Friday, April 28, 2023

New Look 6513

Whatever possessed me to make a first version of a pattern in an expensive, difficult to obtain, long coveted fabric? Thank goodness this is not a tale of woe. Either the fabric is quite easy to sew or my skills are improving.

The fabric was 1 1/2 yards of Nani Iro double gauze in New Morning print, bark brown. It's 100% cotton, 43" wide, $26.00, again from Stonemountain and Daughter, purchased to go with the bright blue denim blogged in my previous post. This fabric has been on my purchase list for a while. It is hard to miss the enthusiastic reviews it has been getting, but equally hard to buy fabric on a review alone. After all, there's a lot of double gauze out there, mostly for half the price. Could Nani Iro be so different? Of course my answer to that question is now yes, it is worth it. So why not break out the cute, complicated pattern that resembles ready-to-wear?

The only problem with using a good fabric for a first toile is that it is best to start with a larger size. Since my heart was set on a nice top in this lovely fabric, cutting it out too large was not an option. The cut lines used were at size 14, grading to size 16 at the hips. They worked well, but the larger cut on the hips might not be necessary.

Regarding the pattern, it is complicated, but here are some helpful hints: First, don't bother to mark the pleats on the fabric. The pleats follow the line of the princess seamed dart that is cut into the fabric. Just mark the end of the pleats and the sewing line on the dart. Sew the dart and pin the pleats so that the stitching line is 1" away from the previous seam. The pleats are 3/16" deep when folded (they take up 3/8" of fabric). In fact, the cut line in the neck makes it obvious where the dart starts, so once that is cut accurately and the bottom of the pleat under the seam is marked, you are good to sew. The facing for the front slit goes on easily. (Ignore those confusing on line reviews that complain about the instructions--unless they are complaining about the neckband.) The neck band is not easy, but the instructions are clear. The end result is quite neat, and worth the extra effort on the tightly curved seams.

There was really only one problem with this fabric, one that I saw as soon as I prepared to sew the back and side seams with a French seam. The copyright for this fabric sits well away from the selvedge, so far that I cut the back pieces including the copyright name. The letter ended up outside the seam allowance, so now it sits in the middle of my back. If I had looked at the print carefully before I cut, I would have tried to avoid using the fabric with the copyright on it. Additionally, I would have reversed the direction of the print. Most of the flowers seem to point downwards, as though they are falling to the ground. In addition to the possibly upside down flowers, the copyright is on both the back and the waist tie. As it was, however, there was just barely enough to manage the neckband without placing a bunch of mismatched flowers on it. A Nani Iro print like this one needs extra yardage to allow for "fussy" cutting.

The sleeves were difficult to set in because the gauze fabric is sticky and hard to smooth down. Since the pleat might make the sleeve too tight, the pleat depth was sewn at 7/8" instead of 1". The hem was turned down 1/4" and sewn at 3/4". It's been worn with the new denim skirt from the last post. It has been washed and still fits, just barely. It probably wouldn't look as tight without the back tie pulling it in.

It remains to be seen if I will sew this pattern again. It is cute, but so cute it should be reserved for dressier occasions.

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Skirt Sewing Success, McCall's 8222, and a repeat Alberta Street

Some of the fabric that was on end-of-season sale at a price "cheaper than muslin" was quite nice. The piece used for this first try of a skirt pattern is a lightweight cotton. It may be considered quilting cotton, but it is smoother and lighter weight than most of those. The fabric is a floral print, 100% cotton, black and white with green and gold accents on gray background, 44" wide, 2.5 yards, HL $6.99 reg, $3/yd on sale, $7.50 total. The toile started with a size 18.

And problems! This pattern has a fly-front zipper. That was a first for me. After following the pattern directions most of the way through the zipper install, I missed the second-to-last bit about pushing the fly facing out of the way when top-stitching the fly. As a result, the fly was sewn shut by the top-stitching. Thank goodness for my long-standing zipper rule: remove all the basting as soon as you have it sewn in and zip it up and down. If you can't, there's a problem! As a bonus, this testing routine also lets me spot any unattractive sewing around the zipper. The zipper is in now. It actually unzips and is much straighter than it was at first.

