I Miss the BURDA Fashion Website

I miss being able to look up BURDA technical drawings and fashion images on line. I have been a member of Burda Style for some time, but I never preferred it to the Burda Fashion site. While nothing can substitute for holding the magazine in my hands, I prefer to browse electronically sometimes, especially when I have a specific design in mind. I am so bummed out.

Duplicating Menswear Construction Technique on my Waistband

I have stitched the wool pants and tested the fit - a little tighter than I like - even with the added width. I think I will let the seams out slightly. I should not have been so confident when I cut the fabric. I used 1/2 inch seam allowances. I will let the upper thigh out a quarter inch on the outseam and the inseam for a total of 1 inch. I hope that gives me what I need because it's all I have! I took this picture showing where I added to the leg seams and now I can see that I added mostly to the hip curve and not so much to the thigh. This is called learning by doing.... I guess I have yet another reason to start using my exercise bike again. Anywhooo, I have been working on duplicating the waistband. I really like the menswear construction.

One thing I had not previously noticed about the construction is that the interfacing is sewn to the top of the waistband facing and waistband, but it hangs free at the bottom, enclosed in a bias cut single folded binding. A second bias folded layer behind it is sewn to the waistband at the bottom. It is stitched from the public side in the ditch where the waistband attaches to the pants. The stitching goes through both layers of the second folded bias - the one without the interfacing enclosed. I think this allows the waistband to stretch a little at the bottom but be nice and stable up at the top without causing rippling. I am in the process of constructing my own version of this interfaced waistband facing using tie interfacing, twill tape, bias binding and rayon seam binding. I am using double folded bias binding ordered from zipperstop.com to duplicate the white fabric, rayon seam binding also ordered from zipperstop to make the piping, and twill tape in place of the branded ribbon on the RTW waistband. I ordered tie interfacing from Peggy Sagers at Silhouette Patterns for the interfacing. My hope is that if this waistband facing works well, I can make lots of it and cut it by the yard when I need to make a waistband. It never occurred to me to face a shaped contoured waistband with a straight rectangular facing cut on the bias, but I have a real life example that is well constructed and lies nicely on the body.

Copying RTW Pants

This is what the waistband of the pants looks like. You will notice one leg is missing from the pants. I cut that off to use as my pattern. A close inspection of the waistband reveals several layers. The outermost layer is the fashion fabric. There is a center back seam. The fashion fabric is cut in a contoured shape with the lengthwise grain running parallel to the floor at the center front and the center back is on the bias. The waistband looks like tie interfacing. It is behind the facing layers. The facing has a bias cut woven section at the top with piping and stable ribbon in the center and a pleated woven bias section which hangs free in front of another woven piece on the bias at the bottom edge. What is the purpose of the free hanging pleat? I think I might eliminate that from my copy. I also will eliminate the belt loops and maybe even the pockets as well. That should make the assembly less complicated. So the order of operations will be:
  • cut all pattern pieces
  • overcast all edges
  • apply interfacing to fly pieces and waistband pieces
  • stitch darts in back pieces
  • sew pant legs together along inseam and outseams
  • sew crotch seam from center back to just below zipper in front
  • make fly front zipper assembly
  • insert zipper assembly
  • make waistband interfacing and facing assembly
  • sew interfaced fashion fabric waistband pieces together at center back
  • attach fashion fabric waistband to top of pants
  • try on and adjust fit of waistband at center back
  • mark locations for hooks and eyes and inside button on waistband
  • attach waistband interfacing and facing assembly to top edge of waistband
  • fasten hooks and button on facing side of front waistband extension
  • sew eyes on underlapped side of waistband
  • fold waistband to inside of pants
  • sew free edge of waistband facing to inside by stitching in the ditch from right side
  • sew buttonhole on underlapped side of waistband

Peggy Sagers gave me a nice printed sheet of instructions for the zipper assembly which I have used ever since. I am wondering if there is a tutorial available for the waistband and facing assembly available anywhere. Does anyone know of a good visual reference for this? Maybe David Coffin? What material is the facing made of? Is it a shirting? Cotton? Polyester to prevent shrinking? How do you make your waistbands?

