Sunday, August 4, 2013

Raglan Sleeves

Let's talk about raglan sleeves.  So what is a raglan sleeve, anyway?  It's a sleeve that stretched directly to the collar piece.  A pattern piece for a raglan sleeve looks something like this--

This is from Ruby Jean's Closet's Sweet Cheeks Peasant Blouse--I've simply printed two of them and stuck them together.  Ignore my wobbly lines.  I'm really bad at mouse drawing! Notice how similar it looks to a one legged pant pattern piece?  The top edge is part of the neckline, while the bottom edge is the bottom of the sleeve.



Now, once we have everything cut out, and ironed, we need to prepare the fabric.  This particular pattern features gathered, puffed sleeves.  Raglan sleeves are most common in sports wear and coats, but occasionally appear in dresses and blouses.  In fact, I've never seen a blouse like this with anything but raglan sleeves.  So first step is to sew in the casing.  I'm the first to admit that I'm a lazy seamstress.  I see no reason to spend an hour with a hot iron, singeing my fingers when I can spend a few minutes with bias tape to get the same result. Since this also has ruffles, we sew those on, too, and put the casings in the front and back of the shirt.  There are matching seams on the front and back pieces, so we pin in the sleeves.  In a lot of ways, raglan sleeves are easier than traditional sleeves, because we don't have to contend with the sleeve cap and setting in sleeves.

 Now, we need to sew the sleeves in and finish all four seams.  (That's what I love my serger for.  Lovely finished seams done very, very quickly.)

Once it's sewn together and the seams finished, the side seams are next.  Every pattern with raglan sleeves I've ever seen would have you stop with sewing and finishing the side seams, but I know better.  Story time!




My mother was born in 1945.  That means that she grew up in a time where Home Economics was a requirement for girls, and sewing was part of the curriculum.  (This was in the fifties, I think.)  In school, one of the projects was a raglan sleeve blouse, which she made to the approval of her teacher... and the first time she wore it, she lifted her arms and the sleeves ripped out!  She brought it to her mother, and Grandma laughed herself sick, fixed it, and then explained the problem.  With raglan sleeves, there is a huge amount of stress placed on the seams.   Which means that where they meet  is where if you don't do something, it will rip out.

So first things first.  We cut a rectangle of bias tape... Fold under the raw edges and pin over where the seams meet.













 Next, we sew around it to secure it, and then I prefer to sew through it in an X from corner to corner.  That reinforces the point of greatest stress.  Now when you lift your arms, it won't rip out. By using matching thread, it doesn't really show from the outside unless you're looking, either.




Now all that's left to finish the blouse is the neck casing and hem.  And remember, LAZY!  Hello bias tape casings, goodbye burned fingers!










Saturday, August 3, 2013

Sewing for Baby Alex

By now, Alex has probably outgrown this, and I'm not certain he ever wore it because it turned out a bit wide. I'm also not entirely happy with this one.  While I adore the way a piped placket looks, it made it a bit thick and hard to button.  And the train embroidery ended up a little too high.  A quarter inch lower would have been better.  I also would have preferred the collar to actually meet, but it didn't. I'd like to blame the pattern, but it must be something I did, because it's something I struggle with.



I love whipstitch piping, though.  I changed up the sleeves a bit to have piped cuffs, but otherwise, this is made as it was supposed to be.  It's, of course, from a vintage pattern.  :) Vintage 80s, in this case.  It's Butterick 4723, and I have it in multiple sizes.  This is one pattern that I'd actually love to have a complete set of!  Remember, patterns of this era were one size only.  :)




I actually used the embroidery pattern for the girls' Easter dresses this past year, too.  I'd wanted to do a Sunday romper for Alex with a train motif, so when I found this, it was perfect!  Exactly what I wanted, and cute to boot.  As soon as I locate pictures, I may be doing a post about the baby shower gifts I made.  With everything that happened that month and the aftermath, I never got around to posting about them.  And believe me, I went a bit crazy at finally being able to sew for a little boy!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

the birthday presents

I did actually finish those birthday presents.  For Lizzie, I did another Minnie Mouse outfit.  The headband, at least was a hit at the time, and it's one of her favorites now, but, well, to a three-year-old clothing is an unexciting present!









