Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Random Threads # 4

The subtitle of this post could be "where did August go?"  For the lazy last days of summer it seemed like I have been running to keep up with my schedule. Lots of custom sewing to complete and a few teaching sessions plus personal and family commitments have wiped me out. The result is a mysterious respiratory type flu bug that knocked me out for a few days. I haven't been sick like this in a few years so I hope this is my quotient for the forseeable future. But today I am on the mend and feeling ready for vacation.  I have quite a few things completed and ready to blog but they all deserve a post or two and the photos are still on my camera card.

In the meanwhile I have seen some great discussions started on other blogs. Bunny of La Sewista introduced a really interesting topic in her post "Do you Tape?" She mentioned some of the pros and cons of downloading, printing and taping patterns from various sources and a very good discussion followed in the comments. My thoughts on the print and tape together pattern are a lot like hers, in that I would only do it for something very simple since I have the option to buy the big 4 patterns on sale. A few commenters mentioned that for markets other than N. America the PDF print is a good value and I can certainly see that as compared to the $ 30 list price of some Vogue patterns.  I have printed and taped a few times and unless it was something unique I find it a really big pain to do. However - I did have a huge success with a Lekala pattern last year so in that case it was a positive (Lekala is a Russian pattern company where you provide your specific measurements and purchase a custom sized pattern).

Today I saw this post  on Debbies's Stitches and Seams blog which also caught my interest. She asked some questions which were originally posed on a Pattern Review message board so here are my responses.

1. Do you cut with your fabric Right side out or Wrong side out? 90% of the time I cut with the wrong side out - to protect the right side of the fabric (especially important on white or light colors) also I like to mark wrong sides with chalk, and often chalk alterations on the wrong side. Only exception is pattern placement but I can usually see that when the fabric is wrong side out.

2. How do you do your pattern markings? I do 1/4" snips for all the notches, I do thread tailors tacks for all the dots and other markings, and if I change the seam allowances to 1" then I mark the notches right on the seam line with chalk, which is easily done as the wrong side is out :).

3. Do you follow the cutting layout in patterns? No, but I do recommend that beginners do this for a few years. It is easy to cut something out on the wrong grain, or miss cutting out something double. After a while sewing you get the feel for the various pattern pieces but I made a lot of goofy mistakes when I started, as everyone does. I generally cut everything out in the same direction, perhaps this is a bit fussy but I find it is a good habit to develop.

4. Are you obsessed with re-folding your pattern tissue on or very close to the original fold lines?
Oh heck no.  I pull out the pattern pieces I am going to use, press them with a dry iron. Cut away the extra blank tissue and discard. Often trace the size I want with my fit alterations. I store the patterns plus tracings in manila file folders with the pattern company/number/and brief notation of the first garment I made from the pattern which is handy for future reference. So as an example I have file folder labeled "NL6457 Blue denim topstitch". Some of the labels are way more cryptic - such as "NL6864 Bl/Wh Multi-fav". As for folding I try to fold them in the biggest possible way that they will fit into the file folders which are around 9"x12"? so they will be more flat. I store them in a lateral file cabinet but the actual color pattern envelopes are stored separately as I like to be able to quickly scan through all the pattern photos for ideas and inspiration.

5. Do you make all the markings? See # 2 above. YES, I make all the markings. I do make quite a few very complicated garments and love to do tailored things so the markings are a necessity. My feeling on marking is like the phrase a stitch in time saves nine, although that probably applies more to preventative maintenance than preparation. I find that doing all the markings in the prep phase lets me sew faster and have everything go together smoothly. Once I remove the paper pattern piece it goes in the file because all the markings are on the cut-out fabric piece. But I don't remove the paper pattern piece until that part is sewed. If it needs to be interfaced, I do the iron-on, then pin the paper piece back on the fabric pieces and set aside until time to sew with it.

That's enough about pattern pieces for a while, huh?  As for actual sewing here is a custom dress I recently made. When the request came to me to make this flower girl dress for a nautical theme wedding I thought perhaps people spend too much time on Pinterest. As it turns out the family has a mariner heritage and it sounds like it will be very lovely. They gave me an illustration and the fabric so I designed this after a few tests on my little size 6 neighbor (to see if it would go over her head) since I didn't want a back zipper to interrupt the sailor collar. It has a hidden side seam zipper instead. The fabric is an ivory color satin with navy blue grosgrain ribbon and a bit of tulle on the underskirt.

  Sailor dress frontSailor dress back

Up next, my black denim jacket, final version, and my first foray into Marfy patterns. Oh, I have a lot to say about that!

Even the roses are looking a bit limp and bedraggled this time of year in my garden. This one drives me crazy as the color is great but the blooms are not ideal for the climate and wilt quickly. That little spot of garden real estate may be destined for something else come January but until then, enjoy.
Happy sewing, Beth

Rose, red, view 2


  1. That dress is gorgeous. That will be something they treasure for years.

  2. I love sailor dresses for little girls! That one is beautiful.

  3. Oh my gosh, that dress is so precious (and I mean that in a very positive way). How convenient that you have a fit model right in the neighborhood, LOL. I also cracked a grin about your comment about people spending too much time on Pinterest! Say it, sistah!

  4. I noticed that you were missing for awhile. Hope you are feeling much better now. Lovely little dress that will get lots of attention...

  5. A sweet dress, Beth! I'm with you, I tape as little as possible!

  6. I'm glad you're feeling better! The sailor dress is so cute -- perfect for a little girl. I've actually never taped a pattern together so I can't really join that discussion -- printing off a bunch of sheets and figuring out how to piece them together never really appealed to me!