June 28, 2013

Gearing up for A line dresses + graffiti muslins

After my last sewing project, the 6 gore silk-lined woolen skirt with inverted pleats and suspenders, I wanted to do some simpler projects to try and up the product/effort ratio in my sewing life, and give me a feeling of having more garments to my name. About the simplest thing I could think of would be some summer A line dresses for girls.

We took a new set of measurements, then I drafted up some patterns from my go-to pattern book.

I quickly put together some muslins. These are straight from the pattern, suitable for attaching sleeves to (but without extra seam allowance for that).

A few minor adjustments were necessary including cutting back around the scyes for sleeveless design, but this is not a demanding type of garment to fit so I didn't work too hard at it. I ripped the seams down and reassembled them with the modifications included. The girls, prompted by me making marks on the muslins with my disappearing ink marker, had the idea of drawing pictures in washable markers on them.

 It seemed a shame to only wear them a couple times, so I went ahead and finished them so they could wear them as regular clothing, and also to refine my stripped down A line technique.

The side and shoulder seams are french, so that takes care of them. The hem is just double folded and stitched through. I slit down the back and put in a placket for 3 buttons. The neck and arm holes are bound to finish the raw edges. I've used quite a lot of Hug Snug lately, which is 13mm wide. At least for me, I have to pay pretty close attention when applying it so that when it wraps around the seam allowance there is enough on the far side to stitch down reliably.

I bought some supplies recently from Dharma Trading Company, and I noticed they carry a bias cut habotai silk ribbon at 16mm. I bought a roll, thinking this might be easier to put on (especially around curves) given its greater width, and also that it might look better. I'm pleased to report that it is everything I had hoped it would be. More expensive than Hug Snug, but I worth it for me for exterior visible bindings. Here is how I put it on:

  • lay ribbon alongside raw edge, on right side of garment
  • stitch at ~3mm in, then press flat
  • press over (wrapped toward edge)
  • turn over work and press around edge
  • stitch down from wrong side

The way I've done it is not going to win any couture sewing awards, but it gets the job done quickly and looks decent. One minor issue is the joins in the ribbon. Since these are cut from bolts, every couple meters there is a sewn joint between strips. These are not a big deal to just sew down though, and if they were an issue you wouldn't need to waste much ribbon to avoid them.

I put in the buttonholes with the Greist mechanical buttonholer on the Singer 99 handcrank.

So far the kids have not been so into wearing these, or drawing any more pictures on them for that matter. Oh well, you win some you lose some. Maybe they will gain more favor at some time in the future.

Based on the way these came out, I dropped the hem about 100mm on both sizes and cut another set from the same prewashed, unbleached fabric these were made from. I think its a linen/cotton blend. I'll relate the fun we had with these in an upcoming post, since I'm still finished them. Also started cutting yet another set from an old tablecloth; we'll see how that works out.

It is satisfying to crank out projects in such a short amount of time. With the pattern all set, I can cut, assemble, and finish one of these in a couple hours (not including sleeves or trim).


mssewcrazy said...

liked seeing the metric book you are using which was new to me. I never did much drafting for my daughters but used multi sized patterns I traced and adjusted. I thought the bias ribbon was interesting- might want to get some but I usually just cut what I use from self or contrasting fabric. I found sewing for 3 girls-I definitely struggled with the output ratio you described. Sometimes they just have growth spurts and need something to wear or to sleep in and you are back to square one fitting the patterns.

Holly Gates said...

Thanks mssewcrazy. We have plenty of hand me downs for the little kids, but Violet (the oldest) is often running short. She's going to need a new winter jacket this year, which I'd like to do but we'll see if I can manage to get it done before it gets cold again. Kids are asking for halloween costumes, so thats going to take some time...