No news on Stretch Pattern School book :-(

Catching up on emails some of you left via my contact form, I noticed quite a few inquiries about when Stuart Anderson – the author of the now defunct (Stretch) Pattern School website – will be publishing his book on drafting swimwear patterns. Unfortunately I have not received any update from him. And the method I contacted him previously also seems inactive now. Sorry.

It’s a shame that the knowledge may be lost, but I have to respect the man’s right to a peaceful retirement. If he feels it’s too much work & investment to assemble & publish a book sharing his knowledge, then it is too much work & investment. Of course if I do hear back from him I will pass on any news.

Let’s just pray that if it’s not him, then some other stretch pattern expert with proven industry experience will step up to the plate. And let’s appreciate and not take for granted all the wonderful online resources that are still available, many of which are free! Who knows which website will go offline for one reason or another. Access to these info is not a right, it’s a gift from authors & teachers who generously share their knowledge with us. Let’s support them when & where we can. At the very least thank them for sharing!

And I’m certainly grateful to Stuart for sharing his knowledge that enabled me to develop my current set of pattern blocks for stretch fabrics.

 

When blogging tool goes bad

Just a quick post to apologize to everyone who’ve tried to contact me via my About page. The form has gone on strike again & refused to forward you comment to me via email. I only just discovered all your feedbacks today while trying to fix the broken commenting form – Thanks Sasha of Second Piano for bringing this other problem to my attention. Bear with me as I sort out these technical glitches. And I will also go through my Contact Form logs & reply to your feedback soon.

Burda 2015-11-107 high-waisted flare trousers

It seems like pants / trousers-making is on my secret 2016 SWAP / New Year Resolution list. Maybe I’ll even get around to making a pair of Ginger jean and/or Birkin jean this year WooHoo! But let’s not talk too much of plans lest the rebel in me finds out.

The Pattern

Actually, Burda 2015-11-116 wasn’t the trousers I wanted to make. The one my heart lusted was Burda 2015-11-106, which seems like its knit cousin & features a different closure treatment. But as this is only my second attempt at trouser-making in recent memories, I thought I give tissue-fitting another go. And of course tissues can’t stretch, so there’s no way I’d be able to tissue-fit a pattern designed for stretch woven. (I’m assuming there is slight difference in sizing since the instruction sheets called for different patterns to be traced.) So my logic goes: figure out what standard deviations I have in pants/trousers in general with this pattern for regular woven fabrics, then apply the same to the pattern for stretch wovens. So here goes…

Style Shots & Mug Shots

WORN WITH: 1-2 Refashioned halter top;

WORN WITH: 3 Burda 2015-10-109 sweater; 4 Burda 2012-05-109 top, Zara jacket; 5 Self-drafted raglan T-shirt;

WORN WITH: 6-7 Self-drafted bolero jacket, Burda 2012-05-109 top;

And now a fuller set of mug shots…just to illustrate how difficult it is to know what a good fitting fitted trousers look like. Which wrinkle in what position is acceptable / to be expected and which really shouldn’t be there?

Size Used

36, as recommended by the sizing chart.

Changes Made

I did say I was going to tissue-fit this pair didn’t I? Sorry but I didn’t take any research photos this time. Which is just as well since it didn’t really work that well. Fitting trousers by oneself is just PITA. Fitting fitted trousers with tissue paper is even worse: With only one side of the trouser it’s hard to tell if there’s just enough or it’s a bit anemic or just too much.

I think this first set of fitting photos were taken after the tissue paper tweaks that included:

  • full tummy: increased Front crotch length (at CF to nothing at side seam), & resulting increase in Front dart
  • narrow hip: decreased width at side seam from waist downward
  • torso that’s deeper front-back than side-side: increased Front & Back crotch lengths & scooped Front & Back crotch curves deeper at crotch level
  • wrinkles that points to inner thighs: shifted widths from side seams to inseams.

The result as you can see isn’t great. But by this point the fabric was cut, and even with 1″ seam allowances further tweaks were limited – especially any that involves tilting & removing/adding wedges. So my subsequent attempt trying out bendy-ruler crotch-curve tweak per instruction in Fitting & Pattern Alteration book was limited in scope. Which was just as well since I was too timid to try out the weird protrusion at CF from waist to hip that this method would have me do to accommodate my protruding tummy!

