Saturday, October 31, 2009


Just when I thought I was too busy for anything except complaining about being so busy…I came up with a little tutorial sort of thing!

After making the good witch of the west costume forced me back into my sewing area, I was motivated to tackle one of those projects that is easy to put off for a long, long time. Sometimes, even more than a year.

This project is resizing a vintage coat pattern. During the great coat sew along I caught Marji fever (scroll down to the May 15th post) and purchased many vintage coat patterns. This one in particular just had to come home. Then someone on PR made a fall coat out of corduroy… then I saw this fabulous wide-wale corduroy at a very good price…that also needed a home. Well, they’ve both been very cozy waiting for a fall. Last fall, this fall, next fall, whatever! Finally I’m ready to resize the pattern – yippee! This is how I did it.

Step 1: I went to the nearest Threads resource – mine happens to be in the sanctuary (a.k.a. sewing area, a.k.a mommy zone) – and read this article.

All the other steps:
Trace the original pattern and all markings (extend the grain lines the length of the piece at this point – I didn’t do this on the sleeves but should have).

Draw cutting lines to divide the piece into segments where the adjustments will be made. On the pictures, if you look closely these are in red. By the time I did the body pieces I just cut instead of drawing and cutting.

The extended grain line gives a starting point for placing the pieces onto the new paper.
Cut along all red lines, or you may want to cut one vertical/horizontal segment at a time so that the pieces don’t blow away! Do this carefully and don’t do it in front of a fan!

Starting with my traced and cut pattern, I picked up the bottom segment that has the grain line marked and position that on the grain line of the new piece. To attach the original pattern piece to what will be the new piece I’ve tried strips of Glad Press’n Seal and tape but this time I used a glue stick. It seemed to go a little faster and since my “paper” is really a vinyl banquet table covering, I could easily reposition the piece if it wasn’t lined up correctly.

At this point I referred to the chart in the Threads article to determine how far away the next pattern piece will be. Then I lined up my ruler with the straight edge of the pattern piece and drew a line as a guide for the placement of the next piece. Continue this process until all of the new pieces are aligned on the new paper.

Once the pieces were all attached I cut out the new piece trying to leave about 1-2” in the seam allowance area. At first I was thinking that I would just use the seam allowance attachment on my rotary cutter to add the 5/8” SA when I cut out the muslin. But wait! I just realized as I’m typing this that the original pattern already has the seam allowances, so I can just cut along the edges of the original pattern pieces.

After all pattern pieces of this project after they were cut into segments, I always started with the bottom horizontal section first then moved on to the next horizontal section of pieces. You don’t have to do the exact same thing but I think it would be advisable to have a system that you follow when moving the pieces – some of them may be very small.

The first time I resized a vintage pattern I traced over the pieces to create a solid pattern; one that wouldn’t have all those little pieces waving around. The glue seams to be working for this one so I think I’ll skip that step and move on to cutting and fitting.

The project in these pictures is being resized from a 12 ½ to a 14 so the adjustments are quite large (nothing smaller than ¼”). For my previous resizing projects the largest increment was ¼”. That meant there were a lot of 1/8” and 1/16” changes. I have to admit I trusted myself to visualize these measurements and just skipped using the ruler to mark the new placement lines. (By trust I mean that sometimes, just for fun, I’ll guess the distance of a seam allowance or a piece of fabric and then measure it to see how close I was. My accuracy is pretty good.)

So that’s it. This is not a difficult process but you do have to be in the right frame of mind before you begin. I usually like to keep track of how long something like this takes but I was interrupted so many times the best I can give is a very rough estimate - I would say about 20 minutes per pattern piece. I haven't tackled the collar yet and I will just redraw the facings and pocket placement.

DD got THE flu on Friday so I may actually find some time to sew over the next few days (in between keeping her company and entering grades for the first marking period). Luckily, her symptoms are very mild. Luckily, it’s early in the flu season so after this we won’t have to worry about every little cough from her. Luckily, if this flu ever comes back she’ll have nothing to worry about. Unluckily, the beautiful, fluffy, sparkly, good witch costume and it’s owner had to miss trick-or-treating. Luckily, I took pictures before the big day.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Long Story

Once upon a time there was a girl who liked to sew. Everyday she thought about the clothes that would someday fill her closet. On this particular day the girl decided to think about pants. Hmmmm, she thought, my pants don’t seem to fit well anymore. I’m going to take my measurements again. Maybe it will help solve this mystery. AAAARRRRRGGGH! She could not believe her eyes! Never in her life had a mere 10-15 pounds changed her measurements so drastically (and not in a good way). She sighed a heavy sigh and decided to think some more.