Richard has a yen for turtles.  His first ever toy was a stuffed turtle that Uncle Geoffrey gave him the day he was born.  Add to that fact that both his parents went to Georgia tech, and you have Tech Turtle.  He's made from a vintage toy pattern, and I'm completely convinced that those are the way to go. 







I'm afraid I forgot to take pictures of Gracie's present.  Hers was tricky, because I was cutting down a doll clothing pattern to fit her extremely skinny favorite doll.  Hopefully, Christmas won't be as difficult.  Someday, I should probably blog about baby gifts as well--I have enough pictures, after all--but my blog time and sewing time are limited these days.  Though y'all can expect a post on raglan sleeves within the next week!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

This year's models

It's been a while since I've posted. In my defense, having three kids in the house under the age of six keeps me busy. Add in the three adult children I'm responsible for and my 90 year old grandmother, and life is hectic. I've made a few things though--like swimsuits for the kids. After all, what seamstress with kiddos can resist making their kids coordinate? I certainly can't!

Isn't Alex a cutie in his swimwear?  I certainly think so!  This is Peek-a-Boo Pattern Shop's Surf's Up Board Shorts.   Yeah, I know.  He was about a month old here an nowhere near ready to hit the pool, but all things being equal, he needed one, too!

I even did the pocket.  And unlike Nicole, Jon doesn't know what to do with those yet.  (One of my favorite things is watching when toddlers discover what pockets are for.  It's just sooo cute!)

The girls mostly match--Grace informed me that she's too old for ruffles on her behind.  And here I remember having Sunday-go-to-meeting undies with ruffles on them until I was six or seven!  They grow up so fast!



Nikki is happier to model these days than Gracie is. 
Don't ask me why.  Pull out the camera, and Nikki is right there, grinning at you!  But Grace wants to hide from it.  Bribery isn't even working!  This is also from Peek-a-Boo--it's the Santa Monica Tankini.  I fell in love with this last year when it showed up on Girl Inspired's blog.  Perhaps I was unconsciously guided by her color choices, too.  Mine is made from a medium weight swimwear fabric I got from ebay.  I went with medium weight this year because I didn't want to fuss with linings, and because of the weight, it's less shifty than the stuff I used last year.


And be prepared... you may be seeing this fabric for a few years yet to come, because I have a ton of it.  Suit-by-suit, it's cheaper than ready to wear, but to get the good deal, you often have to buy in bulk.  I love how tankinis make it easy for the kids to go to the bathroom, and how easy it is to change swimmy diapers, and by making them, I get the modesty of a one piece.






Also doesn't hurt that I have the cutest models in the world in my living room!  Nikki is always happy to smile for the camera so she can see herself on film.

Oh, and the hems?  I had an epiphany!  How you get pro hems on knits is to use a double needle--the biggest your machine can take.  For mine, that's a size 4.  But regular tension with give you a pintuck effect... which is not what we want.  So just loosen the tension.  Duh!  Right?


 Don't you just love the 'well duh!' epiphanies?



Grace finally agreed here... for two brownies and some Goldfish.  She's a natural at this, but for some reason...  Ah, well, five year olds!  I love teal and turquoise on the girls.  It makes their eyes stand out and their hair pop...






And alas, no ruffles.  *sniff*.  I love the fit of these.  With a few length tweaks, they're perfect.  Much better than the fit of RTW.  Grace is in the 99% for height, and most of that is in her torso.  She's always been tall, and that's really what brought me back to sewing in the first place--she needed clothes that fit!  To be honest, last year's suits were from Butterick and Kwik Sew and they didn't fit half as well as these do.  I ended up taking in the bottoms on Grace's last year. Yay for independent pattern companies!




I have a few other things to tell y'all about before we get to the raglan sleeves.  I'll be cutting that out tomorrow and taking pictures while I sew so I can tell y'all all about how that works... and what the books don't say.  Some things you learn from books.  Others you learn from people.  The only person I've ever heard say this was my grandmother, but I figure she ought to know, considering that she was a professional seamstress and supported her entire family that way during the Great Depression.  One of the reasons why I know so many "vintage" techniques is because of her and my mother, who was taught by her, teaching me!


