Monday, January 30, 2017

Fitting Dresses...Darts, Part 3

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

Darts can be useful to take up fullness  and to shape and direct fullness where needed.  Tucks and gathers do the same with softer effect.  When you use darts, try different places until you get a smooth, becoming line.  In fitting, rarely take up as much as 1 1/2" in fullness in one dart.  Two or more smaller darts are usually better than one large dart.  the smaller the amount of material to be taken up, the shorter the dart can be.

1.  Front shoulder darts remove wrinkles from the shoulder down to the bust.  They also straighten the grain of goods.  Direct the shoulder fullness or darts toward or over the bust.

2.  Back shoulder darts from the back shoulder seam to the shoulder blade give ease across the back.  They improve the fit on a round-shouldered person.

3.  Neck-line darts, tucks, or gathers at the back make a dress fit snugly at the neck and yet allow fullness over the back.  Such darts should be straight or diagonal.  They may be stitched on the right or wrong side.

4.  Underarm darts give ease and can be used to shift the crosswise grain of goods below the bust.  Usually one or more darts from the underarm seam are placed below but pointing to the bust line.  Generally, any one underarm dart should be not more than 3/8" wide or more than 3" long.

5. Waistline darts are often placed in a blouse at points directly below the bust or shoulder blade to give needed ease.

6.  Skirt darts from the waistline in the side back or front make for smoothness between the hip and a snug waistline.  Do not space back skirt darts too far apart on a figure with broad hips.

7.  Elbow darts properly located give elbow room and hold fullness in the right place.  When locating such darts, bend the arm to find the elbow point and place the darts or gathers at the bend.

For the most part, darts are darts.  They help give fullness when fullness is needed.  What do you think of the advice not to have a dart take up more than 1 1/2"?  What do you think of the advice of having 2 or more darts when the take up is 1 1/2" or more?  What do you think of the advice of the underarm dart not being more than 3" long?  I would imagine that this advice doesn't apply to French Darts.

Happy Stitching!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

New Apron & Pot Holders....

Sometimes, it nice to have a quick project.  I really needed a new apron and had put off making one for a while because I've been working on quilts.  I finally set aside the quilt to work on something a little more interesting.  Here's my new apron and pot holders:

This was a apron panel which makes creating an apron fairly easily.  I always do a double layer when I use one of the panels.  This eliminates the need to have to hem all the edges.  For the pot holders, I used 2 layers of cotton batting with 1 layer of denim.

Happy Stitching!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Fitting Dresses, Part 2....

Continuing with the "Fitting Dresses" booklet from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.  Following are the list of items that help toward a good fit:

1.  Cut with care.  Be sure the pattern is laid on the cloth with the straight of grain.  Never sacrifice the straightness of the goods to save material.  It's best to piece the goods, if necessary.  When cutting out, allow 1/2" to 1" on the shoulder seams particularly the back seam, the underarm, and side seams.  These makes changes possible.  However, be sure to mark the original seam lines for the first basting.  Allowing an extra 1" at the bottom my prevent some fitting problems.

2.  Sew Carefully.  For a good fit, do accurate pinning, marking, basting, and stitching.  Also take care that:

  1. Seams are straight.
  2. Darts when stitched have no ugly pouches at the ends.
  3. Tucks are straight.
  4. Fullness is distributed evenly without puckers or pleats.
  5. Facings and hems fit smoothly
3.  Press as you sew.  Seam lines and darts all lie flatter when pressed.  Seams should always be pressed before before they are crossed by another seam.  It is especially worth while to press each seam as it is finished when you work with wool or rayon.  One final pressing will not give the same results. Plan your sewing so it is not necessary to reheat the iron for every seam.

4.  Know the figure you are fitting.  Study the figure your fitting, using a full length mirror if you are sewing for yourself.  Individual differences in weight distribution and bones often cause fitting problems and must be given special attention when making a dress  They may cause folds or throw the grain of the goods out of line.

5.  Fit over correct undergarments.  Fitting should be done over the same clothes that will be worn with the blouse.  A properly fitted foundation garment makes for a good fit.

6.  Watch posture.  Do not try to fit a person who is wiggling, twisting, slumped - or standing poker stiff, either.  When fitting yourself, try to keep your body as natural as possible.

7.  Do not fit too snugly.  Test to see if the dress is too tight for comfortable walking, sitting, and moving the arms.  Figure defects are more noticeable when a dress fits too closely.

