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Topic: noobie sewing questions on mock-ups, finishing seams & making own pattern  (Read 4424 times)
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« on: April 30, 2009 02:37:54 PM »

hi!  I made my first pair of jammie bottoms and had a great time!  https://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=302894.0

I have a few questions though:

1.  I assume since I am making clothes handmade (from cotton fabrics) I should give them special care and hand wash them and then put them in the dryer.  Is there any special way to "finish" my seams to keep from unraveling?  I do not have a serger and have no plans to buy one any time soon.  For my jammies, on each side of the seam allowance I did a zig zag stitch (above the seam that binds them) and trimmed with pinking sheers.  Is there something better, more lasting, I should be doing like a french seam (??) where somehow I think the raw ends are enclosed?

2.  This might seem silly, but there are a couple patterns I have where I want to do a mock-up first in case I make a mistake or the sizing is off, I don't want to mess up my nice fabric!  It seems most people use muslin or perhaps cotton broadcloth (if it's cheaper) to do their "practice runs" of a garment.  When completed, do people just gently rip out the seams to use the muslin/practice fabric again?Huh  Or do you hang on to them? 

3.  Does anyone have any tried & true books on drafting patterns from scratch?  I really want to be able to make my own clothes and not rely on commercial patterns just for the extra way to be creative and using math in a fun way Wink  I suppose the book would need to explain our 3d bodies Wink and the math behind coming up with pattern lines, etc...... 

Has anyone ever read 'patternless fashions' by diehl lewis or 'how to make sewing patterns' by donald mccunn?

4.  it seems quite popular now to make simple elastic waist band skirts (like the ones from sew what skirts and the sew mama sew blog.  Although neither source mentions it, I wonder if it is common to line skirts with some type of sheer cotton fabric for extra bulk, protection, shape, etc...?

thanks in advance!

« Last Edit: April 30, 2009 03:20:48 PM by bookwormbethie » THIS ROCKS   Logged

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« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2009 02:57:54 PM »

1. I don't always prewash my fabrics before sewing.  (Bad, I know!)  But it is the best thing to do so that you don't have to worry about shrinkage after you have spent all that time and effort on your garment.  For cotton, I would just throw it in the washer and wash like regular.  I don't like to hand wash anything.  Your seams look very nice.  And what you did is a great way to finish seams.  French seams are a good thing to use on very sheer fabrics. 

2. I usually use old sheets from the thrift store to make my mock-ups.  After making the marks on it, I then take it apart to use as the pattern.  If it is something that could be used again for a basic bodice or pants, it would be good to hang onto it for future use. 

3. I have not tried drafting my own patterns but as far as sewing books go...I recommend hunting down old sewing books.  I love my Vogue and Reader's Digest ones.  They have so many wonderful instructions on how to do all the basic sewing stitches, putting in zippers, fitting garments, etc.  You can find them at used book stores, garage sales, Ebay.

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« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2009 03:22:28 PM »

thanks.  i always pre-wash my fabrics in warm water on the gentle cycle of my washing machine and dry on high heat.  that way they shrink if they need to and then can be washed/dried any way after wards.

thanks for the tip about the books, one of the books i suggested above is still being printed even though it is from the 70s so it must be a good reference!

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« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2009 03:36:39 PM »

Regarding french seams:
  I love french seams.  I love to use them in market bags, where they benefit from the extra strength.  But I also like to use them in loose fitting children's clothing, as my now 4 year old likes to change her clothes at least twice a day, and some of her clothing sees a lot of washing.  even those seams that are pinked do not hold up as well as french seams to twice weekly washing, and it's really not that much more effort to do.  It also cuts down on stray strings, lest she yell "MOMMY A STRING! CUT IT!" over and over again until i get out the threadsnips.

With muslin mock ups, you can either use them as the pattern pieces after ripping the seams carefully, or finish it all the way and dye it, which I've done several times for my friends.  That way they get the garment they asked for, and a bonus custom dyed copy.  You can get a bolt of muslin for pretty cheap (although prices have gone up, you might want to try and get a 40% off coupon from joann or hancock's and use it on a single long cut of muslin, which is what I did a couple of years ago.  Ended up being like $15 for 25 yards.)

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« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2009 05:45:23 PM »

Ooh...your seams are pretty.  I zigzag, but don't pink mine (though I would, if I had pinking shears), and I wash them regularly, with all the rest of my clothes, and they hold up just fine.  Though I have had issues with interfacing coming un-stuck.  In the future, I've determined to sew my interfacing in, or else just line my clothes, and be done with it.  On that subject, I like to line skirts, particularly if they're of a sheer material.  Saves having to dig out a slip.  The only time I've made a slip was for a dance skirt that was gargantuan, and very very heavy all by itself (8 yards of fabric!).

French seams usually only work on straight or straight-ish seams.  You can do a mock-French seam (you'd have to google it, as I'm not 100% on it) or, what I like to do, bind seams in bias tape, or seam tape--which is a lighter bias tape, usually.  It works for all seams, leaves no strings, and if you're lazy, like me (which you're definitely not!) you can do it all in one step, if you're careful, instead of sewing every seam twice.  Though sewing every one twice is probably a stronger option--I just like it for fabrics that like to ravel.  Like I sad, anything I've sewn with my machine has held up very nicely in the wash.

Sewers are for ninja turtles--seamstresses are for sewing Wink

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« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2009 04:20:00 AM »

Cute jammies! they worked out nicely Smiley

1.  Zig-zaging and pinking will work only on fabrics that aren't likely to unravel; usually lighter fabrics that are more 'sheer' will unravel more easily. Hong kong seams often work well for enclosing curves. There's also flat felled and french/bag seams, but these are easiest on straight lines. If you line it, that works to enclose the seam edges too.

Books will help you with new techniques, but when you're just starting out, I find that being taught by someone is the best method. Try enrolling in a class or getting a friend to teach you - it's worth it.

2.  I usually use unbleached ('factory') cotton when trying something new, since it's cheap, so easy to work with and you can clearly see if your technique works. But when making a mock-up, the only thing that everyone should do is get fabric that's similar to the actual fabric you'll be using. After that, what you want to do with your mock-up fabric is up to you. I find that they make useful and lasting patterns, so much better than paper.

3. I haven't read 'patternless fashions' or 'how to make sewing patterns,' but I can recommend this book: http://www.amazon.com/Metric-Pattern-Cutting-Womens-Wear/dp/1405175672/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1241348936&sr=8-1
It teaches you how to draft the basic 'blocks' that represent your bodice, pants, skirt, sleeve, etc, that patterns makers use as a base, and how to alter them into whatever you like. Just remember, you're drafting without seam allowance.

And make sure you've got all the skills down before you jump into drafting. You'll need to know all the ingredients before you can mix them together into your original drafted recipe for clothing. It's not the blocks themselves that are difficult to make, it's knowing what to do with those blocks that will make your drafts successful.

4. I don't know if it's too common, but it's not illegal :p
If you think your skirts need more structure, go for it Smiley
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« Reply #6 on: May 03, 2009 07:14:54 PM »

Over Christmas I was at my parents house with my brother and I kept on looking at his pajama pants. Finally I went over to him and looked at the seams on the inside. I did this because oh, five or so years before I made him some pajama pants and I couldn't imagine that he was still wearing them. Well, he was they have survived five or so years of heavy wear. And I didn't even remember, but I didn't have a serger at the time and the seems were finished with a zig-zag stitch. I know my brother is not hand washing his clothes and they held up--I think better than the store bought ones, which the ones I made were to replace.

Not mentioned on this thread, but assuming the crotch shape is fine and it is just that it is too long in the "crotch depth" what you need to do is cut an elastic the size you want for your pajama pants. sew or pin it together do not finish the top edge of your pants, put your pants on and pull them up so the crotch is where you want it to be using the elastic to hold the pants up on your body. Mark the top edge of where you want the pants, add the 1 1/4" or whatever they have for the casing allowance and cut the top of the pants off and finish as described.

