Thursday, 25 September 2014

A quick and colourful result

Sometimes you just need a quick and simple make. Especially when you have that "I want something new to wear tonight" feeling at around lunchtime.

So I whipped up this colourful skirt. Took no time at all. Just take one metre of cotton sateen, one centre back seam and an elastic waist and you have a bright, colourful skirt in no time at all. There are a million tutorials available if you want to make one yourself.

I was fortunate to just be able to use the selvedge at the centre back seam so didn't even need to finish the seams.

I machine hemmed it with two rows of grey thread. I find that two rows looks more intentional and therefore more finished than one sometimes.

And in case you were wondering a matching vodka is optional, although I do find it makes the photo taking a little easier to bear. I recommend pomegranate juice for a nice reddish pink hue.

Of course now I really need to make some tops to go with it. I don't have any other solid coloured tops and I'm not a print matching kind of girl. And this old RTW top is now enormous.

I think I might need to keep an eye out for some more colourful cotton sateens. But perhaps after I've made a couple of tops to go with this one.

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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

To cowl or not to cowl?

That is the question. I've made M6604 twice now. The first time I ended up with bewbsmiles...


As someone else said, "It is too tight but with too much excess fabric at the same time". (Sorry don't know who said it but from now on I will try to remember to save these posts to refer to later.)

But I did think it was worth another try. So then I made version two.

Unfortunately I made this a while ago and now can't remember exactly what alterations I made. I think I cheated by just adding to the centre front thinking that I could then take in the extra in the neckline tucks.

While this has largely solved the bewbsmile issue, there is now too much fabric around the shoulders.

Now I realise that I probably have to do an FBA. Which is fine and I probably will make another with one at some stage. But I would really like to try the cowl neck  version.

But given the fit issues I've already encountered I'm not even sure what size to start with. The first version started at 20 then down to 18. The second is an altered 18. I also cannot get my head around trying to do any sort of FBA on a cowl.

So any ideas? Have you made M6604? How did you go? Any and all thoughts or suggestions are very welcome.

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Tuesday, 9 September 2014

It's not you. It is the pattern.

Warning: Long (potentially boring) rant to follow. And it doesn't even have pictures.

I've been meaning to write this for a while but didn't quite get around to it. Then Seamstress Erin and I discussed it at length during our fabric shopping in Chiang Mai and I still didn't write about it. And then yesterday I saw a post by someone who discovered that the finished garment measurements on her McCalls jacket pattern were completely inaccurate. Unfortunately, I now can't find this post so if you know who this is, please let me know so that I can credit the author.

I had first read this very interesting thesis a while ago but didn't pay enough attention to the details. It was written by Debra Lee McLendon at North Carolina State University as part of her Master of Science (Textiles). We'll come back to this shortly.

When I was making M6702 I was looking at finished garment measurements, one of which was Hips 142 cm or 56.5". However, 142 cm does not equal 56.5" so one of them has to be wrong. 56.5" is actually 143.5 cm, so if you were to go by the metric measure you are already 1.5 cm out. Then I measured the flat pattern and the finished garment size at the hips is actually 145 cm.

So this prompted me to go back to the thesis. Basically, the author made test garments from fitting shells (Vogue and Butterick) and semi-fitted dresses in both size 10 and size 18. The semi-fitted patterns were from Burda, Butterick (size 10 only), McCalls and New Look.

These garments were then compared to both the pattern companies' stated ease charts and finished garment measurements. This is what it found;

Do finished garment measurements in key areas printed on patterns conform to the 
company ease specifications for each fit category?  Generally, no. 

  • None of the three fitting shells met ease requirements in all three areas.  The size 10 Vogue came closest to meeting the required amount in the bust, whereas both brands of the size 18 had too much ease in the bust.  All three patterns had too little ease in the waist and hip.  
  • The only brand to meet ease specifications for the semi-fitted category of the size 10 patterns under evaluation was Butterick #5746. 
  • None of the brands of the size 18 patterns met the ease specifications for the semi-fitted category. 
  • None of the brands evaluated met their finished garment specifications when compared to the tissue measurements. 

I know that you are all thinking "Well, yes, we know they have too much ease."

However, I had always thought of that in relation to what it seems most of us find acceptable. I hadn't really thought about the fact that they do not have the ease they claim to have or should have according to the companies' own specifications. It is also very easy to dismiss what seem to be small differences. After all, half an inch isn't very much. But when a fitting shell has half an inch too much ease in the bust, this is at least a 20% difference.

Do pattern companies really think that give or take 20% here or there is ok?

Now just have a quick look at the last point from the thesis above. That's right, the one that says
None of the brands evaluated met their finished garment specifications when compared to the tissue measurements.

We can argue about ease amounts, after all desirable ease and the fit it provides is subjective. But now we are talking about accuracy. As the author states, the tissue pattern measurements on all brands failed to match the finished garment specs for both the bust and hip.

That's right, not one of the patterns researched had accurate finished garment measurements.

The author concluded with this, Based on the data, it would not be possible to produce a garment from any of the patterns that matched the expected finished garment specs provided on the patterns.

How is this considered acceptable? How have we come to accept that patterns just are inaccurate? 

I must admit that I fear an avalanche of "that is why you need to make a muslin" responses. But surely a muslin should be to tweak a pattern to our unique bodies not to compensate for the fact that the initial pattern is just plain wrong?

I'd love to know what you think.

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