Posted in sewing

A long rambling post on the joys of teaching garment sewing

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As I alluded in my last post some four months ago, I’ve started teaching sewing classes at a new fabric and sewing studio in Baltimore, Domesticity. I’d been interested in teaching group classes since July 2016. So, when Domesticity opened up and a mutual friend of the shop owner  connected us, it was serendipity. Also, when I sew or put on makeup, I like to pretend I’m on my YouTube channel or my own TV show anyway 😃. Now, it would be the same but with a live audience 🤷🏾‍♀️.

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What I didn’t expect was how hard teaching can be, that there were things I would learn about myself and how much I would LOVE it. Want to read about it? Get a cup because there’s a short novel below.

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Plaid matching her pajama pants!

Hard? Wutt? Yeah. It’s hard. Teaching takes preparation. Any technique I told people to do I wanted to have an example of it, be able to explain the benefits of it, talk about why it works how it does and a clear way on how to do it. That’s not all just in my head. I had to research and make sure I was using the correct terms and perhaps correct any bad habits I had picked up.

I didn’t want people to pay me to watch them read directions and follow along. I wanted people to feel freed from basic instructions, learn techniques and order of construction. Often I’ve thought of in person sewing classes as unnecessary. I’ve said for years if you can read you can sew or cook. Just follow the directions! I had to learn that not everyone learns the same way. Duh. I changed my mindset. But, if someone were coming to to a class and paying money to be there, I wanted to be able to show them things that weren’t in the instructions.

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These are made from a double cloth and are luxurious

The indie designers to give A LOT of detail in their patterns. For how I sew it’s just too too much. But, for a beginner sewer though, they are learning from these. Yet, the lesson here is that even with 30 pages of instructions there are still things to teach. Sewing is vast and there is more than one way to skin a cat. There are alternate finishes of necklines, seams, hems. Ways to topstitch. What your sewing feet are for. What is the difference between needles. How do you pick which needle size, etc. etc. I had more than one student tell me that our classes taught them to love their sewing machine. Or, they’d never used any of the other feet their machine came with.

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Pajama pants are such a good first garment. Lots of techniques to learn and something wearable.

I love seeing how excited people get when they complete a garment! Yes, I goad people into smiling when I take a photo. But, for real… they are happy and it makes me all kinds of warm inside.

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The tee shirt class might be my favorite because you learn to conquer your fear of knits

I’ve had to put aside personal biases about some indie patterns.  Beginner sewers see a lot of independent designers on social media and that’s what they want to sew. But, imho *just* sewing indie designers is limiting. So, I make sure to include patterns from the Big 4 so that students are comfortable going between the two and don’t feel limited to just sewing indie. There are some designs I don’t teach because they are too basic for the money or aren’t something I would ever personally wear. I felt it only right to teach designs I could personally vouch for and work in to my wardrobe. After all, I was going to be sewing samples for myself and the shop. Why work on something I think is trash or dumb?

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Two of my three pajama samples went to Jordan

I’ve had to make my samples show worthy and not just good enough. I mean, I love to sew. But, I’ve definitely learned what I am willing to let go of. But, when everyone is going to be staring intently at my work, I want to make sure it holds up. Those pajama pants? Plaids match every which way. Seams are beautifully finished. They came out so nice I can’t get them off of Jordan to actually use in class. He wears them ALL the time. And, I teach finishes for when you don’t have a serger. Guess what I rediscovered? Many of those finishes are WAY nicer. I am back in love with French seams, flat fell seams and a blind hem finish.

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Our classes are small and intimate

I use a lot of different tools and notions. Ok, for real. The start up costs for sewing are not small. It’s not like knitting where you need a set of needles and a ball of yarn. I brought in rulers, marking pens, hams, seam rolls, rotary cutters, nips, zipper templates, twill tape… you name it, I have it and I brought it. Yes, it can be overwhelming to a student. But, it also lets them see how I get the results I do. Near the end I had a bit of a personal mutiny and stopped bringing so many tools. My living room looked like a mudroom and I couldn’t find items in my sewing room. And, you know what? A few students said “This is a job for a ham” when they were opening up seams or pressing in darts. They understand what the tools are for and that’s fantastic.

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This is the best looking muslin I’ve ever seen. It’s the Farrow Dress from Grainline.

I’m way more obsessed with fit than I realized. Prior to teaching I’d have told you people spend too much time obsessing about fit. But, as I developed the coursework, I realized I worked fit into every class. I didn’t want people to walk away from sewing because they didn’t like how clothes looked on them.

