Monday, December 3, 2012

Making Facing Pieces for Your Pattern

I am currently making a pinafore dress. (I'll post my dress and pattern later this week...)The pattern (a free download from Angela Kane) calls for the neck and armhole edging to be turned in and edge-stitched. I’ve decided I would prefer a facing for both the neck and I’ve been reading up on how to do this for myself.

I used the pattern pieces provided for the front and back to make my facing pieces. I simply traced the neckline and armhole outside edges and then measured to make three inch facing pieces. I decided to face this in some quilting cotton I had on hand. (The dress – which I will post when I finish- is made of a heavy cotton decorator’s fabric ($2/m), so the quilting cotton will work fine for the facing.)

I learned to interface my facing pieces and I am glad I did because the facing sits so nicely on the garment. (This pinafore is actually my muslin and it just so happens that  I can wear it. I can’t believe at one time I didn’t make muslins! I no longer have to live with poor shaping ...but I digress).

Why Sew Facings at All?
You don't have to use a facing to finish an edge: an easy way to finish a raw edge is simply to turn the edge and sew it in place leaving a folded, clean edge.  Hems are usually done like this but neck edging and armholes can be too. This technique works well on straight edges, but not so well on a curved edge like a neckline because (middle school nerd alert) of the geometric principle that the inside edge of a curve is shorter than the outer edge of the curve (think of the lanes of a track). So, when you try to fold over a curved edge, there is not enough material available to turn and the fabric twists and pulls out of place.

What Do Facings Do?
Facings are narrow pattern pieces that repeat the shape of the garment. They go on the inside and stop these openings fraying. They help it to keep its shape too. Even though they should not be seen from the outside, they still need to be sewn and finished as carefully as the garment they are to fit.

Fast Facts:

  • Facings provide a neat finish to necklines and armholes (and hems!)
  • Facing provide structure to a garment so it is wise to interface them
  • Finish the edge of the facings with pinking shears or by serging them
  • Be careful of the fabric you are using – lighter weight fabrics can be less visible on the outside.  
  • You still must stay-stitch curved seams even though you are applying facings to them
  • Clip into the seam allowances of both curved pieces (the garment fabric and the facing fabric) so that the two will lie flat
  • Facing seams are usually done as plain seams to avoid bulk.
  • Slightly roll the seam line to the inside and press carefully. This helps to hide the seam line round the edges and gives a neat finish to the garment.
  • Understitch the seam allowance to the facings and press again.
  • Edge stitching the facing after it has been sewn in place is a good way to keep it in place

The Difference between Lining and Facing
A lining protects and covers up the inner structure of a garment. It’s usually a silky fabric so that sliding the garment off and on can be done with ease. Linings are constructed similarly to the outer garment shape, though they may not go all the way to the edge.
A facing is simply a shaped piece that finishes an edge. It is part of the garment being constructed. Lining can be stitched to the facing but should not be used in place of facing, since facing can give shape and strength to the garment.
A facing may be a neckline, armhole, front opening, etc. A shaped facing is generally 2-3″ wide, depending on the garment size.
In couture sewing, facings are much wider than 2 or 3 inches. The facing of the neck and armhole are usually one piece, allowing for a smooth finish without a lot of piecing. Of course, this calls for a lot more fabric so isn’t usually seen in middle-priced RTW clothes.
Burda has a great pdf on sewing all-in-one facings
Collete has a great tutorial on inserting a facing with an invisible zipper (and I used this and it looks so good!)

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Book Review: The Vintage Pattern Selector

Last week, I went to amazon to pre-order my copy of Burda Vintage Modern and after paying for it (and another book so that I would qualify for free shipping), the "customers who bought this also bought..." selection came up. In that selection was The Vintage Pattern Selector by Jo Barnfield. (Published on Nov 1, 2012 by Barrons). I decided to order it....

It arrived to day....and I am thrilled with my purchase. First, it comes with 15 digital patterns on disc and it is such a comprehensive book of vintage style (from the 1920s to the 1970s) that I think it will be a bestseller.

The Vintage Pattern Selector by Jo Barnsfield.  $28.50 in Canada but it sells for $17.87 on

Dresses, Blouses, Skirts, Pants and Shorts, Suits and Coats, Lingerie and Headware and Gloves have their own chapters.

Each iconic dress style is featured with a cover and overview of an original sewing pattern, a summary of the style at the time and its implications for modern wear. The sidebar has fabric, sizing and variation information from both then and now.  And the best part? There are 4 dress patterns on the disc (one each from the 1920s, 50s, 60s, and 70s).

This is a picture of the pattern layout for the 1920s dress. Sizes range from a 36 inch bust to 42 inch.

Blouses. Chapter 2.  Again, each pattern style is featured in its original sewing pattern, there is an overview of the impact of the style then and information for wearing it now. There is one blouse pattern included (1920s) with information for making variations for the 1960s and 1970s styles featured. That is, different collar pieces are given for different era variations.

