Design & Draft: Back Yokes for Denim

No post yesterday- I teach on Tuesday nights and while I could schedule a post I don’t like to.  It lacks immediacy, call me old-fashioned.  (Others who blog, do you schedule posts on a regular basis?)

For the rest of this week, I want to zero in on some denim details.  On Monday, we looked at RTW jeans-style waistbands/belt loops.

Drafting a Jeans-y Back Yoke

Tonight (this morning?), I have a new Visual Reference Guide at for you.  It’s a very clear step by step guide to drafting a back yoke on the Hummingbird Skirt.  The same steps and logic can be applied to other skirts or pants, and it’s pretty clear even for someone who might not draft much but would like to add a little design interest to a plain skirt.  Take a look.

The yoke for Hbird is a similar shape, though the seam is higher on the body.  Big reveal of finished skirt on Friday!

The yoke for Hbird is a similar shape, though the seam is higher on the body. Big reveal of finished skirt on Friday!

The resulting yoke is a less-traditional shape like the yoke on the Pinkie Pants.  I like the way the seaming wraps around my body, it’s subtly unexpected.  I wrote the Visual Reference Guide so that your Hummingbird Denim Yoke seam would wrap around your body and flow into the pocket seam in a similar way.  I also wrote in how to make a more traditional V-yoke.

Meanwhile, let’s check out other back yoke treatments for inspiration:

click for source

click for source

This is a fairly ordinary back yoke.  In general, a back yoke seam is flat-felled and functions as an alternative to a back dart.  That is, it introduces a curve in the backside area.  For some very curvy bodies, a back yoke + small dart may be necessary.

click for source

click for source

Generally, the back yoke seams slope gently down toward the CB seam, a few fingerwidths higher than the widest part of the backside curve.  Cool pocket variation shown here, and click here for a useful perspective on the visual effects of pocket size.

click for source

click for source

As with waistbands and belt loops and threads, back yokes vary widely.  I like the extra little seam here, from Armani.  Extra seaming = extra labor costs for cutting/sewing = pricier garment.

click for source

click for source

These jeans are from the same maker, Armani, and you can see they’re as different as can be from the other pair.  The wash (color), the shape and position of the yoke, and the distance between the stitches.  It’s an extra wide flat fell seam.

click for source

click for source

These lavishly embellished women’s jeans have a surprisingly straight yoke seam with a double belt loop back detail.

click for source

click for source

This back yoke is nothing special, but I rather like the crossed belt loops and the seamed pockets.  Note the angle of the pocket flaps.

click for source

click for source

And for the finale, this quirky-cute back yoke.   I imagine it would be a pain in the neck to sew, but the result is worth it.   I rather like the pockets, too, what do you think?  I’d almost call it Art Deco style, except… it’s a denim skirt…

Read On

click for source

click for source

While I was looking around for some interesting back yokes for this post, I found a very cool article on Jeans Anatomy.

Tomorrow: Hemp-Cotton Denim Torture Testing / Sample Sewing / Denim Threads and also How to Calculate Fabric Weight

Then: The Big Reveal and Guide to Sewing with Hammers

A Cleaner, Tidier 3 Hours Past & Survey Clues

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Welcome!  I’ve been feeling crowded here at 3 Hours Past for a while and many of you requested I simplify the design of the site.  I had a chance to do just that today.  I feel like I repainted the living room, very refreshing!

The main links are up at the top- the Blank Canvas Tee, Sewing Cake and so on.  I left the categories and archives at the very bottom of this page.  I hope the new layout is easy on your eyes and easier to navigate.  If you have a suggestion, let me know (gently) in comments.

Panels Giveaway

Today’s random number winner is #9:

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Congrats, Leigh! Yes, you may have the Tiramisu Organic Cotton Envelope panel!  Click here to join the Giveaway and Survey.

Clues about the Hand Width + Bicep Survey


A few days ago, I asked for hand & bicep circumferences (still collecting, giveaway still happening!) to create one of my weird spreadsheets.  I am not designing a gauntlet or handwear, I’ll leave that to designers in colder climates.  My research is a little more abstract, tracking weight and handwidth to find a correlation if any exists.  Also, I want to know hand widths for another project not related to hands.