Duplicating Ready To Wear Pants

You may remember that I recently ordered a pair of trousers on line in order to copy them. Well I got them and the first thing I did was try them on of course. They are a bit snug - too snug in fact, but I am going to try to fix that. Here are a couple of pictures of what they look like on. These are not the same pair. They are the same cut with a slight difference in style. The pockets on these open along the side seam, which when worn gape open. The ones I am copying have pockets in the same place, but the opening is at the top, like blue jeans. Also, they seem to be a little smaller with more stretch. I took one leg apart and left the other attached to the waistband for reference. I noticed something which has me curious. The crotch seam and hip seams have double stitching - both the bobbin and top thread are doubled. How do they do that? Is there a special industrial machine that uses two bobbins? Are two threads wound around the bobbin at the same time? I sense some experimenting in my future... The waistband is a two piece contour waistband.

Other observations about these pants:

  • All seam allowances are 1/2 inch
  • All exposed raw edges are overcast
  • All exposed seam allowances are pressed open
  • the hem uses rayon seam binding
  • The waistband is a two piece contour waistband
  • The waistband fashion fabric and front fly assembly pieces are interfaced with fusible interfacing
  • The waistband uses many layers
    • seam binding
    • tie interfacing
    • woven shirting rectangle cut on the bias
    • seam binding folded in half lengthwise to form rayon piping
    • woven ribbon label with designer name repeated
    • a lengthwise pleated woven shirting rectangle cut on the bias
    • a final woven shirting rectangle alos cut on the bias
I have been trying to find information on line about waistband interfacing and construction. I think I want to make my own version of menswear waistband interfacing. I really like the way these pants are constructed. I will have to post pictures when I can so you can see what I mean. Happy Sewing!!

I Sewed This Weekend!

I sewed this weekend. Actually, I serged this weekend. I made these really quick pants to try my hand at making a knock off. For some reason in all my years of sewing, I have never tried to copy a RTW garment. While my wool trousers are en route to me, I decided to start with something uncomplicated to get the hang of it. These pants are made of two rectangles with U shapes cut out of the top side of each rectangle. The pieces are perfectly symmetrical. I thought about customizing the U to my exact crotch curve, but since the exercise was to perform a knock off, I copied the pants exactly. Here is what the pattern looks like. I cut two pieces - one for each leg. They have no side seams. The sides are overlapped and worn open, wrap style. There are no buttons or zippers. The pants are tied on in front and in back. The pants I copied had self ties. I used some ribbon I had on hand instead of self ties. The ribbon does double duty as a waist facing to stabilize the waist in front and in back. I cut extra to hang free on each side of both the front and back waist edges for the ties. First, I serged the two legs right sides together at the U shape. I used stay tape to keep the crotch from stretching out of shape since my fashion fabric contains Lycra. next, I overcasted and trimmed the selvages from the side edges. Then, I overcasted the bottom edges, attaching a fusible stabilizer tape with the fusible side out on the reverse side. The next step was attaching the ribbons to the public side of the front and back waist. Once all the overcasting was done, I set my serger for cover stitching. I folded the hem under and pressed to fuse using a Teflon press cloth. Then I used a wide cover stitch to finish the bottom edges. I cover stitched the side edges next, turning under as I serged. The final step was turning the ribbon to the inside and running two rows of cover stitch at the front and back waist. Done! Easy Peasy!

A Closet Full Of Fit Muslins?