Look at the peplum on that skirt! Patterns: box pleated skirt and circle skirt. Also, the original sewing pattern hi-lighted is one that I own: Simplicity 2191. The author has included applique motifs for making a poodle skirt. (OH! I love this book!)

Pants and shorts. In the early nineteen hundred it was unthinkable for women to wear pants, then working class women began wearing men's pants for work and suffragettes adopted them as a sign of liberation and later, upper class women would wear tailored pants especially suitable for the female figure. We've come along way.! (Patterns included Wide leg pants from the 1930s, 60s and 70s. - actually it is one pattern with variation pattern pieces)

I love the whimsical colours of the bright yellow coat and the dark orange buttons. Bright without being garish. This chapter focuses on the 40s and 50s - utility coat, jacket, skirt and kimono jacket. Its an era and a style I love. Two patterns provided on disc: fitted jacket 1930s/40s and box jacket 1960s.

A chapter on lingerie and patterns too!   The author references the Colette patterns for its amazing work on vintage feeling modern lingerie. Patterns provided: 1920s slip, french knickers 1920s, 1940s slip, and a bustier and petticoat from the 1950s....                               

And since Jo Barnfield wants to provide a thorough, thorough book. there is a chapter on hats and gloves. Style overviews of gloves from the 1920s and 30s, the printed scarf from the 1920s on, the turban 1920s on, and the pillbox hat of the 1960s. There is one pattern for the pillbox hat but I learned so much just reading this chapter. 

There are two additional chapters on construction and sewing techniques. Wow! Sometimes I order duds from amazon but not this time. I love this book and will use the patterns again and again. I think it's a great reference on fashions throughout the decades and I love the 15 patterns included - on disc no less!

So, I'll be reading and printing pattern pieces for the next few days.....

Friday, November 23, 2012

I inherited this cape...

This was my mother's cape. Given to her by a patient in the 1960s. It was worn a lot and then put away. I found it recently and had it dry cleaned.

The outer shell is mohair wool and the inside feels like a polyester but isn't identified.

I changed the buttons (some were missing and two were cracked) but I don't love the buttons I put on the cape.

They are green but sometimes I think they look like a metal (a bit too shiny)

The craftsmanship has lasted the test of time.
What do you  think? A new lining? New buttons? Live with it for awhile?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Goodies from Ebay

I really have to watch myself when I go on Ebay. I just love buying things on it. A friend advised me to barter on it and so, often I watch an item and if there are no bids near closing time, I make an offer. I have only been turned down once. Well, for the last three weeks or so, I've been shopping on Ebay. I received a lot of goodies in the mail in the last week or so........

I have a vintage (1970s) Kenmore sewing machine and I found a seller on Ebay who sold me 100 bobbins for $15...Sears was willing to sell me 5 for $19.99 and it would take 6 weeks for them to come in!

Swedish Tracing Paper which is hard to find and very expensive in Canada. I got two rolls for $21 on Ebay with free delivery!!!!!

Thread - 200 spools of polyester all purpose. I knew this was a gamble but I spend so much on thread. It is about $5/spool at the fabric shop. This was $40 for 200. And it looks okay....I'll keep you posted.

And a few patterns ordered before my self-imposed pattern diet....

This one is on clearance at Butterick but I ordered the three patterns from Ebay - it wasn't as cheap as the clearance sale but it was quickly delivered and it was free delivery.
These two Colette Patterns meet the requirements of my pattern diet....I can't wait to make the Ginger. I have been eying it for a while and the Hazel below is for making next spring....I buy them from an Ebay store because the store is located in NY and the shipping is a lot less to Ontario from NY than it is from Washington state....My plan is to buy all the patterns I don't own from Colette this year.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thrift Store Fabrics

This is the fabric aisle at a local thrift store I visited on Friday. I ended up going to three of them this weekend and I spent about $30 on fabrics and patterns....

Look at my finds! Lots of bright colours and lighter fabrics. (I guess people are fall-cleaning and they want to keep the heavier, warmer fabrics).

I have about 2 m of this really cool cotton twill. I was thinking a swing coat but there isn't enough. Any suggestions?

Halloween patterns were in big supply and I nabbed a few other patterns too...

This jacket has a peplum which is why I bought the pattern.

Not sure if I'll use this one but I liked the dress in the bottom corner

A few more patterns....

I wasn't sure about this pattern - I was thinking it would be better in black and without the jacket....

both cottons, the green is a heavy cotton like a cotton-duck

This is a knit and I loved the paisleys on it

The orange floral will definitely be a skirt next summer and the that's a roll of plaid cotton there. It has some sort of protective sheen to it and it is meant as a decorator fabric....we'll see

It photgraphs as a deeper plaid - it is actually quite faint. I believe I scored 7 m for $12

This is the reverse - again, darker in the picture than in real life.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

My Sewing Goals

I've been in a bit of a rut lately with sewing....and while, I have been keeping my sewing up, I find I am not enjoying it as much. I have a huge stash of fabrics and patterns, but I don't have the UMPH to get going....
So I have decided to challenge myself to be more creative, try new patterns and make clothes that I can wear. This challenge is partially motivated for my adirmation of bloggers like Ten Thousand Hours of Sewing, because her premise is so smart: to become a better seamstress she has to put the time in and sew, sew, sew.