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Some time ago I stumbled across this deceptively dry title in googlebooks: “Pattern Drafting, Pattern Grading, Garment Making, Garment Fitting” by Edward Gurney, 1939.  He breaks drafting and grading into a complex system of ratios, with lots of interesting rabbit trails.  Some of his ideas are quite sensible and I can verify his formulas from my own data.  I want to test a few of his other equations, so once we run out of Envelope Panel offcuts (Friday), I’ll start another measurement survey/giveaway and we’ll talk about what I found out in this one- in 300 words.  Sound like fun?

You can see I was serious about interesting rabbit trails... Click for source

You can see I was serious about interesting rabbit trails… Click for source

Results: 2 Ways to Lengthen a Half-Circle Skirt

Skirt Drape Experiment | Comparison Shot 2 | 3 Hours Past

Last weekend, while I was working on the sewingcake site I got the itch to test and compare two ways to lengthen a half-circle skirt.  It was fun to sit down and stitch the two tester skirts.  Both are a lightweight rayon, close to the same weight and drape.  I used a navy and white spotted fabric to mock up Alteration 1 (trace n slide method of lengthening).  I used navy and white stripe for Alteration 2 (simple addition of length at the hem.

Drape Comparison | Lengthening a Half Circle Skirt

I haven’t done much styling or self-photos in the past few months, what skills I have were getting rusty so I set aside a little time to play with my camera and tripod to best show the drape of the skirts.  I played with the contrast and exposure in these photos to help bring out the shape and motion of the fabric.

Of all the photos I took, these two seemed to best show the difference between the two skirt shapes.  Alteration 1 uses slightly less fabric, but the shift in the grain of fabric at the side seam throws off the balance of the drape of the skirt.  Alteration 2 follows a regular half-circle skirt drape, with ripples gently forming in the fabric around the body.

I put a pocket in the mock ups, in case I decided to keep wearing them.  The striped skirt makes the cut (I do have a thing for stripes…) but I may decide to finish the polka dot skirt later.

Brisbane Tiramisu Class

I’m teaching the Tiramisu Knit Dress at Voodoo Rabbit in the Gabba this Saturday the 8th- I still have a spot left, so if you’re reading this and you’d like to come let me know and I’ll set you up!

We have another class on the 15th which also has a spot available.  Let me know if you’d like to come!

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The site is the online home of Cake Patterns.  I can’t have Cake all over the place around here, it attracts ants.  My fridge isn’t big enough.  There’s frosting all over the ceiling.  I can do things on I can’t do here, and it’s really fun bringing all the elements together.  I’m still releasing pages, playing a little and getting used to the new space but do go and check it out.  I’ve hidden five of eight Pieces of Cake around the site and will be sure to let you know when I’ve hidden the final three.  If you collect all eight Pieces of Cake, you get a code for a free Cake Pattern.  One lucky winner will go fabric shopping with me.  We’ll have fun, even if you’re in Zanzibar.  Take a look.

Once I finish up the last little bits of Tiramisu pages for the site, I’ll be posting regularly again here at 3 Hours Past.  Thanks again for being patient with me, I’m really looking forward to posting about inspiring ruffled 20’s dresses (and what I’m cooking up from that inspiration), the crazy-clarifying and cheap face mask I’ve been using lately, more about color and sergers- basically all the cool stuff we were talking about before Cake work got busy.

Pavlova Flats | Wrap Top and Skirt | Cake Patterns

Oh- and the Pavlova Wrap Top and Skirt Circus will happen before the end of the month!  Pavlova has been a delight so far from start to finish, and it will be so nice to show her to you!  Last time, I ran the pre-sale for ten days and posted tutorials and experiments nearly every day.  That was fun, but for Pavlova I want to make it shorter- 5 days instead of ten.

Also, do take a look at Kate from Two Little Banshees’ black knit post-baby Tiramisu!  I think it looks great on her, and I completely understand wanting to wear it all the time! Up to now you’ve only seen the Tira on me, so go check it out on Kate!

I miss you!

