Friday, 18 January 2008
SWAP January 17th
I have been inspired by the sewers at Artisianssquare to start a blog about my participation in Timmel Fabric's Sewing With A Plan (SWAP) 2008. I have been working on this since the start of January, and given my frequent challenges with the process I have decided to write about my progress in the hope that I will learn something when it is all written down.
The goal of SWAP is to sew 11 co-ordinating garments, this year there are to be 4 bottoms (pants or skirts), 6 tops, at least one to be a blouse rather than a t-shirt, and one jacket. Every top must co-ordinate with every bottom, and the jacket must go with every top and bottom. There is an option to substitute 2 dresses for 2 of the tops. I was inspired to participate after spending one weekend in December making 6 pirate shirts and 2 cow costumes for my childrens' dance concert, and wondering why I couldn't produce that many items for myself in a limited time. My plan has been to make myself a wardrobe for work. Just to make things difficult for myself, I have several simultaneous goals underlying this plan.
1. Use up some stash. My son is now 5, and needs a bedroom that is not packed to the hilt with fabric, patterns, yarn and embroidery materials. I have cleaned out one measly cupboard in which I need to fit all my project materials, so I need to reduce, reduce, reduce.
2. Learn how to fit pants. I hate wearing pants. I don't like sewing pants. I cannot wear RTW pants without extensive re-fitting. I have to wear pants for work. I really need to sew some pants, and possibly the SWAP will provide some motivation to achieve this skill.
3. Learn how to sew with knits. I have tried a few simple projects with knits, mainly children's t- shirts and tracksuit pants/leggings, but would like to make more sophisticated garments.
4. Possibly make my first ever successful jacket. I did try to make a tailored jacket 5 years ago, but gave up when I discovered that my meticulous construction techniques had been applied to a jacket that was too long in the body, and too small across the behind. I have learned more about fitting since then, and would like to have another try if I have time at the end of the SWAP (April). I am unlikely to wear a jacket very often, so it is not terribly high on my list of priorities.
5. Make better use of my sewing machine special stitches and feet.
So far, I am doing better with goal 5 than any other. I have read my instruction manual and put a little machine embroidery on one shirt. For goal 2, I am struggling. I started with stretch woven pants Vogue 8305, and after muslin fitting, involving taking in the waist, cutting a deeper crotch and varying the side seams, sewed in cotton with 5% spandex. These fitted O.K., until I wore them for a few hours, when they became really baggy. Apparently (SWAP 2008 posts) this is not uncommon with stretch woven fabrics, and I have added to my pants fitting difficulties by choosing a tricky fabric to work with. I was happy to learn this, although I will now have to re plan my SWAP to eliminate stretch woven pants (previously 2 pairs) and this means I will need to purchase more fabric (goal 1 is suffering). Today I worked on woven pants, Vogue 2925. I spent 6 hours on measuring, tissue fitting, reading web sites and fitting books, cutting out, sewing and adjusting my muslin (old calico tablecloth). I was pretty happy with the fit at this point. In fact I had an epiphany - there is a certain amount of horizontal protusion in the backside, that requires more fabric in the same way that horizontal protusion at the bust requires more fabric! I have been making a FBA in shirts and dress bodices for years without even thinking about it, and am astounded that I had not transferred this understanding to the problem of fitting my behind until now. (Thank you to Marji, who offered her pants as critique category at Artisianssquare, leading to very helpful comments and this revelation)
After all this work, I was expecting my trial fabric pants to sew like a dream. No. I somehow managed to sew darts on the wrong side, repeatedly, leading to the unpicking and re- sewing 8 times. I then managed to sew 2x R legs, and could not bear to unpick overlocking and seams and darts again. Of course they did not fit after I turned the wrong side into French seams. I will have to start again tomorrow.