I know, you're thinking "of course!". But honestly, it has really been about construction for me. Sewing is a lot like playing with Legos, you get to build any way you like.

Using the outcome creates a whole new world for me.

So, I've gone through the stacks of patterns I own - some swapped with other bloggers, some ordered from the Vogue/McCalls/Butterick sales, some bought from independent designers and some bought at thrift stores or on Ebay. I have tons of patterns.Yet, I tend to sew and resew the patterns I have already used.

So, here is my goal:

  • finish one new pattern a month (minimum - two would be ideal but not always doable each month)
  • repeats of patterns need to have a variation (either provided with the pattern or improvised by me)
  • purchase no new big 4 patterns for one year to encourage me to use the patterns I own - and to change them to match new patterns I like
  • purchase all the independent patterns I want - they are well made and motivate me to sew more (hey, this challenge is about more sewing not saving money)
  • purchase no new books (with the exception of the Burda Vintage book and the two I ordered this weekend plus any really, really good thrift shop deals that I can;t pass up!)
  • sew a wardrobe of clothes that fit, look good and make me feel good
  • wear the clothes I make

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Burda Magazine Give-Away Winner

I am pleased to announce that Beata from Tatlinka's Tales blog won the Burda Magazine give-away. I will have another soon. There are tons of beautiful patterns in this one but I decided I'd rather print the patterns from the website than deal with the bird's nest of patterns from the inserts.  .... Thanks everyone for participating.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Four Renfrews and a Coat

I've really gotten my money's worth from this pattern! I made four Renfrews this weekend (I did the cutting last week)...

He's nursing a sore shoulder and he is really playing his injury up! Also, he is waiting for me to make a lining for his new dog basket...

Insulated winter coat number 1. I have another on the way....

Friday, November 9, 2012

Why I Sew

There is a great article on sewing and body image on Colleterie (collette patterns blog) that really has hit a nerve. Cation Designs has a post about her experience with sewing and I'm joining the chorus.

File:79Buste mit geschweiftemKorbrock.jpg

Five things Sewing Does for Me

1) It's a way to relieve stress. I can work slowly, I can be creative and it demands enough attention that I can't think about all the things that stress me out.

2) It allows me a sense of creativity and accomplishment. Okay, sometimes I am better at the creativity.

3) It's fun. I find sewing is a great way to relax and since I am doing something productive with my time, I don't feel guilty.

4) I've made all new friends in this online sewing community because I sew. I am continually inpired by others and appreciated by others too!

5) Really, the sewing community.

             I started sewing before high school. My sister, whom I didn't like, took a course. She was into the utility of the sewing (I can fix this; I can save money by sewing that, etc.). I just liked the construction of it. Thinking back I made lots of outfits that I didn;t wear. The fit was bad or the material was impractical or I abandoned the project. It never stopped me though. I guess that was a my trial period. In college and until recently, my sewing was also utility. Drapes for the front windows, fixing seams, shortening pants, that is what I called sewing.
              Then I taught a boy who was very angry. His life was not what he wanted it to be, and in truth, it was not what it should have been. He was poor, isolated and very, very angry at the way life had mistreated him. His mother had saved to buy him a fabulous coat from the Gap. When he wore it to school, we all admired it. He was in 8th grade and he shrugged off our compliments gruffly but I could see he was pleased. Then he stopped wearing the coat. I asked him about it and he made excuses. I feared that it was stolen or bullies had done soemthing. I called his mother. She said the zipper was broken. I offered to change the zipper.
             That night, having never changed a zipper before, I spent several hours replacing the zipper. It was pretty good. Then I began changing other zippers. Soon, I was replacing zippers for students at lunch hour. I was taking them home on the weekends. I am so good at replacing zippers now, that I can do it in about 20 minutes. (Ripping out the last zipper, positining the new one and sewing it in.)
             Then I started looking for skirt patterns. And I found one I liked but ran into problems with the waistband. So I googled it and came across several sewing blogs. I felt like I came home.

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Monday, November 5, 2012

Aug 2012 Burda Magazine Give-Away

Okay, I am clearing out my Burdas slowly. This give-away is for the August 2012 issue and you've probably seen a few of these patterns on the Burda site. Some of them are really popular.This is a new, untouched issue - (okay I leafed through it once or twice). You may already know the drill: leave a comment that somehow links to a way that I can contact you so I can mail you the magazine if you win. I will post anywhere in the world.....I'll pick a winner on Monday, November 12.


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