Sunday, July 31, 2011

Another Good Class

Fitting: the European Method - Virginia Marti-Veith
I wasn’t sure what to expect with this class. First, recently I have heard some, well not-so-great comments about the fashion design department at Virginia Marti CAD primarily about the lack of sewing knowledge in some of the graduates. Second, I’m realizing that my age is directly limiting the amount of new ideas and techniques out there (i.e. I'm so old and have taken so many classes that not too much seems "new" to me). This doesn’t mean I know everything. It just means that I’m familiar with a lot of techniques and when I take a new class, there’s a pretty good chance I’m already familiar with the information. Note: that doesn’t stop me from enrolling in more classes ;)

So, I’m happy to report that this class was about 90% new info, or info I knew before but forgot, or info that put a new perspective on things I already knew. (That means I thought I was good!) And, I couldn’t wait to get home and share all the good stuff with you.

The class was led by Mrs. Veith (Virginia Marti Veith, school founder) and primarily focused on measuring and evaluating a figure to complete a sloper and then using the sloper to adjust your patterns. It’s a lot to cover and we never really got to the actual "how to use the sloper to adjust a pattern" part. That’s ok with me. Even though I seriously struggle with that step there was so much other information that energized me I didn’t really care.

A live model (a fashion student who volunteered because she has a hard time with fitting) was on hand for Mrs. Veith to demonstrate how to take measurements and how to evaluate the figure. This was especially helpful as even though the student was young and had great figure, it wasn’t perfect there was much discuss about the problems and solutions for fitting. One thing that really impressed me was that she (the instructor) knew the correct terms for all of the bones and body parts. In fact, one of her main props was a model skeleton!

So here it is, the highlights from my notes. Remember, I didn’t say everything was new, they may not all be “aha” moments to everyone. But they were to me so I’m gonna share! I’ve starred what I think are the “must-reads”

She emphasized two things that I usually overlook
  1. Use your eye first to identify problem spots. Don’t just rely on the tape measure to tell you everything about your body shape.
  2. Weight! As in weigh yourself or your customer when you measure. Your body decides on it’s own where it’s going to add or subtract those extra 5lbs., it won’t just be evenly distributed. If your weight changes, you need to go back and take new measurements. And girls, don’t take your measurements PreM because you will be retaining water and the measurements won’t be accurate!
Shoulder measuring tips:
  • Look for an invisible line from the side that starts at the back of the ear (the actual ear, not where it connects to the head), goes down the neck and ends at the shoulder point.
  • Move your arm forward to about bust level to be able to feel the dip that will form at the shoulder point.
  • Once you have found the shoulder point, look to see if the upper arm stands out a lot (sorry I didn’t catch a more detailed term here than “a lot”) compared to the shoulder point. If so, you will probably need to make adjustments to the upper arm sleeve width.
Standing in front of a mirror check to see if your chin lines up with the jugular dip (dip is my word, can’t remember what she called it). We didn’t go over what this means, only that it will be an indication that there are probably other areas of the body that are out of alignment. This was repeated for other areas. For instance, if one shoulder is higher than the other then the hips will also be out of alignment because the body is compensating for the shoulder imbalance.

To find the waist, I know this is a very common one, tie a piece of elastic around the waist. The new-to-me part was to tie it tight so it doesn’t move. For all except the waist measurement, you just need to know where the waist is so keeping it tight is okay.

Measure the body in quarters. I always think about this one now because my body has changed so much in the last 10 years and I know one waist measurement divided into equal quarters does NOT reflect my actual body. But since I’m kind of lazy and usually in a hurry, I’ve just been guessing at the difference ;)
I won’t list all the measurements here because they are pretty standard and available in most books about fitting. She did say that the students must have these measurements memorized in order. I think that’s a good thing for me to put on my to do list.

