Yea my new patters from Deer and Doe arrived super fast! I’m quite excited although a little nervous at Blouse Datura’s (on the right) statement that its for ‘Advanced’ sewers. Hmm, perhaps I’ll do that one last, and start with Airelle (on the left).
I love the packaging and drawings of the designs – it’s so simple yet pretty. I can’t help but feel more people might get into sewing if the Big 4 laid off of some of their more horrific front pictures. I fear sometimes they do more damage than good! Really, I just want to be able to see the lines of the blouse/dress/skirt – not their view of colour co-ordinations and ‘80s hair!
I digress. Anyway, I’m pretty excited as I open the package to get a gander at the instructions. And I have to say my hear fell a little when I realised that the pattern is heavy paper, not tissue paper. See I don’t like to cut into a pattern – my mom would have had a fit. She taught me to cut the biggest size out and then just fold in to the size you want, that way you can use it again for friends or in years to come if you change shape. I’m still using McCalls 3168 which I got when I was 15 – ok I am not the same size but that’s my point! If you’ve cut the pattern down to your size, you won’t be able to change it! Or not easily. And that’s why my heart fell just a little – it’s really annoying to have to fold heavy paper patterns and then trying to pin through if is finger stabbing irritating.
Also I have a poor track record with heavy paper patterns. When I was first discovering patterns by new wonderful designers, anything other than the Big 4, I was desperate for designs that matched the ideas in my head. I was so excited to find hot patterns, grabbing myself Miss Moneypenny Sheer Decadence Blouse … and then pulled up short in confusion. Heavy paper? Ummm ok … I proceeded. To my horror. In ironing the pattern (am I not suppose to?) the pattern markings got onto my ironing board cover, my iron and then onto some of my fabric. To top it off I found the pattern instructions quite useless. I was really upset that I had paid £14.50 for it! It just didn’t work and I lost the most lovely silk/cotton blend pretty floral fabric too it.
Soo, there’s a tiny chance I am projecting my irritation at that pattern, onto the new heavy paper of my lovely Deer and Doe (their instructions by the way look pretty decent and apparently its recycled paper). Ok, so with my rant out of the way, we can proceed.
I’m going to use a nice light weight organic cotton I picked up last summer (just before the gods decided that the British summer was cancelled and therefore we should all buy fleece instead).
Before I move on, I feel the need to point out that I don’t make muslin or testers or what not. Basically I never learnt when I was young, my mom always just fitted as we went along, something that I’ve always tried with varying degrees of success to do myself. I suppose I approach most projects with a willingness to put up or pick out! Seeing as this is my first project with my new and wonderful dummy, I’m looking forward to properly fitting it!
Ok so pattern is all cut out and ironed. I used the low setting just in case that’s why I had problems with the previous heavy papered pattern. It’s not great but I’m surviving.
I commandeered the kitchen table for layout and cutting of fabric.
The problem with buying fabric for one pattern and then using it for something else is there is the danger that you won’t have enough. No need to panic, I’ll just make the sleeveless version. Hmm still not quite enough for the cute Chelsea collar but I really don’t want to lose that detail, so let’s search the scrap bag (oh the glorious scrap bag). Perfect, enough of the cream left over my tunic to do the underside of the collar (and would look pretty cute if it gets blown up in the wind).
Ok so, we’re all cut out and bobbins and thread are ready to go!
The first thing I notice is that the ‘Steps’ actually cover quite a few steps. Really, they’re referring to sections of your garment. So ‘Step 1’ is The Bodice.
Front bodice and back darts go in easily – I find them a little more challenging to mark because of the heavy paper and they do require knowledge of how to actually put darts in as there are no detailed instructions like in Colette patterns. But so far, so good.
Front shoulder seams gathered and attached to yoke. Back attached to yoke. As I don’t have a serger I am in constant quest for a lovely finished seam. I went through a real French Seam phase, but at the moment I am just zig-zaging my edges about a presser foot width distance from my seam and then trimming. It seams to do the trick (hehe did you get that?).