  So y'all have a nice sleep in the swing with us, and we'll see you tomorrow about a few more unblogged projects!


Thursday, May 9, 2013

Pattern Review: Elle's Princess Twirl Dress

Okay, I was rushing a bit, so I didn't take many pictures, unfortunately, but Elle asked me to review her Princess Twirl Dress.  I received the Snow White version, and thought it would be perfect for a birthday present for Nikki.  (This pattern--an updated version of it, that is--is available at Elle Garrett Designs)  My first glance over the pattern gave me... issues.  First of all, aside from some arbitrary RTW sizing, it doesn't have any sizing information.  Bad idea.  After having tried it on Nikki, I'd say that it runs small.  She's just starting to get into 2T in most brands, and it was tight on her.  My thought of her being able to put it on herself isn't going to happen.  In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if it doesn't fit in a month or two.  It's just that tight.  I'm a measurement girl.  I want measurements.  I need them.  I just don't want the measurements of a child that will fit into a certain garment, I want finished measurements, too!


See, this is a 2T cut to a 4T length.  And it was perfect for length on Nikki.  I guessed and cut it one size longer and it turns out I was right.  The directions were also too brief if you're aiming for a beginning sewer.  I actually followed them since I was testing the pattern.  Truthfully, there are easier ways to achieve this garment.  There were absolutely no instructions for the waistband casing.  The neckline casing and arm casings would have been easier to achieve with bias tape--less bulk to sew through, and less ironing.  Since I was working with polyester satin and organza, I really should have done it my way because there would have been a lot less fraying.

The pattern itself had no instructions on how it should be assembled.  Part of my difficulties might have come from that. I taped it together as best I could without any information on how it went together.I'm sure that it was slightly bigger because I'm used to sewing with PDF patterns from places like the Peek-a-Boo Pattern shop that have to lay the paper side-by-side and tape it instead of on top of each other.  There was also nothing on how big the seam allowances should be or if they needed added in. 

Next, the skirt and the waist seams didn't match--I had to ease in the skirt because the opening was bigger than the bodice bottom.    Also, there were no instructions as to reinforcing the raglan sleeves.  This is a common problem, and to be honest, I've never seen a pattern or sewing book that says to do it, even though it's a necessity.  My mother and grandmother taught me that--if you don't reinforce it, the sleeves will easily rip out.

Another thing, there were no provisions for attaching the sash.  I ended up using crochet thread and making some hand crocheted belt loops to keep it in place.  The fabric here is slippery.  Without them, the sash will slip down and off.

And next to last--these are full circle skirts here.  If I didn't sew vintage, I'd have no idea how to go about hemming them, and I certainly wouldn't know that it needs to be hung up for a minimum of 24 hours to allow the bias cut bits to stretch before you hem it.  And that wasn't mentioned.   The skirt was a full two inches longer in some places after being hung up.

Last but not least, fishing line through the hem, as the pattern suggests, will only give the desired result if it's the correct weight.  The pattern doesn't give a weight of line, so I used what was laying around... and it wasn't the right weight.  My version doesn't have that lovely ripple effect in the pattern picture because  I didn't use the same fishing line that she did.

Nikki loved it, though.  She calls it her "Super dress" as in Supergirl.  :) Baby Alex's nursery is decorated in Superman, and the colors are right, so it's on the brain!  Look for Ricky's birthday present post in the next few days.




Photobucket

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Announcement!

Welcome to the world, Alexander!


He was born at 1:55 this morning, 8 pounds, 4 ounces, 20 inches long!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Kids clothes week.

Well, letssee...  Day 1 I prepared the patterns and basted the embroidery transfers to fabric.  Day 2, I stamped the embroidery, cut out the pattern, embroidered one onesie, screwed it up, and picked it out, and then basted the pleats for the romper.  Day 3, I did all the embroidery, and today I finished preparing the pleats, cut out the lining, pressed all the pieces again, and prepared stencils for the extra onesies I have lying around.  Since they're 0-3 months, I need to get them done and home with Joanna!  Yeah, I'm doing more decorating commercial pieces this time.  But I've got more to do lately.  Tomorrow, I'm going to sew together the romper, and hopefully, tonight, I'll paint one of the onesies.  I love freezer paper stenciling!