tight at the armpit level.

If the armhole is too snug, rip out the sleeve, and mark a new armhole line.  Refit the sleeve into the new armhole line, keeping the crosswise grain straight across at the armpit level.

Sometimes the armhole is too high at the underarm, yet the sleeve fit is well over the top of the arm.  To adjust this, rip the armhole stitching under the arm, baste a new, lower seam line (Figure 21, B).  Try on the blouse again.  If necessary, trim out the armhole a little to test the fit.  If the sleeve is too tight, let it out as much as possible.  Extra fullness can be eased into the upper half of the sleeve cap.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Fitting Dresses...Fitting Armhole and Sleeve, Part 11

Continuing with the "Fitting Dresses" booklet from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Fitting Armhole and Sleeve

Sleeve Puffs up at top. The sleeve-cap fullness may not be evenly distributed.  Or, the sleeve cap may be too wide or too high, especially if the shoulder or underarm seams have been taken in.

If the puffiness can not be removed by adjusting the fullness, the sleeve cap is probably too wide.  It will need refitting.  To do this easily, have someone help you.  Put on the dress, insert the shoulder pads if used, and fasten the dress properly.  Direct your helper to work from the right side as follows:  Clip the basting threads a few at a time at points of puffiness.  Turn under the sleeve at these points to take out extra material in the sleeve cap.  Put pins at right angles to the seam line.  (See Figure 17).  Always keep the crosswise and lengthwise grain of the goods in the sleeve cap straight.  Adjust the other sleeve if necessary.

Remove the dress, mark or baste the new stitching line, smoothing out any irregular places.  A top basting from the right side is one easy way to mark and hold the new seam line.   Try on the dress to be sure the fit is correct before you do the final machine stitching on the armhole seam.

When the sleeve cap puffs at the back near the top, the back curve of the sleeve cap is too high; when it puffs in the front, the front curve is too high.  To remove the fullness, take a deeper seam on the sleeve at this point but leave the armhole seam as it is on the blouse.

Sleeve too loose.  If the sleeve is only slightly large, take in the underarm seam, sloping it from the armhole.  Baste and fit.

If the top of the sleeve is  much too large, it may need recutting.  Rip the sleeve out, and make it smaller by taking lengthwise folds on either side of the top of the sleeve.  Cut a pattern like the altered sleeve, reshaping the cap.  Smooth out dress sleeve.  Then recut the entire sleeve, using the altered pattern.  If the sleeve is too large all the way down, the out the fullness the full length of the sleeve.

Diagonal wrinkles from the top of sleeve to underarm.  The lower (or edge of the sleeve sticks out  (See Figure 18 A).  The crosswise grain of the goods is pulled up in the top of the sleeve cap.  This happens when a woman has very square shoulders or large muscles on the top of her arm or if the sleeve cap is too short.

If the sleeve cap is only a little short and there is a generous seam allowance, rip out upper half of armhole seam and drop sleeve until the crosswise grain of goods is straight at armhole level (Figure 18, B).

If this cannot be done, rip the armhole seam except for an inch or two at the top.  Put on the dress.  Then, while standing before a mirror (or pretty still, with the help of someone else), lift the under parts of the sleeve up in the armhole until the crosswise grain of the goods lies straight across the upper arm.  Pin in place to hold until the dress is removed.  Ease sleeve into lower half of armhole, pin, and baste in place (later reference).

The lower half of the sleeve will extend above the lower edge of the armhole (Figure 18, C).  Try on the dress again to check fit before cutting away the extra material on the sleeve.

Sleeve draws across the arm near armpit level.  Wrinkles across the sleeve cap extend in from the armhole on a level with the chest.

The sleeve cap is too narrow or a wider armhole seam may have been taken than was allowed by the pattern.  The upper arm may be too large for the sleeve, causing it to be too tight and to draw up, forming wrinkles in the sleeve cap.  The armhole may be too high.  In that case there will also be crosswise wrinkles on the blouse at the bottom of the armhole.

Use one of the following changes if the sleeve is too small:

1.  If the seams are wide enough, let out the sleeve and waist seams on each side of the armhole.

2.  If the sleeve is long enough, raise it  and recut the top, adding extra width at each side of the sleeve cap.  Refit the sleeve in the armhole.  Mark a new bottom line.  It may be necessary to face the lower edge of the sleeve.