The side seams could have been simple. However, this lightweight cotton was a good candidate for French seams. In spite of my limited experience with French seams, they worked great. The other seams are all either enclosed hems or heavily topstitched, except for the fly facing. There was no seam finish for the raw edge of the facing. It is interfaced, so maybe that is why it is left out? Since fusible interfacing doesn't usually survive a machine wash, though, the raw edge was overcast.

The waistband did not fit the skirt. It was a couple of inches smaller. After checking the other sizes for waistband length, it was obvious that this is the correct waistband and that the darts and pleats are correctly sewn. It was just that the skirt stretched out. The top edge of the skirt should be stay stitched at some point. Since it was already stretched, there was nothing to do but ease it into the waistband by gathering it a bit, mostly in the back. The pockets and fly had stabilized most of the front sections. With that, the waistband is a perfect fit.

Lastly, there was a problem with the buttonhole due to operator error (forgot to pull down the buttonhole lever). Note: If the lever pull down step is fogotten, just rip out the bit of buttonhole and start over. Don't expect the machine to remember where it was when it went into error mode! With a manual finish, the salvaged buttonhole works well and is completely obscured by the button when it is fastened.

This is a great skirt, even if it is a size too large. It may shrink with repeated washing. There's another version coming up, in the recommended twill fabric. It will be smaller, and maybe shorter. Other modifications will be larger pockets (Using the pocket from McCall's 8205 will make the pocket a couple of inches deeper so that my phone won't fall out when I sit down!), and more topstitching (maybe). The hem on this skirt is topstitched at 1" with a lace hem tape sewn to the seam allowances on the sides of the front slit so that the topstitching continues 1" from the edge around the slit. The pattern provides for a narrow folded and double top-stitched treatment on the front center seam, a treatment that would work in the recommended denim or twill fabric.

Not wanting to lose my skirt mojo, I cut into some precious denim I scored with a lucky on-line purchase. It's 1 1/2 yards of a cotton/spandex denim in bright blue, costing $16.80 from Stonemountain and Daughter Fabrics. Since it is such a bright blue, I opted for traditional gold topstitching at 4, tension at 6. Since this is my fourth version of this pattern, it is a size 12 waistband and graded to a size 10 skirt. The grading was a little off. The skirt, sewn with 5/8" seam allowance at the side seams, fits in the waistband and lower skirt, but the portion from the waistband seam down to 4" below the start of the pockets needs more room. For this one, I sewed a smaller that 3/8" seam there but will need to adjust the cut line in the pattern before I cut out another version. In the expectation that I might want to change the side seams later, they are sewn with a rather large stitch, pressed open with an overcast stitch on each edge.

However, I am not sure I will make another Alberta St. skirt for a while. I have made 3 already, 2 of which I wear frequently. This one gave me the opportunity to play with topstitching on a nice denim. Stitching in the ditch to secure the waistband facing worked well in this fabric, as did the topstitching on the yoke, hem and back flap.
The exposed zipper used in the back zipper opening was a design choice that has its own story. It's one of those cute little metal zippers with the scalloped lacy edges on the zipper tape. These zippers could be attached with the tape on top of the opening to leave the fancy zipper tape visible. However, that means that the raw edge of the zipper bottom would be exposed. In the end, since a denim skirt did not need scallops and lace, only the metal zipper is exposed, with a standard exposed zipper opening with a facing.
As far as future versions of this pattern, there was 1 foot of fabric left over, so 1 1/4 yards of any fabric wider than 48" will be enough. 44" wide fabric will probably take more, maybe not. A final note on topstitching: I visited the local Bernina shop to discuss sergers and coverstitch machines. Their machines are mildly interesting, but not really tempting to me right now. The staff at the shop suggested that a wider twin needle with a stretch tip might help solve my wavy hem problem with the knit fabric that I experienced in my Toaster sweaters. I bought one to try, as well as a couple of packs of topstitch needles. Topstitching with a topstitch thread really looks much nicer than with regular thread.