Thursday, March 1, 2012

Hello March, and Step by Step Sewing Part 1!

Can you believe it? It is March already. Two months of this new year already gone. Jeeze!

March is always a good month. The weather is usually awesome (time to turn the ac back on, I woke up sweating this morning), there are birthdays to celebrate, and spring break! Oh wait I'm not in school. But spring break for Brendon! And after a little schedule switcheroo last month, Kristy is coming to visit next weekend! And maybe Z too! I have high hopes for this lovely month.

Alrighty, so I've had a couple questions about how exactly I make these things I sew so I thought I'd document my next sewing project to show you how I roll. Or sew.

First and foremost, I use patterns. I wish I was talented enough to just make things on my own, however I am not. Eventually I'd love to be able to just whip something together out of an idea in my head, but until then, patterns are my bread and butter. So I guess the first step in sewing anything, my way anyway, is to pick out a pattern. I'm using this Simplicity pattern I got a while back.

Every pattern usually comes with multiple pieces or variations. In this pattern's case it comes with a skirt, dress, and shirt pattern with a variation on each. Each piece gets a letter. I am doing A, which is just the dress pattern with no variation, the grey dress in the top left corner. I plan on eventually making the shirt (D) and maybe the skirt (C) as well.

The back of the pattern tells you all the info on what kind of fabric to get, how much, and what kind of notions (thread, zippers, buttons, etc) you'll need depending on what part or version you're making:

I apologize for the terrible quality of these photos, I was rushing, bad blogger! There is always usually a pdf of the back of the pattern envelope online, for example here. I suggest checking that out (click the link!), it's way easier to read. Sometimes I'll print that out to take with me to the fabric store instead of the whole pattern. Deciphering these things takes practice and even then it still gets confusing. They break it down for you by parts of the pattern by letter and then by size. I usually highlight or circle the parts I need and in what size.

Sizing for patterns is different than your usual dress/pant size. I am usually a 2 at most stores, but when sewing I use a size 8 or 10. They give you body measurements to help you figure out your size, as well as finished garment measurements, but even then it's weird. Some patterns run big, some small. It's good to just eye it and try it on as you go. And it's always better to err on a size bigger, you can take things in but it's usually impossible to make things bigger.

The pattern gives you lengths of fabric for both 45" and 60" widths. Most fabrics, unless you're at a fancy specialty store or are buying home decor fabric, are sold in 45" widths. So, for this particular dress I needed 2 and 1/8 yards of fabric, 1 yard of lining, 3/4 of lightweight fusible interfacing, thread, a 12" inch zipper (it calls for an invisible zipper, but long story short, I just got a regular one), and four 7/8" buttons. They always give you suggestions for good fabrics to use at the top of the list. Very helpful, it gives you an idea of the texture/weight of fabric you're looking for. I chose to get some pink seersucker for my dress, which is made of cotton. You should always wash your fabrics if you're using something like cotton or a knit that might shrink. I am extra guilty of not doing this, but post-sewing-shrinkage can seriously ruin a dress (I found out the hard way) so I'm making an effort to do so from here on out.

Here are my materials for this little dress: I've got my seersucker fabric, some broadcloth lining (I always just get extra cheap stuff for lining), buttons, matching thread, and a zipper. I got all this stuff today at Hancock Fabrics for under $20, a pretty good deal. The seersucker was the bulk of the price. Not pictured is my interfacing, I always keep a few yards on hand because you use it for everything.

Here's a little peek into what's inside that little envelope:

On the left are the actual patterns that you will cut out. They're printed on super thin tissue-like paper, there are A LOT of them. There are usually at least 2-3 sheets folded up that unfold to be about 5'x5'. On the right are your cutting and sewing instructions. These tell you how to lay out the patterns on the fabric when cutting them. Crucial info. Also, of course, it tells you how to put the whole thing together.

So next up, after washing and drying my fabric and lining, I'll show you the pattern and fabric cutting process. Really exciting stuff! Hopefully this info is helpful. Feel free to ask any questions if I wasn't clear about something or didn't cover something you'd like to know. Sew on y'all!

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