3.  Release the underarm seam of the sleeve until it feels comfortable.  Ease in the extra fullness around the top or, on a large arm, ease in a little fullness in the sleeve at the underarm side.

4.  If the underarm sleeve seam is too narrow to be let out, set a gusset in the underarm seam of the waist at the armpit line and also set a similar piece in the sleeve (Figure 19).

5.  If the sleeve armhole is too high, trim out the underarm of both the blouse and the sleeve.  Be very careful not to cut the armhole too low and leave a good seam allowance.

(to be continued)

Monday, March 20, 2017

Fitting Dresses...Fitting Armhole and Sleeve, Part 10

Continuing with the "Fitting Dresses" booklet from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Fitting Armhole and Sleeve

Well-shaped armhole.  When a dress is worn, the seam of a good armhole forms a smooth curve up and over the top of the shoulder bone and makes a straight line, back and front, down to the muscles joining the arm to the body.  From there, it curves again under the arm, fitting as closely as is comfortable.  If the armhole is not shaped correctly, the sleeve may pull and bind at the seams, and the neck line may be drawn away from the sides of the neck.  In addition, the front and back of the blouse may draw or wrinkle at the front or back armhole line.

Well-fitting sleeves.  If the sleeves are not properly set into the armhole and carefully fitted, the entire dress is spoiled.  So give special attention to this part of fitting dresses and blouses (figure 15).  Properly fitted, the sleeve appears to be smoothly set into the armhole rather than the armhole into the sleeve.  The armhole does not draw or pull the blouse.

Figure 15 shows a well-fitting sleeve.  The sleeve hangs straight down from the high point of the shoulder when the arm hangs naturally at the side.  Lengthwise yarns run straight down from the top of the shoulder to elbow,  Crosswise yarns of the sleeve cap are parallel to the floor at armpit level.  The 
inside seam is in line with the thumb.

A long sleeve should come well down over the wristbone when the arm hangs at the side.  A good test for both length and roominess in a long sleeve is to bend the arm until the fingertips touch the ears.  The sleeve should not draw or pull when the arms are in this position.

Putting in the sleeve.  The fit of the sleeve often depends upon how it is pinned and basted in the armhole.  First see that the armhole line is good.  See that all seams entering the armhole are finished and pressed.  Make sure that the sleeves are cut as mates and marked.  Run two gathering threads over the top of the sleeve between the notches -- one, the seam's depth from the cut edge, the other about 1/4 inch out from this and in the seam allowance (figure 16, A).

Work from the inside of the dress with the sleeve right side out and the blouse wrong side out.  Pin the right sleeve into the right armhole, matching notches, and the highest point of the sleeve with the shoulder seam.  Also match the lowest seam of the sleeve with the lowest part of the armhole.  With the sleeve toward you, place pins in the seam line at right angles to the edge, first at the top and bottom, and then at the side notches (figure 16, B).

Smooth the lower half of the sleeve cap into the armhole with little or no fullness.  Hold in place with a few pins.  A very plump arm may need more ease than a slim one.  A plain sleeve top will have about 2 inches of extra fullness to be eased into the loop.  Draw up and fasten gathering threads.  Avoid drawing them too tight.  Keep the sleeve fairly smooth over the top to the point  where both the armhole and the sleeve begin to curve down.  From there, ease the extra fullness into the armhole evenly with no pleats or folds on the stitching line.  Pin to hold fulness in place.  If the shoulder seam slants decidely to the back, the top of the sleeve will have to be placed slightly to the front of it.

Pin and baste on the seam line, working from the sleeve side.  Use small bastings, particularly where the fullness is eased.  Pin and baste the other sleeve into the armhole.  Remove the pins and try on the blouse before stitching with the machine.

(to be continued)

Monday, March 13, 2017

Fitting Dresses...Fitting the Bust and Back, Part 9

Continuing with the "Fitting Dresses" booklet from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Fitting the Bust and Back (continued)

Blouse sags below bust in front or below shoulder blades in the back.  There are figures with a flat chest, flat or pendulous bust, or round shoulders.  These figures are often shorter in front between shoulder and waistline than than the pattern, which may fit well otherwise.  As a result, the dress sags below the bust.  On the other hand there are the overly erect figures or those with sway-backs.  These figures do not take up the usual pattern length in the back between the shoulder blades and waistline.  The dress therefore sags below the shoulder blades.