** When taking the hip measurement watch for other areas, like the tummy, that protrude. When she took the models hip measurement, she held out the measuring tape to allow for a protruding tummy. Because for most garments, in this case a skirt or pant, you will not want the garment to be body hugging at that point.

** For all fitting issues you must keep the CF vertical and centered, and the hipline and waistline parallel to the floor. If they are out of alignment, fix them first and then go to the area where there is a problem. At the problem area either pin out the extra or cut open to release stress until the garment fits correctly. (I know this is vague but this is just a summary and many books can explain the fix-it better than me.)

** To add fitting ease to a garment (her method) she counts how many seams will be inside the garment (including darts). For example, at the waist of a straight skirt with 2 back darts and a CB zipper there will be 3 seams and 2 darts, double that for each layer of fabric in the seam. Then take the fabric to be used for the garment and fold it into that many (10) layers. Squish it down and measure the thickness. That is the minimum amount of ease you will need for your garment. Note how this will be different for each type of fabric.

So that’s the bulk of the sewing information – hope you didn’t fall asleep reading it. I really prefer picture-posts to text-posts but this one can’t be helped! Now for the fun facts from the other attendees:
One woman was an American who lives in Italy and is taking a sloper class from an old-school sewing instructor and most of the fun facts came from her like,
  • A woman in her class visited China and bought some fabric. Before she was given the fabric they asked her if she wanted “Made in Italy” printed on the selvedge!! Yes, you read that right.
  • When her Italian instructor was questioned about a garment not being comfortable her response was something like, “If you want to look beautiful you cannot be comfortable.”
Mrs. Veith indicated that they will soon be opening a couture sewing department in a newly acquired building. Not sure how soon, or if any community ed. classes will be offered but the possibilities sound exciting.

So, how will this change my sewing habits? I’m not sure that I want to spend the time or energy making an updated sloper. I will, however, be spending some quality time with the tape measure to update my measurements. From there I will be able to make more accurate adjustments to my patterns.

I’m trying to figure out how to either join or start a sewing group that focuses on garments instead of crafts. There are a couple of options but none of them seems to fit what I’m looking for. Stitch Cleveland is a really nice place and seems like it would be ideal, but most of the classes and projects are for craft or “learn to sew” items. Apparently there isn’t a Cleveland chapter of ASG (so the possibility of starting is there) as I went to the website, sent an email, and after a week I still haven’t heard anything. There is an active group in another community that is close but 1.) I don’t think there are many garment sewists, and 2.) I’ve heard they’re clique-y and I definitely don’t want to deal with that. So there are people out there…and apparently NONE of them are in the online sewing community! Then there’s the whole thing about scheduling. When my kids have to be in bed by 8 during the week it doesn’t open up much time for evening activities. So, what do you think?

Whew! My fingers are tired! Happy sewing to you all!


P.S. – I wore my Beautiful Fabric dress to the class 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Saturday Sewing Schedule

I'll be here (scroll down a bit for details) for the morning attending Fitting: The European Method     :)

I'm counting on the inspiration from this to take me through a weekend of sewing productivity (in between all the other to-do's on the list)!

I've got a few more project pix to post (hahaha) nothing to exciting just some additions to the summer stuff.

Have a great weekend!

P.S. - I've been trying not mention the state of teaching in my state, well the city where I teach  in particular, but... Today I received an update from our union pres. indicating that the actual student/teacher ratio after spring teacher layoffs now appears to be 60:1. That number is up from the originally anticipated 40:1. I know it probably won't happen but, seriously? At the very least, that's going to be a fire hazard, right? School starts in three weeks.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Beautiful Fabric – A Timeline



  1. I’ve had a crush on this fabric since the first time I saw it.

  2. Carolyn made it into a skirt.

  3. I found it at Janie’s booth during a Sewing Expo

  4. I made it into this.
    Looking at the picture now it doesn’t look so bad, but it didn’t wear well. The neckline was too low for my comfort and the sides have slits that slide up even further every time you sit down. Too much to worry about.

