Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Mastering the Big Print!

If you're a quilter or a crafter, you're used to working on small prints - the patterns are usually evenly dispersed on the fabrics and have very short repeats, perfect for working in small areas and projects.

If you are a garment sewist as well, these small prints are easy to match. And unless they have an obvious up and down to the pattern, they are easy to lay out on the cutting table. Since many of us love to "power sew" (make an outfit to wear the next day), choosing a small cotton or rayon print is the perfect choice for sewing ease.

But just ask our talented buyers:  when we see a big print fabric, we are immediately drawn to the potential drama. Regardless of the fabric content, these prints can put an exclamation point on even the simplest of pattern designs. In fact, with big prints, the simpler the garment pattern, the greater the flexibility to show off the print. (In a previous post, we showed the challenge of fabric layout with a big print knit)

We knew we hit a bulls eye with another beautiful graphic print in a crinkled rayon. In keeping with the notion of a simple pattern design, we chose The Lela from Green Bee.  The simple lines of this tunic will give us just the framework we need for this big graphic fabric.

It's one thing to see a fabric on a bolt in the store, and it's another matter entirely to then get it home and spread it out on the cutting table.  We knew that the repeat was huge on this fabric, so we sent Laurel home with enough fabric to give her the widest latitude in designing the Lela. On the cutting table, you can see that the pattern graphic is not exactly symmetrical, a common theme with many big graphic prints. We also noted that it had some distracting eyeball-ish circles which if we weren't careful could end up in the wrong place on my body.

The only tried and true way to deal with big graphic prints with big long repeats is to copy your pattern pieces onto tracing paper. (There goes that "finish by morning" goal!) The semi-transparent patterns pieces allow you to move the design over the various parts of the fabric to see which area looks best for each section of the garment. It also allows you to better match at the seams and other areas that require a good connection.

Once you have all the pattern pieces recreated in tracing paper, the fun begins as you move the pieces around on the fabric to determine the perfect placement. With wovens such as this rayon, it is fine to even try the crossgrain of the fabric if you like the design better.

Not a fan of these "eyeballs". All kidding aside, we girls have to be careful about where certain shapes are placed in our garments, if you catch my drift...navel area, chest, etc...need I go further?  

I ended up sticking to the length of the grain line and placing the large diamond shaped down the middle, carefully avoiding the circles and trying to make it as symmetrical as possible.

Once the tunic front placement was determined, it was easy to plan the the two yoked panels in the front and the cuffs on the sleeves.

Even despite our best efforts, we don't always get the outcome we want.  When Laurel started to attach the front yoke, it became apparent that she didn't quite get the fabric design EXACTLY in the center front.  Whoopsie! Fortunately, she was able to adjust the sizing of the tunic down, shifting the design slightly to the left. (The Lela tunic is very generous in sizing!)

The result for the front was better, but the back section was still a tad off - she didn't make any adjustments to the back. This off-center thing can happen with big prints, especially when the design is not symmetrical—sometimes you just have to do your best to center it. In other words, just let it go.  You are probably the only one who would ever notice. We don't always sew to win the county fair's first prize...we sew because we love it!

Check it out!!!

A 8" slit up the sides for this tunic!

The sleeves had to be adjusted because of the front tunic shift (smaller, shorter)
The Lela is a great pattern; it's easy and fast to work up. You could easily add length to the hem and use it for an "apres-pool" dress...and of course the blouse length would be perfect with jeans or crop pants this summer.  you could also shorten the sleeves by leaving off the band.

Come in and check out our summer fabrics - we'd love to show you some other fabrics for the Lela!

Creatively Yours,

One of our Stonemountain staff, Claire, shows off her use of big prints!

Upcoming Fabric Lady blog where we will cover 
the cutting and sewing of this Big Print for my wrap skirt!

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