2 Ways to Lengthen A Half-Circle Skirt

In the days since the Tiramisu Knit Dress Pattern shipped, y’all have been so kind as to let me know when the pattern arrives.  I hadn’t foreseen that, and it’s such fun!  So far as I know, no one in Europe has received their pattern yet, nor Western Australia.  Let me know, it’s so interesting!

Over the weekend, I buried myself away from the world to tame the site into the useful resource I can see in my head.  I also fielded some very intelligent questions about the Tiramisu pattern.  This one from Carole in Bowling Green was particularly delightful:

Picture 17I “nested” the skirt pattern for the Tiramisu to allow for lazy lengthening, that’s why it looks a bit different:

Picture 20This seemed most correct to me, as it preserves the length and volume of the half-circle.  I don’t have anything against “slash and spread” lengthening except it’s a bit time consuming, so I responded:

Picture 18

Then, as I was typing (and feeling like I’d seen altogether too much of my laptop screen lately), I got the itch to experiment.  I was sure I’d accurately told Carol what her options are (I really don’t like to make decisions for others), and I was just as sure I’d hear this question again.  I wanted to see the difference between the two alterations.

So I made up two half-circle skirt pattern pieces, altered for length both ways.

Half Circle Drape Experiment | Alteration 1 | Step 1 | 3 Hours PastThe Tiramisu skirt pattern piece is 24″ long.  I added ~6.5″ (16.5cm) in length using both methods Carole and I discussed.  Some time ago, I decided the “slash and spread” method of lengthening a pattern was kind of messy and cumbersome, so I started doing “trace and slide.”  It achieves precisely the same result, with less mess.  You can see the full pictutorial on  This method works for pretty much any pattern piece that needs to be lengthened.

Skirt Drape Experiment | Lengthening Alteration 2 | 3 Hours Past

Then I lengthened another Tiramisu Skirt piece by simply tracing off the hem that was ~6.5″ below the hem marked for my size.  That’s all.

Skirt Drape Experiment | Comparison Shot 2 | 3 Hours PastAnd of course, I compared the two.  Isn’t that interesting?  Like I said, the second method created a somewhat wider and fuller skirt.  So which one is more enchanting on the body and in motion?

I grabbed some lightweight, fluid, freebie “friends’ destash” fabric to test it- but before I post the results, I’d be really interested to hear your thoughts on this.

What do you think?  Which way would you do it?  Do you think the difference will negligible or pronounced?  Which will look better?


Pictutorial- Removing Back Thigh Fabric

I’m working on Colette’s Clover pants in a bottom-weight cotton-lycra no-wale cord stretch.  Previously, I altered the pattern using my basic block.  This fitting solution should work on other pants that have the problem of too much fabric through the back thigh area.

After quickly basting the muslin to check the basic fit, I ripped and then stitched the Clovers together except the inseam and hem.  This post will focus primarily on the back inseam.  I show my pattern work as I go; this is essentially the same process as fitting the Pinkie Pants but more methodically documented.

If your fashion fabric is ravelly, be sure to finish the raw edges.  All seams are basted until the fitting is complete.

This is the baseline.  The fit is fine on the front, and no major issues through the hips or the crotch seam.  It’s just that pesky back thigh fabric!

The rest of the photos show closer work, but I wanted to be clear that I’m working primarily with the back pattern piece, at the point where the inseam meets the crotch curve.

The red lines shows my first alteration.  I did this on the machine, and marked it on the pattern.  I deepened the back of the crotch curve by a scant 1/4″ (6mm) and blended the new line of stitching into the crotch curve.  Then I sewed the inseam, taking in more of the fabric at the top of the inseam.  This is how it translates to the pattern.

The second fit is slightly better.  I tend to adjust seams incrementally, to avoid over shooting the mark.   If a wrinkle points up to the crotch curve, I know I need to deepen.  If it’s horizontal or , I work on the inseam.

I ripped the basting through the middle of the inseam, stopping mid-thigh.

I deepened the back crotch just a little more, and shifted the back inseam slightly.

This is what it looks like after I sew it.  I try to leave the seam allowances until they get *really* wide, because I’m somewhat conservative about this type of fitting.  I want to leave myself a way out until I’m sure I’m right!

