Thursday, March 29, 2012

Volume 1, Chapter 4: Assembling, Fitting .... Part 1

Chapter Four starts out talking about fit, how important it is to fit the garment so it is flattering and that it is done correctly without shortcuts.  Presumably you have already done some adjustments to the pattern so it has wide enough circumference and length.  Basically, the writer feels that it is important to baste the garment together -- darts first, then seams, baste pockets to the garment after seams are sewn to ensure they are positioned in the best place.  She also suggests basting the zipper in first to ensure correct neck fit.   It is better and easier to unpick a basting stitch than a construction stitch.  Correct sewing technique is also important to make your clothes last longer and look good. 

 Page 88 digresses into fashion history-- the evolution of pockets, buttons and buttonholes, pleats, hems and zippers.  Then on page 90 there is a blurb about hemlines and Wall Street-- higher skirts when times are flush and longer when times are tough.  There is a pretty cool picture of skirt lengths through the decades although it seems like even though the 1950's was prosperous, skirts were still longer than the 1940s (due to fabric shortages in the 40's probably but then that contradicts the whole theory).

My take on this is that while there are some great productivity shortcuts that can be employed when sewing garments, it is probably best to use those with tried and true (TNT) patterns that have already been fitted.  You can even trim out the seam allowances to 3/8's inch to eliminate lots of trimming and clipping.  But with a new pattern, it is probably better to follow the advice in the book-- but I like to just baste a muslin together first before I cut my fashion fabric.  Once all your changes have been applied to the paper pattern, you are golden until you have some weight/size changes in which you have to start all over again.  If you are like me and have frequent weight fluctuations, you might want to write the date, your weight and key measurements (bust, hip) on the pattern and save it as you might see that size again.  Sometimes shooting a picture and putting it in the pattern is good too.  The best way to get better at sewing techniques is to practice them.  Which is kind of a pain as I would rather be making something rather than doing drills.  But once you do 10 welt pockets or bound buttonholes, they become less difficult or intimidating.  Yesterday I was at the Salvation Army and looked at a short sleeved top made from the 70's in that thick polyester.  It had bound buttonholes!  Totally unexpected.

The next section in this chapter gives an overview on putting different key garments together-- dress, shirt, women's blouse, skirt, women's pants, men's pants.  The author does not delve into technique here.  This would be a cool exercise to do with the TNT wardrobe sew-alongs, 6-packs, and SWAPs going on this year.  The overviews are basically order of assembly directions.  What is neat is they give little advices for example, on page 97 at Step B for the skirt assembly, it tells you to baste the darts if there are any, baste the seams and try on the skirt.  The next step says "if the waist dart is too short, it will pucker at the tip when tried on and the skirt will have extra fabric at the hip or abdomen.  Correct it by placing a pin 1 1/2 inches above the fullest part of the upper hip or abdomen indicated by an "x" on the drawing (as usual nicely shaded drawings illustrate all the garment construction steps) and tapering the dart to the pin, Re-baste the dart."  The description then goes on to tell you what to do if the dart is too long or if it points in the wrong direction.

The pictures in this chapter of which I have shown 2 of them are very 70's cool.  I love the cream skit and the flip hairdo.  I think today, that would be too much cream and probably too covered up--turtleneck with long-sleeved overshirt?  I would wear a different color jacket but the garment styles are still relevant and would not look out of order today.

The drawings of the different garments for the assembly directions are in 2 tone blue with black stitch lines to illustrate the seam lines similar to the old McCalls two color pattern instructions from the 1970s.  They title the clothing items as "The Classic Dress and show one with bust darts and one with princess seams, "The Classic Shirt" which could be a man's shirt or a woman's shirt but has no collar stand nor bust dart, "The Classic Blouse" which has sleeves gathered at a smaller cuff and bust darts, "The Classic Skirt" which allows for pleats and/or darts and a waistband and zipper also another model with a front closure; "The Classic Women's Pants" with darts, zippers, waistband, no waistband/facing and pockets; "The Classic Men's Pants" with the standard fly, pocket and waistband.

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