I own "how to make sewing patterns" I haven't really read through it, since I mostly understand what the book is about, but it seems like a good basic book. It does describe how to draft and why you do what you do and how to fit the draft to your body. After you understand that and get the basics then to supplement that I would get a pattern drafting textbook. Which shows you how to take the basic body blocks into different styles of patterns. That book does do that a little, but get another one if you want to do more. And don't dismiss comercial patterns, they are very handy and if you get them on sale they can be pretty cheap. Drafting a pattern from scratch doesn't mean it will fit you perfectly the first time. After that you need to know how to alter the muslin to make it fit. If you read Don's book it will tell you all this.

Muslins are for testing and marking. Depending on what the style of the garment is you can just throw it away after you are done, or you can take it apart and use it again. Like if you have something that has a bunch of small oddly shaped pieces, once they have been sewn into a muslin they aren't very useful to use again. If you use a large rectangle of fabric to gather for a skirt. Once you are finished you can take it apart and have a large rectangle to use again.

Goodbye Tucson! I will miss how everything dried so quickly!
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2009 12:40:41 PM »

thank y'all for  taking the time to type such long responses to me.  it is appreciated!

hoxierice, glad to know your brother's jammies still held up. 

in the future when i make sleep boxers and jammie bottoms i will either use a french or fell seam just to keep everything all neat and tidy Wink 

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« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2009 04:27:43 PM »

You only really need french seams on delicate fabrics like sheers and laces. Whenever I do french seams, I always seem to end up with little threads on the outside of my garments. Also, it is harder to make changes with french seams since they are harder to rip out. Otherwise, just zig zag or pink, no need to do both. Zig zag half on, half off the edge, so it is like serging. The good thing about sergers is sewing knits because it stretches with the fabric and finishes the seam at the same time, the bad thing is that they are hard to thread.

On pants you can only do flat felled seams on one side and you can't do them on the seams of sleeves (ok, my mom did it once, but I wouldn't attempt it). If you look at jeans you will see only the inside leg or outside leg is flat felled. Or only the crotch like the jeans I am wearing right now. Flat felling is just so much work.

Just follow the washing instructions on the bolt of fabric. Ask when you are buying the fabric and if you forget, call the store and ask them.

I use muslin, but as a fashion design student, I went ahead and bought a whole bolt of it. I don't reuse it because when laying out a pattern, I want to see how much room it takes up and the most efficient way of laying it out. I also don't like ripping seams.

The problems with books that I have on drafting patterns, is that you have to know certain things before making them. I had used patterns long enough to know when I should use interfacing and what kind, how to put in lining, and how to put in a zipper. Pattern books also don't tell you what order your pieces should go together.
Your profile says that you are in Georgia. I know that Savannah College of Art and Design has a fashion design program, you could look at their library and look through their design books or see what books their program uses. I tend to find more at college libraries(even community colleges that don't offer that as a major) than I do at public libraries. You can usually go in and browse and sit down and read books without an id, but you would probably need an id to check them out.
I was required to buy "Patternmaking for Fashion Design" by Helen Joseph-Armstrong for my program, but I have heard better things about "Patternmaking Made Easy" by Connie Crawford, both have a high price since they are textbooks. If you are going to be patternmaking, you should buy a clear 2"x18" ruler, a roll of paper, matte clear tape, a magic eraser, and some pencils that you keep with your patternmaking stuff so you don't have to go around searching. You can pm me if you have questions about patternmaking.

With elastic waist skirts, they usually aren't lined. Start looking at the insides of ready to wear garments.
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2009 10:13:50 AM »


thanks for your long reply!

actually i just finished a pair of sleep boxers (https://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=304345.0) and did the same zig zag and pinked seam like i did for my jammie bottoms.  but i would like to try felled seams at one point.....

i did buy some muslin but haven't used it yet, i did prewash it although i suppose i didn't need to but i have sensitive skin and the word is complelty escaping me know but i know fabric is "treated" so it stays all nice and crisp on the bolt and i didn't want those "chemicals" to be near my skin

I am in GA but am much closer to UGA than SCAD. 

I do have some RTW elastic waistband skirts.  One is lined but I suppose it is because the other fabric is white cotton eyelet.  I have another RTW skirt with zipper, no elastic, and it is lined too but the outer fabric is white.  So that does make sense, I supose the weight and color (and fiber content) of the fabric determine whether or not a skirt will be lined.

Thanks for the 2 book recs, I think I recall seeing those on amazon and they were pricey!

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