I can see I’m getting somewhere, very slowly.  The fit is comfortable, but I’m somewhat alarmed by the -ahem- division going on…

At this point, the back crotch curve had been edited several times, so I took out my block and matched up the straight part of the CB seams to check the curve was still curvy enough- it looked as though my editing had straightened it out too much.  I corrected it.  I’m using the same curved line as the original block because it is a “map” of my seamlines, but it’s dropped about 3/4″ (2cm) at the inseam point.  The green line shows the original curved line.

Much better.  Above the blasted thighs, everything is fine.

I took in more of the back inseam only, and while I was whittling away at the thigh bulk, I could see knee wrinkles forming and knew I should rip the inseam to below the knees and try again.

Much better, I took in more at the top of the inseam and took in fabric all the way down past the knee.  The diagonal wrinkle is still there- but only on one side for some reason.

Then I reached down and pinned the inseam while I was wearing the Clovers.  Most of the work up to now focused on making sure the back crotch was properly adjusted for the change in the inseam.  But now that area is fine and I need to focus on just the legs.  If I take fabric only off the back inseam, it causes the side seam to twist around my leg while I’m wearing them.  (Ask me how I know!)

I could have saved myself a few trips to the sewing machine by doing this on my 5th pass instead of my 6th.  Live and learn.  I didn’t mess anything up, just wasted a little time.

The fabric is not pulled taut.  It is just pinned, down to my knees where I tapered it off.

I slithered out, keeping the pins in place.

Rubbed chalk into the pinned seam and took out the pins.

This is the new back inseam stitching line.  I’m pointing to where my line of pins began.  I tapered that into the back crotch seam and smoothed out the chalk line.

This is the front inseam.  Not nearly as dramatic, but it is a similar shape to the back curve line.

Then I folded the pants and turned back the seam allowance so I could see to transfer the lines to the other leg.

That’s better, but still pretty wrinkly.  Remember, I haven’t trimmed my seam allowances yet.

This is after trimming. This is where I stopped, but I can keep going if y’all decree it.

I can live with this.  I might only rip the knee area of the inseam one more time to play around with it, but this is the point where I decided the pesky back thigh fabric was sufficiently reduced.  And I can still pursue my night job as a ninja.

Nothing crazy in the front, either.  I’m sorry about the quality of these photos, I usually take in-progress shots with the computer camera which picks everything up quite well in full daylight but I didn’t finish these until late afternoon.

I’m saving up for a *good* camera and a tripod.  It will happen soon.

I transferred my changes to the Clover pattern.  It will need a little more refinement, but this is my new stretch “block.”  I’ll think about the refinements while I quirk up these Clovers, and post about that and the “fisheye dart” technique next week.  In fact, while I was writing this post I had several ideas but they’ll keep for a few days.

If you’d like a crack at working with your own custom fitted pants block, let me know.  I’m on it.

AND- if you’re in Brisbane and you’d like to take my Perfectly Fitting Pants workshop, visit Piece Together for more information and to register.

Did you see Lee’s lovely version of the Sisters of Edwardia blouse on Sew Weekly?   really suits her, and it goes so well with the K.Hepburn style trousers she made!

Finished Object: 9 Lines Sweater, Tee and Hack

May’s Hack of the Blank Canvas Tee- the 9 Lines Sweater and Tee- is complete!  Sure, it’s June 10, but I’m getting better with the dates.  I always seem to sew up the hack during the month and forget all the work that goes into writing it.  I’ll try to be more punctual.  This is the hemp-rayon jersey version.

I added three lines of pintucking to the back neck, I like the effect.  It takes so little effort to embellish a plain layering tee, and I think it’s well worth it.  This tee features a regular knit neck binding, underarm gussets for mobility (and to reduce bulk), and pintucked embellishments made with twin needles.

Though I intended the hack as a sweater, I made this one first to check if my gusset drafting would work on a knit.  It does!  I know gussets are kind of scary, but I over-explain them in the hack and I hope it’s useful to someone.  I know that some hiking and activewear uses gussets, and they’re especially wonderful for sweater weight fabrics.

The Hemp Rayon was not terribly difficult to sew with, even on the fiddly places. I still don’t see any pilling, I’ll be sure to update at the end of the winter.  So far, so good!