The very next day she began searching her sewing resources for a solution. She found a book about pants that looked like it might have an answer – Pants For The Mature Figure. (The book was Fashion Your Own Pants The Simple Way by Connie Amaden Crawford. I wouldn't spend any time trying to find this one.) This sounded promising. Off to the drafting table she went. Measure – draw, measure – draw, measure – draw, for four evenings she worked on the new pattern. Finally, the day arrived to test the pattern with a muslin. Excitedly she cut the fabric and sewed as quickly as she could. (At this point it gets a little sketchy. The muslin stage happened Labor Day weekend and the author has a very weak memory.) Adjust – fix, adjust – fix, adjust – fix. She was frustrated. At the end of the day she decided to take a chance and apply her new sloper to a real pants pattern. This took many nights of deep concentration. She was exhausted! But the dream of new pants was strong and finally the fabric was cut and the new pants were ready to be sewn.

Soon something happened and she was very, very busy. But not busy sewing. Everyday she thought about when the new pants would be done. As time passed the memory of all the changes she had made to the muslin began to dim. Dimmer, and dimmer, and dimmer until she was not sure she would remember how to put the pants together. Even worse than that she began to think, “What if I make them and they fit really well and I don’t remember how I got them to fit, and I won’t be able to make sense of my new sloper ever again? And then I’ll have to draft an entirely new pattern. Oh, the time, the time, the time.”

And then it was time to sew for Halloween. And after that it will be time to sew for Christmas. And everyday the girl will think about all the lovely clothes that will someday fill her closet.


Happy weekend sewing to everyone that finds the time to sew!!


Saturday, October 17, 2009

10 Buttonholes and 3 Hours Later...

That's right, the buttonhole saga isn't over yet. This is the pile of excess thread trimmed while I was trying to get the dang things done.

Ready to proceed. Practice buttonhole on cotton fabric A.O.K.
Buttonhole #1 The bobbin thread isn't catching. I stew on this little issue for an entire day.
Steps to a Solution: Dismantle everything, plate cover, buttonholer...after about 30 minutes of trial and error I realize that I changed needles and when I compare the two they are very different shapes. So I put back the original needle that came with the machine.
Buttonhole #2 Good.
Buttonhole #3 Something doesn't sound right.
Buttonhole #4 What the heck?? There's half a spool of bobbin thread on the underside.
Steps to a Solution: Re-thread everything and watch the feed dog cover since it seems like the needle is hitting it.
Buttonhole #5 Well, really it's the replacement for #4. Still not right.
Steps to a Solution: Dismantle everything, feed-dog cover, buttonholer, machine cover...after about 30 minutes of investigating I realize that the presser foot is not sitting all the way down. I oil it, but I still need to push it down to put it in place. OK, note to self - push the attachment down before sewing.
Buttonhole #6, 7 Looks good.
Buttonhole #8 What the heck? Thread is collecting underneath again, oh, forgot to push down the presser foot (actually the buttonholer). Then I realize I positioned #6, 7 so they're going the wrong direction (horizontal instead of vertical. This is because it's been at least three days since I marked the buttonhole placement and I forgot that I just marked the top of the buttonhole.) Commence ripping.
Steps to a Solution: Push the contraption down and re-thread the top thread.

Well, if you do the math it may not add up to three hours as documented here, but trust me, it was at least three hours of real time. And was it worth it?

I love the results, but now I'm too tired to attach the buttons! (The fabric is a JoAnn's poly imitation silk charmeuse and the thread matches much better than it appears here.)

Friday, October 9, 2009

Gone but not forgotten.

The real and true and only reason I've been gone is because my real job is going so well! The better my students do the more I want to do for them and so, being too busy to blog just means that teaching is going really well.

Of course, having no time to sew...well that's not so great. Aside from being really tired at the end of the day my machines are now right above my daughter's bedroom and the little drama mama insists she just can't sleep if I'm sewing. Last weekend it was just too much and I pointed out to her that if I couldn't sew at night I wouldn't be able to sew anything for her either. Problem solved. I have a new blouse and DD got a perfectly good night's sleep.

I don't have pictures of it yet but I have to give a shout-out for the pattern I used. The now OOP Vogue 8287.
It is a very easy blouse that looks like it's not (IMHO).
I love the collar.
There are french cuffs but they don't have buttons.
The bodice is fitted and short enough to wear untucked.
The armhole is high and comfortable.

I have tons more to share but it will have to wait. I just tucked the kids in and the sewing machine is calling my name!