Thursday, April 24, 2008

muslin revised

Tuesday was a marathon sewing day. I didn't really expect it to be one, but I just. kept. going.

1) Pleating... Pleating... 1.2.3. Pleating...

So in a flash of inspired foresight, I thought that I should do a test run of the pleats with the wool fabric and batting that I intend to use. The test was worthwhile because it turns out that the wool actually compresses more than the cotton muslin.

No to worry. My experience with these pleats has taught me that is the trough stitches (the ones that show on the right side of the fabric) the ratio increases. So I kept the crest stitched (the ones underneath) at 1/2" and decreased the though stitches to 1/8". I also switched from the fleece batting to the 100% cotton tablecloth under-cloth.

Here is the new stitching pattern:

And here is the result. The pleats are actually a little less compressed than the muslin version, but this will work out fine since the cartridge pleats are starting to gap on my muslin.

I don't think that I am going to adjust the sleeve or back patterns in light of the new pleat compression. I will just pull the pleats tighter, which can only look nicer.

2) shortening bottom length

This was the easiest pattern revision and the one I tackled first. I took 5" off the bottom length of the back and front panels.

3) adjusting front pattern
I wanted to do several things to the front pattern

* join the two front pattern pieces together
* add back 1 of the two original pleats
* remove the front facing bits from the original pattern

Joining the two front pattern pieces together was easy. I just overlapped the seam allowances and taped. Done.

Adding back one pleat was also pretty straightforward. I untapped the outside pleat. After looking at my one-time use gown, I decided to move the location of the pleat closer to where the velvet trim will eventually be placed. (see picture below)

I moved the pleat by using the pleat guides from the original pleats as my inside and outside more for the new pleat.

Removing the facing pattern was also pretty easy, since I had a center front making, I just cut along that line. D'oh! As soon as I finished cutting I realized that I still needed a seam allowance there in order to sew the facings on later. So... I took out 5/8" from the section of the pattern that was still pleated out rather than taping on another 5/8" of paper (which also could have worked). Below is the rather bedraggeld looking revised pattern piece for the front:

4) redraft yoke pattern

I was sure that I have a good shoulder angle now, so I wanted to draft a new yoke pattern to get rid of the shoulder seam. I also wanted to adjust the shoulder width (see the previous post for details)

I redrew the shoulder seam by first marking the seam lines from my pinned adjustment (in blue) and then marking the new cutting lines 5/8" away from the seam lines.

Back yoke pattern adjustments:

front yoke pattern adjustments:

I then overlapped the should seam allowances and redrafted the full yoke pattern which is cut on the center back fold.

5) draft velvet trim pattern

I based the trim pattern on the width of the pattern's original decorative outter facing and the newly drafted yoke patter. I joined the two and voila!

6) draft front facing pattern

The front facing pattern is just the straight section of the velvet trim pattern. Easy.

7) trim & facing construction

I cut 4 of the velvet trim facing and joined sewed them at the center back. When I do this with the actual fabric, the outer layer will be cut in velvet. I may also decide to underline the velvet with some organza for stability. Then I will cut the second layer of the trim pattern in a lining fabric or possibly the wool. I would like to find something as lightweight as possible because I will be wearing this outside in the sun.

I sewed the outer edge with some old seam binding I had to simulate the piping and to help me estimate how much piping I will actually need. I clipped and turned it so that the trim was now right side out. This was so successful that I forgot to take a picture.

8) adjusting the yoke pattern... again

Once I got the yoke pattern pinned to the front in preparation for putting the zipper back in, I realized that my newly drafted yoke pattern needed to be adjusted just lightly so that the cutting lines matched.

9) front zipper insertion

This was the trickiest part for me. My spacial orientation skills are not as good as some, so it took several tries at reasoning this out before I finally figured out how I was going to be able to topstitch the separating zipper but not sew through the velvet.

At the yoke, it is simple to add the outer trim. The right side of the trim lining is on top of the right side of the robe fabric. Then the right side of the trim and the right side of the yoke lining are together when its sewn. That puts all the seam allowances between the robe and lining. (I know, I know a picture would have helped here).

I could extend this idea down the the front opening and the facing, but at the front facing I would also need to incorporate the zipper. I'll save you the many false starts and let you see the solution that finally worked: pinning and topstitching on the robe fabric, underneath the outer facing:

This is what that looks like from the wrong side of the garment:

And here is what it looks like from the right side:

10) draft arm trim pattern

I based the arm trim pattern off the sample garment I have. I will choose the exact placement once I have a sleeve pattern that I've settled on. I will need 6 arm bands for the final garment. Point to point, the bands are 12" long. The horizontal sides are 10" long and the band is 2" high. Those are the finished measurements. I then added the seam allowances.

