The past few classes we learned a TON about sewing but mostly the theme was that it’s all about prep. Prepping your fabric to be cut, prepping things to be sewn, etc. Prepping well means an easy sew. And for the most part, that does seem true. Sewing is the last bit of making a garment; the main part is prep!
Our first project is making a straight skirt with a back kick pleat, pockets, pleats in the front, and darts in the back and an inset waistband. Great project in that it covers so many techniques including several things that stumped me in the past. Score. We are using our teacher’s stock pattern which we copied over onto pattern paper we’d each bought and then cut out. PROTIP: When copying a pattern onto pattern paper, it is important to copy everything on pattern including grain line indication and all notches and other markings for darts. These are important later.
First we learned how to prep our fabric. First, you neatly press your fabric on the ‘wrong side’ to minimize shine, pressing to get rid of all the lines, including the ‘fold’. Then, for the final product to hang properly, you need to make sure the pieces are cut on grain. To find the grain, you match the selvedges together, ignoring the cut ends which will likely NOT match up, and then smooth the fabric it out from center to flatten. When smoothed, you will be on grain enough to cut.
(Sorry, there are no photos of any of this; we are go go go in class, no time to stop and take even a breath!)
Then we pinned our pattern pieces to the fabric, following the grain lines indicated on each pattern piece. PROTIP: When pinning (pin a lot), some find it helpful to pin corners diagonally pointing to the corner so when you cut your fabric really stays square around the cut. When cutting, you want to keep the bottom of your scissors in touch with the ground/surface and use your non-cutting hand to hold the pattern paper to the fabric so you get a nice edge.
After cutting we used our tracing paper to mark the notches and darts indicated on the pattern (marking both sides) and she had us also use rulers to fill in the darts and pleat markings and to mark the center back (CB). Note: As I’ve been sewing my marks have been disappearing/rubbing off. I’m using Dritz non-wax paper. People who are using the waxed paper are not having these rub off problems. Might be worth switching. As it is, I have to go back and remark my fabric – not so easy now that it’s half sewn!
Because it is FIT, we are doing some basting. This basting is not to hold anything in place but rather to mark. Since it is for marking, we are doing ‘uneven basting.’ We basted to indicate CB on each piece and also down the center of CF. She suggested that instead of marking a sewing line in pencil on CF, we just iron in the crease. Easy-peasy. Me likey.
Finally, to set us up to start to sew seams (I assume), we sewed the darts using her super easy pin method (I like) and then also put in a tailored finish on the CB pieces.
We then continued Tuesday (class 7) with more machine work. We pinned the pleats using her dart method and then sewed the pleats (back tack each end, and sew from bottom to waist of skirt) and learned how to press both pleats and darts. This part was really interesting.
Pressing darts: Since the dart is putting a curve in the fabric and making it more 3D, you want to make sure you honor that in your pressing. Press the dart ‘take up’ (the pinched up amount) to the side of your choosing but be consistent side to side. When pressing you want to just press the dart part and only to just shy of the point b/c going beyond that will flatten the fabric and you want to have that curve. So just press the dart take up area, then flip the fabric to press the dart tips (again, making sure not to mess up the curve) and that’s all the pressing you do. All pressing is from the inside of the garment.
Pressing pleats: Again, it is sewers choice about which direction to press pleats but if you press the pleats with the fabric (pleat take up?) facing in, it creates – visually – a smaller waistline. Interesting right? It’s just an optical illusion. Similarly, press on wrong side only and then just press the pleats.
Then we continued with adding the pockets, using interfacing (which was pressed onto the CF piece, not the pocket (interesting) and then sewing in the pockets for this particular skirt using a stay stitch and then – gasp – serging some of the side edges to finish. SERGING. A WOVEN. AT FIT.
I know! It turns out we never serge a woven at FIT… until we do :) In any event, these industrial servers make my Brother sound like a toy. Truly it’s crazy – it sounds like you are going to lose a finger should you go wrong. We learned how to thread them (and despite copious notes I have no idea if I could do it again) and then serged a scrap and then did our actual skirts. It was a bit hair raising but I got through it. Whew!
I still have to do a little basting but I think we are finishing up on Thursday (inserting zipper and waistband and hemming) and then we cut out our blouse.
I went to Paron for blouse fabric but didn’t like anything so I checked out HM Fabric next door and hit the jackpot! Wow, did they have a huge selection of cotton prints and almost all were $5/yard. I got 2 fabric options – the more floral one, I think may become a countryish dress for me (I bought this Rebecca Taylor pattern last year and think this print might work) or a similar vibes blouse; the more African on the right will be for the class sample blouse. I think the blue will coordinate nicely with the skirt and change the vibe from pure ‘corporate’ to something a little hipper – at least that’s my hope. It’s a bold print – it may look terrible – but that’s how you learn, right?