If the dress sags below the bust, do not push extra blouse length below the waistline.  Instead, rip the shoulder seams, raise the front shoulder seams until the grain is straight across the bust.  The neck side of the front shoulder seams is taken up to fit.  Taper to normal width near armhole.

When the blouse sags below the shoulder blades, rip the shoulder seams and lift the back of the blouse until the grain of the goods is straight across the upper back.  Repin the shoulder seams, taking up more of the back shoulder seam at the neck end and tapering the seams toward the armholes.  Keep the direction of the shoulder correct.

Mark a correct armhole line in the back.  Avoid fitting the lower back of the blouse too close.  Raise the waistline of the dress by slightly trimming out the center back of the top of the skirt.

Underarm seam of blouse sags below armpit.  Diagonal folds appear below the armhole; the sleeve cap may draw crosswise when the arm is raised.  The armhole or perhaps the blouse is too large, permitting the crosswise grain of the goods to drop at the underarm seams.  Or, the figure may have very slanting shoulders and more padding may be needed at the shoulders.

If padding has been used, try changing the size and place.  When this does not remove the trouble, take deeper underarm seams, beginning at the armhole and tapering them as far down toward the waist as needed.  If necessary, take deeper shoulder seams near the armhole (figure 12).  This fitting brings the crosswise grain of the goods into the right position at the bust line.  After this fitting cut the lower half of the armhole into a good curve; do not leave a pointed armhole.

Back of blouse draws at underarm seam just below armpit.  (figure 13 A)  The pattern may have been too small around at the level of the bust or the figure may have a large muscle or roll of flesh across the back the armpit level.

Rip the underarm seams, and let them out until the width across the back feels easy (figure 13 B).  Leave the front allowance unchanged.  To fit the back smoothly, it may be necessary to change the shoulder seams.  Rip them and lift the back edge near the armhole, tapering it to normal near the neck line.

Diagonal wrinkles fall from shoulder blade to underarm.  The blouse pulls up in center back and pokes out at the bottom.  The underarm seam sags.  The front neck line may be pulled back (figure 14 A). 

This fitting difficulty occurs most frequently on a figure with round shoulders, prominent shoulder blades, or a roll of flesh at the back of the neck.  More length than the pattern allows is usually needed between the shoulder blades and the neck.  In such cases the pattern should be altered before the dress is cut.

However, if this has not been done, the fit of the dress can sometimes be improved by ripping and releasing the back shoulder seams until the grain of the goods is straight across the upper back.  Pin and refit the shoulder seams, letting it out near the neck line and tapering it in a the armhole.  This may make it necessary to rip the underarm seams and refit the lower back.  Take in the back of the underarm seams, trimming out the armhole if the back extends up into it, as shown in figure 14 B.

If becoming to the figure, a shoulder yoke, cut to fit properly, may be the only feasible solution to this problem.

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017


I was out browsing this past weekend and found these men's tops:

What do you think of the way these stripes have been done?  I'm not sure that I like the purposeful re-aligning of the stripe.  It seems jarring to the eye.  The use of the narrow stripe as the band was a really good choice.  That stripe is carefully matched.  Another thing I noticed about these tops was the fabric.  It was so thin that you could see through two layers.  I know for a fact that my son would not wear this just due to the thinness of the fabric.

Stripes are on trend for spring.  I'm just not sure I'm up for the totally mismatched look. If you decide to try this, don't forget to add you seam allowances at the center front and center back.

Are we going to see plaids done the exact same way in the future?


Happy Stitching!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Fitting Dresses...Fitting the Bust and Back, Part 8

Continuing with the "Fitting Dresses" booklet from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Fitting the Bust and Back

The comfort of the waist of a dress depends much on the fit over the bust and across the back.  Avoid extremes of fit -- too tight is neither comfortable or attractive; too loose looks untidy.  If the wearer has a large bust but small abdomen and hips, fit the dress a little loosely below the bust so the blouse does not outline the bust too closely.  Be sure there is enough fullness under the bust in front and enough room for the shoulder blades in the back.  The center front and back may be smooth and free from gathers unless the style calls for a different effect.  Taking in or releasing darts at the waistline may improve the fit.

Cloth draws across bust.  If the dress draws across the bust perhaps the grain of the goods has been dropped or raised on either side of the bust.  Or the waist may have been cut too narrow at the bust line.  These troubles usually appear when the figure is overly erect or has a large bust.

