Friday, October 16, 2015

Placket Obsession

While studying sewing and fashion design last year I really got obsessed with mastering plackets. They always seemed mystical and unachievable. I decided while I was under the supervision of my expert teacher I would design clothes to sew that basically just involved all the things I wanted to learn(not very creative hey?) . I made a striped shirt with a chevron yoke, a placket and a mandarin collar. I drafted the whole thing from the blocks at school and with the help of my teacher. I would definitely call it a popover top. While this top itself isn't prefect, it was however the perfect way to learn about plackets, stripe matching and how to manipulate darts.

But still...I'm not over my placket obsession. I love the utility look of them and how they give garments structure.

And then something happened that was possibly the best buy I have ever made.

I bought an industrial sewing machine!

YAY I don't have to look at my old machine ever again....curse you Janome ! making me suffer with your awful machine for so long.

I am now the happy owner of a Singer 591D 200AF :-)

Plus I also bought an industrial blind hemmer that was being sold cheap if I bought the industrial as a package.

Anyway at the moment I am enjoying working 3 days a week and sewing as much as I can every other day. I have been practicing plackets after drafting a one piece placket template based off a mens heavy cotton drill shirt I own. I made a one piece placket but then I found the image beneath with a better way to do a placket suitable for thicker fabrics, so I need to make a pressing/cutting template for this method as well. p.s I need to pay particular notice to the way the seam allowance isn't pressed even on the ends to allow for the thicker fabric and to prevent bulging uneven corners.....sewing gold that info is !

This is a HUGELY helpful image reposted from

Interestingly the seam allowances are quite wide underneath the placket...I think this is too give stability to the buttonholes or do they use them to line up the buttonhole machine?. the topside of the placket is 3cm wide with 1.7cm seam allowances so, I guess the button hole is at 1.5cm(central on the 3cm topside of the placket) and the 1.7cm seam allowance would give it extra thickness for the buttonholes.

The top stitching is at 9mm and then at 2mm edge stitching, this really gives the cotton drill a utilitarian look as it ages.

I will take some photos and might even draw up the placket for download if I can find a free program online:-) I am also planning on drawing a template for the big utilitarian pockets with their 45 degree corners, big flaps and 9mm top stitching.

This is going to be my go to set of templates for thick fabrics!  might have to try it out in denim cause I think it will looks great!

imagining a ulitarian popover dress with big pockets made out of a beautiful wool is making me wish I could afford enough wool! photo: refinery29 Alexander Wang

Also trying to think of a way of making a raglan dress with contrast wool sleeves as a way of using up my 1m lengths of various plaid wool yardages. contrasting plackets might be a good way to use scraps? or pocket bands? and cuffs? not sure what sort of fabric I can pair the plaid with. Sometimes I really wish I could just go somewhere and purchase what I need! rather than scratch around in second hand stores for pieces of wool that are too small.

The place I am finding the best inspirations is mens vintage work wear, womens 1940's workwear, J. Crew, Toast, Emerson Fry, Lee Mathews, Ralph Lauren (always!)

gorgeous dress from Massimo Alba

NLST S/S 2014

Sunday, May 10, 2015


 What is Underlining?

Underlining is a layer of fabric that is cut closely to the main fabric of a garment. It is handled together with the fashion fabric as one piece during manufacturing. Underlining provides body and strength to a fabric that may otherwise be too sheer,weak or too drapey for the desired garment. Underlining can also be used in conjuction with full or partial lining.

Step 1. preshrink/pre-launder fabric for underlining.
(NOTE: This step is very important!!!)

- good choices for underlining include:
 good quality cotton batiste(lightweight fabrics including lightweight wool), cotton broadcloth(medium-heavy weight fabrics), silk organza.

Step 2. Trace and cut out fashion fabric pattern pieces. Read the threads article and adjust underlining for turn of cloth. Cut out underlining and hand baste to WS of fashion fabric.  Threads Magazine- understanding underlining

Step 3. Make all marks needed on underlining through all layers by using tailors tacks. (note: on the sew bussted video it shows the darts sewn together by hand basting.) another tecnique for marking the darts is to sew a row of basting stitch through the center line of the dart and to also mark the outside legs of the dart.

great video- Sew News- Decadses of Style Sewalong with Rhonda
(underlining pattern pieces)

Here's a good article on how to hand baste if you have never done it before!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

1930's knitwear- geometric and fantastic!







