Friday 29 June 2012

Pattern storage - problems and solutions

Pattern box

Like many sewists I've hoarded a small collection of patterns. They're stored in a box, and I love taking them out and admire the pretty covers. Commercial patterns, both vintage and new, are easy to deal with once the project is done, but how about the other patterns?

Guilt box

Since I either trace and alter patterns, or (most often) just draft them myself, I end up with a lot of patterns that has no obvious storage place. Usually it goes like this:
- Draw an image of what I'm aiming for
- Trace (printed pattern/basic sloper/similar pattern)
- Draft alterations
- Make a toille and fit
- Mark up the changes and clean up the pattern, draw a second generation of some pattern pieces if needed.
- Sew
- Not throw away toille, "not-final-generation-pattern-pieces", and left over scraps of toille fabric and pattern paper. Why? Because obviously all of this might come in handy in the future!

And it never does. The final pattern I often use for future makes, or as base for a new pattern, but the rest is a waste of space and I'm slowly learning to throw it away. Not an easy lesson at all...

However, I've worked out a new system, and it seems to be working! All needed is a binder and some plastic folders. When the project is done, I take the inspirational image I drew before getting started, maybe make a list of the pattern pieces on the back, put it in a plastic folder with all the pattern pieces and maybe a fabric sample, and voila!

Some of the folders in the binder.

Next time I want to make a pattern I'll just browse the binder! I have a feeling this binder will grow into more binders in the future, perhaps one each for dresses, skirts/trousers, blouses, outerwear and jersey. I'm really forward to creating more patterns!

Pile of inspirational drawings... If I manage to make all of these ideas I will certainly need more binders... Yay!

I have a strong feeling this will make my life considerably easier when it comes to finding my patterns. Also, browsing through a binder full of colored images of garments I've made is just as fun - or maybe even more fun! - as browsing my commercial patterns. There's a sense of accomplishment, and "oh yes, I've made that!" =)

Of course, there's room for improvement. The pattern paper I prefer when drafting is easy to mark, erase and tape, but bulky to store. The plan is to transfer the TNT patterns to my finer tracing paper that is a lot thinner, doesn't crease or break so easily and is great to store. So ideally, when the garment is done I'd trace the pattern to the finer paper. Yeah, right. I'm working on at least tracing it to the final version next time I use it, I think it's a more realistic aspiration.

One step at the time... Right now, I'm hoping to soon place this drawing in the binder:

How do you store your sewing patterns? Do you draft, trace or are you perhaps lucky enough to get away with only using commercial patterns out of the envelope?

Love, Erika

Sunday 24 June 2012

At midnight

I love it when the nights gets longer and brighter. So of course midsummer night's eve is one of my favorite holidays. This year was the perfect celebration - just me and the mr, lots of delicious food, a good movie, and a midnight stroll.

By Nydala lake, on our way to search for a quiet place to sit down and enjoy the night.

The air was cold, but the water was still warm from the hot sun. A night like this it's easy to understand the old wive's tales of fairies dancing on the meadows during summer nights.

We found an empty pier/raft. This photo is taken straight to north, at around midnight. What to say? Love the light...

Mist danced over the water, with a magical effect.

This is why I love living in northern Sweden, why I can bear the dark winters. Sure, there are other places where summer it warmer, where the sun is stronger. Where the summer nights are warm and pitch black, and where the sun sets in half an hour. It's nice, it's pretty, but it's not home. For me, nothing beats the midnight light.

The water was clear and still.

Hope you've all had the chance to enjoy the longest night of the year! Don't worry though, there are still plenty of long nights ahed of us this summer... =)

Love / Erika

Monday 18 June 2012

Chevron jersey dress

I've made another jersey dress! And I love it! I used the second pattern I talked about here, figuring why change a winning concept? =) Thank you so much for the input in the comments! I took your advices to my heart and have decided to drop the first pattern and focus on perfecting this one. 
These pictures were taken during our last in-doors social (lindy hop to a great live band) last weekend.

The front. You can see I made an attempt at the hairdo Sara made for me in Stockholm, still need to practice a bit...

From the back. The chevron-pattern on the bodice goes in opposite direction from the pattern on the skirt. It would have been clearer with a true bias, but I was short on fabric. The whole dress came out of 1,4 metres, 150 cm width. There was nothing but tiny scraps left! The neckband creates some ripples, because it's actually a bit too short as I ran out of fabric...

Some construction details: I shortened the bodice 1,5 cm /1", and the skirt 2 cm. I felt the skirt became a little bit too short, so I might add those 2 cm back. This time I stablilized the midriff piece with fusible knit interfacing, as you can see above. 

