August 2011


I remember looking around on patternreview one day and thinking “There sure are a lot of engineers around here.”  Now that I’ve done a bit more sewing that doesn’t surprise me.  A large part of sewing seems to be engineering: getting your garment to stand where it should, fall open where it should, to stretch when you move but hold it’s shape through many days of wash and wear.  Most of my sewing failures are engineering failures: a jacket collar that’s too stiff or a dress that stretches under its own weight.  Maybe it’s because I am a scientist, not an engineer, and I generally build things that I expect to fall apart shortly after my next experiment.

If I were an engineer, I think I would have approached this garment differently.  Like not making it out of silk charmeuse, for instance.  Also, I might have remembered that woven garments need extra space in the back for your arms to move.  I would have interfaced the outer panels of the top, rather than the facings, because the outer panels have to support the weight of the lower panels.  And I would have interfaced the lower panel at the top to keep the pleat from pulling the fibers apart.

But since I was making this up as I went along, here’s what I did to fix things:  I left the sleeves open at the bottoms so they wouldn’t pull so much when I reach forward.  I hand-stitched the facings to the front along the seamline to help the top maintain its shape.  I fused a little piece of interfacing over the part of the pleat where the fabric was tearing.  And I promised myself not to buy silk charmeuse ever again.

Unless it’s really pretty.


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Simple and sleeveless sewing

I’ve had it in my head recently that I should make a bunch of cute tops to wear with jeans.  By “cute tops” I mean t-shirts, because really that’s all I like to wear.  And now that they’re half constructed, I’m thinking it might mean tank tops.  That’s right, two pieces of fabric.  Sewn together.  Exciting, no?

First off there was this top from last winter that I never could figure out how to wear.  I do love the idea of pirate sleeves, and I always seem to fall for them in line drawings.  But really, not my style.  Much better without sleeves, don’t you think?

Then a second version of NL6022.  I did cut out the sleeves for this one.  And baste them on.  But then I thought shouldn’t this blouse be a little different from the last one?  And maybe sleeves in this print are a bit too much?  Still haven’t made up my mind on this one.  What do you think?  Sleeves, no sleeves?

Last is this “wearable muslin” in heavyweight dark teal ponte.  I thought this fabric was too plasticky when it arrived from the internet, and it had been languishing in my discard pile.  But then I thought of using it to muslin this t-shirt before I cut into some gorgeous sienna silk-wool knit.  Ack!  It’s a good thing I made a trial version.  The magazine says it is “fitted” but the one I made up was huge.  The pieces stuck out a good inch from my TNT t-shirt pattern so that probably should have been a clue.  Maybe I traced wrong?  I won’t show you the back with its horrible swayback puddling.  Anyway, I still haven’t solved my fitting problems and now I’m not sure what to do with my precious silk/wool.

I did cut out sleeves but when I pinned them on they felt heavy and plastic, and I prefer the long line made by wearing the sleeveless top with dark pants.  On the other hand, this is definitely a winter fabric and what on earth am I going to do with a sleeveless top in the winter?  Sew a batch of cardigans next, I guess.


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