Commercially Alternative: November 2011

Monday, November 28, 2011

10 Things That Change

Since finals are approaching fast and my final projects are all due this week and next, there hasn’t been much time for sewing. I really can’t wait for this semester to end! My favorite time of year is the holiday season; making fudge, drinking eggnog, decorating, the smell of pine trees in every grocery store parking lot, and singing badly to Christmas carols in the car! *sigh* In addition, no homework will allow me time to sit down with my sewing. There are so many crazy ambitious things I want to try!

In the meantime, here are 10 things that changed for me, both good and bad, since learning how to sew.
  1. Appreciate high priced quality garments more. These things take a lot of time, energy, and an attention to detail to make
  2. Develop an “I can totally make that” attitude with every garment you see
  3. Notice how poorly made readymade garments in standard department stores really are
  4. Better understand how clothes should fit
  5. Better understand how to flatter your body
  6. More aware of any weight gain
  7. Browse patterns online instead of doing homework
  8. Gain a huge collection of patterns that you will probably never use just because they were on sale for $1 at Joann’s
  9. Joann’s morphs from an amazing wonderland to a never-ending feeling of frustration that they are the only fabric store around
  10. Never enough time in a day, but gained an amazing outlet for creativity
I am so glad that I did learn how to sew. I've finally found my medium in which I can successfully create amazing art. It is both stressful and challenging, but I enjoy every minute of it. When I sew, I can forget about my troubles and just relax.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Scoop Neck Blouse Part 2: Cutting Out the Fabric

After the pattern alterations are complete, the next step would be to create a muslin prototype. However, I have very little time to devote to sewing and I don’t want to create a blouse twice. Therefore, I am throwing caution to the wind and skipping this entirely! Wish me luck.


I prepared the fabric as I outlined in my previous post, Fabric Preparation and the Importance of the Grain Line. The fabric was pressed well and folded in half. Next, the pattern pieces were laid out according to the diagram included in the pattern instructions.


Tip: Iron your pattern pieces before you lay them out and cut any fabric. This will make the pieces easier to work with and more accurate without any folds or bumps. To do this, turn the steam off on your iron and turn the heat up to about medium. Pass the iron over the pattern piece and work out any folds or bumps. Don’t be afraid of burning the tissue paper. Just don’t leave the iron on one spot for an extended period of time.

Caution: It is important that the pattern pieces are laid out according to the diagram. Some fabrics have a different sheen when viewed from different directions. If you flip the direction of your pattern pieces, parts of your body could be slightly shinny while others could be slightly dull. This is also obvious when using one-way fabric patterns.

How I learned to pin a pattern to the fabric:
  1.  Lay out the pattern with the grain line arrow parallel to the fold in the fabric (or selvage if your fabric is not folded)
  2. Measure from one tip of the arrow to the fold edge (or selvage) and pin tip of arrow in place
  3. Measure from opposite tip of the arrow to the fold edge making sure that it matches your previous measurement
  4. Begin pinning the outside edges. Pin to that you go from the inside to the outside. This helps keep the tissue paper flat and not compressed and wrinkled.
  5. Try to pin going to opposite corners. Don’t just pin one after the other right next to each other. This also helps keep the tissue paper flat.
  6. Once ALL the patterns pieces are placed, cut along the correct line for your size.
After the fabric is cut, I like to mark the fabric with chalk as to which side is the wrong or right side. With a print fabric, this is obvious. For a solid, it doesn’t really matter which side one calls the right or wrong side. However, it’s best to be consistent so your finished garment is uniform.


Tip: Leave the tissue on the cut fabric pieces. Don’t take it all off once you are done cutting. This will help you know exactly which piece is which. Then, once you are ready to use that piece, double check that all of the markings are transferred to the fabric. There’s nothing worse than realizing your disappearing ink has faded while you were working on something else. 

Tip: Once all my pieces are cut out, I like to hang them on a hanger. This will minimize the need to iron the fabric pieces during construction.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Handmade Highlights

This week I looked for inspirational jewelry pictures for my scoop neck blouse. The idea in my head was some sort of ribbon choker. I browsed through various tutorials and images, one Google search leading to another. Eventually, I stumbled across the Etsy shop, Medieval to Modern, run by a woman named Chris. My jaw dropped when I saw her beautiful handmade venise lace chokers. These works of art range from simply delicate to ornately gothic. While most of them would probably not work with a traditional Lolita wardrobe, they are still lovely and fascinating to look at. Here are a few of my favorites.











This one is probably my favorite of the group.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Scoop Neck Blouse Part 1: Pattern Preparation

I have begun my next project, a scoop neck blouse. There are not many low neckline blouses out in the Lolita world. Most blouses feature the sweet Peter Pan collar or the classic high neck. In addition, Lolita usually has a large focus on modesty and showing skin is sparse. However, I think scoop or square necks are a lovely change. It reminds me more of Lolita’s Rococo influence rather than Victorian. It also provides a little respite for extremely hot weather.

For this project, I thought it would be interesting to take you through the entire process instead of just the result. I used New Look 6599 view A for the body and view D for the sleeves. I chose a black 100% poplin fabric. Luckily, this blouse has plenty of Lolita themes inherent in its design. However, a few fitting alterations were needed.


The first step for my sewing project was to prepare the instructions. I went through and highlighted all of the relevant information, from required pattern pieces to instruction steps. This helps prevent skipping a step in the middle of a project or leaving out a crucial notion. I then read the instructions a couple of times, making sure I understand each step. If I have any questions, I consult my book, “Reader’s Digest New Complete Guide to Sewing”, or I Google. Next, I cut out the entire set of pattern pieces.


Commercial patterns are typically made to fit someone with a B cup bust size and 5’6” tall. I fall into neither of those categories. Thus, I have to alter. I checked out “Fitting Solutions: Pattern-Altering Tips for Garments that Fit” from the library to aid in this endeavor. Since I had so many alterations to make, I transferred the relevant pattern piece to tissue paper. This way I can preserve the original pattern in case I make a mistake.


I altered the bust according to “Fitting Solutions.” The following illustration found here shows what I did since you can’t see it well on the actual pictures. I then did a pin fit and found that the bust point was still too high. Therefore, I lengthened the pattern by ½” above the bust. The book didn't tell me how to locate where to lengthen above the bust on the back pattern piece so I guessed. Finally, I lengthened the pattern by a ½” to lower the waist. Now, I have to cross my fingers and hope for the best. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Commercially Alternative has a new look!

I want to say a big thank you to my five followers! I really appreciate you taking the time to read my blog.  I hope to further improve the content and my sewing skills in the future. I shall also try to maintain a more regular posting schedule, ideally once a week.

As you can see, I finally finished my banner. I don't have any coding or photoshop skills, so it is just a basic Blogger template. However, I've wanted a personal banner for a long time now. The drawing was done by hand, scanned into the computer, and edited with GIMP. Hopefully, I don't actually have such an experience in real life! *crosses fingers* 

Thank you again for reading my blog!