Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Another shirt from McCalls 6613

I am still deep in company land so this will be brief. Here are some shots of my latest shirt for a son, this one for my boy in NYC.

This pattern continues to impress with a few modifications. The buttonhole markings for the collar are far too high into the collar - the ones you see in RTW are right into the point, in some right into the top stitching.

I have also settled on this method for doing a collar on a stand, more steps but each is more or less a straight seam and can be fixed before you commit to the next stage. No fancy sewing or rolling or twisting - this method suits my style of sewing best.

Here we go:

Monday, August 18, 2014

Flypaper thoughts mid August

  • Wall to wall family visits this month
  • Love the company, wish some of this happened in mid winter
  • Seeing more of the dishwasher than the sewing machine
  • Have resorted to delegating some of the food prep to a two and four year old
  • Results as expected
  • I think trees have souls
  • At least the ones in my front yard
  • Every night I take Daisy out in the yard and pat the moss patch on the one in front of the window
  • It knows
  • I know it does
  • The shirts are taking off
  • Have orders for five more for various men in the family
  • Who would have guessed?
  • In life you are never caught up
  • Figure that out and you have a lot figured out
  • Am making a list of most worn and most wish I had garments for this season
  • So far my eye shade that blocks out the various little device lights in my bedroom is #1
  • Silk tops not so much
  • Do you know that potato flowers are the colour of the skins of potatoes?
  • File that one away
  • I have plants in the front yard with purple flowers
  • Don't ask
  • Need to go to New York and buy fabric
  • Every once in a while you run across someone who doesn't know anything about a subject
  • But wants to explain it to you anyway
  • Little Billy looks exactly like his grandfather Billy
  • That's pretty nice
  • Kind of a life bonus
  • In the fall I will have time to sit in my sewing room and make seams
  • But then I will miss them all

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Shirt thoughts

As I said I have been sewing shirts. I have a few thoughts worth sharing I think and a couple of shots.

First pockets.

Since I am making patterned shirts for the clientele with well-developed senses of humour and hipster sense I am matching patterns on the patch pockets in those times I can.

For a person who has extraordinarily wide tolerance for lack of attention to detail in the rest of her life it is interesting how little things in sewing matter to me. I hate it in RTW when they slap on a pocket out of pattern on the front of something and don't match the pattern.

It is actually very easy to match the pattern of a pocket to a shirt. 

Here's the method I use:

  1. Pin the front pattern piece to the fabric and cut it out. Leave the pattern piece on the fabric. So far to good.
  2. Since you are using a thin paper pattern you can usually see the fabric pattern pretty easy through the pattern piece. Lay your pocket pattern piece on top of the front pattern in position as marked. Again so far so good.
  3. Using a pencil lightly trace the main outlines of the pattern onto the pocket piece as you can see them through the layers of tissue.
  4. Mark the top corners of the pocket on the front and remove that pattern piece.
  5. Take your pocket piece and find a spot in a fabric scrap where you can lay the pocket pattern on matching your pencil marks to the pattern.
  6. When you position your pocket to the front to cut out all you have to do is find the corner marks and line up your pocket pattern so it matches the front and top stitch down.
This is what the end product looks like:

A shirt for me I will finish when I have the boys shirts done.

Because I am making the boys a sort of casual shirt, with a collar and band and buttons on the collar points I am using this pattern:

McCalls 6613
I am having a final fitting today so I can't speak to that yet but I have a few construction notes.

The first is that this pattern has separate pattern pieces for the front bands. This makes sense when you are trying to do something fancy like cut the band on the diagonal like they have in the man's shirt pictured above, or if you are working with a fabric that has a right side different from the wrong side, like I am.

Be aware however that this is not the usual, or the best way, to do a band in a standard, both sides the same, shirt fabric.

RTW shirts are made with the front bands being mere extensions of the fronts (to add this to your pattern measure your finished band width and add 2 X that to the fronts measuring from the seam allowance). In construction the button hole band is folded twice towards the front and top-stitched down along each long edge and the button band is folded twice to the wrong side and top-stitched along the inner, folded edge only.