8.  Use all possible helps.  When you work alone, it may help to compare measurements with those of a dress that fits well. A dress form is useful but does not solve all fitting difficulties.

9.  Guard the neck and armhole line.  Do not trim the neck line or armhole without first marking a line and being sure that it is right.  Then leave a generous seam allowance beyond the marked seam.  If the neck seems snug, frequently it is because of the seam allowance.

10.  Use a dress hanger.  Keep the dress on a hanger when you are not working on it.  This prevents many wrinkles  It also gives bias sections a chance to sag into their natural shapes.

A couple of things to note:

1.  When did electric irons become common use?  I'm pretty sure that in item 3 when they are referring to reheating the iron that they are referring to something like this:

  I do have memories of my Grandmother having one or two of these on the wood stove.  I don't actual remember her ever using one but it may have been one of those things she kept me away from.

2.  In item 8, I liked that your instructed to use the measurements from a well fitted garment. That is something that Peggy Sagers is always saying to do when picking out a size in her patterns.

3.  In item 1, where they are telling you to cut extra seam allowance at the shoulder.  I don't see anything about not cutting out collars or sleeves before checking the fit.  If you used the extra seam allowance for item, I would think that it would affect those to areas.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Keeping it Simple....

Our monthly knitting group meeting was this past weekend and I'm always searching for a small project that I can take with me and isn't tremendously taxing while you're sitting there and talking. This month I chose the Knotted Cables Washcloth pattern from Knitpicks.  Here's what there version looks like:

Of course, it is highly likely that this has been blocked and made to look very pretty.  Here's my version:

This has not been blocked. My gauge is off  and I can see one minor mistake.  My measurements are 1" wider and 1/4" taller than the pattern measurements.  I also don't have as many pattern repeats are the picture.  I went back and double-checked the instructions and I did miss a repeat.  I actually like this pattern and I may do it again.  I think next time I will drop a needle size and see if I can end up closer to the measurement given in the pattern.

Details:  Pattern is written for Dishy and a size 7 needle.  I used Sugar n' Cream with size 7 needles.

Happy Stitching!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Fitting Dresses.....What is a Good Fit? Part 1

A friend gave me a little booklet that her mother had. The title is Fitting Dresses.  It is a publication from the U.S. Department of Agriculture with a revision date of May 1946.  Here's a picture of this little publication:

I thought it would be fun to walk through the book.  Granted that this book is really geared toward working with wovens as I don't think that knit yardage was available during this time period.  Anyone know for sure?

I loved the very first sentence in the introduction!  It simply states:

      "For most women who make dresses, the biggest problems arise with fitting."

Isn't that a very true statement with most clothing that we make?  It sure is for me.

This bulletin specifically states that it deals with the fitting of a dress that has already been cut out and basted or after the ready-made dress has been purchased.  It doesn't deal with the special problems of altering a pattern.  So, let's get started.

The first section deals with "How to Know a Good Fit".    A good fit brings out the good points and skillfully hides the poor ones.  You will know a good fit by:

1.  Direction of grain of goods - Crosswise yarns are parallel to the floor at center front, back bust line, and hip line,  unless the dress has unusual style details. Lengthwise yarns on the sleeve cap lie in the direction of the arm when it hangs straight at the side.  This varies slightly on different figures but in general the crosswise yarns are also parallel with the floor.  (Fig 1)

2.  Direction of the seam lines - Seam lines that lie and hang straight keep the dress in proper line on the figure.  The set becomingly and smoothly on the shoulders.  Armhole seams make a good curve underneath the arm and over the top of the shoulder.  They are straight front and back of the arm except when special style features such as extended shoulders require otherwise.  The waistline appears straight around the figure - it dips slightly in the front, following the natural waist curve.  Underarm waist seams and skirt seams hang straight down -- no swinging to the front or back.
 (Fig 2)

3.  Smooth lines - You can expect some folds to form in the dress when the wearer moves but when she sits or stands still, there should be no unbecoming  folds.

4.  Wearing comfort - The properly fitted dress is comfortable when the wearer stands, sits, or moves around.  It is snug where fashion demands, but never feels tight or strained.