I’m feeling mighty chuffed with myself that my stripes are lining up on the back so perfectly, while on the front they so completely fail to match that I’m hoping it looks intentional! One thing here that isn’t clear is which way to press the seams – I’ve pressed both towards the yoke.
Now for the side seams – I love this stage because I find this is where I really get an idea for how the shirt is going to look. Hmmm … it’s a bit big (but this isn’t the end of the world, mom always said I could make things smaller, but its damn hard to make them bigger).
See I decided to be duly diligent, given aforementioned stroopwafels and Gouda, so I premeasured bust, waist and hips. Which according to the various size charts I looked at required going up several sizes, well I figured get over it and just accept it. But when I was pinning the sides on my dummy I thought hmm looks too loose. So I tried it on … definitely too loose. So I took in the sides a bit … double checked … took in the sides some more … checked again – perfect! So in the end I probably ended up taking in about 1 ½ sizes on the side. But I don’t understand why? Do I just need to pull the measuring tape a little tighter when measuring myself or are patterns inherently bigger than they say? See I think I got lazy on this issue, I’ve been the same size for so long that I never really needed to check size chart, just tweek things a little here and there. Hmmm.
Anyway, Step 2: The Collar
Sewing collar pieces together and all is good. Then comes a sneaky little note saying ‘Important ….’. When a pattern says something is important, I am sure to be distracted by the door bell ringing, kettle whistling or dog barking (not that I have a dog, but if I did, it would bark now) come back and accidentally totally miss the ‘important’ point. “Important, the collar pieces must overlap at the centre, meeting perfectly (it really uses that work – there’s bound to be an air raid now) at 5/8″ below the edge!”
Well I was guaranteed to fail first time round. I started pinning from the back, trying to match my notches and while I was able to get one piece to the centre front, the other proved shy. Huh. Ok, I’ll approach this backwards and pin from two overlapping pieces centre front to start with, measuring it perfectly oh yes I did! Then I matched that notches (it could perhaps have done with some notches in the front too (there were only two single notches in the back) and eased fabric to centre front and around back, and what do you know it all worked just right. Hmm, if I didn’t know better I would think the sewing gremlins had switched my collar pieces the first time round.
There was then a moment of confusion as the page turns the instructions to pin collar with right sides together and stitch is repeated. When you’re not ubber confident, you’re bound to do what I did – double check if I was suppose to cut two of the neck facing! And then double check that I hadn’t forgotten to cut a piece. Nope we’re all good.
So its all attached and all good, perhaps not quite so perfect (the edges dont quite meet) but hey-ho.
Step 3: The Sleeves.
Except I’m not making them. I feel like the kid stomping my foot and pointing at the missing donut. The sleeveless version was on the back of the And there’s no instructions if you’re not making them. Ummm … hmm … armhole facings or a narrow hem? Oooo … I don’t know what to do. Let’s go for the narrow hem – I don’t have enough scraps to make the armhole facings! So that’s an easy decision.
Except, probably not the right one. Having just finished I can see that with the nice gathering where the front meets the yoke, the effect is somewhat ruined/lost by the stitches of the narrow seam. Arm hole facing would not have interfered with how it hung. Oh well … next time.
So on the whole I think it’s pretty cute. I love the collar and neck line, and the loose but slightly tailored look. The gathering on mine hasn’t quite worked I feel, but practice makes perfect. Next time I would probably make a smaller size, – particularly around the stomach area. As it doesnt feel like the “two wait darts cinch the wait nicely” at the moment. But there will definetly be a next time.
And once again my co-creative director has prioritised full-time, paid employment over being available whenever I need photographs so once again I’ll just rely on the self timer.
So what are your tricks for using heavy paper patterns and any ideas why designers use it? How snug do you pull the measuring take when you take your own measurements? Have you made Airelle Blouse? Any tips?