Sunday, 5 February 2017

Sew Along New Look 6871 - Week 1. Cutting Out.

Yay, our Sew Along is finally here!

It's been a bit like the old Pantene won't happen overnight, but it will happen!

Welcome to week one.  This week we will discuss fabric choice, washing the fabric, straight grain, measuring accurately and we'll be cutting out our pattern.

If you're already a sewer, you understand the feelings of satisfaction and accomplishment that hand crafting a garment can bring.  If you're not a sewer, you are about to embark on an exciting new creative journey.  In four weeks time, it's very likely that you will have become a home seamstress, capable of creating a 3D wearable garment from a flat, limp, lifeless piece of cloth. Nothing feels more nurturing and kind to your precious body than opening your wardrobe and being able to choose a garment to wear that has been lovingly created with your very own hands.
Just wait and see.  

Okay. let's get started.                                     

Measuring and choosing a pattern size.

It's not possible to choose your pattern size according to the size clothing that you wear.  Each pattern company has their own pattern sizing so it's important to measure yourself accurately.  Simplicity has a two page pdf fit guide here which can be printed out.  It explains how to measure accurately, has a space for you to enter your own measurements and there are a few FAQs too.  There is also a great article here which talks about pattern size and explains the back of the pattern envelope quite clearly.

My measurements are - Bust 38, Waist 31 and Hips 40, so I'll be making a size 16 according to the chart on the back of the envelope.  The pattern envelope has measurements in both metric and imperial so choose which one you are most comfortable working with.  Each pattern company has their own 'fit' too so working with only one brand of pattern is best when you are first starting out, so you can become confident with the fit, markings and pattern instructions of only one company at a time.  New Look patterns are widely available and economical, plus they are well supported with a comprehensive  knowledge base on the Simplicity website.

Preparing the pattern.

Once you have decided on your pattern size, it's just a matter of cutting out the tissue pattern pieces according to the 'View' you're making.  The pattern pieces you need for your chosen view are listed on page 1 of the instruction sheet.  I'm making View D so I'll need pieces 1, 2, 3, 4 and 8.  Easy peasy.

What I like to do however, is trace my pattern pieces off onto some tracing paper or vilene.  This preserves my tissue paper pattern from the damage of repeated use and also allows me to make an alternative size at some stage, plus it keeps my tissue pattern in original condition.  If I trace my pattern off I can also trace only the lines and markings that I need for my size.  This reduces the chance of making mistakes or cutting along the wrong line, as patterns often have several sizes on the one sheet, as is the case with this one.

Tracing vilene comes on a roll and is available in the same section of the shop as rolls of interfacing.  It only costs a couple of dollars a metre - I buy a few metres at a time and store on a cardboard roll so it doesn't wrinkle.  Doing this is of course a personal choice, but I think it's worth the trouble.  You can see in the following image that my pattern piece only has the markings that I need and is very clear and strong which will be great for repeated use.


Following the preparation post, you will have already chosen your fabric or perhaps decided to use a doona cover or sheet from the op shop.  All you need to do to prepare the fabric is wash and dry it in the same manner you intend using to wash and dry your finished garment.  That's it!  Quilting cottons will probably need a few washes to soften down nicely but you only need the first wash to sort out any possible shrinkage. 

Iron the fabric and fold lengthwise according to the pattern layout on page one of the instructions.  Most of the pattern pieces will have an arrow which indicates the direction the pattern piece must be laid on the fabric.  The arrow must go along the lengthwise grain and not across the width of the fabric.  In the photo below I have placed my pattern pieces lengthwise to the grain, along the fold of the fabric. 

It's very important to be aware of which direction the print is facing.  I have bought fabric printed with clouds so I want to make sure I place my pattern pieces so that they're not upside down!

Many years ago I made a dress from a 'placement print length', as they were called back then.  It was a stunning print of a yacht with a reflection.  When I wore the dress to work, one of the blokes said "You've never been on a boat, have you?"
Hmmmm.....can you see where this is going?  You guessed it.  I had the yacht upside down with the water up under my bust and the sunset round my kneecaps!

I've left enough room so that I can cut the front and back about 7 inches longer than the pattern piece to allow for a tunic length garment.  I've also left enough room for a sleeve (just in case) even though I'll probably just make a sleeveless tunic.

If you decide to cut your top into a  tunic or dress length, just follow the general line of the side seam down until you get to the required length.  It's easy with a ruler.  Cut the bottom band the same width.  You'll need to line both of your fabrics up together to make sure you cut the band wide enough.  The following photo shows that I've cut the band the same width as the bottom of the tunic and continued the line also of the side seam. I've cut it a bit longer too as I had the spare fabric and it's better to be too long than too short.  It can always be trimmed up later when I'm deciding on hem length.

These are the yoke pieces.  If there's any chance of getting confused about which is the right and wrong sides of the fabric (I'm always confused unless it's really obvious!) pin a safety pin on to the right side as soon as you've cut out the pattern pieces.  The tissue pattern states to cut two front yokes and two back yokes, therefore one piece each will become the lining.  If you're up-cycling fabric and don't have enough, cut the lining pieces out of another complementary colour as it won't really be seen.  Try  to stick with the same fibre content though.

If you are up-cycling some men's shirts or have fabric with beautiful embroidery etc it's pretty easy to just lay out your yoke pattern piece in the spot that makes you happiest.  I thought the buttons and seams looked pretty cute for the yoke when I made my pinny.  I used the backs of two men's shirts for the front and back, and just pieced the bottom band from scraps left over from both of the shirts.  My linings were polka dot left over from another project.

Machine sewing thread.

Perhaps the most important 'rule' for machine sewing thread is to have exactly the same thread in the bobbin as you are using in the machine.  There are lots of other opinions too such as using cotton thread for cotton garments, cotton/polyester for blended fabric garments etc.  You'd go nuts trying to remember it all, so if you are confused or unsure, just buy the best thread you can afford and make sure it's used in the bobbin also. Gutterman all purpose machine thread is excellent and readily available.

Your tasks for this week.
  • Wash, dry and iron your fabric.
  • Cut out the tissue pattern pieces or trace onto vilene and cut out.
  • Cut out your garment.  (Wheeee it's happening!)
  • Check you have a new machine needle and appropriately coloured machine sewing thread.
  • Have a little look around It's a fabulous free sewing tutorial website. Just type something you'd like to know more about into the search bar.
Thank you so much for coming along on this stitching journey.  It doesn't matter how fast or how slow you believe you sew.  It doesn't matter if you're an accomplished seamstress or if this is your first garment.  What matters is that you are here, following along, being part of a world wide stitching sisterhood and creating with your heart and hands.

....and finally, some words from Jane Milburn of
"Every day we eat and we dress.  We have become conscious of our food, it is time to become conscious of our clothing.  Slow down, become conscious of your clothing and choices, mend what you have, value story, be empowered to sew."

Further Reading.

An article about the resurgence of home sewing.
An award winning book suitable for beginner sewists which includes five full sized patterns.

Phew.....I'm exhausted.  I'm sure it must be 'happy hour' by now.  😊