Sunday, 26 February 2017

Twisted Seams in Jeans

I know I haven't mentioned it on here yet, but I'm onto my final collection of my BA (Hons) Fashion Design & Production at York College. It's called The Shire and is based largely on The Hobbit and LOTR (follow my Instagram for better updates). I've more or less got my final designs and two of the garments are jeans (oh yeah, I now work at Levi's in York City Centre as a stylist and tailor). There will be a pair of Mom Jeans and a pair of skinny jeans. First I'm working with the Mom Jeans.
At Levi's we have some jeans like this. They're a slim, relaxed fit in the leg, with a good fit in the bottom, and a fairly straight waist. The latter is something I will not be incorporating because I like my jeans to stay up without a belt, but the legs are good and I want to use that look. So I compared the cut with those from Metric Pattern Cutting for Womenswear and found that they are wildly different, but both look good. The latter didn't look Mom-jeanish though when I toiled them.
This is what the Metric Pattern Cutting Jeans look like if you widen the legs to make them Mom-jeanish
This is what the Metric Pattern Cutting Jeans look like if you widen the legs to make them Mom-jeanish

This is the shape of Levi's jeans like the 501s, Wedgie-fit, and 501CT (from memory)
This is the shape of Levi's jeans like the 501s, Wedgie-fit, and 501CT (from memory)

Now, bear in mind that the first ones are size 12, and the latter ones are my size (approximately 8) so mine are narrower. The legs on the Levi's jeans are much straighter at the outseam than the Metric Pattern Cutting ones. The alignment is also a lot closer to the side seam; you could very nearly make selvedge jeans with that pattern!

So I printed it out in my size and toiled it. All going to plan, but I made the pattern too long and shortened it on paper. This is where things began to go awry. When truing the side seam I forgot to take account of the yoke on the back, so the front pattern ended up 3cm too short, and of course I didn't realise at the time.

I noticed something was wrong when I was sewing the inseam and the back was not only not shorter than the front (it should be) but it was too long by a fair bit. I just cut it off the crutch with the overlocker (bad move). Now the inseams matched. So I sewed the side seams, and realised that it wasn't just the inseams that wouldn't have matched. I carried on sewing and tried the toile on afterwards.




Now, the first problem was the bum-nose. I do not wish to appear as if I have a tail tucked in there. I assumed that this was probably due to the issue with the crutch seam, so I moved on.

Another issue came to my attention when I looked down. The legs had twisted symmetrically. I could not fathom why. Levi's jeans didn't. And my toile wasn't even in twill so that couldn't be it. Surely it must be the fit?

I cut up one leg and examined the new shape. It was... odd.

Front leg of toile

Rear leg of toile

Now, I assumed, based on half-remembered facts about twisted seams, that I must adjust the pattern to make the jeans hang right when I wear them. So I spent a good few hours playing with the pattern on Illustrator, in vain, because I couldn't get the seams to be corresponding measurements. After said good few hours it occurred to me to get the toile out and examine it again. I thought, What would happen if I lay the legs as they would have, had they been the same length to begin with and I hadn't chopped that bit off?
And this is what happened...
twisting-legs
The back leg's inseam was 3cm lower than the from leg, but sewn to match it, so the grainlines were not level. This meant the leg was trying to level itself out. As it couldn't do that magically, it twisted round like a spiral staircase. It sort of makes sense and evidently is what happened, as you can see in the above photo. Accidental Pattern Magic. As proof, if I lay the front leg properly across (as it should have been) all it well. I wore it pinned for a while correctly and it didn't twist. I didn't take any pictures of this (but I'm going to retoile to eliminate this issue and check the fit otherwise).

So there we have it: the (or a) cause of twisted legs in jeans is when either the front or the back isn't level (maybe because the seamstress/seamster stretched one of them and cut it off to match). I think this happens more if the problem extends below the knee.

I'm glad I learned that little tidbit, especially as I want to be a Master Tailor at Levi's. :)

Sunday, 19 February 2017

I love free-motion work!