11) shorten sleeves

I thought that I would need to make the sleeve shorter. I have short arms and I didn't need a ton of extra fabric for the poofy sleeve. I decided to take 3" off the outer sleeve pattern and an additional 2" off the sleeve lining.

12) draft sleeve lining pattern

The sleeve lining, I decided should be 2" shorted that the sleeve. that was easy to do. I then needed to take out some of the fullness in the sleeve. It still had to be full enough to accommodate a suit sleeve without clinging, so I wen tback to the original sleeve pattern from Butterick.

I pleated out all of the pleats on the original pattern. This tooka bout an hour. (ugh!):

I then drafted the lining pattern by tracing this and adding 5/8" to the top of the sleeve cap to accommodate that changes I had made at the shoulder (I also added this to the outer sleeve pattern):

13) insert sleeve lining

I trimmed one of my sleeves and ran gathering stitches around the bottom edge. I thine pinned the sleeve and the lining right sides together:

14) poofy sleeves? Hmmm...

I turned the lining to the inside to reveal...

A result that I'm not sure I like. It's definitely too short, but that could be fixed easily. The sleeve is also ahnging very unevenly, which could be due to changes in the sleeve cap height. But mostly, the sleeve is just too full. I know that the wool will hang very differently, but this just feels silly.

I double checked my sample robe (which is the cheap-o version) and it's sleeves are just open at the bottom. This is looking like a more attractive option. hmm...

15) semi-detached muslin

By the time I had the new poofy sleeve, I had been sewing for about 14 hours straight and I ran out of steam. I tidied up and pinned the muslin back together, but it hasn't been sewn yet:

16) TO DO list

* sew muslin together
I an concerned with how the sleeves are hanging after I took in the shoulder width. Also now that I have added the outer trim, much of the excess in the shoulders has disappeared and I think that the shoulder seams are too high.

* prep back in wool
I was going to do the sleeves as well, but I now that I am unsure of the sleeve cap height, I will wait on that until my class on 5/10

Yesterday I went shopping and cleared up that last few things on my list that I could buy before class starts: my piping, buttonhole twist navy thread for the pleats, and gold thread for the piping.

Monday, April 21, 2008

a completed muslin!

A warning: this is going to be a looooong post.

As I noted in my last post, I successfully defended my dissertation, which was awesome. Sometime that weekend I lost my camera, which is less awesome. I lost some of the pictures I had taken about the sewing project, so you'll just have to read a bit about what I did.

1) adjusting the pattern (pics lost w/ camera)
I adjusted the shoulder slope and took out the two pleats in the front panel. I hemmed and hawed about making the shoulders slightly narrower, but in the end I decided to wait until I had the muslin to see how it looked. The pleats are supposed to hang well past the shoulder point, so I left it alone. I took out the two front pleats because the standard regalia does not have them.

Since I took out the pleats, I should be able to cut the front panel and the front piece as one, which is nice. Ditto for the yoke, once all the adjustments are made.

2) fabric
I had many, many swatches to look at. I was quite in love with my silks, but my mom and I had a long talk about it and she swayed me towards the idea of a loose weave wool. The day after she got back to California, she visited Britex Fabrics in San Francisco and found a 4-ply silk that was a dead on color match and an amazingly light weight wool crepe that was also a perfect color match. She sent them overnight back to me, so I had them right away. (My mom's pretty great, no?)

The crepe was beautiful and I fell in love with it, even though it was $79.99/yard. I justified the cost based on the cost of buying the garment from the dealer, which would still be more expensive. I needed to make the purchase over the phone from the salesperson who had set the fabric aside for my mom. There were only 6 yards of it left, so I needed to act fast. I called right at the end of her work day and she asked me to call back on Friday, when she was working again.

This gave me enough time to consider all my other possible options before shelling out the mad cash. I went to Exquisite Fabrics in downtown DC where the had a beautiful Armani silk/wool crepe for $59.99/yard. This was a betterprice, but the fabric was not really much different than the 4-ply silk crepe that I could get for $24.99/yard from eBay. So I moved on.

I then went to Gus Wollens in Baltimore, MD. They don't have a web site, but I can not recommend them highly enough if you are interested in low priced, high quality wool, linen, or silk suiting. They specialize in remnants of very usable sizes (3+ yards a cut) at very reasonable prices. I got a very nice loose weave 60" wool twill for $7.50/yard in a very close color match. It's not a gorgeous as the wool from Britex, but I couldn't pass up 1/10th the price.

I rounded out my day by going to G Street in Rockville and signing up for an open studio class so I could get some help with the project.

3) cartridge pleating
As I was preparing for the class, I made some samples of the cartridge pleating. I needed to know was the width compression was going to be so that i could make any necessary adjustments to the back and sleeves. I also borrowed my boyfriend's camera so that I could continue taking photos.

