Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Zen of Sewing

There are a lot of us who haven't sewn a single stitch for a long, long time, much less make an entire garment.  Even if you sew a lot, there are bound to be times when you put the machine away for a period, moving on to other creative ventures. Or perhaps you have an extended break from your sewing routine when life got in the way. Or maybe you've had a more pleasant interruption, like a nice long vacation.

If the break in your sewing routine has been long, just starting a new garment may cause a tiny elevation in your stress level. You see the pile of projects waiting for you to start (they've been there for two months!) and if you're like me, you immediately start the oven or sorting socks. It's not that we've forgotten how to cut out a pattern or sew a seam - it's just that whole "starting" thing.

My favorite seamstress had a couple of thoughts on "starting", since she's been traveling and away from her machine...with MY pile of fabric waiting in her sewing room. She contends that the secret to starting is actually STARTING! But sometimes, putting in some time to set the mood for sewing helps the starting - it's all about finding the zen of sewing.

1) Get your space ready to it clean? Is it organized? Clearing the sewing table of magazines and junk mail, dusting your machine and getting your tools ready is considered "starting".

2) If watching cooking shows relaxes you and you can do two things at once, then by all means turn on some noise...for Laurel, a little soft jazz to sew by creates a nice (and calming) "starting" atmosphere.

3) If you have a lot of projects to start, don't go for the silk dress or the wool coat right away - choose something simple: an easy fabric with a pattern you know you're going to enjoy; nothing too complex. We loved Natalie's top and had picked out some great cottons to make this Very Easy Vogue 8815. This would be a great place to Start.

Natalie is an amazing muse inspiring me with her Vogue 8815 top!

4) Go ahead...START. Just do it. (Once the "Starting's" over, you'll remember why you love to sew).

We chose an easy fabric to sew and fit - our beautiful cotton voile in two different prints to add a unique and funky flair for Fall!

 After a few darts and some seams, your sewing zen is back - something like a decorative zipper doesn't seem so intimidating. For my top, Laurel "Googled" How to sew an exposed zipper and found a Threads article to get a few pointers - remember, the Internet is your friend:)

This blouse pattern is just as the name implies...very easy.  The neckline has no facing, just a single fold bias tape edge.  The hemline on the peplum is curved, so that same bias tape makes hemming a cinch.

And just like that , you've got your sewing groove back on track...ready to tackle that silk! 
Welcome back, Laurel!! Looks like you brought back lots of inspiration from your trip to France! Please pop over to Laurel's blog to see where she went "In search of Style" 

I can't wait to try this on! 
Natalie and I will have so much fun wearing our funky tops on the same days.

Look at that wonderful zipper detail on the back outside of my top!!! We are going to be showing more ways to use our new designer zippers on my new fall wardrobe - stay tuned!

What fabulous fabrics would you combine for this versatile top

It can be cotton, silk, rayon and even a lightweight wool!
Creatively Yours,

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Do Your homework - The muslin!

Marie Antoinette in her Muslin
Before cutting pieces from the final fabric, a dressmaker may test the fit of a garment, using an inexpensive muslin fabric, thereby avoiding potential costly mistakes. This garment is often called a "muslin," and the process is called making a muslin. In this context, the term, "muslin" has become the generic term for a test or fitting garment, regardless of what it's made from.

In previous posts, we have mentioned the importance of making a muslin, especially when you're using a pattern that you've not tried before.  No matter how much you sew or how many garments you have made, pattern designers all have their own concepts of how a particular garment should fit. Making a muslin is the only way to insure that your garment will fit you the way you want it to. Isn't that why we sew for ourselves, anyway?

Remember the pants we were going to make out of a lovely wool? The muslin proved that this pattern was not going to look good on my body, no matter how great it fit.

Our New Look 6013 dress is another perfect example of why it's important not to assume that your customary pattern size will have a good fit.  This pattern is a basic sheath dress with a raglan sleeve - it's meant to hug the body, so proper fitting is important.

Cutting out the muslin should be just as precise as the layout and cutting of the actual finished fabric - otherwise, proper fit could still be an issue.

Certain pattern pieces can be skipped in the muslin stage, as an option.  For instance, we did not make a muslin of the facing pieces.

Here is why we make muslins: this pattern is my normal size, but look how much extra fabric there is in the body of the dress...we are so glad that we took the time to do a muslin test - this could have been another fitting disaster!

Pinning and marking the muslin shows us where we will adjust the final pattern of the fabric. Me thinks Laurel looks a little stressed, but she assured me that this process is well worth spending time to ensure a good fit.

After the muslin fitting, we know exactly where we will be adjusting the pattern pieces. The final garment will fit like a glove, all because of the care we took in the initial stages.

I am super excited about this dress! Stay tuned to see how we funk it up a bit...

Creatively Yours,
Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics