Climbing back in the saddle

I’ve been on a quick trip to New Zealand so not much sewing recently. I found a fabric shop while walking around one night and dashed there at its opening time the next day for a hunt-and-gather before getting on a plane home. I found this cotton lawn – lovely soft stuff in colours I love. Best kind of souvenir, the one you can make something with!

I confess I skipped the last patternmaking class. Mostly because I was lazy and a little jetlagged, but also because I hadn’t tested the work from the week prior, and I just couldn’t face another battle with the teacher. In class 4 I asked him a number of direct questions and got no answers. For example, “This sleeve is too big, I need to reduce the ease. There are too many gathers at the top. How do I do that?” His reply? “Oh, waffle waffle waffle, that could be a design feature, waffle waffle.” Was driving me crazy. The point of a block is something WITHOUT design features. You add them LATER. Gah.

From here on in, I’m on my own. Which is pretty much where I was at the beginning. But many folks have left lovely comments for me and I hope that you’ll continue with the helpful suggestions when I get stuck!

3 thoughts on “Climbing back in the saddle

  1. Beautiful fabric! My mum had some cushion covers in the 70’s very similar to the Bargello zigzag pattern. In her case though, she embroidered the darn things herself.

    You’ve inspired me to get my act together and do a tutorial on the principles of fitting, so I cut out my standard size 8 basic block and put it on my dummy, thinking it would be a no brainer. I forgot that my dummy is a Mk1, and my block is for a Mk2. So there were heaps of adjustments, which makes for a much better tutorial anyhow πŸ™‚ I will hopefully get that up soon, and I’ll let you know.

    When you are sewing sleeves into fabric that doesn’t fray too much (ie completely disintegrate if you breathe in the same room) make the seam allowance 1cm instead of 1.5cm. A lot of what often looks like ease is actually fluting of the cut edge where you are sewing a circular seam to a straighter seam. The seam lines themselves are probably not as bad as they appear. However, you generally just need a scant 1cm ease on the back and 1 – 1.5cm ease on the front, so if the seam line needs reducing, it’s fairly strightforward.

    If the sleeve is otherwise a good fit, and well balanced, removing ease is simply a matter of paring back the seam allowance little by little. When it’s on, pin a tuck around the armhole seam line to get rid of the puffiness, and you’ll see how much you can remove (and from where). Take a bit less than it appears to need, better to be safe than sorry. You probably pinned the sleeve too much anyhow – nearly everyone does at first. Overfitting is the hardest fitting challenge to avoid.

    With sleeeves, if you have a normal amount of upperarm fullness for your size, you probably only need about 1 -1.5cm ease front and a scant 1cm on the back. If you have fat arms and narrow shoulders you’ll need a bit more, and if you extend the shoulder length you need none at all. The ease is basically a dart equivalent that changes the direction of the sleeve fabric from a vertical tube to a tube with a bend at the top. The problem is that a well drafted sleeve is the hardest patterndrafting there is (and you all thought it was pants, right?) because you’re trying to balance upper arm width, armhole depth, shoulder length, armscye length, bodice width AND give freedom of movement. Many patternmakers cut their losses and give the problem to the sewers to fix with extra ease πŸ˜‰ Some even think that’s what they are meant to do.

    I’ll keep watching, thanks for inspiring me to finally do something I’ve intended to for ages !

  2. Pingback: Burdastyle Heidi: win! « Make it 'til you fake it

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