I re-watched Charade with Audrey Hepburn last week and this collar on “Reggie” caught my eye.  It’s one of those curious little standaway collars so popular in the 60’s.  I also have several standaway collars on my Hack Inspiration pinboard.  I wanted to try my hand at a collar like this, combined with my other inspiration (though on closer inspection, it looks like this is a standaway collar, too):

I used a very plushy merino jersey and felted it gently in the washing machine.  The result is like polar fleece, but sooooo soft and warm and magical.  Really.  I found the fabric as a second at The Fabric Store.  I’m not sure why it was a second, I couldn’t find a flaw on the fabric.  (In fact, before I cut the hack I wore the length of merino as a pashmina on a night out and was sorely tempted to leave it as a pashmina.)

You can see the seamlines. Buttons are glass and metal ones I re-discovered while digging through my stash. I love special surprises like that!  I like the shape of the collar, but I could easily add a hook and eye to keep it closed tighter.

Sewing in the button loops

Close-up of embellishment. I made 3 lines of pintucking on each line I marked, very effective for this fabric.

back neck embellishment- I hadn’t washed out the chalk lines yet, in case they were needed to help show the embellishments in photos…

This picture shows range of motion. It’s important to me that my clothes allow me to pursue a double life as Spiderman.

I really must blog this skirt… I wear it all the time.

Click image to download hack + sewing notes .pdf. It’s different from my previous hacks.

When I was about halfway through writing this hack, I had an idea about how to best present the information.  I’ve been struggling with this since I started publishing the hacks.  I’d like them to be as visually pleasing and useful as possible, to present drafting as a delightful creative exercise rather than some secret and scary skill.  I divided up the various design elements on this top and present them separately- both in the hacking and the sewing instructions.  I’d be very interested to hear any thoughts on the hack.

More shots from the mobility testing.  Clothes should be able to move, even the really lovely ones with glass buttons and pretty collars.

I’m really happy with this hack- both the garments I made and the pdf.  Time to turn around and work on June, maybe I’ll get it out before July!

Up Next: Altering the Clovers and also Welt Pocket Testing.  I’ve stumbled across several interesting welt pocket tutorials lately so I thought I’d try a few of them and pick a favorite.

Pants Block Muslin and Perfectly Fitting Pants Class

I finished the Duchess of Cambridge top- for all that I used fancy fabric, I have a suspicion the name may be a little grand.  Check it out at Sew Weekly.  I’m wearing her here with my Pinkie Pants, my first foray into the world of fitting slim cut stretch pants.  I almost haven’t taken them off since I made them (ewwww) because they’re so comfy and seem to work with most of my tops.

I started working on fitting stretch-slims with some of my Pants Block clients*.  It kept coming up.  The block works well for light/medium to heavy weight wovens:  regular trouser fit through wide-leg, that is.  This month, I’m on a mission to use my own block to “crack” the Colette Clover pattern.  Once I work out the method I’ll be a better teacher/block drafter.  I chose Clover to work with because it’s ubiquitous and simple.  Once I nail the fit it will be fun to play with the Clovers- add some pocket flaps here, a cuff there, and maybe go nuts with fun seaming.  I have two other lengths of the same fabric I used for the Pinkie Pants, but in teal and in khaki.

The first step is muslining the block.  I made myself a block from scratch to document the process of working on the block.  Also, I recognize that for many it’s a little nerve-wracking to email awkward shorts muslin photos for fitting so I thought I’d embarrass myself publicly with similar shots so we’re all equal.

Not bad, not perfect.   It’s fairly typical, though as I make more blocks I refine the process to make better blocks every time I draft.

Not bad, either.  There’s a little bit of pulling at the bottom, and when I was wearing them I felt the crotch seam (hate that word!) riding up too much for comfort.

I scooped out the front crotch seam by about 1/4″, tapering to nothing in the straight part of the CF seam.  I did the back much the same way, but tapered it much sooner on the curve because I didn’t have any problems with the back.

That’s all we needed.  There’s a residual wrinkle in the fabric because it’s the world’s grossest polyester suiting.  I can’t press a crease into it, but it will hold onto my fitting wrinkles.  Growl!