I have to say though, having multiple fitting books confusing distracting me with different miracle cures didn’t really help the fitting process! I tried & untried so many different tweaks along the way that I can’t remember what changes were made at what stage & advised by which books. So as this particular experiment in pants-fitting was rather inconclusive, I’ll spare you most of the gruesome details & skip to my final changes on this wearable muslin…

Final Fitting Changes

1-pat-final

  1. Full Tumy: as above.
  2. Narrow Hip: as above.
  3. Torso deeper Front-Back than Side-Side: added slightly less at inseam than before, also shifted some Front amount to Back so
    that neither angle at the Crotch-Inseam point would be too extreme.
  4. Wrinkles pointing to Inner Thighs: increased amount shifted from side seams to inseams & also increased width added at inseams.
  5. Flat Droopy Bum: decreased Back Crotch Height tapering to nothing at side seam (ie remove horizontal wedge at hip level). Also reshaped
    Crotch & Princess Seam curves above hip to match the hollow in my lower back / high hip so the bum area won’t droop so much & cause more
    wrinkles below the bum. Front darts were also reshaped for the same reason, but I might have over done it a bit – the high waist now feels too tight to breath freely. Oops.
  6. Short legs: shortened at knees instead of at hem for more flattering shaping.
  7. Big Calfs: increased widths below knees at Back Princess Seams. Not sure this has done the trick. Judging from the final mug shots I wonder if perhaps I needed a combination of Prominent Thigh + Hyperextended Knee/Prominent Calf alterations (as shown in Fitting & Pattern Alteration) instead.
  8. Moved Front darts more towards the sides to make the pin-tuck appear straighter. Not sure what body shape deviation caused the problem…

Fabric & Notions Used

Construction Notes

2-sew-details

  • For fly front instruction, I’d recommend look elsewhere. Burda’s instruction was a bit useless because of the number of steps & all the similarly named pieces involved. I ended up referring to my Singer Sewing Pants That Fit book which has clear step-by-step photo instruction. But I complicated things by adding a lining, so some steps could not be performed before the lining was in place. Didn’t realize this at the time, so out with the seam ripper again. Oops. Maybe next time I’ll document the fly front construction as reference for anyone wanting a fly front with french fly shield for lined pants/trousers.
  • Burda instruction on front pleat tuck stitch doesn’t make clear if it should continue to the waistline. I continued mine because it looked better, but this may have contributed to too tight a fit from waist up. Oops.
  • Another oops happened with the hem. You know how they say to try it on with shoe height you’re going to wear with the pants to determine best length? Well I decided I wanted high heel & no break in the front, which meant uneven hem allowance & not enough in my lining. I had to patch on bias facing to the lining hem to hide this booboo.

The Verdict

Overall I have to say this pair is a Fail. While the final result doesn’t look disastrous, there’s definitely room for improvements. But it’s not the wrinkles that bother me the most. It’s not being able to breath in this thing! That and the fact that the pair of shoes I hemmed this for is impossible to walk in.

So I’m considering shortening this pair from both ends – chop off the high waist & shortening the legs…Possibly like these Alexander McQueen creations?5-fix-inspire

Aviator Cap & Convertible Mittens

Lastly, mopping up the too-big-to-trash scraps of the orange-black double-sided sweater knit are these experiments with an Aviator style hat & a pair of convertible mittens.

Style Shots & Mug Shots

4-style1-1b

WORN WITH: 1 Self-drafted mock-wrap skirt, Burda 2015-10-109 sweater, Burda 2013-11-117 jacket;

 

The Cat-ear Aviator Cap

Inspirations, Design, & Pattern

I had collected a bunch of inspirations for Aviator style cap. There was even one planned in my SWAP Fall/Winter 2014, though for a different fabric. The Block shown below was actually developed for that, which of course I haven’t got around to make. So count this make as a wearable muslin? Although this is knit, and the other isn’t, so maybe not so insightful as a muslin. Hmmm…

I had originally considered Burda 2011-10-149 fur cap for that planned faux shearling aviator cap. But because my head is really flat in the crown, I was worried standard hat pattern won’t fit well. RTW hats tend to fly off easily. And a floppy fabric one that mold to the head might just show up my deficiency. So I made my own Block from flattened plastic wrap + clear tape head mold. I added back some extra room in the crown, but not as much as in a standard pattern, just enough to disguise my deficiency slightly.

