Sunday, 13 April 2014

Why do some side pockets not sit flat?

Why do some side pockets not sit flat?

You will find this especially on tighter skirts and on pants.

The side seam can tend to develop a funny crease.

This can even happen on shop  bought clothes.

This is the reason, 

Think slightly outside the square for a minute. Actually, REALLY outside the square!

Imagine a stream running down a hill.

The water will take the path of the least resistance.

This happens to fabric too.
The pocket bag has no holding point , and the fabric moves away from your stomach and bulges out of the exposed part of the pocket. The side seam gets that crease....


Put the garment on inside out.

Measure the distance between the seams of each pocket and cut a square of fabric about 3 cm bigger than that, by about  15cm.  Its a large patch that you are going to put in between the two pockets.

Pin the fabric onto the seam of the pocket bag , making sure you pull the  pocket bag back into alignment on both sides,so that the pockets dont stray outwards.
Try it on before you do any sewing!

If its a skirt, and there is no front opening, pin the fabric to the waist finishing .

Trim the excess off, allowing for seam allowance. Finish edges with a serger. its easier to do this before sewing.

Sew piece into the garment. Some parts it may be easier to hand sew ( onto waistline finishings, for example)



Same as above, but now you must see which kind of opening you need to deal with, fly opening, zipper, front placket etc.

Have a look into some jeans, at the pocket bags. Some are shaped like  basset hounds ears,
 and some will look like this.

not a great photo, but can you see how the pocket bag goes into the zip opening?
Look for pants/ patterns with a pocket that goes into the front opening and your bulging problems will be gone!

Thursday, 3 April 2014

My V neckline is gaping! How can I fix it?

                           THE V NECKLINE

There are quite a few reasons why a V neckline gapes.

V necks can gape, because when the fabric is cut it usually ends up on the bias. The sewing of anything on the bias is tricky, due to fabric stretching with the action of the feed dog of the machine, the needle and the thread all stressing the fabric and the result is a neckline way bigger than the pattern piece.

On the pattern making front, maybe the neckline is too wide or the neckline is too deep for your bust shape. Taking the neckline in slightly on the shoulder seam, even a centimeter, can dramatically change how a neck opening will behave.

Also, our busts are all different, and sometimes there is an indentation on our chests, and the material has nowhere to go. So, basically there is a little dart in there that needs to be attended to, somehow.


Knit fabrics do stretch and gape, but are often fixed easily by sewing on the neck binding/finish a bit tighter than the neck measurement, but sewing dresses and tops from woven fabrics is another thing entirely.

Sew 2 or 3 lines of basting (big stitches) around the neck, and pull up the neckline ever so carefully to remove the extra fabric. 3 lines of basting is nice because you really can smooth out fabric well. Try on the garment and check to see how it looks. Sometimes I even pull it up a bit more so that any chance of further stretching of the fabric while sewing is taken into account.  Sew on facing/binding/lining, whichever is called for.

Does your machine have a presser foot button to release pressure on the material? Loosen it up so the fabric doesn't get SQUEEEEEZED and stretched when you sew tricky bits.

Maybe the shoulders could be taken up a bit to get rid of the problem? This is a quick fix option which could work.
neckline is gaping on one side

Here's a garment that has already been made, and unfortunately it's not right on one side. Have a look at this blog here, its a good way to fix a garment like this.

removing extra fabric on a paneled top

Sew a sample muslin to check the neckline out.  and  Pin and take out the excess on your pattern, here I found an excellent tutorial on how to do this... fixing the pattern after doing a muslin

You could even get away with holding the pattern up on your body and getting someone to pin out the excess.(I am always finding ways to avoid any extra sewing at all!)

Cut a thin sliver (just over the width of your seam allowance) of fusible interfacing and stick it onto the material, on the wrong side of the fabric, obviously! This will hold the shape of the fabric better. You can sew over this and it holds the fabric .
I have this tutorial,found on the web too,which is excellent.....see hereA piece of tape is used instead of interfacing, but the principal is the same. 

And, of course, this method could be used on other necklines that have a tendency to gape. Take a look at how you can avoid gaping strapless tops on wedding dresses from a very knowledgeable  MrsC. In this case she puts the tape on the lining of the garment, as the fabric is organza.

My sincere thanks to the ladies who have blogged on this subject, without you I would be spending far too much of my time blogging away.... 

V Necks! 
Love em! Hate 'em!
 Learn how to deal with them and sewing them is much more pleasant.

Choosing the right pattern for your height, and how to adjust it.

We are all individuals, we do not come as a standard package. There is no way that a pattern maker can make a garment that will fit us all. Evan a sack  would need to come in multiple sizes!

Obviously we need to think about our horizontal measurements, you know, the bust/waist/hip stuff. But very often we don't think to check out our height measurements. 

Tops of garments which wrinkle at the waist.

Or, a waistline that is hovering between our bust and our waist but not in the right place.