There's something about jumpers from the 20's and 30's. Everything seems adventurous and new with a twist of sporty flare. These are all free knitting patterns that you can make at home using light fingering or fingering weight wool. No wonder I am so underwhelmed by todays knitwear fashions...yawn!

 I would love to knit the first sweater and perhaps incorporate the second sweaters stripe pattern into a more modern knit-in-the-round construction and perhaps knit top down as well! I have just been gifted a copy of knitting without tears that contains an excellent top-down raglan sweater for all different gauges. 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Great Waistband Part 1.

I am always searching for better ways to do waistband ends as they never look right. By that I mean they aren't perfect 90 degree angles with a nice flat and even look to them. What I usually end up with is a lumpy uneven looking waistband with all the hallmarks of poor construction. I had a 1950's wool Skirtmaster skirt from Sydney that I knew was fairly well constructed and I have seen many other examples of this brand over the years of thrift shopping and they always seem to be wool and well made, even once they have ended up at the thrift shop. So i decided to take it apart and have a look at how they achieved the "quite good" waistband ends.

This is of the outside of the underlap of the WB. I have removed the edge stitching and also where the button was positioned in the center.

This is the inside of the underlap and you can see the skirt master label.

RS of the WB is sitting on the table and you can see the dark grey fusible interfacing and to the left is the bottom of the belt loop and just above it is the black elastic that was just in a back portion of the WB.
This is the underlap end before I took out the interfacing to see how the ends had been folded in during construction.
red lines indicate where the fold lines have been. Notice how the full SA on the end is not trimmed and the folds on the corner are at approx a 30 degree angle. Next task is try and work out how the managed to edgestitch the end of the underlap from the RS of the WB  without having first sewn the seams. hmmmm.. please leave a comment if you have any inside information at all regarding this issue!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Coat Inspiration #1.


Bi-colore lambswool coating coat, two superimposed jackets effect. Lapel collar in polyester and silk satin. Lining in acetate and viscose blend, two reece pockets in satin, zip-front. Linear forms, graphic design, Phoebe Philo is inspired by the male wardrobe and by the tailor spirit, pants, jackets, shirts, the base is classic and elegant. This apparent rigor is counterbalanced by the addition of colors, green, blue, Bordeaux and of fur and sheepskin which animate and feminize the collection. Pre-Fall collection 2011-2012 by Phoebe Philo

Friday, October 24, 2014

1950's blouse review - McCall's 8831

This blouse has been as much about learning finer sewing skills as it has been about getting a new garment. I have been studying sewing for the past year and have decided I will continue my education next year as well.

The thing I have been continously bad at doing all year is inset corners. I tried doing about 10 samples of inset corners at the beginning of the year and didn't see much improvement and recently failed again when I tried to do them at my tailoring course.

Pattern :McCall's 8831
Year: 1952
Size: 36" Bust
         30" Waist
         40" Hip
Yardage: View A  35" Striped lengthways- 2 5/8 yards. 2.4m
                               39" 2 3/8 yards. 2.2m
                               45" 2 1/4 yards. 2.1m
Fabric Suggested: Broadcloth, Chambray, Gingham, Shantung, Pongee, Surah, Linen, Pique, Jersey, Crepes.
Fabric I used:  
Alterations to Pattern: SS were straightened and flared 1cm for fit and ease of 3OL. 1cm SA on collar and neckline. Hem 8mm 3OL turned and stitched through. Sleeves under stitched. SA on main garment and sleeves at armhole 1cm. Trimmed sleeve on main garment to 4mm and then under stitched main garment and top stitched sleeve SA over main garment for strength.

Prep: fused top face of collar, sleeve facing, front facings.
Unit assembly: sleeves + facing under stitched + pressed. collar stitched 3 sides @ 1cm trim to 6mm turn  + press. darts and tucks in front and same for back. 
Garment Assembly: Shoulder seams + SS press open. bag facing to hem. stay stitch to notch for collar and clip. hem. DO INSET CORNERS ACCURATELY. edge stitch and trim bottom SA top stitch neatly.  3OL armhole. sew ends of collar to double notches and check accuracy catching facing. clip and turn under SA and either slip stitch in place or pull 2mm down on previous stitching and catch in place by ditch stitching.