So how I ended up with ears…Yes I do feel a bit silly wear this. But you frequently see young ones in London & East Asian women in cute knitted animal face hats. I guess ultimately I still have East Asian blood flowing in me. Excuses excuses. In any case I consulted Burda 2011-10-142 animal cap which is a similar hat for children, but ended up going with the Block I already have with added ears. After all this is suppose to be a muslin right?

Fabrics & Notions

Construction Notes

I thought my fabric was thick enough to go single layer. But when I made up the single layer I found the result too floppy & unstable. Oops. So I ended up scavenging for scraps big enough to double all pattern pieces. This mishap did allowed me to hide the seams of the Ears to the cap & the strips of interfacing I used to stabilize the cap circumference & edges. The construction is otherwise unremarkable – apart from the general problems I had with this fabric. The Ears were the first time I tried using Flatlock stitches on a dart. It didn’t come out too bad. So now I don’t have to convert darts into seams – eg princess seams in my reversible skirt – to get shaping when using Flatlock as my primary seaming technique.

2-steps-Hat

The Convertible Mittens

Inspirations, Design, & Pattern

The mittens are the equivalent of impulse purchase. I had never lust after one. But as it was cold outside, I couldn’t find my gloves, and there was enough scraps left, I thought why not. I settled on mittens because fingers seem too fiddly to sew well in my spongy fabric.

After Googling “mitten sewing patterns” & “convertible mitten sewing patterns” I cobbled together different ideas & made up my own pattern to fit my hands as you can see below. There are probably simpler patterns one can use. But I didn’t want a visible seam line on the back of my hand, so I had to add extra bits like the “Back of Hand Tab”. You may be less fussy if you make one yourself! :@)

 

1-pat-Mittens

Fabrics & Notions

  • Fabric: 2.5 yd Mohair/Acrylic/Nylon Double-sided sweater knit from NY Elegant Fabrics ($59.95/yd)
  • Notions: 1/8″ elastics.

Construction Notes

Construction would probably be easier on the sewing machine. But my overlocker challenged me to flatlock the whole thing & I accepted. OK, I did have to tidy a few bits with hand sewing, and the finishing is a bit on the rough side. But for what would have otherwise been scraps they’re now serviceable mittens for a season or two. So can’t complain.

2-steps-Mittens

The Verdict

Regardless of whether these accessories are your cup of tea, or even mine, it’s quite satisfying to use up all the scraps without having to take up quilting or crafting! The hat – minus the ears – will probably get made again, maybe with chin closures for better practicality, for I haven’t given up on those inspiration images just yet. The mittens probably no, for I prefer gloves. Even as convertibles, they’re not as useful (for using smartphones while keeping hands warm) as I’d hope, because I discovered I actually use my thumbs as well when smartphoning.

So that’s the end of this double-sided fabric. Next up, my second attempt in recent years to make a pair of trousers.

Reversible Burda 2015-10-109 Sweater

This one snuck in just as I resumed my SWAP Fall/Winter 2014…Because a slouchy pullover seemed so overwhelmingly right for this double-sided sweater knit.

The Pattern

To be honest I wasn’t entirely sure about this sweater pattern. I can’t decide if it’s ugly or is it cool. The low-lying horizontal styleline might draw too much attention to my low-hanging boob / middle age spread. This + the curved shoulder seams also look a bit American footballer-ish at the same time constrictive – as I’ve learnt from a previous Burda cape project with similar shoulder shaping. But as I’m using a knit, & I’m not afraid to tinker with commercial patterns, I thought I’d give it a go. I can always test with muslin first.

Style Shots & Mug Shots

WORN WITH: 1 TopShop Martha jeans; 2 Self-drafted straight skirt; 3 Re-fashioned gore skirt;

WORN WITH: 4 Burda 2015-03-116 flare trousers; 5 Self-drafted mock-wrap skirt, Burda 2013-11-117 jacket, Self-drafted hat, Self-drafted mittens; 6-7 Self-drafted petticoat skirt; 8 Refashioned straight skirt;

Size Used

34 rather than recommended 36.