If the crosswise grain of the goods is straight but still the waist looks drawn, let out the front (or both back and front) underarm seams until the waist fits easily.  When the seam allowance is too small to let out underarm seams, set in a straight matched or bias piece of cloth at the underarm seam for extra width.  Let out the underarm seams in the sleeves accordingly or if necessary, set in a piece here, too.

If the grain of the goods is not right, rip the underarm seams and try changing the size and position of the underarm darts and the location of the fullness at the waist.  If the dress has no underarm dart, and the waist length permits, it may help to place one or more darts in the front edge of the underarm seam in line with the bust.

Diagonal wrinkles from bust line to underarm waistline.  The lower front 
edge of the blouse swings out and up.  The underarm seam swings to the front (figure 10 A).  Then often occurs when the figure is overly erect or has a prominent bust.  Such figures require more length than the pattern allowed between the shoulder and bust or between bust and waistline, depending upon the height of the bust.

If the waist of the dress does not reach the waistline in the center front, the pattern must be altered and a new front cut.  When there is sufficient length, rip open the underarm and shoulder seams.  Let down the center front of the waist by tapering the seam allowance on the front shoulder to 1/4 inch at the neck edge.  Then lift the lower waist front with one or more darts at the underarm.  (figure 10 B)  In addition, more fullness in gathers or darts may be needed under the bust.  Let out the front side of the underarm seam.  This gives width across the bust and allows additional fullness under the bust.  The seam allowance on the back is left unchanged.

An undesirable fold or fullness at armhole in front near chest line.  A figure with a prominent shoulder bone and full bust often has a hollow place near the armhole.  The dress may puff out there (figure 11 A).  This is more prominent if the armhole seam is too high at the armpit.  (see future reference)

If the armhole seam allowance is wide enough at the front shoulder line, remove the puff with a front shoulder dart.  Pin, baste, and fit again.  If the seam allowance is skimpy, rip shoulder and underarm seams.  Raise the shoulder in the front more at the armhole, tapering the seam to nothing at the neck (figure 11 B).  

The puff can also be removed by the armhole dart in the lower half of the front armhole, extending down as far as possible toward the bust.  This gives a close-fitting armhole.  Or if the puff is small, sometimes it can be "shrunk" out before setting in the sleeve.  Or it can be held in place with a row of small backstitches next to the seam line.

Thoughts?  Have you done any of these types of alterations instinctively while making a dress?

Happy Sewing!

Monday, February 27, 2017

Fitting Dresses....Collar Difficulties, Part 7

Continuing with the "Fitting Dresses" booklet from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Collar Difficulties

Neck line seam shows where flat collar is attached.  This inside collar line may be longer than the neck line.  This may be caused by failing to alter the collar after changing the neck line. 

Rip the collar from the dress.  Measure the dress neck line accurately from center back to center front, holding the edge of the measuring tape along the seam line.  The stitching line of the collar should be twice this length. Take out the difference on each side of the center front of the collar. Pin the collar to the neck line and baste, easing the neck line slightly and holding the collar taut.  Try on the dress again and be sure it is satisfactory before stitching.

Convertible collar stands away from the neck.  The collar is too long for the dress neck line or the latter is too large.  

Rip the collar from the dress.   If the dress neck line fits correctly, measure it carefully along the stitching line.  Then measure the inside collar length.  If these measurements are not the same, take off the extra collar length at the ends.  Pin the collar back in place and bast to the neck line.  Try on the dress and see if the collar fits properly before stitching.

Straight collar rolls too high and rides the back of the neck.  The inside collar line may be too straight or the neck line of the dress is too high at the back.  

Rip the collar from the dress.  If the neck line is much too high, trim it out slightly at the back.  Otherwise, try basting the collar on with a seam deep enough to reduce the roll of the collar at the back.  Or trim off the back of the collar.  If this makes the collar too long, take deeper seams at the front.

Wrinkles where notched collar joins to facing.  The facing may have been eased onto the collar or carelessly joined.  Perhaps the curved edge of the facing was not clipped properly or the collar was too long.

Rip the collar from the facing up to the shoulder line.  Make certain the neck edge of the facing has been clipped in several places almost the depth of the seam allowance.  Repin and baste collar and facing together again.  If the collar still does not fit smoothly, shorten it by taking deeper seams at the ends.  Trim seams to their usual width

Have you had any of these issues with the collar on a dress or shirt?

Happy Stitching!