That’s fine, too.  I’m less worried about the wrinkles at the top, they have more to do with the pin-job than the fit.

Sometimes the muslins need much more tweaking than this, which is fine.  I’m more than happy to work at your own pace on the fitting, and it’s not easy to stump me.  I’ve been staring at wrinkly backsides for quite some time now.

At any rate, if you’ve been curious about the process of fitting the block, that’s about it.  I send you the block, you send me photos, I suggest the alterations, and we work on it until the issues are resolved.  I had a few hiccups along the way in developing the service (tech issues, language issues- now I tend to just use diagrams, much easier), but I’m confident now with fitting pants via email.

If you’re curious about what the block looks like, you can check out the sample pdf I uploaded here.  If you choose electronic delivery, this is what you will receive (except calibrated to your measurements, of course).   I’m also increasing the prices on the Pants Block service as of the 13th- my next drafting day.  The new prices will be $40 for a block with postal delivery and $45 for electronic delivery.  They’re $30 until the 13th.

I’m really excited to tell you all I’m running this as a class next month at Piece Together in Brisbane!  It’s a one-day pants fitting workshop on Saturday, July 14.  I’ll draft your custom block before the first class and we’ll spend the first part of the workshop tweaking your muslin.  Once that’s done, we can work on the trousers/pants/jeans pattern of your choice.  I’ll show you how to use your block as a reliable alteration tool, and we’ll finish the hard parts on your project- at least the fly and the pockets, though with 6 hours on our hands I’m sure we can get some great work done!  This is an intermediate to advanced sewing class, at least basic knowledge of sewing is required.

Click here for more details and to register online.  I only have 7 spaces and expect them to fill quickly.  The ladies who run Piece Together did a fantastic job of creating a streamlined way to register and pay online- no hassles or bothers.

Whew!  That was a lot… The whole point of a properly fitted block is to use it as an alteration tool.  In the next post on Pants, I’ll show you step-by-step how to alter Clovers using this block.  I might slip in a few fun potential design features, too- oooh!  I just had a thought!  If I’m using Clovers, I can make a fun pdf of pocket flaps and cuffs to share!  Now I’m itching to get started on these!

Coming Attractions: Friday Night Extras (new series!) and The May Hack.  I’m really, really loving the hack.

*If you and I made a block together and you would like additional help with fitting slim cut pants, please feel free to email me and I’ll sort you out.  Otherwise, keep watching this series because it will be helpful to you Blockers especially.

Tux Dress Details- Facings, Mitering Lace and Dickeying Around

Lila likes to “sew” with me, assembling her tools and requesting fabric scraps.  She’s quite orderly for a four-year-old.  The other day, she listed off her tools in a chirpy voice before diving into her “work”: “Pins, yes, fabric, yes, clapper, yes, OH!”  She jumped down and ran into her room.  She ran back, perched on her chair and set her last piece of equipment on the table-

“Camera, yes!”

Then she used her pink kid’s camera to take photos of everything she did with the pins, fabric and clapper.  (She pretends the clapper is an actual iron.)  I wonder if she thinks everyone sews with a camera…

5226 by Celia Kritharioti Tuxedo front dress

That’s what I did today!  I’m enjoying The Tux Dress construction and thought I’d share some of the detail work- little things that are easily overlooked and not often shared.

Making Facings:

I changed the front neckline to a deep, steep V-neck.  I measured down from the CF neck to the same depth I used in the muslin.  I marked it with a dot, and drew the new neckline and seam allowance.

Then I traced off a front “facing” piece following the new neckline.

This is the original front facing piece, layered on top of the “side front” piece.  The facing doesn’t have a seam in the same place the outer garment has a seam, it would be too bulky for no reason.  I marked the “side front” seamlines on the facing piece.

Then I merged the two pieces by aligning them along the seamline.

I traced the new front facing piece and smoothed off the interior corner where the two pieces join for a nice smooth line.

Mitering Lace:

Once I cut and assembled the facings, I overlocked/serged the outer edges to prevent fraying.  That’s the minimum I do to a facing, sometimes I use bias-binding on the outer edges, and sometimes I trim the edges.  The overlocking looked too ugly for a dress like this, even though it’s on the inside.  With a nod to the French Maid outfit I’m trying to avoid making, I trimmed the edges with lace.

