Sewable You

May 04, 2016

Sewable You

Hi ya! 

Are we almost ready to sew a dress or two? I am! I've been shopping for some knit and prewashing some quilting cottons chipping away at all the pre-sewing work that's needed so I can get to the fun part.

These are my wovens that I've selected. Both by Cotton+Steel.
The left is for my Amelia Dress.

I hope  you've had a chance to check out both dresses and your fabric is almost ready to cut and sew. I always throw my fabric in the wash the day I come home with it. I really get disappointed when I suddenly have a couple hours to sew for myself but I don't have a key component. (zipper, lining, pattern, you name it!)

I will probably sew my next Amelia first since I REALLY want another one and I have a lot of quilting cotton at my disposal. It's a great fabric to use since the dress is cut on the bias.

Bias makes this sturdy fabric somewhat drapey and the dress flattering. I've used Liberty Lawn for another Amelia and it's lovely. I can barely feel it on me. But I like something a bit more modest (I guess that's the word I want). Liberty Lawn is the most amazing fabric -it really needs no enhancement to make it wearable. While quilting cotton is for, well, quilting ideally. Using it as a fashion fabric takes some careful pattern selection-especially for tops/shirts. (FYI- BIAS is the grain of the fabric that is 45 degrees to the length grain. But you don't need to think about it- just cut the pattern pieces following the grainline printed on the pattern. The grainline should ALWAYS be parallel to the selvage).

You can have a lot of fun with bias. Note the stripes on the Amelia Dress pattern picture. They are diagonal because of the grainline. Normally you'd see them straight up and down. Here is a quick visual primer for grainlines of fabric:

A little about Bias

Most garments that we wear have the fabric pieces cut so that when we are wearing the garment the length grain on the fabric is perpindicular to the floor we are standing on. This goes for Skirts, Tops, Dresses and Pants. So when the pattern shows the grainline tilted 45 degrees to the garment, you know you are cutting it as if the bias grainline of the fabric is now your length grain.

I probably could go on and on about bias. It's a fascinating topic and bias was rarely used until the 1920s when Vionnet incorporated it into many of her classic designs we now ooh and ahh over and popularizing it. She also used it to make dresses easier to put on and take off-an important detail for the time. Anyhoo...enough of my fashion school talk.

The dresses we're making:

Two things to note: 1) Moneta requires knit fabric. You cannot use a woven in place of a knit. 2) If a pattern cuts the pattern pieces on the bias(like our Amelia), this is how it should be cut. Neither dress will fit well if you ignore these important notes.

On the Amelia, I do think you can get away with sewing the skirt on the straight-gain rather than the bias. Use the Center front or Center Back line to cut parallel to the selvage using those lines as reference. Bias, after all, uses more material. Just remember, if your fabric is striped or similar, the skirt will not be diagonal like the top.

Back to getting ready to sew....and getting closer to our bulleted sewing instructions.

When factories sew our clothes, they are not reading sewing instructions. This is partly because each person in the assembly line does only one or two steps. But it's also essential that the steps are easily laid out for anyone to follow. 

When I made patterns for manufacturers, I always created spec (specification) sheets to go along with the pattern. Sometimes the client told me which specs they needed, sometimes they did not. Sometimes my spec sheets had to fit on a two sided page, other times they were 20 pages long. Yes there can be loads to detail on some garments. Once the design leaves the design room and enters production the pattern drafter hopes the pattern doesn't come back in to her/his realm. Best way to success is always a good pattern and spec sheets.

All spec sheet packages included sewing instructions. And except for products like waterproof motocross pants or kayaking dry suits, the sewing instructions had to fit in less than the equivalent of three sentences. but it often looked like a 3-8 item bulleted list.

Rough Draft Pattern Card 

This pattern card is for a rough draft of a cycling knicker. Note the entire pant only has four lines of sewing instructions. The seam allowances are noted above the sketch. Abbreviations are outlined below. The only sewing instructions detailed are the things that are probably sewn differently than a usual pant. *This is the part we're going to work on together: Knowing how to sew something without needing a lot of instruction.*

Am I boring you yet? I like to explain things. Becoming a better and more efficient sewist/seamster is the name of the game here. That way you can confidently sew a garment with barely any instruction one day.

Check back for the instructions to sew your Moneta or Amelia by next Wednesday.

I'll be sewing mine on my birthday (the 18th)!



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