I like this way of constructing a band best, once you have adjusted the pattern if you have to, because it is fast, easy and looks professional.

It also does not use any interfacing because you in fact have three layers of fabric on each side, or six layers over all.

In patterns like McCalls 6613 above with a sewn on band for some crazy reason they have you interface both bands. This is not a good idea, even if you use very light interfacing, much lighter than you would for the collar (if you try to use collar weight interfacing for this your wearer will not be able to bend forward without impaling themselves in the neck with their button band).

Instead you need to forget about interfacing the band at all and just don't trim the seam allowances once you sew the bands on. This will give you a weight and support very similar to the first product and to a professional feel to the shirt.

All that said here is my latest son shirt, with the button holes all done but not cut and the buttons not sewn on. I have to position the collar buttons first. This fabric was originally intended for shorts so I was a little short and had to do a contrast for the inside yoke and the pocket matching described above was not possible. I tried the best I could with the fabric I had to extend the sails of the pattern so it is better than nothing.

I am pretty pleased with this shirt overall:

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Butterick goes old school

The new Buttericks for fall are up and much to my extreme surprise there are a few I will definitely be getting and definitely making (as opposed to the general collecting and dust gathering I am more familiar with).

These are real life clothes.

In fact it has been a while since I have seen a collection with so many wearable staples. (Note none of these picks are the full skirted waisted dresses that I can assume someone, somewhere is making).

A good basic coat - crazily described as unlined which annoys me. If you don't need a lining you don't need a coat. Don't make it easy by making it bad - fortunately adding a lining to something like this is easy. 

But don't you think if either of these coats below were hanging in your closet don't you think you would reach for them? These are the kinds of coats that you put your hand on when the other hand has the car keys.

I think the first coat would be practical and ladylike in a soft wool and the second on would work if it had more buttons.

I also liked this jacket, again another shawl collar, as something you could wear with pants or a slim skirt for a casual suit or just to cover up a T shirt. Again not going to change the world but practical and not every day changes the world, or at least mine don't: 

I also liked, and would probably wear a lot of, these shirt views. I am getting tired of droopy tunics with my pants and these are good around-the-house and the around-the-neighbourhood basics:

Finally here is this unexciting staple but it comes with the FBA already done which is worthwhile. You never know when you might need a shell and you could always play around with the neckline if you wanted to:

Maybe if Butterick could find a place as a location for TNT's it might finally find a home in the BMV corporate model.

Monday, August 4, 2014

On handling professors

I am in the middle of marking right now and continuing my discussions with my nephew on what university life is like.

I am also aware that this fall I will be dealing with a new batch of new students.

Here are some thoughts, and I know they seem pretty basic, on professor management tools most students have to learn.

In no particular order, meaning I have mixed up big and little ideas:

  • Read the syllabus. This will tell you when the assignments are due and when the exams are written. It should also tell you what the expectations for each are. If it doesn't make sense go and talk to the prof after class. (Students have caught typos in my course outlines and it has been helpful to know that).
  • Read the syllabus. Most of the questions I am asked can be answered if the student read the syllabus.
  • If you are going to submit an assignment electronically (more and more courses, like mine, have you upload assignments to a course website) save your document as a .doc or, if the prof asks for it, a .pdf . If in doubt submit .docs, they are easier to mark with track changes. If you are a Mac person and believe the whole world should use Macs still have Office installed so you can save .docs. It is the industry standard. A prof marking a mountain of assignments doesn't like to have to email a student asking for a resubmit when they can't open the document. (I work on a Mac but still run into this).
  • Always put your name and student number as the file name in assignments you hand in. (I get many sent in as "Final assignment" then I have to resave after I have added the name etc.)
  • If you have any questions at all, about an assignment, what any course expectations are etc., go ask the prof directly. Do not ask other students. Repeat do not ask other students. If I had a dollar for every time 15 students misinterpreted something because one student had it wrong and that was the student every one else asked, I would be golfing in Florida right now.
  • Profs have office hours. This is time they sit and wait in their offices for customers with questions. If you are worried about a course or an assignment go early and go often. Do not be the kid who only shows up the week before the end of term and says "I'm going to fail this course what can I do?"
  • If you are unsure about what a prof wants in a paper or an assignment see above but even better give it back to them in your own words to see if there is a match, as in "OK so you want me to do some research on this topic and make an argument on why this theory is useful using 5-10 scholarly sources, 10 pages double-spaced 12 pt, font."
  • If you get a bad mark in an assignment never, ever whine about it or tell the prof you feel bad. To be honest this is about learning and work not about feelings. Make an appointment and go in and say "I didn't get the mark I expected for this assignment so what can I do next time so I get a better mark?" Keep your eyes on what you can do instead and on making this assignment a learning experience. This stuff is music to a prof's ears and they will be more than glad to help you regroup and raise your mark next time.
  • If you are really stressed or sick and think you are not going to make the deadline go and talk to the prof at least 48 hours before this is due and ask for an extension. Be prepared to supply a doctor's note.
  • Never plagiarize, whatever your friends tell you. You can get a zero in the assignment, the course, or even be asked to leave the program. You never know what prof is going to come down hardest on this (I do) and once that process starts there is no going back.
  • If you are in your first year and managed your time horribly and are freaking out go and see your prof and be honest about that (they are still not obliged to, and most won't, give you an extension but honesty is always your best bet).
  • Never go with a problem without a solution. "I am not going to get this to you Friday at 6:00, I have been sick, can I have an extension until Monday at 9:00?"
  • Do not under any circumstances send an email, or go see a prof with a fake excuse. Profs have fake excuse radar like you wouldn't believe.
  • Do not say your grandmother is sick. I once had six grandmothers go down the week before exams. Miraculously they all recovered. 
  • Do not write emails that say "I was on a family trip over the weekend and we didn't have internet access so I couldn't hand in my assignment."
  • Do not write "my computer crashed and I lost all my files including this assignment and I have had to start all over again." I this has never happened to me so it makes no sense it happens to certain students every term. Back up if you have to and be prepared to have no one believe you if this does happen.
  • Do not write that your computer fell out of the window.
  • Do not write that your room mate took your laptop to class by mistake.
  • Do not write that your boyfriend ran over your laptop in his car by mistake.
  • Do not put a smiley face at the end of an email asking for an extension.
  • Do not put a picture of a sweet kitten at the end of an email asking for extension because someone has said I like animals.
  • No smiley faces and no kittens.
  • I mean that.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Flypaper thoughts

  • On the sewing table are three shirts for the boys
  • Nothing unpredictable there
  • Front, back and collar. And sleeves
  • Will post when they are done
  • The loud road work has moved past our house and Miss Daisy is well settled
  • She plays with toys now and has one furry "baby" she frantically runs around hiding
  • I wonder where her real babies ended up
  • Speaking of babies
  • My daughter is discovering once again they are all different
  • Mothers learn that over and over
  • Asked the little girls what they wanted for lunch
  • Miss Heidi at two said "hot dogs
  • Miss Scarlett at four said "do you have any brussel sprouts?"
  • My point exactly
  • To break up pre-collar band angst I am engaged in some private projects
  • The best ones make no sense
  • Am collecting all the pocket patterns from my various pattern and putting them in one large envelope
  • Labelling it "pockets" just to be confusing
  • Decided to institute pockets in most garments
  • For years I just didn't put them in because sewing them slowed me down
  • Ready to be slowed down
  • Also cell phones and poop purses make them a necessity
  • All dog walkers will get this
  • Have also decided to do final versions on heavy paper of my TNTs with alterations made
  • Reading Add 3/8", add 1/2", add 3/4" is confusing even me
  • Need to consolidate my TNT suite
  • One little corner of my life organized
  • Had a mouse in the sewing room
  • Nice little nest made in my "to do mending pile"
  • Could have been there undisturbed for 15 years without me knowing
  • You don't need to build a better mouse trap
  • Just put peanut butter in it
  • Considering spending the fall making dresses
  • Easiest dressing and goes with rubber boots
  • Off to figure out what to do with four bunches of kale
  • Made kale chips last weekend
  • Everyone said they were great and left them in the bowl
  • Tasted like paper towels
  • Who can blame then
  • Wonder if Butterick falls will be interesting
  • Would be nice if they were

Monday, July 28, 2014

Pictures, shorts, sweaters and squirrels

First of thank you for the comments. 