I am of average height. I am 5' 6". My Daughter inherited her Nana's genes and is shorter, just a bit over 5'. This is something that she very often curses, especially when she is sewing! The top parts of the garments are always too long for her.

Ideally, she should choose petite patterns, and I use normal ones.

If you are taller, usually the only option you have is to lengthen your pattern. Slice the pattern and add an extra piece of paper/tissue to make up to the desired length, and do the same for the front.

 Of course, the option to shorten the pattern is also a feasible one if you don't have a petite pattern. Just fold back the excess fabric and do the same for your front pattern pieces.

The 'big four' pattern companies offer petite patterns,and plus size patterns,  but not often do you see patterns which cater for very tall people.

I have had a quick look at some independent pattern companies. Usually they offer a basic pattern with the obvious bust/waist/hip measurements.

All pattern companies tell us to measure carefully before we cut, and very often this is the first problem with home sewing.

I generally don't sew a muslin, although this is a good way to check if you have the right size. Lazy, I suppose, and as I've worked in the clothing industry for so long, my first sample is usually the 'muslin'. I also don't think calico/muslin reacts very much like a fabric which you are going to use, so how can it reflect the pattern correctly? Much better, if you want to make a trial dress/top first, is to use a similar fabric feel to check on fit. 

If you measure yourself first, and compare the LENGTHS of your back measurement and the pattern, you are halfway to getting a correct fit.

If the measurement of the pattern is longer than your back length measurement, shorten the pattern to be in proportion to your measurement, and vice versa. Of course, not all styles have a waist line, but most patterns show where the waistline should sit, so you have a good guide to help you.

However, the web is full of information about point in reinventing the wheel.

You can read about this on the following blogs
 Casey Brown,
A stitching odyssey and a good YouTube one is Judy Harris.

Thanks ladies!

And don't forget to decide how long you want garments to be. It's a lot easier to cut the correct length on paper than trying to cut fabric, once you have sewn it up.

And of course, sometimes the problem with home sewing is that there is nobody to measure your back measurement. Find a buddy! Ask a friend, a neighbor, your partner, your children! Anyone who can read a tape measure !
If you are big busted, this is a great idea
Or invest in a dressmakers dummy. Or you can make one.... see here, at craftsy

But what do you do if the mistake has already occurred? HOW CAN YOU FIX THIS PROBLEM?

If its a petite style with a waistline seam, its an easy fix, pin out the excess fabric so that the material does not rumple, carefully unpick the seams , trim off the fabric , and resew.

Of course, it is a lot more difficult if the garment is too short in the waist. Could an extra band of fabric at the waist add to the design? Not always! But if it is, then unpick the waistline, and draft and cut a band of fabric,and sew it in.  It will cause problems with sewing in a zipper, as you will now have more than two  seams to match. How to fix this? Mark the zipper with tailors chalk/a fine sliver of soap/marking pen, ALL the seams where they will be sewn up to the zipper, and tack the zip onto the fabric.(I much prefer tacking to using lots of pins as you are able to pull up the zipper easier than if you use pins, which can get stuck on the slider.)

Another thing which you must be aware of, is that our bodies have changed a lot since the 1950's, so all of you out there who love vintage patterns will need to measure very carefully as we are not the same as our mothers or grandmothers were.           

Enough on this post.....

So, basically, to be a successful sewist, you need to become your own pattern maker.
 None of us are the same.
 Pattern makers are not magicians.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Getting the facts straight

Why do you sew?

Some people are just born makers. Our family are makers, I have sewn since I was about ten, and chose a career in the clothing trade.  I am a pattern maker and grader.
My husband is a great 'do it yourselfer'.
 My daughter, although she hated being in clothing factories when she was younger, is a more prolific sewist and blogger than I have ever been. You can see her blog here.
My son has just completed studies as an Industrial designer. And you can see his page here.
 We just make things naturally

Maybe you sew because you like making things.

Maybe you sew because you have great styles in your head and you want to have them in reality.

Maybe you don't want to be just like a sheep, like everyone else.

Wow! Great coat you are wearing! Where can I get one?

Maybe your body isn't a standard size.
Once upon a time , I was the model for a clothing store. I had a size 34 body. I also worked in the design department. Every week we would go through all the styles we had made that week, and I would try them on for the buyers. They would critique them and we would adjust the styles accordingly.
Even then, at the age of 23, we discovered my bust level was one inch lower than the average, and bust darts looked funny. I was devastated! I was not normal!

Now, 33 years later, I am no longer a size 34.I still think I am in my head, but no. I have now a bust measuring 41 inches, and I am absolutely sure that the bust level is a lot more than 1 inch lower than normal. I measure, but in my head I want to be the same size I was when I was 23. Then I forget what the measurement is. Denial, I know!
I'm on the right. Size 34??? I don't think so!

In order to correct sewing mistakes in the future, the first thing you need to do is get a friend to measure you. Maybe you can find a sewing buddy, and you can do the same for them. Having a good understanding about what your body is like, and not the imagined picture of yourself in your head, and definitely not the picture of the style on the pattern that you want to make.