As part of my most recent module at college, I started doing more free-motion work. I'd done some before, without a free-motion foot, but not very much. I think I decided to do it more here because the concept seemed to suggest embroidery and I was NOT going to do it by hand (too time-consuming for college). So I got a Bernina foot #24 and watched some videos on YouTube.

I found out that not only can you do absolutely beautiful embroidery by free-motion, but you can make lace! It took a few goes to get anything really good, but I soon picked it up.

Free-motion lace
Free-motion lace
Free-motion embroidered Celtic Knot design


Helpful sources on YouTube include:




There were some others too, but I can't find them anymore.

There is also this fascinating ebook I found (please note I do not have the rights to this ebook, but I don't know where I found it).


There are more of my samples on the Pinterest board for this module. Free-motion is my new favourite thing! :D

Viking Dress in Jersey

As the Hobbit and LOTR are largely inspired by Nordic legends, I thought I'd put a Viking dress into my final collection. It's pretty much zero-waste too.

viking-dress-pattern

I recently got an overlocker on eBay (Toyota SLR4D) and finally have it working properly! And learning to work with jersey is one of my goals for my FMP, so I'm making this dress from either jersey or ponte knit (which I have to test sew because I haven't used it before and it's different).
This dress took me about 4 hours to make including cutting. I'm reasonably pleased with it and I will be wearing it, even though it's a size 10 and I'm a 6.

The Viking Dress on me (it's 2 sizes too big)

Viking Dress on a size 14 mannequin (dress is 2 sizes too small)

Viking Dress on the right size mannequin


I suppose this answers how RTW fits pretty much everyone since jersey became the norm.

Now, you may have noticed that the sleeves are a little snug in comparison to the dress form. This is one of the reasons we toile. :) I have made them bigger on the pattern.

The pockets were going to be sleeve segments, but I thought pockets would be better (because who doesn't love pockets?!)

New skills used in this dress: ribbing, overlock seams, overstitching, using clear elastic as a stabiliser on knits, and marking jersey (use a marker pen). I haven't perfected the neckline though (and it bothers me).

I got the fabric yesterday at The Shuttle in Leeds. I went on a fabric sourcing trip with the class, which was fruitful, though I still have a few more things to get, like sweatshirting and gold-coloured denim. I estimated my final collection will cost up to £300 in supplies. Not bad really, considering in London it's not unusual to pay £7,000 (but that includes paying people to make it for you, which we don't because we learn technical skills :P ).

I have updated the pattern to work with the changes in the sleeves, and will try it next in a t-shirt, perhaps with the lace at the shoulders too. :)

If you'd like more timely updates, don't forget to check out my Instagram!

Friday, 12 August 2016

How to measure yourself (or anyone else) for a skirt draft

This is a throwback to a post I did a while ago on how to draft a skirt pattern. A reader messaged me and asked for a post on how to properly measure oneself, so I said I would do one. And here it is :)

 
The first thing to do is to tie some tape round your waist and your hips to keep a level. This is easier if you have a full-length mirror, which I currently do not. -_-


To get your front and back waist measurements place the end of the tape where you feel the side-most point of your waist it (this is all a matter of what feels right), wrap the tape around your waist and use your thumb nail to mark the other side-most point. Hold that and the waist measurement point (good thing you have two hands) and make a note of them.

Do the same for your hips. Be a little slack on the front of your hips if you like, especially if like so many of us, you have a bit of a tummy. :)

And do the same for your high hip measurement. This is along your pelvis bone line. On me that's 8cm down from my waist at the CF. I know the measuring tape drooped a bit in the photo.
You will use this measurement to check that the darts aren't too hollow and the side seams aren't too curved when you shape them. I once scooped my back darts too much and now I have a high-waist skirt. :)


Measure from the waistline to the hipline front and back.