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I suggested people sew muslins. I taught FBAs, swayback adjustments, broad back fixes and ways to make an armhole more comfortable. Yet, my constant refrain was, “I’m not a fit expert. But,….” It helps to have an arsenal of fit books to refer to.

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I mean just look at her face 😊

Assign homework. There wasn’t a class I taught that didn’t require you to sew some at home. And, I think that’s really necessary so that people realize they can sew on their own. It also reinforces whatever you taught the week before.

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Teaching doesn’t feel like work! Yes, I mean, I still have deadlines of prep work I need to do and late nights/ early mornings getting it done. But, when I’m with students in the classroom time just flies. It doesn’t feel like work to talk about sewing and teaching sewing. I do have a part time day job in my field. And, I don’t know that I could or would want to teach sewing full time. But, when I’m there it feels like hanging out with friends. I don’t know how long I’ll be able to teach. But, I’m enjoying every bit of it right now. It’s fun to help create a community of sewists in Baltimore. I feel like I’m really *doing* something.

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Posted in sewing

Cashmerette Springfield Top

*ETA: Jenny of Cashmerette reached out to me about what I thought was a mismatched yoke in the pattern draft. Nope. The pattern is fine. The mistake was mine.  Despite having measured and traced the pattern several times in two different sizes, I managed to insert the center back upside down during five different versions of the pattern 😳 That made for the mismatched seam allowance that I noted in an earlier version of this post. I’m removing this post as it’s not an accurate review of the pattern or my alterations. The flipped pattern piece likely caused my fit problems in the back and this post should reflect sewn correctly garment.

My resulting top is the bomb diggity though, so I’m leaving a photo of it up until I get around to sewing this again.

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Posted in sewing

70s Style Knit Shirtdress: Burdastyle 4/2011 #108

I recently told Jordan with great pride that I hadn’t purchased any fabric in 2017. His reply, “That’s only five months.” Bubble burst.  I haven’t bought for a few reasons. The main one being I have more fabric than I can sew in my current lifetime. And, I was losing track of the fabrics I loved and the projects I’ve always wanted to make. In addition, we are going to sell and buy a new home in the next two years and before we do so I’d like to get my stash down to…. visible.

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Anywho, one such project that’s floated in the back of my mind for years is a graphic jersey shirtdress. Two years ago I saw wonderful 70s style knit shirt dresses at the Halston exhibit at FIT and promised myself I’d make a knit shirtdress ‘soon’. This pattern from the April 2011 Burdastyle (and still available for download) is JUST the look I was going for.

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My  poly jersey fabric came from Jomar in Philadelphia some time ago. I originally thought a 70s style wrap dress. But, I knew it would be GREAT as a shirt dress. I contemplated snaps  rather than buttons to keep the print uninterrupted. But, found these buttons in my stash. To make the buttonholes, I used a light tricot jersey in the facing and front band. Then, I also used tear away stabilizer. I’ve seen knit buttons wonky in RTW and wanted to make mine as neat as possible.

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I legit think I haven’t sewn a stand collar in years. I’d rate this one a 7/10 and am glad I won’t ever button this at the neck. I used instructions from the Better Homes and Garden Sewing Book and my Bunka Garment Design Textbook: Blouses and Dresses. Because Burda sure wasn’t giving me detailed instruction on sewing a stand collar! Next time I’ll be using my David Paige Coffin Shirtmaking book.

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I’ve avoided using this print for a while because I don’t trust my print matching skills. For this dress, I focused on a straight horizontal line at the front and back and decided to let the rest do what it do.

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The pattern itself is drafted for a woven. So, I sized down one to a 42 at the top and 44 through the thighs. If I make this up in a woven, I’ll just add to the seam allowances. I think the fit is spot on and will make for a great fitted shirt too. I have a second version I’m working on in a silk jersey that has less stretch and is gonna be a snug one!

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I made a 1 inch FBA. I usually make a larger FBA in BWOF. But, I’ve been sewing a 40 up top for a while. This time, I finally used my upper bust measurement rather than my underbust and I’m really happy with the fit (if not the increase in size!).

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Overall I lurv it. And, it reinforces my goal to sew somewhat from a plan this summer and focus on what I have. As for that plan… it involves more red,white and blue and shirtdresses 😀

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Posted in sewing

Jalie Jeans x Three: Jalie 2908

This post is really more of a brain dump so I can remember what I did when I make these again. My tee shirt is the Cashmerette Concord Tee Shirt.