There are likely to be fitting difficulties and the dress may never fit if:
  1. The style is not suited to the wearer's figure.  Simply styles are always in good taste and can be fitted more easily than elaborate ones.
  2. The pattern is not the right size or not altered to fit.  Get a pattern with measurements corresponding as nearly as possible to your body measurements.  Do not select a pattern by the size of ready-mades you wear.  Ready-mades are not always mad like nor sized the same as patterns.
  3. The dress is carelessly cut and made.  Carelessness in laying the pattern on the goods or in pinning, basting or stitching often results in a dress that fits poorly and cannot be made to fit well.
I don't really see anything in this information that is different from what we do today.  Normally when I order a pattern, I just pick a size range and go on.  Today, I decided to look and see which size was being recommended.  Thankfully, I do usually pick out the correct size but I can also say that I need to have many sizes in one envelope.

Next time....helps toward a good fit and darts...

Happy Stitching!

Friday, January 13, 2017

Tweed Jacket Love....

I have found a gorgeous jacket over at the Loft website.  It is a cotton tweed. Check out how they have used the selvage:

I am so tempted by this jacket.  I really want it.  However I do know that this would be very easy to recreate.  Casual Elegance Fabrics has a similar tweed but what pattern to use?  Suggestions?

Happy Stitching!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Blouse Love....

Neiman Marcus really has my attention this week.  I have found another blouse that I would like to reproduce.  Here it is:

This top fits the model horribly, doesn't it?  It is really just a classic button-front blouse with a little bit of extra styling in the back.  That is really what caught my attention.  I'll have to look for just the right shirting for this but I do want to reproduce this look.  I would think that any shirt/blouse pattern with a yoke would work as long as it has already been fitted.  Since I'm getting ready to start working on the fitting the Archer pattern, I may use it as the starting point.

I seem to be moving toward a looser fit this season.  I have added two tops so far to my list of items that I would like to make and both are using the same pattern.  That is a win-win if I can get the pattern fitted correctly.  My first glance at the pattern indicated that there aren't any length markings so this is going to be fun.

Hope you're enjoying my looking and planning process.

Oh, if you're interested in looking at this blouse a little closer, go to the Neiman Marcus website and search for "Lafayette 148 New York Dannell Button-Front Stretch-Cotton Blouse".

Happy Stitching!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Cold Shoulder Anyone?...

I am not a huge fan of the "cold shoulder" look but this sweater really caught my attention:

Isn't this a cute look?  It would be sooo easy to re-create.  Grab your favorite t-shirt pattern, find matching sweater knit and stretch lace, and have some fun.  It looks like the spot to cut the sleeve is around the notches to insert the lace.   Cute look!  You can make several for the price of this one.

You can find this sweater on the Neiman Marcus website.  Search for "Elie Tahari Alice Lace Cold-Shoulder Sweater, gray".  

Happy Stitching!

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


I was checking Neiman Marcus website and found this lovely tunic by Eileen Fisher:

Doesn't this look comfy?  This is a yarn-dyed linen chambray.  I really want to reproduce this.  I know that I don't have any chambray in the stash which will mean that I need to purchase something. Anyone know who is carrying a yarn-dyed cotton chambray?

I have the pattern already figured out.  I will be using the Grainline Studio Archer pattern with the popover variation lengthened and the hem straightened.

I have not purchased the popover variation and may try to figure out how to do it on my own.  What do you think, is this a good plan?  I'm off to see if I can figure out what I need to recreate this tunic.  I do still need to fit the Archer but with any luck that will just be one muslin.

If you want a closer look at the Eileen Fisher tunic, go to the neiman marcus website and search for Eileen Fisher Long Sleeved Henley Tunic.

Happy Stitching!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year!

I hope the new year is wonderful.  I don't usually make new year resolutions but this year I'm going to attempt.  Here they are:

1.  Finish the two quilts that I started last year.
2.  Lose weight.

Finishing the quilts will be hard.  The first quilt has about 50% of the blocks finished.  The second quilt just needs the binding made and added.  I'm a little tired of quilts at this point but I do intend to complete them.

Losing weight.  This will be a tough but sometimes you just gotta do it.  I have started the journey via Nutrisystem.  We'll see how it goes.  The start date is today and I'm thinking I'm really going to look forward to veggies this week because those little meals that they send are just that "little".  Maybe I should have waited a week to start this as Friday and Saturday we are getting together with friends and you know that means food of some sort.

I know my issue with the quilts is that I would rather be working on other things.  I really want to make some clothes but I'm suppose to be losing weight.  Hah!  Guess I'll save that for when my current clothes get loose.

Do you make new year resolutions?  How well do you keep them?

Happy Stitching!