Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Lekala, Thread Tracing and Other Goings On

So what's been going on here at Starcross Sewing HQ?

First up, I wanted to share with you that a couple of my readers have commented that Bootstrap Fashion Patterns is pretty much exactly like Lekala. Now, I had heard Lekala mentioned before but had never paid much attention to it or investigated further. I had a look at the Lekala website today and there are literally thousands of downloadable, cheap patterns available that come customised to your measurements. I also noticed that many of the patterns you get on Bootstrap Fashion Patterns for $10 are exact copies of the patterns available on Lekala for $2.49. What's that all about?

In any case, why aren't more people using one of these services. I know that even with the pattern adapted to your measurements it's not necessarily going to fit your proportions but it's better than most pattern companies can do. So, I was wondering why doesn't everyone use a service like Lekala instead of buying the regular sewing patterns we know?! If you have any experience with Lekala or Bootstrap Fashion Patterns or a similar service, I'd really like to hear what you think.

My weekend was mostly spent making muslins. I'm invited to a wedding in October and want to use this as an opportunity to make something really fancy and carefully crafted, which I ordinarily wouldn't get a chance to wear or have the time to make. To save a bit of money and use what's in my stash, I decided to use this super shiny and fancy mystery fibre fabric a friend brought me from Morocco as a present. It's bold and did I say shiny!

Really difficult to photograph!
I'm loosely following Susan Khalje's Couture Dress Class on Craftsy to try out some new ways of sewing. So I prepared my toiles as suggested by her and thread traced every single piece before machine basting  all the pieces together. And I did all of that three times with three different stages of toiles. It's not so much the fit that needed revising with each new toile but the style and proportions. I guess I just really don't quite know what I want to make. I'd so appreciate a good dress form and some experience in draping right now. I think I could get a good result much quicker.

Thread Tracing
I'm still not happy with version 3 but I think I might just make a quick wearable dress from it to get a better idea on what needs changing rather than work with this rather cumbersome toile I have.

Oh yes and one of my readers pointed out that she couldn't comment on my blog. Is anyone else experiencing this problem? It would be great if you could let me know if you have any problems. In an email I guess :)

Oh, and don't forget to have a look at my Emigration Sale stuff to see if there is anything you'd like. 

Happy sewing everyone!

Monday, August 18, 2014

The BurdaStyle Sew-Along Part 3: Sewing the Bodice

We have all our preparation done and all our pieces are cut and now ready for sewing. Woohoo! If you have missed the previous instalments have a look at the links below so you can catch up if you wish:

Announcing the BurdaStyle Sew-Along

BurdaStyle Sew-Along Part 2: FBA, Preparing All Pattern Pieces & Cutting Out


Today we will sew together our bodice. I am not strictly following the BurdaStyle instructions but am using my own tried-and-tested techniques and sewing sequences. Much of the way I sew is guided by the idea of unit sewing.

This means I will try to finish as much as I can on a small unit before joining it to a bigger piece, or unit. For example, I will finish the bodice completely before joining it to the skirt. It would be silly to sew up the whole dress and then finish the neckline and armholes last. There would be too much bulk and my pieces would no longer lie flat. It's always best to have small and relatively flat pieces as it makes sewing so much easier.

So, first off I'm sewing the bodice back and front together at the shoulder seams. If you have decided to cut your front in two pieces and not on the fold as I have, you can first sew the two fronts together along the centre front.

Before moving on to any pressing or trimming or neatening, I will save time by also sewing both the neck facings and armhole facings together at the shoulder seams.

I like to sew steps like these in a chain. It saves thread and time:

Next we'll press all seams apart and neaten the shoulder seams of the bodice only, as well as the outside edge of the neckline facing. The rest does not need to be neatened.

I use my overlocker/serger to do this work for me. If you don't own one, you can use an overcasting stitch on your sewing machine.

Next we'll combine bodice and neckline facing units. Lay your facing right side to right side onto the neck opening of the bodice, matching shoulder seams and centre back and centre front. Mark your stitching line for the front neck edge. This will help to create and accurate seam.

Stitch around the neckline edge at 1.5 cm. Then reinforce the front neckline with another line of stitching exactly on top of the first line. Then trim and clip your neckline seam allowance.

Don't be scared of trimming and snipping. Once you have reinforced your stitching in the front, you are fine. Trim and snip with confidence. If you don't, you'll never be able to neatly turn the neckline.

Next, press and understitch the neckline. Don't know what understitching is? Have a read of this great tutorial on the Sewaholic blog! I managed to understitch all the way around the neckline, even into the V at the front. Then I pressed everything.