Changes Made

With the above doubts in mind, I was merciless with the pattern tweak even before I sewn up the first muslin.

Changes
  1. Shorten Yokes: Initially I remove an equal 2″. But when I made up the muslin, the styleline dip at the biceps & front. So I ended up shortening the front & sides further. Also, raising this seam lines also shortens them. As I was concerned about looking short-waisted & chunky – especially in a thick sweater knit – I opted to slim down the bodices & sleeves to match.
  2. Raise armholes: Again, paranoid looking short, I raised the armholes on the bodice & slim the sleeves the same amount to match so it won’t look like I only have like 3″ of torso.
  3. Forward shoulder adjustment: In the muslin the equivalent of shoulder seams definitely wanted to lie towards the back. So I move the seam slightly towards the Front (widen Back Yoke & narrow Front Yoke).
  4. Flatten shoulder curve: The muslin also shows weird bumps at the biceps as if the sleeves were mis-shapened set-in sleeves. I rather it look like slouchy kimono sleeves. So I flattened the shoulder curves on the Yokes.

For my wearable muslin made in a rather unstable cotton interlock from Tia Knight / Tissu Fabrics I stopped here. For the final reversible sweater I made some minor changes:

  1. For a more slouchy yet elongating look…Lengthened the bodices & sleeves, and exaggerated the high-low hem a bit more. I also smooth the transition of the hem at CF & CB for a less overtly edgy look.
  2. Cut Front & Back bodices on straight-grain on the CF/CB fold. Not sure the bias in the original adds anything if you’re not using a fabric with obvious pattern for that symmetrical chevron look. For mine it would just gobble up precious fabric & leave me not enough for 3 garments + 2 accessories!
  3. Because I want mine to be reversible & my fabric is too thick / spongy to double up, I cut the Yokes off at the fold lines.

Fabric & Notions Used

Construction Notes

  • For the Wearable Muslin I followed Burda’s illustrated instruction exactly. And I kind of regret it. The stay tape on the Back Yoke-Bodice seams feel restrictive when I slouch / reach forward. It may be due to my alterations, I don’t know. Anyway, this step didn’t suited me. So in my final Reversible Sweater I omitted the stay tape on the Front/Back Yoke-Bodice seams.
  • And the obligatory Oops: This would have been a really quick make had I known ahead of time that the zipper wasn’t going to work with my sweater knit. The invisible zip worked fine in my Wearable Muslin (though I don’t seem to ever wear it unzipped). But for some reason the reversible zipper I used for the the final make was too stiff for the fabric. I did put it in, then had to take it out & redo the seam like on the other side. So in the end my Reversible Sweater has a symmetrical funnel neck. And I should have sewn in this order…
    2-steps

The Verdict

I like the sports lux feel of the final make. It reminds me of Alexander Wang aesthetic. Looking at the photos, I’m still not 100% about the silhouette. But it certainly feels very cozy & comforting to wear! And I got a slouchy-day wearable muslin along the way. I wear that like other non-office-workers wear their sweats. It most certainly is in heavy rotation around here 🙂

I think my fitting/design tweaks worked well.

  • Moving the styleline away from the fullest part of my upper torso was definitely the right thing to do. While my middle is still short & wide (in the side view), at least this sweater isn’t shouting about it.
  • And slimming the bodices & sleeves down in the process was a plus. It still has a ‘Relax-fit’. I can’t imagine how huge this would have been if I hadn’t done this. Maybe the original width would have worked in a drapier fabric. For my fabric however I think this sizing is just about right.
  • Lengthwise I probably have added back most of the length I removed from the Yoke to the hem, except in the CF. This does look a tiny bit short. I might lengthen CF next time. (This could also be due to the fact that I didn’t make any FBA. But I still haven’t decided where I sit when it comes to FBA on a slouchy oversized design – would it make the garment way to big?)

So yeah, overall I think it’s a pattern I could make again – when these two went to garment heaven, or if the perfect fabric comes along.