This is why a mirror helps: my hip tape dropped a bit at the back in the photo. :)

To make this easier/quicker, I've added an Excel file for you to download. It makes it quicker to get your dart measurements and so on ready for drafting your skirt pattern. Click here to access it via Google Sheets.

And here's the link to the original post.

Do post all your makes on the Student Designer FaceBook page; I'd love to see them! :)

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Thursday, 28 July 2016

Summertime Shorts

We've been having a heatwave here in Britain, and I needed some more shorts. I had what I thought was a pretty good pattern, but measuring the waistline I wonder how on Earth I ever managed to zip my un-stretched shorts up! I must have made some colossal mistakes when measuring or something because I've had to increase the waist measurement considerably (and, no, I haven't got that much bigger -- as if I could gain weight!).

The inspiration for these shorts is a blend of Audrey Hepburn's shorts in Sabrina, and some shorts I have already designed and made. They are quite short, but not hot pants, and I've flared the legs a bit since toiling so they will hopefully be a bit more elegant.


Toiling





The initial fit (after adjusting the waist measurement on Illustrator) was pretty good. The waistband pokes out a bit at the front, but I think that's due to the fairly straight waistline on the front pieces. I've corrected that since. The waistline fits actually on my waistline all the way around. They're comfortable.

I did have a 1cm discrepancy on the inseam -- the back needed lengthening there, but now it matches the front. I think that may account for the funny fit on the toile.
I've since flared the back leg pieces so they don't cup the cheeks so. I was working off a photo of Audrey Hepburn:
Audrey Hepburn filming for the film 'Sabrina'
There seemed to be some variable camel toe on the front. It wasn't major and I wasn't sure what to do about it, so I've left it for now. We'll see if it disappears when I use proper fabric. :)

Making


Front of shorts. I will change the pattern so that the pockets start farther from the centre front.


Back. I love how neatly this invisible zip turned out!


That caterpillar thing you can see is the hand-stitched bar for the hook and bar fastening.


Hand chain-stitching along the front pockets


The gusset not only makes these shorts so much more comfortable for cycling,
but it improves the look of the fit too!


The cuffs. I pressed them, but they still need a little help to stay up neatly, so...


... I hand tacked them up at the front and back of each leg.


I was going to have the back pockets match, but I like the lining (Liberty cotton) 
so much that I have it on show! And I used a serpentine stitch along the tops
of the back pockets, just because it's pretty. :)


The hems. Overstitched, herringbone stitched, and topstitched about 3mm
from the cut edge. I will increase the hem allowance on the pattern. :)



Front view



Side view with pocket



Profile view. A somewhat more discreet fit than the toile, I think. 
And I'm glad they didn't turn out to be 'flared'. :)



I'm happy with that fit. One day I will master the back view shot.



Outfit shot. I love this sweater from The Sweater Shop in York, 
and my boots from TKMaxx! I'm not being paid to say that. We'll unless
The Sweater Shop sees my photo and gives me 10% off my next purchase :).

All in all, I LOVE these shorts! They’re so comfy! They fit just right too.