The next step is entirely optional but I love it, because I hate floppy necklines. I pinned my neckline facing flat, and pinned around the edge of it, so I can see where the edge of the facing runs on the right side of the garment.

Then I drew a line in with a vanishing marker.

I then sewed all around the edge of the neckline facing from the right side slowly, feeling the edge of the facing through to the right side while sewing. This neatly and firmly holds that annoying facing in place and also looks relatively sporty and decorative on the front. For this kind of dress I find this finishing appropriate. What do you think?

Next, we'll finish the armhole facing in much the same way. Pin the armhole facing around the armhole, matching shoulder seams, and stitch at 1.5 cm.

Then understitch. Remember undestitching?

Now we are ready to join up the side seams of the bodice and then press apart.

And last we neaten the edges of both the side seam and outside armhole facing edge. And as with the neckline I have chosen to topstitch the armhole facings in place from the right side.

Tada, our bodice is done and looking neat from both the inside and outside. What do you think?

Our bodice is now finished and ready to be attached to our skirt. I'll show you how to sew and shirr the skirt in the next post. Happy sewing!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Great Big Emigration Sale Continues: More Patterns, Books and Yarn

Here is the last lot for now. More might go up later this month, but not too much more.

Please click HERE to see how you can buy, postage, etc. Everything from the previous two posts is listed under that link too, or when you click the  "Emigration Sale" button in the sidebar.

Today I'm selling two sewing books. They are both pretty heavy and big, so postage within the UK will probably be £3.50, but other stuff can likely be put in the same parcel for the same postage price.

There is also some yarn I'm selling at the end of this post and this won't fit into a large latter either, so will probably come to £3.50 postage within the UK as well.

The rest of the stuff today are more sewing patterns, both new and vintage:

SOLD! CLOTHING FOR  MODERNS: 5th Edition, 1974. Used in OK condition. This is a sewing book that teaches you how to sew from cutting out to fitting to sewing different parts of a garment, etc. £4

SOLD! SEW U: HOME STRETCH: 1st Edition, 2008. This was my first book on learning how to sew with knits. It's a great primer and includes 3 patterns in the back. It's good but I've outgrown it and never use it any more. I've used one of the patterns in the back, but traced it only, so all three patterns are stilll uncut in the back of the book. £7

SOLD! MCCALL'S 9461. from 1968. Complete and uncut pattern for sizes 12 and 14 (Bust 34-36). £2.50

SOLD! SIMPLICITY 6108. from 1974. Size 18 (Waist 32). The straight-legged pair has been made by the previous owner of the pattern. Pins still in pattern. The bell-bottomed version is uncut. Both versions still in usable condition. Envelope a bit tattered. £1.50

SIMPLICITY 7180. Sizes 8-16. Kids' Pattern. Used but uncut, envelope is missing its flap. £2

NEUE MODE - YOUNG COLLECTION 23206. Size 34-46 (8-20). Pattern from the 1980s? Complete and uncut. Plastic cover missing. £1.50

WOMAN'S REALM L101. Size 34. ~ 1960s. Unprinted Pattern (only has holes as markings on pattern). Back facing (pattern piece 3) missing, but easily redraftable. £3


RICO FASHION ROMANCE YARN: 8 balls of 250m (25g) £10

That's all. Thanks everyone for having a look. Have a nice weekend! And contact me with any postage queries or any questions at all.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bootstrap Fashion Patterns

Have you heard of Bootstrap Fashion? I recently discovered their website by sheer coincidence while reading through the Center for Pattern Design email newsletter. Tucked away neatly at the very bottom of the newsletter was a little piece on Bootstrap Fashion described with the words "This is pattern downloading on steroids". And indeed it is!

The Bootstrap Fashion site is chock-full with royalty-free, downloadable dressmaking patterns for $10 a piece - and wait for it......they are all custom-sized! At checkout you enter the measurements you wish to purchase the pattern for, and minutes later it is ready for you to download in your custom size. This is madness!

And there are tons of different styles available, from dresses to jackets to trousers to blouses - you name it. Below are just some of my favourites: a gorgeous coat dress, interesting knit dresses, sailor pants,....

As much as I'm raving about Bootstrap Fashion I haven't actually tried any of their patterns yet. Have you? I'm thinking I might make them my last indie pattern company to test in "A Year of Indie Patterns" but it will be a while until I get around to doing that.

I'm really intrigued to see how accurately the patterns fit with the measurements you provide. I'm already impressed that you are not only asked to submit the usual bust, waist and hip measurements, but you are also asked for torso length, belly protuberance, and, thankfully, small or full bust adjustments. So, the measurements on which the final pattern is based is more comprehensive than if only bust, waist and hip measurements were taken into account.

