Month: April 2017

The Couture Dress: Lessons 2 & 3

couturedress2

Phew. I’m back with the next installment of the couture dress! I know it’s been a while, but I’ve only been managing around 30 minutes of sewing time about 3 days a week! I think I’ve done pretty well within those time constraints, if I do say so myself! I divided this post into two parts, Lesson 2 and Lesson 3 of the course. Lesson 1 was the introduction, so there wasn’t any work to be done there!

Lesson 2 – Muslin 1: Pin and Cut
Sounds easy enough right? Well, not quite… I had to straighten the grain and I’d only ever straightened the grain of fabric which I could tear or pull a thread out! With this fabric, the thread would break about 1 or 2 inches in. Eventually I figured out that I could cut along the line left by the thread, pull another thread, cut along the line left by that thread, and so on. Afterwards I pinned the selvages together using a lot of pins! One thing I didn’t do is clip int the selvages, I forgot to do that but they didn’t look like they were pulling too tight!

Afterwards I traced 5/8 of an inch from the cutting line on each pattern piece. This took FOREVER! I decided to use this time to listen to Spanish language documentaries to hopefully improve my Spanish skills (I’m not sure this worked)… And finally I pinned the pieces to the fabric, measuring the grainlines from the selvages carefully for each piece and cut them out!

And unfortunately (or fortunately?) I actually learned a lot from lesson 2… I thought I should add a little “lessons learned” section so you can learn from my mistakes and as reference for myself. So here you are, here are the lessons learned from Lesson 2 of the Couture Dress class!

Lessons learned:

  1. Trace your pattern to actual tracing paper or swedish tracing paper: printer paper is too thick to pin accurately to the fabric
  2. Clip your selvages
  3. Measure your body carefully (waist, bust, hips, neck-to-waist, waist-to-hips, bicep circumference, shoulder-to-shoulder…) and compare to the pattern stitching lines: make any adjustments based on this

As you can maybe tell from #3, I made some adjustments to this dress even before finishing the muslin. I have wide shoulders. I’ve also been working out a lot more in the last few years. I used to fit (tightly) in the shoulders of commercial ready to wear clothes, but in the last few months I’ve noticed the correct bust/waist size is very, very small in the shoulders… To the point of bursting seams! I measured myself to be about 14 inches shoulder to shoulder (more accurately shoulder seam to shoulder seam), the pattern was only 13 inches, so I added 1/2 inch to each side (front and back) using this tutorial.

couturedressshoulder

Lesson 3 – Muslin 2: Assembly

Alright I will confess right now: I deviated from the instructions. I used chalk paper instead of wax paper. I know, Susan Khalje specifically says not to use chalk paper. But I spent a long time reading up on wax paper online and most people seemed to say it was not worth using because it was seldom completely removable from fabric. I decided even though my primary goal is to make beautiful, elegant clothes for myself I still want these clothes to be easy to take care of. This means I won’t be using silk organza interlining (unless I’m making a wedding dress!), my wax marks would go directly on my fashion fabrics and could potentially show through at some point. I didn’t want to get used to using wax paper if I wasn’t going to be able to use it on most of my projects. Also it was expensive (bad Canadian dollar is not doing us any favors)!

chalkpaper

I quickly learned that lesson learned #1 (trace your pattern to actual tracing paper) is important for another reason: printer paper is too thick to let you pick up enough carbon to see the marks accurately. I managed by pressing really (really) hard. Afterwards thread tracing was fairly simple, I just had to set the tension to sew correctly through only one layer of the fabric. And this is about as far as I have gotten so far. I haven’t actually gotten around to assembling the muslin pieces. There is a reason for that though…

You guessed it, I have another lesson learned: mark notches! I forgot to mark every. single. notch. on every single pattern piece! How am I going to put the sleeves in? I’m not sure, I guess I will have to try to pin the pieces back to the fabric and add the notches in. That’s my plan for the upcoming week, mark the notches and assemble the muslin. Next up is Lesson 4 – Muslin 3: Fitting and Lesson 5 – Muslin 4: Finishing.

Fingers crossed I won’t have to do very much fitting!

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Boyfriend Hat

hatflat

If there’s a set of interchangeable needles under the Christmas tree, you will have a hat when you come back from visiting your family.

Those are words that came out of my mouth. They were directed my boyfriend. Can you guess what was under the tree on Christmas morning? … It was most definitely a set of interchangeable knitting needles. Chiaogoo red lace, to be precise. I haven’t reviewed them yet because I’ve only made one project on them, with only one wool (this is that projet!). I don’t feel I’m in a position to evaluate these needles yet. That said, so far, I absolutely love them!

So technically, I did get him a hat by the time he got back from visiting his family. Unfortunately it was the worst pattern-yarn mix I have EVER made. I will be getting some pictures and most likely blogging about it, if only so that I can save one unsuspecting person from repeating the same mistake. The second try came out a lot better, and a heck of a lot later. 2 months later, to be exact. Thankfully the boyfriend is patient, kind and understanding (or he just really didn’t want to wear the first hat… I don’t blame him)!

But oh my goodness, what a joy this was to knit! I find cable patterns so compelling because you’re always motivated to finish the next round and watch it grow (much like colourwork). Combine that with the beautiful rustic wool: knitting was a dream.

The wool is from Briggs and Little woolen mills. A Canadian, family owned wool mill in New Brunswick. The boyfriend and I took a road trip out to the east coast of Canada last year. Unfortunately we didn’t visit the Briggs and Little mill, but we did visit the store! I was good and only purchased about $50 worth of wool (but only because we went to MacAuslands woolen mills where I spent way too much). The boyfriend picked out a skein of heritage in the colourway Grape so that I could make him a hat. Grape is a beautiful mix of purple, red, navy and teal. The way it looks depends a lot on the lighting, but it always looks beautiful to me. It is only my second favorite Briggs and Little colourway though… my favorite is Fundy Fog! The wool itself is very rustic, minimally processed. It is definitely not Merino wool, it is a workhorse wool that will stand up to a lot of wear. I’ve read that it’s a good (more economical) substitute for Brooklyn Tweed, but I’ve never held a skein of Brooklyn Tweed so I can’t comment on that!

hatonboyfriend

Although I really enjoyed the knitting process, I did have a few fit issues along the way. I forgot to increase needle sizes after the ribbing and that made the hat very small in circumference. I also measured carefully because I had to extend the cabling pattern since my row gauge was off. But still somehow the hat ended up being way too skinny and way too tall. Thankfully some aggressive blocking helped made it wider and shorter and I think it fits pretty well!

The boyfriend is happy.

The only problem is winter is over!