As all the seams were cut on some kind of bias, I sewed in stablizing tape in all the vertical seams, as well as the underbust seam and the shoulders. To the waist-seam I added a 5mm elastic, to help hold up the weight of the skirt.
With the fusible and the tape, this make feels like it has a much higher quality and durability than the first jersey dress I made with this pattern, and I have a hunch there will be more dresses from this pattern! =) 
All in all, I'm happy with this make, and I've already worn it twice!

Although the future def holds more jersey projects for me, right now I'm back to sewing wovens. I'm working on a very summer-y blouse+skirt combo, a nice little fluff project =)

Have a great week!
Love/ Erika

Thursday 14 June 2012

Jersey stabilizer - shopping tip for Swedish residents

Head's up: my inner geek slipped out and went exploring the wonderful world of sewing gadgets... (nerdy sewing post ahed =) ) A little ode to my new favorite toy tool!

Now that I've dared to venture into the land of jerseysewing, I've come upon the problem of stabilizing the overlocked seams. Some seams can gladly stretch (hello waistline) while others needs to retain their shape and length (like shoulders). Previously I've used a stabilizer from "Stoff och stil". It works, but it's 20 mm wide, so it needs to be cut in half to go through the overlock "tape-feeder". The tape then rests inside the seam and a bit outside.
However, when examining some purchased jersey tops I noticed a small, non-elastic non-fusible tape, totally enclosed in the shoulder seams. After searching high and low, both the internet and local shops (and shops in Stockholm) I finally found it in one place: Jofotex tyger.

I don't know if they ship international, bur for Swedes it's a great resource. Unfortunatly, while the tape is cheap (2 SEK/m) the shipping is 60 sek minumin, and you need to purchase for at least 200 sek. That's a lot of tape... I bought 42 metres (what they had in store at the time) and a jersey fabric that was on sale. The fabric wasn't a necessary purchase, and the colour turned out to be wrong for me. I don't care though, I love this tape!

From now on it's steady shoulder seams for me, with no problems whatsoever. Just insert the tape by lifting the presser foot and then place the tape into the tape-guide, lower the presser foot, take a few stitches to get the tape secured to the seam, and I'm good to go!

A short video on how to easiest insert the tape into the tape guide (about 35 sec into the video). I'm adding it because while maybe you all knew this trick, I did it the hard way; trying to push the tape into the guide with the machine feeding the tape forward. Not so smooth. Not even close. Turned out the way they intended the machine to be used really is the easiest. Who could have known! ; )

Look how nicely the tape lays inside the overlocked seam, stabilizing without adding bulk.

The project? It's actually done, and I'll show it to you very, very soon =)

Love/ Erika

Friday 1 June 2012

Ever killed your darling when sewing?

In all kinds of writing, the moment always arrives when you have to "kill your darling" - i.e. remove that one favorite scene from the novel, or skip the analyctic question that got you interested in writing about a certain academic topic - because they just doesn't fit. On they're own, they're the whole point with the creation, but when put into a context, they are at best unnecessary and at worst they bring down the entire work a notch.

Ever had to kill your darling when sewing? See, I had this clear image in my head of the perfect jersey dress-pattern.

It's easy to cut and sew with only three pieces (plus bands for neckline and sleeves), and yet flattering. At least in my mind... In reality?

Not so much. I love the theory of it. I look at the pattern and it looks perfect. But I've come to the conclusion that it doesn't matter if I alter it, add more fabric, etc. At the end of the day, the skirt style just doesn't fit me. It's too tight around my *erhm* tummy and butt, showing off every bump along the way, even adding bumps I swear isn't there. Maybe in a heavy interlocked jersey, but this is meant for summer and dance practice: it needs to work in thin, comfy single jerseys as well.

New plan:

Divided at the waist, skirt gathered to the waist. Elastic sewn into the overlocked waist-seam, accentuating the waist and my curves in a positive way. I know the drawing looks very similar to the first version (which is why I thought I could get away with it) but the pattern pieces are very different for the waist-area and the top of the skirt. 
More pieces, takes a little longer to cut and sew, but it will be worth it to get a dress I will actually use instead of one that will be tossed into the darkness of the closet, never to re-surface.

And it worked! The new, re-drafted pattern will probebly serve as a blockpattern for all sorts of summerdresses in the future =)  It did take a little while longer than the other dress, but a total of 5 hours to cut and sew is still very much ok for me.
The sleeves looks a bit uneven, but that's just an illusion. I promise they're even in reality! =)

Had to include one photo using the flash, to give you all a better idea about the fabric. It looks almost brown in the other photos, but it's more of a deep burgundy.

My darling has been properly killed. Although... I could save the pattern for winter, since it might work a lot better in a stable, heavy interlock... Hopeless optimistic patternmaker, that's me! =)

Ever had to kill your darling when sewing?

Love, Erika