Tuesday, April 5, 2011

V1C3 Using Scissors and Marking Wheel and More!

With all the different scissors out there it can be confusing to a new sewer as to what is actually needed.  Three basic scissors should be sufficient to make any garment.  There are left-handed versions as well as the standard right.  I suggest two different marking wheels to transfer pattern markings--one for wovens whose wheel is notched, one for knits in which the wheel is smooth.

For cutting your fabric a 8 to 10 inch pair of  bent-handeled dressmaker's shears will cover any job. Also a 5-6 inch pair of scissors can be best used to precision clip into curves and smaller areas. Pinking shears are used for finishing raw seam edges but one can forgo this pair if you have a serger or seam edge stitch on your sewing machine. Today, I often use a rotary cutter but such new-fangled items were not "invented" as of 1973.

Click to enlarge

Cutting straight lings: Open the shears wide and taking the fabric the entire length of the blade. Cut with one long steady closure for a smooth edge (No Snippy Choppy motions!  Just smooth and efficient shear).

If there is a pattern piece that is difficult to access to cut correctly, cut around pattern, leaving margin of fabric so you can handle it and do a better job with cutting it without a problem. See Picture of sleeve above.

For Curves:  open the scissors halfway and don't quite close them all the way while cutting to avoid jagged lines. Your goal is a smooth curve.

Right Angles:  Cut along one line, then remove scissores and approach other line to the point where the lines meet.  Do not swivel at the corners, you want a crisp true angle.

Clipping-- Use the 5 or 6 inch scissors and snip curves, small details and notches with the tips of the blades.  Don't open them all the way so you have better control over the depth of the cut.

Pinking-- Open shears wide and close smoothly along the unfinished edges of the seam.

click to enlarge.

Marking:  Utilize the marking wheels with the transfer paper.  Run a saw-tooth wheel over the pattern markings (the transfer paper is layered with transfer medium down on top of wrong side of top fabric under pattern paper and a sheet facing up on the wrong side of the bottom fabric-- the pattern paper on top of all.-- See image A)

Here is an image of a dart marked on the fabric:

Thread Traced Marking
I would not necessarily mark the button placement until trying on the garment and placing them where they fit me the best.

Using Pins instead of tracing wheel and transfer paper:

V1C3 Arranging Pattern on Fabric for Cutting Out.

Your have selected a pattern, you have made fitting alterations and your fabric decisions have been made, it is prepared and aligned, you know how to cut and mark the pattern pieces-- time to lay out the pattern on the fabric to cut the pattern pieces.  Don't forget to press the folds out of your pattern pieces first and make sure your fabric is not wrinkled.

In the majority of projects, you will fold the fabric in half lengthwise with selvedges on one side and fold on the other.    This works perfectly fine with solid fabrics and non-repeating prints.  The book recommends that the selvedges be pinned together at 1-2 inch intervals.  I don't think I would ever do that unless I was nervous about a shifty fabric. The fabric can be folded crosswise if the pattern pieces are too wide for the lengthwise layout. Be careful of directional prints with this option.  In some cases your pattern layout directions may require you to cut some items from doubled fabric and others from single thickness.

Plaids and repeating prints will require additional fabric to match them.

Every pattern has directions in which recommended layouts or cutting diagrams are pictured. You may follow this but you don't have to. You may decide a more thriftier layout for the fabric or in the event your fabric shrunk more than you expected and you have to less to work with.

The most important factor in laying out your pattern is making certain your pattern piece grainlines match the grainlines in the fabric.

The best way to ensure this is to measure from the grain line to the edge of the fabric so that the grain line is always the same distance to the edge from top to bottom.  Some may choose to extend their grainline on the their fabric from top to bottom by drawing it in with a ruler and pen.

Striped, large checked and plaid fabrics will need to be folded more carefully- the foldline should fall exactly halfway through a stripe or check and use pins through the top layer of fabric where the check lines intersect or stripe edges are --matching the bottom layer by folding the fabric back to check placement adjusting as you go.  Keep pinning throrughout until edges are pinned.

Take pattern pieces and pin those that need to be placed on the fold --aligned those on the fold and arrange the other pieces measure to the edge of fabric as described above.

Dress or shirt --To make the design match where the pattern pieces are supposed to be seemed together, make sure the numbered notches that will be matched up together when seamed lie on the same position relative to the checks or stripes in this order:  1.side seams, 2. armhole and sleeve seams, 3. Underarm seams. (see first square in illustration above).  You can number your notches to make it easier. Remember to always align the grainlines of the pattern to the fabric before securing with pins.  But remember, it is possible to be too matchy.

Label  side notches on all pieces "1".  Label the front  armscye and front part of shoulder cap "2".  Label the back armscye and back armscye "3".

On a skirt: label the side seam notches "1", the front waistband and the front top "2" and the back waistband and top of back of the skirt "3". Then place pattern on fabric, positioning those numbered notches in similar axis/to design.  See pic 2.

On a pair of pants:  Label the side seams "1", the inseam  notches "2" .  Cut the waistband on the bias so not to worry to make a match.  Pin pieces at notches, ensuring the grain is lined up for all pieces and the notches are at evens with their mates.  see pic 3.

Monday, April 4, 2011

V1C3: Tools for Precision Cutting

The tools for laying out, securing, cutting and marking have a rich heritage.  We take these tools for granted today as pins are now cut from a single piece of metal and are packed into boxes or thrust into crimped paper by robotic machinery.  Early pins were made by hand from brass or iron and the tops were crimped or bent at the top--  sounds crude but even these were considered a luxury.  That is where the terms "pin money" and the practice of picking up a stray pin as a thrift behavior and bringing good luck. Pincushions were popular and had many different names "pimpilowes, pimpilos, pimplos, pimploes or pyn-pillows."  These were lavishly embroidered, made in fanciful shapes, sewn by hand and even worn as ornaments.  During the reign of Elizabeth I, no lady of the court was found without their pincushions and the Queen herself was presented with one as a New Year's gift-- (a very elaborate embellished one for royalty, of course).  In the 18th century the "pin poppets", small hand wrought ivory cases and other such devices were popular and became heirlooms passed down from one generation to another.

Tape measures themselves were also kept in valuable ornamental housing made of wood, brass, bone ivory or mother of pearl with little inventive devices to wind the tape.  The tape measures themselves were ribbons with measures embroidered or inked upon them-- were not always standard and made of different lengths--they were not uniform.  It wasn't until the 19th century that a yard length became standard.  Measures were commonly subjective.  In Medieval England the lengths of fabric to purchase were measured with the length of an arrow until the 12th century in which a yard was length of the King's arm with the first joint of the thumb thrown in for good measure.  The King's foot was the foot measure of 12 inches or three barleycorns laid end to end.  This continued until the 16th century when the "ell" -- a 45 inch unit was developed.  An ell stick was marked with nails every 2.5 inches (a meteyard" which tape measure where then modeled on.  Eventually "standards" replaced the ell and were made from carefully prepared metals and kept in controlled environments to prevent degradation.  Once technology was developed, the standards were then measured and developed precisely based on light wavelengths.

Scissors also evolved from beautiful art objects to utilitarian efficiency.  Upper class people would keep the ornate craftsman-made scissors safely in special cases to protect them but the lower classes had basic iron scissors to use that did not cut well until steel making refinements in the late 19th century were developed.  Notched steel wheels also were developed for pattern tracing ("Harpers Copying Wheels"-1875) not much different from our marking tracers today that we use with carbon or chalk papers.  Of course a smooth wheel was developed for use with knits to prevent snagging the threads and causing runs.