I first tried backing the fabric with cotton table cloth padding fabric and spacing the running stitches 5/8" apart.
I started with a 12" wide strip and this pleating took it down to 3". This is a 4:1 ratio. I did a few calculations and realized that I couldn't use this pleating without running a seam up the back of the robe. I really, really wanted to avoid that, so I needed another pleating method.

After a few other false starts, I came up with the idea of uneven pleating. That is to say, I spaced the running stitches unevenly. The stitches that show on the right side of the fabric are the ones that make a trough in the fabric and the stitches that run behind the right side of the fabric create the crests. The trick I discovered is to keep the trough stitches (right side stitches) as sort as possible (1/4") and the the crest stitches longer (1/2"). This leaves a very good looking cartridge pleat and sets the ratio at 3:1, which I could fit on the pattern.

Here is the stitching guide:

Here is a picture of the sample:

I also found that the running stitches could pull out as I was tightening. I solved this problem by using snap halves behind the first stitch on one end of the row. This has worked very well so far and I think I'm going to continue with this technique in the final garment:

4) redrafting pattern to accommodate pleats
After decide which pleating method I was going to use, I realized that the original patterns pleats were a 2:1 ratio. I needed to expand that pattern to a 3:1 on the back and sleeve. Since this pattern is basically large squares, it was easy to split the sleeves up the center, add another with and redraw the slight curve of the sleeve cap:

Likewise, it was easy to add another width along the center back:

5)muslin construction
The hardest and most time consuming part of the process was marking and sewing the running stitches for the pleats. I found that a total of 4 rows was needed to pleat the 2 1/2" I thought was a good starting depth. I ripped out more than a few rows before I discovered the snap trick (sometimes, you just need a lunch break). After that, there's a standard zipper to insert. I did not do this gracefully, but it's good enough for the muslin.

6) completed muslin & proposed changes
Here are pictures of the whole thing put together.

Full front view

The bottom hem can be shortened 5" and still have enough for the 2" hem that is called for. The final garment should be 8"-9" off the ground (lower mid-calf). By cutting the 5", the final length should be 8" off the floor in heels. This gives me room to go a little shorter if I decide I want to do that.

The front of the robe is also a little bit tight. There are no stress lines, but it just skims the surface. Since I plan to wear another outfit underneath this, I'm thinking about adding one of the pleats that is hidden by the front facing back in. This will give is more ease and I should be able to wear a suit jacket underneath the robe, if necessary.

Back view:

I was thinking about straightening out the bottom curve along the back yoke, but I think it really does add a graceful line.

Here is a close up of the back:

Here is a side view:
Looks pretty sweet, no?

The shoulders are set a little too wide. I will have to adjust the width. Here is a picture of the pinned adjustment:

adjustment view from the back:

You can see how that squares the shoulders up and puts the seam on my shoulder point instead of hanging off the shoulder. It's a small adjustment that really cleaned up the lines of the robe.

7) Still to do

* design and test facing options for the velvet trim (that's what the pink line on the yoke are about.

* design and test sleeve lining. I need to create the bubble hem. I will do this by creating the sleeve lining and gathering the sleeve to the lining. It should look like a bubble skirt. I will probably also want to shorten the outer sleeve to get the right amount of poof.

* redraft the pattern with the changes before my next class on Saturday. I would like to be able to go into class with a completed muslin and pattern so that I can get an opinion on the muslin and then get started on the garment construction.

* pleat back and sleeves before class. It would be very helpful if I had these done ahead of time. It's what I spent most of my class time doing last Saturday. While this was not a waste of time, I would do well to get the advice I am paying for. The only changes I anticipate making to the back and sleeves are length changes and those can be done after the pleating is in place.

* make sure to mark stitching lines on the outer yoke piece. This piece is attached by hand and I'm not sure my seam is really straight here, which may account for some of the shoulder adjustments.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Doctors... in the hallway

I defended my dissertation yesterday. It went very, very smoothly. My friends and family showed up in matching t-shirt and brought little flags to wave. it was pretty awesome.

awesome indeed.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

radio silence


I've been quiet this last week as I was completing my dissertation. It has been handed in to my committee. It feels really good. I defend on the 11th so I still have to put the finishing touches on my presentation, but I'm not too worried about that.

In regalia updates: I have received all my swatches and I am narrowing own my choices. I really like the 4-ply crepe and I can get it for about $25/yard. I have also found some lightweight tropical wool that might work if it looks like the silk will be too heavy.

I have traced, adjusted and cut out the Butterick pattern in muslin. It will be sewn together soon. I'm going to see if I can do the cartridge pleating with the amount of fabric in the pattern or if I will need to add fabric.

ON another side note, I bought the Threads fitting DVD set. I think I recommend it. I find it very helpful to watch someone make adjustments and be able to pause on a good shot and watch them doing it over and over again. Definitely worth a watch and probably a purchase.