  5. Recycled it into this (Simplicity 4149.
    It’s nice and wearable but I think it looks kind of funny with shorts. Good with pants but I don’t wear too many pants in the summertime.

  6. I found more of it at Janie’s on my fabric excursion this spring and just had to have it so I could try again.

  7. Ta Da! A dress I like. (Hmmmm. I think I like it. Now that I've seen these pictures I'm not so sure.)


    Pattern: Very Easy Vogue 8486
    Fabric: Rayon print from Janie's Sewing Corner

    Pattern Adjustments: Originally, none. But after putting it together I raised the hem by 4-5" (sorry, I don't really measure these things - I just cut).

    Construction notes: Because this pattern is made for knits and my fabric isn't knit, I cut it out one size larger. This worked for everything except the armhole. I had to open up the front curve and underarm curve by 1/2" (after it was finished).

    App. Prep time: 1/2 hour to cut and iron on interfacing.

    App. Sewing time: 3-1/2 hours. I sooo wanted to make this to wear at my sewing workshop last weekend. But sometimes, when you don't come up with the idea or start a project until 9:00 p.m. the night before...it just doesn't work out that way.

    Real-life time: 5 days. I started it last Saturday night and finished it last night.

    Miss Alaney: See timeline :) I made it shorter than I normally would for a dress because I intend to wear it as an everyday dress this summer (i.e. I won’t be wearing it to work unless it looks good as a tunic).


wink wink ;) - see how short it gets in the back when you bend over? It's something to think about.










Ha! Two posts in one week. That's a record for me this year, woohoo! Oh, did I mention my kids are at an overnight camp for one entire week? Celebrating now because the party's almost over ;)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Day of Sewing with Kenneth King


(Sorry for the blurries. Realized too late that there were little munchkin fingerprints on the lens.)
Without talking numbers…because this was a birthday present to me…let me just say that the first workshop I took with Kenneth King was before he’d written any books. At some point during that 2-day beading workshop he mentioned that he was working on a deal to write a book about making tassels. OK? Get it? It was a long time ago. You do the math.

The only thing that made this workshop less exciting than that first one was the fact that thanks to the worldwideweb I already knew and have tried several of the techniques we worked on. I knew that before I even signed up. I signed up for the atmosphere. I wanted to be around other people that love to sew and that’s what made it fun, super fun!

We worked on the alternate pocket flap (p. 95 in Cool Couture) and I realized when I got home that I must have thrown my sample away :( - sorry 'bout that, no pic. Then we put together a bound buttonhole and welt pocket using his ribbon method (p. 103-106 in book). I didn't bother taking pix or notes on this process because the book does it much better than I could...(and I took this class on PR a few years ago and have my notes from that.) Before turning the pocket opening we put together the pocket lining and facing.

Because I was in panic mode, and couldn’t find the picture of this in the book, and because I really wanted to remember what goes where at this point, I decided just to leave my sample like this. It will be much more helpful for me when I sew my pocket bags.

This workshop was sponsored by Janie’s Sewing Corner where there’s lots of sewing energy, knowledge, and creativity. In my most recent visits I’ve seen pre-teens sewing away, adults learning to sew for the first time, and a good variety of quality fabrics. If you live within an hour or two of Cleveland or are planning a visit (yes, people really do visit Cleveland) please make a point to stop in and support her!

I also got a little spending money for the big day (THANKS MOM!). How convenient that I could run a tab and fabrics were 30% off. Here are the rest of my birthday presents.

Happy sewing to all...in your nice, cool, air conditioned sanctuary. And if you don't have one of those - GO TO THE BEACH OR THE POOL OR THE MOVIES OR THE MALL - go somewhere where you can keep your cool and forget about sewing for a while! ;)

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Happy Birthday To Me!