I think I need to clean out my closet! I took a look at what's in there and asked myself if each piece met my standards for fit and I was woefully surprised at how many pieces I have that don't quite pass muster. Then I got an idea! I sew!! Well fitting items that are worn out, ripped, or stained can be taken apart and used as patterns. Except, I have nothing that really fits well that is in bad shape. My closet rejects are rejects because the style doesn't flatter my figure, or the fit is a little off. Maybe I can use them as fit mock-ups and tweak the style and fit and THEN use them as patterns. Why have I not thought of this before? Now I can clean out the closet without feeling guilty about the money I have spent on what is in there.

My husband commented that he liked a pair of pants I was wearing recently. It figures that I didn't get a picture of them on me. They do fit well. A little too well if you know what I mean. They look great when I am standing but a little tight in the thigh when I sit. The fabric has a little stretch and a slight wrinkle appears across the top of my thigh. Also, the center back waist dips ever so slightly when I am standing and more when I am sitting. I thought I could take those apart and use them as a pattern. I can add a smidge more fabric in the thigh and center back and they would be perfect. But then I thought I can't part with them. I love the stretch tropical wool charcoal fine pinstripe fabric too much. So last night, I tried to copy them using my TNT fit muslin. I figured the pinstripe is a perfect grain line. How hard can it be to copy them? I pinned the muslin and started fussing with it. Actually, I was fighting with the stretch fabric and the muslin, trying to be patient. I really wanted to take the darned things apart, lie the pieces flat, and trace them. Then I got another idea. What if I just buy another pair? The time I will save will be worth the money. No pattern tracing, measuring, tweaking, mock-up making, mock-up tweaking, or transferring changes back to the pattern necessary. Just cut apart, and use the pieces as a pattern! BING!! Light bulb over my head... I went on line and checked the web site for the store where I bought them and they didn't have them anymore. But, there was another pair with the same cut and stretch tropical wool fabric in black! WooHoo! - and it was on sale!! I ordered two pairs - one for me to wear and one to use as a pattern. I hope they aren't too tight in the thigh. I am definitely keeping one pair to cut apart as a pattern.

Some More Thoughts About Style

I have been doing less sewing and more thinking lately. I am good at doing up front planning at my job, so it surprises me that I have not really taken the same approach to dressing. I wonder what would happen if I take the same approach with choosing my clothing as I take with a project at work. Is it possible I can target specific things to sew which will result in clothes that I feel good wearing? Some days I get dressed and I feel great.
I would take stock of my resources - my raw materials, building blocks, and basic elements. I would then go about asking, "How can I manipulate my resources in order to meet my goals?"
Other days, I feel "off". On the "off" days, I usually experience more pain and fatigue, a general feeling of looking forward to taking a hot bath or putting on jammies and curling up on the couch and being done with the day. I wonder if my feelings about my appearance fuel the malaise. Can I make clothes that look great, fit well, flatter my figure, suit my lifestyle, and also feel comfortable? Clothes that will energize me? If clothing is a form of public speaking, can I choose my message as well? If this were a project at work, how would I begin?

I would start by defining goals, objectives and limits. Then I would take stock of my resources - my raw materials, building blocks, and basic elements. I would then go about asking, "How can I manipulate my resources in order to meet my goals?" I believe that all good designers manage limits well. I do this naturally at my job because I am well versed in the ways in which I can manipulate my resources. I can be very creative managing the limits which derive from my objectives because I have so much experience with the things I can do with my materials. This is where I think mastery comes from. How can I apply this to my sewing?

What do the masters do? They understand how to use the properties of raw materials - fabrics, buttons, zippers, trims, to create elements of design and style. They speak the language of clothing. What are the elements of style? What is the language of clothing? What are the limits and how are they managed? I have defined my message and my objectives, Now I need to derive my limits and use what I know about fabric to manage those limits. An example of a limit is the need to keep private parts private. A way to manage that limit is to use opacity and structure in those areas of a garment. Using my knowledge of fabrics and techniques, I can think of a few ways to create opacity - choose an opaque fabric, use a lining, use multiple layers or gathering, etc... But what do I know about style? About the language of clothing? What does a ruffle say to me? A sheer fabric? What says casual? What says professional? Does it depend on the type of garment - a jacket or a blouse or a skirt?