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These creamscicle / seersucker denim photos were taken last weekend when we were in Kansas City for a wedding.

Back in September 2015 I promised you an update on my Jalie jeans. Well, I never wrote an update.

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I can tell you I wore three pairs of Jalie Jeans daily for the last 18 months and it was time to start replacing them. My jeans wear out at inner thigh regularly.

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I asked Jordan to take photos of my butt while we were walking around like tourists. A man in the store to the right was just staring at us totally befuddled.

So, I made three different pairs over the last few months to hopefully get me through the next two years: The above cropped creamscicicle denim pair, the below straight-ish, and the end flared pair.

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When I make jeans, I buy a ridiculous eight to ten yards of denim. I treat the first pair as a muslin and make the other two pairs up based on how the first pair fit after a few weeks of wear. I like my jeans to stay snug.

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Alterations:

Waistband: I used the waistband from the the Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans as a starting point. After several rounds, I’ve contoured the waistband specifically at center back and at the side seams. I use a firm woven interfacing in the waistband to help reduce the stretch AND I use narrow twill tape in the waist band seam. The Jalie waistband is garbage. It’s straight and cut on the bias and just doesn’t work for anyone I personally know.

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Yoke: I do the same contouring of the yoke to snug up the back seam closer to my swayback.

Crotch adjustments:

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  • I made a bit of a large inner thigh adjustment by widening the back crotch.
  • I shorted the front crotch by 1/2 inch or I get this above fold at the center front. Actually, this is AFTER a 1/2 inch adjustment. I need to take out maybe another 1/4 inch (as I’ve done for the orange pair).
  • I made a knock knee adjustment

Time to transfer my pattern to stock paper because it’s a keeper!

For the rest of the jeans I just played with leg width. Rule of thumb for flares: make them as wide as your shoes. I wear a 8.5W / 9M/ 40EU.

My topstitching thread is Tex 80 available locally for me but also from Wawak.

Below are my flared pair. These were the first pair I sewed of this set and the crotch was CRAZY long as drafted. I actually took them apart — removing 1/2 inch from the length and they are still too long in the crotch.

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This top belonged to my mom

I finally resolved the length by removing another 1/4 inch in the first pair shown at the top. But, here you can see the extra fabric the length gives.

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I sew jeans with two machines. My Singer Featherweight does main construction and my Bernina 830 Record does topstitching. I love love love the top stitching and 1/4 inch foot for my Bernina. It makes such nice precise lines. I may even set up a third machine one day if I do two tone topstitching.

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Whew. I planned on taking many photos of my construction process but had a series of camera issues. But, there are a million great resources online now for fitting jeans.

 

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I am totally comfortable with the jeans making process. I’d like to make a pair of Morgan jeans this fall. And, a few more of these Jalie for the rotation. But, I am seriously considering a pants making class this year. I miss wearing pants and haven’t been successful in making a good fitting pair in many years.

Posted in Machine Knitting

A Winter White Corvid

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I quite like my first Corvid Coat from Brooklyn Tweed. So much so that I decided to knit it up again in a cream. And, I can pick an undyed winter white for a coat because as someone said to me, “You must not have children.”

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A few things I did differently this time. The pattern calls for a cartridge rib collar. A close approximation on my machine is to knit fisherman’s rib.

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On my first version I knit the upper collar  5 inches wide because I don’t read knitting and that’s what I thought it said. But, mine wasn’t wide enough. Going back and reading the instructions again (with slightly better understanding of knitting) I see that it should actually be about nine inches in width. So, now it turns back.

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I also got the hang of short rowing my shoulders so those seams should look smoother and prettier (except where I forgot to ‘wrap’ my stitches resulting in some holes. But, what’s really nice about short rowing is how much less bulky the seams are!

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Because my yarn is a heavy Aran weight, (undyed wool from Colourmart) I was able to knit the back all in one section on my bulky machine. Last time I had to split it in two sections.

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I know this sweater is going to show all. the. dirt. So, I washed my gauge swatch in warm water — preparing this for a lifetime of abuse. I took this sweater up to New York last week for a wedding.

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Jordan was kind enough to wait until we got back home to tell me the back of the sweater hit every single stair on every subway we took.  Popped this in the washing machine as soon as he let me know and it was sparkling cream in no time.

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Due to the weight of the yarn (almost four pounds in this coat!) the coat also hangs/pulls longer than drafted. If I were to make it in this weight again I would shorten the overall length. But, more likely I will make it in a worsted wool as called for in the design. I am planning two more of these. One in a red and another in a nice steely grey.