Best Birthday present from me ever - "Cool Tricks" class with Kenneth King tomorrow - I can't make my face smile big enough! Will report back later, well maybe sooner than later since the other amazing b-day gift I gave to myself was to send both kids off to Camp Fitch for the entire week. What perfect timing.

Both kids have been warned not to break anything, cut anything, or catch anything that will make them sick or they're grounded for the rest of the summer! (It was at this same camp last year that DD broke her other arm and got a 2-hr ambulance drive back to the city.)

Now...what to make, I mean what to wear, what to wear?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

It's New To Me



Pattern: McCalls 5433. So funny, I just discovered this pattern and thought "Wow, this is a really nice new pattern. I wonder if anyone at PR has sewn it?" Well, yes, yes they have. More than 15 people have reviewed it - as early as 2008. I'm so behind the current patterns, sigh.

Fabric: Lightweight linen, from Janie’s Sewing Corner, local shop

Pattern Adjustments: full bust adjustment, lengthened sleeve by 1/2", cut 14 on top, 16 on.

Fitting Adjustments: Alterations are shown where you see orange pattern paper.






Construction notes: Here's the fun part! I recently found/saw two new construction techniques for blouses that I was really eager to try.

The first is the front band technique that I saw on Silhouette Patterns video for the 1-hour blouse (seriously, she made a blouse in one hour and that includes cutting it out and answering questions!). Based on what I saw, I extended the CF seam allowance to be the width of the CF band w/o seam allowances. The band for each side is a piece that is the band width + 1/4" on each side which is pressed under. Then, the band is just sandwiched around the CF extension on the blouse and topstitched in place.

The second technique is a RTW cuff application - woooohoo! - from pattern-scissors-cloth ! Love it when I can speed up the process. This is another one of those mysteries uncovered - the mystery of the RTW cuff - mwaaaaaahahahah.

App. Prep time: Rats. Thought for sure I'd post this before I forgot. I'll guesstimate it was 30 min.

App. Sewing time: See above. It went together faster than normal because of the cuff and front band changes so I'll guesstimate.....4 hours.

Real-life time: I'm stumped. I think this was a weekend project (w/o kids) so I'll say 2 days. Every time that I try to start tracking things, like sewing time, I do it once and just plain forget to do it the next time - sorry :(

Miss Alaney: I just LOVE it when I find a new sewing technique. I knew there was a faster way to attach a cuff and was so happy to find out that I could do it with fairly decent results.

Goes with: Mostly white stuff of which I don't have much...yet. I've worn it with my white jeans.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Got'a Lov'a Print



Pattern: Very Easy Vogue 8424
OOP but still available on their website.

Fabric: Black - cotton print from Fabric.com purchased two years ago.
Green - Heather Bailey print from Stitch Cleveland (local).

Pattern Adjustments: I've made View B of this skirt in a cotton before but always felt the front pleat pulled it down in front. I wanted an A-line with pockets so I just eliminated the pleat by laying the front pattern piece with the CF on the fold.

Fitting Adjustments: None.

Construction notes: I used the fabulous underlining as lining (on the link site, scroll down until you see HongKong underlining) method and attached the pocket lining after the the underlining was turned. Both skirt hems were completed using the blind-stitch function on my machine.

App. Prep time: 1-1/2 hours to cut fabric, lining, and interfacing for both skirts. I just didn't feel like bothering to try and match the patterns ;)

App. Sewing time: 2-1/2 hours of solid, uninterrupted sewing for each skirt.

Real-life time: Used my Saturday afternoon/evening to sew them both (7 hours with interruptions) but they were cut out about 3 weeks ago.

Miss Alaney: Love the results of the no-pleat A-line! If you're a pocket person, you'll love these, they're nice and deep. They're the main reason I chose this pattern.

Goes with: Summer t-shirts. I realized when I got out my summer wardrobe this year that I have a solid T in almost every color imaginable so matching a top won't be a problem. The skirts are a welcome addition to my summer run-around outfits and will be worn with my Teeny Tiny shorts.