Sabrina



Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Lace-Blocked Tee

This is a 'quick' project that has taken me about a month or so because my guitar kept distracting me and begging me to play it ;). It's based on my TNT French Woven Tee pattern (self-drafted), but adapted to have a yoke-kimono cap sleeve, a separate bodice section, and the dart shifted higher up the side seam. I had the fabric in my stash from previous college projects and thought I'd use it up to make a nice summer top.
This was also an opportunity to try to improve my photography/modelling skills and as it is the middle of summer (hottest day of the year so far! Woo!) I could take advantage of the late golden hour.
Lace-blocked tee, front
The idea is that it looks like a bodice and tunic, sort of. A modern version, if you will, that doesn't look like a costume. :)
To begin with the sleeves were huge and I didn't like it. So I took them in at the shoulder seam and considerably reduced the length (about an inch or so). Regrettably I didn't think to take photos as I was too eager to change it and see if I could make the top likeable. Which I did, and I'm happy with it now. There is, however, one slight issue: the back.
Lace-blocked tee, back
You can't see it here, because I put the buttons on the wrong side (that's not the issue).
Lace-blocked tee, back 2
Because of the way I finished the opening, you can see the yellow placket. Ugh. (Side note, the bottom of the placket DOES NOT look like that in real life. This must be a very bad angle).
Lace-blocked tee, details 1
Now for details. The top and bottom of the 'bodice' part are edged with running stitches. You may remember this feature from my FMP at Bishop. This top's style continues from that collection. The neckline was finished by sewing stay tape along the WS, turning the s.a. under, and double-stitching. This allows for the nicest finish from the outside, I feel. The sleeves are hemmed similarly, but sans stay tape. Lace doesn't fray, so neatening the seams is optional.
I chose to make the sleeves kimono sleeves. I thought this would be best. It uses less fabric and gives a cleaner look to the top.
(PS. The safety pin is a political thing as a result of Brexit. It's to show that I won't be racially abusive to you, so you can talk to me. :) )
Lace-blocked tee, details 2
The top button is a cool decorative one from my button jar. The rest are clear ones. I like using clear buttons on light-coloured fabrics. I think it looks more expensive. (Gah! In all these photos the edges of the top don't line up! They did when I was sewing. I'm going to have to ask someone in real life how it looks!)
All in all, I'm quite pleased with this new top. It's comfortable to wear (as it should be, having been drafted from my TNT block) and it looks good.
-- Sabrina

Saturday, 30 January 2016

How to Make a Saddle Cover from a Bag-for-Life

cover image for how to make a saddle cover 2
This is a quick and easy project. I made my saddle cover this afternoon because my old one has holes in it, which renders it somewhat less useful as a way to keep my saddle dry.
You can download the pattern for free here in A4 and here in Letter size. It is 'to cut on the fold' because the pattern is wider than a sheet of paper and I thought it would be easier this way.

You Will Need:

  • A bag-for-life
  • 34cm of 9mm wide elastic
  • Sewing machine
  • Scissors (not your fabric scissors)
  • Sewing kit
  • A ball point pen for drawing on the bag

Helpful notes:

  • Use a long stitch length. I used about 3mm, but 4mm would have been better, especially when sewing the elastic on.
  • If you would like to make a saddle cover from something other than a grocery bag, the gusset is 78cm wide (plus 2cm seam allowance) by 8cm deep (including seam allowance.
  • Pins probably won't help and may rip the plastic.

Step One: Cutting out

Once you have printed your pattern lay it on a bag-for-life (a tough grocery bag) and draw round it. I used my old saddle cover cut up as a pattern so I had to add seam allowances. If you are using your half-pattern, mark the fold lines and flip it over to complete it.
Cut off the bottom 8cm of the bag to make the gusset. Trim off one of the side seams.
Saddle cover from grocery bag

Step Two: Sew the gusset to the top

Starting at the CB, sew the gusset to the top until you get to the CF, or a little before if you like. Then sew the other side.
Saddle cover from bag-for-life: gusset to top

Step Three: Join the ends

When you get to the CF, match up the ends of the gusset and sew the CF seam. Then trim it down to a 1cm seam allowance.
Saddle cover from grocery bag

Step Four: Prepare and attach the elastic

Cut 34cm of elastic. That includes a 1cm seam allowance/overlap at each end. Divide it and the gusset into quarters with a pen.
Saddle cover from bag-for-life
Starting at the CB, start sewing the elastic on just to secure it. Then, holding the gusset taut at the back of the needle, and stretching the elastic to match the next mark, sew the elastic to the gusset.
Then turn the elastic to the inside and sew it in place there. This gives a nicer finish. I have an extra line of stitching because when I turned the elastic under the first time I didn't catch it in the stitching. :)
Saddle cover from bag-for-life

And you're done!

There you have your saddle cover: a practical, eco-friendly sewing project for your bike.
How to make a Saddle cover from bag-for-life