My wardrobe needs to meet different objectives for different activities. Therefore I am going to divide my wardrobe into capsules. I have a weekend capsule, sports capsules, and a work capsule. Since most of my time is spent in my work clothes, I will start with the work capsule. I need to define my objectives.

Work Capsule Clothing Objectives and Limits

  • Great Fit
    • Hems and side seams are straight
    • Button plackets, vents, and pockets do not gape
    • Collars lie flat
    • No ripples or strained seams
    • Pant legs skim the tops of my shoes
    • Sleeves are not too tight
  • Comfort
    • Adequate wearing ease for activities such as reaching, bending, and sitting. My thighs spread when I sit, so I need extra ease in pant legs. I like close fitting clothing, so a little Lycra can be beneficial.
    • Seasonally appropriate - I am always cold. In summer months, I am cold indoors and warm outdoors. In winter, I am just cold everywhere. In summer months, I walk to lunch. My wardrobe will need to consist of outfits which adapt to temperature changes. - Short or no sleeves with a jacket or sweater to layer on top in summer and long sleeves in winter.
    • Fabrics and underpinnings do not abrade, dig into, tickle, itch, or leave marks on my skin
  • Pristine Condition
    • Wrinkle free - I would like my clothing to look fresh all day long. I sit for long periods and do not want wrinkles across my lap.
    • No stains, rips, runs, missing buttons, etc...
  • Current or Classic Style
    • Outdated clothing looks dowdy and frumpy. It is difficult to define what is modern, but I would like my outfits to look current without being too trendy.
    • Check fashion magazines for colors and style elements which are fresh and compatible with my other objectives
  • Figure Flattery
    • Proportion - I look and feel best in clothing that is shaped through the waist.
    • Color - I prefer solid colors that are warm and moderately bright.
    • Scale - I think I look best in medium to large scale prints.
    • Contrast - I do not have much natural contrast in my coloring and I think I look best in prints or color combinations with medium to low contrast.
    • Texture - Judicious use of texture and shine can divert attention and focus. I would like the focus of my outfit to be near my face.
    • Support - Although this is an important criteria, I am not amply endowed and have no issue here except for modesty.
    • Modesty - There are areas on my body that I prefer my exact shape remain mysterious.
  • Professional Appearence
    • I would like my clothing to impart a degree of formality and professionalism.
    • My neckline needs to be modest because people approach me on foot while I am sitting.
    • My skirt length gets shorter when I am seated, so it needs to be knee length or longer when standing.

Mastering My Craft

This is where knowing how to manipulate materials to achieve goals comes into play. I have been sewing for many years and have learned much in the way of technique. Now I need to figure out when to apply those techniques and how to achieve the look I am after. This is the area I need to think about. How do I speak clothing? What do certain elements say to me? Here are some of my personal opinions:
  • I think floral prints are romantic.
  • I think contrasting colors are bold.
  • I think pleats are smart.
  • I think ruffles are youthful.
  • I think exposed skin is exciting and sexy.
  • I think dresses and skirts are feminine.
  • I think stiff fabrics are authoritative.
  • I think long skirts are formal.
  • I think prints are fun.
  • I think piping and trims are dressy.
  • I think rounded collars are more youthful than pointed collars.
  • I think sharp angles are stricter than curves.
  • I think clothing which fits well looks confident, and ill fitting clothes make a person look absent minded.
  • I think wrinkles are sloppy, but gathers and ruching are chic.
  • I think symmetry is proper and asymmetry is unconventional.
These are not hard and fast rules, but starting points to think about when I begin to design a look for myself. When I decide to make a garment, I think I should ask myself what I want it to say and choose elements that come together to communicate that message, while avoiding things which contradict it.

These are the thoughts that have been bouncing around in my brain. Hopefully, I will begin to figure out what I want to sew soon.