Get yourself some elastic , and make some rings, which you can put  around your body as a reference.

Make some coffee for you and your measuring friend, and then start measuring!

I know, you already don't want to do this. Hell, even I wouldn't want to do it.

 But it won't take long, and the measurements will be there, for you to call on whenever you need them. 

The essential measurements are as follows.....

1. neck circumference
2. bust circumference
3. waist circumference
4. abdomen circumference
5. hip circumference
6. bust span
7. bust height
8. waist height
9. back length
10. back width
11. shoulder
12. waist-abdomen
13. waist-hip
14. biceps
15. wrist circumference 
16. overarm
17. outside seam
18. crotch depth

******Measure bust height (7) and waist height (8) around neck (double) and divide by 2.*******

1      Neck Circumference: Measure around lowest part of neck, at the base

2  Bust Circumference: Marked with elastic. Measure around the fullest part of the
                              bust, keeping the tape high at the back

3  Waist Circumference: Measure waist at the elastic tape

4  Abdomen Circumference: Measured on the level where abdomen circumference is

   Hip Circumference: Measured over the largest part of your bottom/thighs (at elastic)

   Bust Span: Horizontal distance between bust apexes (also called bust bridge).
              Measured along bust elastic.

7 Bust Height: Measure from center of back neck over shoulder to apex of one breast

8 WAIST HEIGHT: Measure from center of back neck over shoulder to breast apex
       and from there vertically to lower edge of waist elastic. To be sure to get right
       measurements, take this and bust height as a link around neck (=double) and
       divide the result by 2 (see picture).

9 BACK LENGTH: Measure from center of back neck to lower edge of waist elastic

1 BACK WIDTH: hang your arms relaxed on your sides. The measurement is taken
       horizontally between shoulder blades (i.e. from sleeve seam to sleeve seam), from
       and to the point where your arm meets your body (but not to armpit) about 4" (10
       cms) from neck downwards.

1 Shoulder length: Measure from neck to shoulder tip. Shoulder tip is found when you
       raise your arm to horizontal position and feel where there is hollow/pit between
       shoulder and arm bones. Hold your arm horizontal, if necessary, to find this point.

1 Waist-Abdomen: Measure vertically from lower edge of waist elastic to lower edge
       of abdomen elastic. Measure at front center.

   Waist-Hip: Measure vertically from lower edge of waist elastic to lower edge of hip
       elastic. Measure at the side.

    Biceps circumference: Measure at widest point of upper arm.

   Wrist circumference: Measure over wrist bone

    Overarm: Arm length from shoulder tip (as described above) to wrist. Bend arm
      slightly and measure over outside of elbow.

Outside seam: Measure from waist over the outside curvature of the hip to the
      desired cuff length.

   CROTCH DEPTH: Sit on unpadded bench or chair. Measure vertically from waist
      elastic to chair level on both sides, and use the longer measurement. Measure in a
      straight line, not along the outside hip curve. (Crotch depth can also be measured
      from a pair of old, well fitting pants.) Crotch depth is the difference between outside
and inside length of pants.

   Desired jacket length from waist elastic to hem
  Desired skirt /dress length from waist elastic to hem

Why do we do it?

Sewing is a great hobby.

 It teaches you lots of things, and one of the most common things it teaches you is how to fail. And, lets face it, no one likes to fail.

 This is what can happen....

You are going to a party.

You imagine a lovely style,
 you look for a pattern to create your new garment,
 followed by fabric and trimmings.

 It starts to get costly!
(but it will be so much nicer than a shop bought garment!)

You need to choose a size to cut out. 
Measure yourself, or guess which size you will need.
They say I am a size WHAT????
(I cant be, I'm only a size 2, or 3, or 4!)
Cut out the garment.... but wait! 
If you are really sensible,
You cut out a calico version first to see how it fits. 
Try to understand the sewing instuctions....
Sew it up. 
Try it on.
Calico looks rubbish on anyone unless you are a supermodel 
 Pin the garment to fit your body
(where is a helper when I need one?)
Adjust your pattern .
Cut out the garment in your fabric.
You start to make your outfit. 
Its getting long and drawn out now 
And you may be getting bored,
So you rush through the process.
(maybe the party is TODAY!)
Try it on....


The fabric doesn't do what you want it to...
 The Colour doesn't suit you
Pockets are doing something funny,
And the style isn't right.
The pants seams are twisting round your legs....
The buttons on the blouse gape and pull.

It just isn't you.
So what can you do?
Why does that lovely style in your head
Look so dreadful in reality?

Take it off, chuck it in the UFO pile
Hide your pile of shame away until another day
And go and put something old on

To go to that party.

Been there, done that. 
Nobody is perfect.

But I have made a few things in my career,
And maybe I can tell you
 some things 
that I learnt the hard way
may help you to get it right
Next time.

So please... remember me!

Read about me here