A picture and objective eyes are helpful. I have avoided belts for previously stated reasons but I can see your point. Time to revise the assumptions maybe.

I have a lot of school work to do today (thinking of a how to handle professors post this week in the last of my getting ready for university series) but have some random material to share.

My sons, the varying degrees of hipsters, have discovered weird quilting cotton prints, and with it, their mom the sewer.

I now have four shirts on order  I hope to get started on once the paying job stuff is out of the way.

One guy chose this fabric and wanted some old school drawstring shorts. I can do old school quite well since that is who and what I am. I used this pattern dispensing with the elastic waist and fake tie (I mean really McCalls we are grown-ups here) and made a real drawstring with an elastic piece in the middle for a little bit of spring:

There is a fly zipper in there somewhere and the waistband/casing is continuous at the top if that makes sense. I had a lot of fun sewing this happy fabric.

I also submitted a baby sweater to my daughter, she loved it but she isn't a knitter, even though it is apparent neither am I.

I used a pattern I found on a blog which I realize had a few things I shouldn't have done, like the decreases were knit two togethers in the middle of the sleeves which really showed - although all the other mistakes are entirely my own.

I figure my knitting is at the stage my sewing was when I was about 14.

I am going to need some coaching.

First question is how do you weave in your ends so they don't come poking out later? I would really like to figure this one out.

Finally I have decided to really reduce my extra curricular activities. For example I had a good run with some Burdastyle courses but have bowed out of that, and have a few other things I want to ease out of.

The truth is I need more time for sewing and this means less teaching or writing about sewing.

Except for this blog.

For some reason, and they certainly aren't economic, the blog is more interesting and more fun than some other projects and I want to do more here.

I also want to have time in my life to clear the decks for conversations with people like Miss Scarlett.

Here is a sample from this week:

On all the things little Billy hasn't even experienced yet (obviously a long list, took us a while to compile):

Scarlett: "But it makes me said that there are some things he will never see."

Me (somewhat alarmed by the turn of this conversation) : "Like what?"

 Scarlett: "Like seeing me do cartwheels. I can't do cartwheels."

When washing my hair and pretending to be a hairdresser (this is a favourite thing she does- I like it because I get to hang my head over the bathtub and rest):

Scarlett: "Well Mrs. what kind of hair style would you like? How about a squirrel hair do? I know a lot about squirrels. I saw one once and I have a book on squirrel hair styles at home. (all of this is a fake English accent). I will make it go up and then make it flat. How does that sound?"

And finally the best for last. Miss Daisy had a brief escape earlier in the week and disappeared behind some bushes while I was out. My frantic, and tearful, husband (don't judge a book by its cover, tough guys can be pretty sentimental) called and asked me to rush home and coax her out. He was afraid she would make a break for it.

I was bringing the girls home from swimming lessons in the car and said to them "girls we have an emergency."

Scarlett: "Heidi this is great, you always wanted an emergency." (Heidi is two and agreed with this).


Scarlett: "Babsie should I pray Daisy stays where she is until we get there?"

Me: "Good idea."

Scarlett: "Who is God I forget? Grandma Monica told me."

Me: theological discussion before the light turned.

Scarlett: "Listen God I need you to do something for me. You can do this. You made the first man and the first woman so you can do this for us. This is easier. Tell Daisy to stay in the bushes until Babsie gets there."


Scarlett: "Maybe you better get Norval Brown (my late father) to help you."

A person has to be available for conversations like that.