I took a few shots to show how to miter a trim or lace around the corner.  This works best with lightweight trims.  When you are very close to the corner, place a pin.  See the pin above the flower pin?  Then carefully fold the trim diagonally so the trim is precisely opposite of the edge you want to trim.  The photo says more than words can.

Hold down the folded corner with your finger, and then without rotating or twisting, lay the trim in the direction you want it to go.

Pin that folded corner carefully and move on.

I stitched the lace in place with two rows of straight stitching along each edge of the lace.

Dickeying Around:

This dickey is a completely superfluous piece of flim-flammery that serves no structural purpose for this dress except to please our whims for a Tux Dress.  I’m treating it as an embellishment, which is semi-detachable.  I’ll hand-sew it on so I can remove it at will.

I traced the upper section of the CF dress piece.  I’d like to say I was scientific and used golden ratios to figure out the length, but I just traced the front section to the “lengthen/shorten” line.  I’m making the longer dickey from yesterday’s muslin post. 

To create the wing collar, I traced a line on the CF piece to show where I wanted the wing collar- more or less.

I folded the tracing medium along the CF line, and then traced the shape of the little collar.  It’s so silly, I love it.

I added a CF seamline and drew a few lines where I want tucks.  It doesn’t matter where I draw them, as long as they’re straight and I think evenly spaced works well for this dickey.  I would also draw lines like this on any pattern piece if I wanted to add lace insertion, tucks, or any other “heirloom” type stitching.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted 1/2″ (1.2mm) tucks or smaller- so I made a few 1/2″ tucks on a piece of drafting medium.  Sometimes I simply tuck the fabric before cutting, that works too.  I was feeling chicken, so I tested it before cutting my fabric.

I cut another dickey shape from the pleated polytrace.  I could see the width worked for my tucks.

When I released the tucks, I had a perfectly calibrated pattern piece.  Isn’t it weird looking?

I used it to cut the dickey piece.  Again, you can also just pre-pleat the fabric and skip making a funny pattern piece, or make a funny pattern piece.  But it works for just about anywhere you’d like to add pleats.

I faced the dickey with some interfaced white cotton cut from the “no pleats” dickey pattern piece.

Just a little preview!  I added a little band of white at the neck for the suggestion of a collar, and I’ll take a little time trimming and turning the edges again, some places need help.

My camera is very irritating at the moment.  I don’t want to talk about it, but I do want to apologize because I can see the photos aren’t gorgeously crisp and it drives me insane.  Soon, soon, soon I will be asking you all for camera referrals.

Do you consider your camera a vital sewing tool?

If you haven’t already, do check out the Frock Out Giveaway– you could win a 50’s dress and pretty fabric rose pin, just tell me about your favorite dress.  And Brisbane crafters- aren’t you excited?  Frock Out is so soon- this Saturday!  If you haven’t yet registered but you’re planning to attend, do let me know so I bring enough silk!

The Tux Dress: Muslin

All this week, I’m focusing on The Tux Dress, from concept through finishing.  I remember when a dress of any sort felt like a big undertaking- eventually I learned to break the big job into smaller pieces.

Before I cut into the crisp black and white cotton sateen, I made a muslin.  I used a simliar weight fabric, though it’s slightly more drapey.  It’s from a friend’s destash and is 100% napped suede cotton.  It also has some sun damage, and the color brown and I don’t speak to each other very often.  And as usual for my construction shots, they’re quick computer photos.  One day I’ll have it together enough to take progress shots with a decent camera and tripod, but that day is not today.

I don’t make many muslins these days.  Usually, I draft from blocks I know work for me.  I made a muslin (with basted, not sewn seams) because I haven’t worked with this pattern before.

This is the pattern right out of the envelope, no alterations.  Not bad, I’m surprised.  The funny business on the side seam comes from me pinning it closed.  Also, the dress is a lot narrower through the skirt than I expected, and longer than I wanted.