What do you think? Will you give them a try? And the other question is, if companies like this exist that can cheaply spit out made-to-measure patterns, how can other indie pattern companies compete?


Friday, August 15, 2014

The BurdaStyle Sew-Along Part 2: FBA, Preparing All Pattern Pieces & Cutting Out

Hi everyone, amidst the turmoil of The Great Big Emigration Sale, the BurdaStyle Shirred Dress Sew-Along continues unabated. BI'm back today with the second instalment, in which we'll be doing an FBA (Full-Bust Adjustment) for those of you who need one, and we'll prepare and cut out all of our pattern pieces.

At this stage you should have all you pattern pieces traced. If not, go back to the previous instalment to see how.

Now, if you have chosen your size according to your bust measurement, jump on ahead to PREPARING YOUR PATTERN PIECES. If you have used your high bust measurement to find your size, cut out your front piece only and follow along with me for a full bust adjustment.


First, hold your piece up to your body as if you were wearing it (shoulder of pattern to your shoulder, center front of the pattern to your center front) and mark your bust point. This does not have to be overly accurate but gives us a general idea.

With your bust point at the center draw the following three lines onto your tissue.

Now slash your pattern along these lines.

Spread apart by half the amount you need extra. In my example I'm adding an inch (2.5cm), which will give me two inches, or just over 5cm, in total. You have to add half the difference of your actual bust measurement and the bust measurement of the size you traced. (See CHOOSING THE RIGHT SIZE in the previous post if you are unclear)

Then go ahead and glue everything together as you can see from the picture below and cut off overhanging paper (not yet done in photo below).

And that's called a Full Bust Adjustment, or FBA. Congratulations!


Next we will need to add seam allowance to all of our pieces. Remember that BurdaStyle magazine patterns NEVER have seam allowances included. We need to add them. In the instrcutions you are usually given a guide as to how much seam allowance is suggested. See under SEAM AND HEM ALLOWANCES:

You do not have to stick to this. I chose to add 1.5 cm all around. Don't forget that pieces that are cut on the fold don't need seam allowances added, as in the back piece pictured below.

Now your four traced pieces are ready to be cut.

But I'm making you make two more pattern pieces, that we will use as armhole facings. Take your back piece and draw in a line 4 cm away from the armhole and trace it onto another piece.

Do the same with the front armhole. Don't forget to add in your grainlines. That's it.

But hey, what about the skirt and the pockets you say?! For those we have to turn back to our BurdaStyle instructions. Find where it says 2 skirt panels and 2 pockets under CUTTING OUT:

Your skirt panels will be 83,85, 87, 89 or 91 cm wide, depending on your size. For size 34 it's 83 cm, for size 36 it's 85 cm and so on. For all sizes the skirt will be 74 cm wide. Each pocket is 25 cm by 19 cm regardless of size.

Forget about the bias strips for the armholes. We have already made our own facings earlier.

I won't make pattern pieces for either skirt or pockets but will just mark both directly onto the fabric.

So here we have it. All pattern pieces done: Back bodice, front bodice, front neckline facing, back neckline facing, front armhole facing and back armhole facing.


BurdaStyle suggests that you cut all your pieces on the crosswise grain. Remember grain? I chose not to do so and you don't have to either. It's up to you. The only pieces I will place on the crosswise grain for a bit of a fun effect are my pocket pieces (My fabric is stripy).

BurdaStyle instructions tell you how many of each piece to cut out. See under CUTTING OUT:

You cut piece 21 (front) 2x, piece 22 (back) on a fold 1x, and so on. Once everything is laid out on the fabric and the skirt and pocket pieces marked you are ready to cut.

I cut mine in a strange and complicated way, not suitable for photographing. But here you can see how I laid out my facing pieces on my left-over material:

Notice how my front facing is overhanging the fabric edge?! That's because I decided last minute to cut my front bodice plus facing on the fold. This means I didn't need the seam allowance I had included in the pattern piece. Hence it is now overhanging and effectively eliminated. Make sense?

Next you will cut both armhole and neckline facings out of a suitable iron-on interfacing. I usually choose a lightweight woven interfacing, but somehow I was inspired to try a lightweight knit interfacing for this project.

If you are in doubt of what interfacing to use you can stick to the recommendation in the instructions in BurdaStyle. They tell you to use Vilene.

Fuse the interfacing onto the back of your facing pieces and then the sewing can commence.

See you again in a couple of days for the next instalment. Happy sewing!