Monday, November 20, 2017

My Boo-boo Coat  
I finally finished the coat I started at the August Lansing Clippers’ Sewing Retreat.  I had to force myself to keep at it until it was done!  As I said in my September 4th post, the coat was a disaster because it did not fit.  I knew if I wanted to rescue it, I would need to do a lot of alterations.  I loved the fabric and I invested a fair amount of money when I purchased it.  So, I worked on the alterations the last two months doing a little at a time.

There were so many boo-boos it was hard to decide where to start.  I knew I had to fix the shoulders first because they were huge.  I ripped the shoulder seams out and added a large dart in both fronts at the center of each shoulder seam.  Then I inserted a large dart in the back at the center of each shoulder seam.  I made sure the front and back darts met at the shoulder line.  The fit was better, but the shoulders were still a little too big.

The next alteration required me to rip out the sleeves.  There was just too much fabric in the coat around the armscye area in the front and back.  Although I knew it was risky, I trimmed fabric off both the front and back armscye.  That made the shoulders narrower as well as got rid of some of the extra fabric around the armscyes. 

Then I trimmed fabric off the sleeve seams because the sleeves were too large.  I had to increase the seam allowance of the side seams of the coat fronts and back under the arm.  The next step was to sew the sleeves back into the coat.  I held my breath.  Would the sleeves fit in the armscye after all the alterations?  Yes, they did fit!

The lining was next on my list of alterations.  I had not sewn the lining, so at least I would not be ripping out seams.   I assumed I would be making the exact same changes to the lining pieces as I made to the coat, so I kept a detailed list of all the alterations as I made them on the coat.  I had not sewn the lining together yet, so I was able to lay each piece on the corresponding piece of the coat.  Much to my surprise, the pieces matched!  There were no alterations needed on the lining.  Then a light bulb suddenly went turned on in my head.  Now I understood what was wrong with the coat.  I think I cut the wrong size coat for me and then cut the correct size lining.  No wonder the coat was too large for me even though I have used this pattern for 20 years.   I have most of the sizes traced on pattern paper because I have helped others of varying sizes make this coat and I have samples sewn for others to use to determine their size.  Now I am ready to throw away all sizes of the pattern except mine, so I will not repeat this mistake just in case I decide to use this pattern again!

After attaching the lining, I proceeded to make the buttonholes and sew on the buttons.  More boo-boos!  I planned to sew buttonholes using the buttonhole foot on my Pfaff machine.  I knew from experience I would have problems if I tried to make horizon buttonholes.  The foot always gets hung up on the second leg of the buttonhole on the front edge of a coat or jacket if I use heavy fabric.  I decided to avoid that problem by making vertical buttonholes instead.  That caused another boo-boo!  The buttonhole foot got hung up on the neckline when the second leg of the buttonhole was being sewn.  I was forced to rip out that partial buttonhole.  I did not want to do any more ripping.  I decided to do bound buttonholes instead.  This was not easy because the lining was attached.

Not only was it difficult to manipulate the fabric with the lining attached, but it was difficult making the buttonholes using the heavy coat fabric to make them.  I should have used a lighter fabric in a solid green color for the patch to make the lips of the buttonholes, but of course I did not do that.  Everything went okay until I did the opening of the third buttonhole on the facing side.  I managed to sew the square of interfacing on the inside of the facing instead of the outside.  I failed to notice that until I cut the slit into the facing which caused another boo-boo!  I did some ripping and then some very careful sewing around the slit.  I finally completed all four buttonholes.  These buttonholes are far from perfect, but at least the coat is wearable.

I learned a lot of lessons while making this coat.  The two most important lessons are:
1.            1.  Always make sure you cut the correct size when you make anything!
2.                 2.     If you want to make bound buttonholes, make them before the coat is sewn together and especially before the lining is attached!

Happy sewing!


Sunday, November 5, 2017

Making a Classic Shirt with Bill Voetberg    

I have been quiet on my blog lately for one simple reason.  Probably like most of you, I have been extremely busy!  One of my projects was making items to contribute to a church bazaar in Indiana.  My daughter, Marcia Rush, passed away last year from cancer.  She loved helping with her church’s bazaar, so I decided to contribute items last year and again this year in her memory.  This year I made crib sheets, baby bibs, and twisted infinity scarves for the bazaar.   With the help of Marcia’s family in Indiana, those items were set up with an “In Memory of Marcia Rush” sign and picture at the bazaar on Saturday, October 28th

Another of my projects was fitting a shirt pattern.  Sewing would be so much easier if I could just pick a pattern, cut out a garment and have it actually fit me with no alterations needed!  Anyway, I worked on Kwik Sew #3555 shirt pattern for almost a week.  I decided at that point it was as good as I could make it for now.  The next day I went to a three day shirt class taught by Bill Voetberg in Wyoming, Michigan at Lakeshore Sewing.

Bill did a trunk show for the Lansing Chapter American Sewing Guild (ASG) in September.  He showed many of his beautiful shirts.  Several of us were interested in taking a class from him.  Although we had made shirts in the past, we knew Bill was using techniques that would improve the quality of our shirts.  And we were not disappointed!

He showed us an easy technique to match stripes in the shirt placket to the stripes in the sleeve.  We also were shown a technique for folding back the front facings before cutting the fronts.  He also demonstrated his technique for applying the pocket and sewing the neckband and collar. 

There were eight students in the class and most of us were at different skill levels ranging from just beyond beginner to expert.  Bill managed to keep control of the class and kept us moving along.  This was a fast moving class which lasted only 15 hours, so not everyone completed the shirt in that amount of time.   I believe those who did not complete the shirt in class will be able to complete it at home using the knowledge gained from Bill’s demonstrations.  I finished my shirt yesterday. 

I enjoyed the class and liked Bill’s method of presentation.  No matter what problems we had with our shirts, Bill’s response was always, “Don’t worry.  We will handle it.”  And he did even though we were working with several different shirt patterns!  I would definitely take another class from him.
I hope each of you will take every opportunity to either learn a new sewing technique or improve a technique that is already familiar to you.  Have fun!