This is the back.  It’s not amazing, but I’m not too upset by it.  My upper back-high-hip “fluff” is what made those wrinkles.  I can either alter the back high hip area to create more room on the pattern or girdle up.  (Altering the pattern won out.)

Close-up of the front seaming.  I like it.  It’s a flat fell seam on the pattern, I just basted it together.  I’ll make a proper flat fell seam on the actual dress, and probably use a contrast thread to highlight the seaming.  I used a pin to mark the “point of no return” so I could carve out a steep v-neck:

The V is only between the front flat fell seams, and when I layer the dickey on top I can create a deep, sexy placket.  The dickey will detach if I want to wear a plainer dress, I could probably layer it underneath, too.  I also hiked up the hem a few inches.

Shorter dickey- mocked up in tracing medium and pinned over the top of the dress.

Longer dickey.

Longer dickey with “cummerbund.”  (Actually the tie from my dressing gown.)  I can not decide about the dickey.  That’s ok, I’m making it as a separate piece and will whipstitch it into place on the finished dress. 

I think the shorter dickey places more emphasis on the bust, while the longer dickey with cummerbund looks pretty “tux” to me.   What do you think?  I’m still deciding… Remember, this dress will have elbow sleeves.

Also, what if I “rounded out” the bottom of the dickey?

Side view is pretty ok.  I mean, I don’t have anywhere to hide but I’m ok with it.  I’m still stumped as to why this is a tapered dress in an A-line pattern envelope… It fits my measurements.

I thought I should mention I dyed my hair, in case you see it later in photos.  Naturally, my hair is a red-brown color.  I like to dye my hair because it makes my hair feel nice, and I like it darker than my natural color.  Most of my coloring is cool, and the red in my hair muddies the waters a little.  Besides, I get bored; it’s fun to dye my hair.  And I like the “Snow White” flavor.

This black is actually a kind of purple.  It’s not nearly as purple as the box (even the “dark hair” sample) but I’m ok with it.  It’s better for me than flat black, and might provide a segue into brighter purple if I decide to try it out.   I dream of long, beautifully maintained purple hair:

click for source

Maybe it will happen one day, maybe not.

Long or short dickey?

Do you muslin?

Tomorrow: Dickey-ing around with pattern pieces…

Be sure to enter the Frock Out Giveaway if you haven’t already!

Finished Object: 40’s Charm Hack and Tee!

It’s finished!  I dropped off the radar completely for a few days, thank you for being so understanding.  I don’t know what I had, but it was awful.  The past couple of days are a blur, I drank soup and vitamin-C smoothies Stephen doled out and caught up on Sherlock Holmes.  Except I was so out of it, I can probably re-watch them and they’ll seem new.  Then I woke up this morning, was alarmed to discover it’s Friday already and felt much more like myself- except for a croaky voice.

At any rate, I put this version of the 40’s Charm Hack together in about an hour and a half this afternoon.  I simplified the design, removing both the lower ruching and the bust ruching to highlight the interesting neckline and the faux-lero seaming.

I used the same wonderfully slubbed linen-cotton jersey as Lacy Blank Canvas and SpinaLace.  I like wearing white, this jersey blend is very soft and easy to work with, and besides it’s what I had lying around the house. And most of my whites are pink now and I miss my white tees.

I’m wearing the hack here with Minerve, a linen-cotton woven skirt cut from a late 30’s/early 40’s French mail-order pattern.  She’s a workhorse skirt.

I also slightly lowered the neckline, as a sharp-eyed commentator pointed out my original neckline was a little higher than the inspiration.  I like it.

I even put my hair up in a reverse victory roll to keep the 40’s vibe going.  I haven’t worn this style much since I cut my hair last year, I forgot how much I love it!

To download the pdf of the hack (with heaps of construction photos!), click the 40’s Charm line drawing above.  Should I make her into a pattern?  I will if there’s interest, I already drafted the sizes to make sure it would work- so that’s half the job done already.

May’s Hack will be much more forthright, I’ve had her on my mind since February and I know she works!  Fingers crossed I don’t have the same drama and can get her out by the end of the month!

As soon as I get over this bullfrog-throat, I plan to make another video or two…

Once again, thank you so so much for your thoughts and kind words when I wasn’t well.  It means a lot to me.