Tailor’s Tacks, #1

Welcome to Tailor’s Tacks, a new feature here at Line of Selvage.  I’ll be using this series to share random thoughts, and items that are bit too small for one of my normal, more voluminous articles.

Bay Area Sewists meetup – Sewing Bloggers

This past Saturday, I took part in a panel discussion at the Bay Area Sewists meetup on Sewing Blogs.  I shared the panel with local sewing bloggers Beth from Sunny Gal Studio, Emily at Dressing the Role, Laura Mae at Lilacs & Lace, and our moderator Chuleenan at C Sews.

You can see me in the button-down shirt I made as my very first project entry here at Line of Selvage.

Great #BayAreaSewists of #sewingblogs today w/ @dressingtherole @mportuesisf @lauramaedesigns

A photo posted by C Sews (@csews) on

The discussion was a round-robin interview.  We told a little bit of our history, and provided our individual perspectives on how blogging has inspired us, what we found surprising about blogging, and advice for prospective bloggers.

We also showed off some of the projects we’ve blogged about.  I was especially impressed by Laura Mae’s couture construction, Beth’s tailored coat, and Emily’s quilted blazer jacket.

I really enjoyed the discussion as well as the exchange of ideas with my fellow bloggers.  In fact, “Tailor’s Tacks” is inspired by a running feature, “Random Threads”, that Beth features on her blog.

Chuleenan recorded the conversation, and she is hoping to transcribe it. If I get the transcript I’ll run it here as a future article.

Pants Fitting Update

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No, I have not given up on the pants fitting.  Far from it.  I have been waiting until I’ve reached the end of my consultation with Sarah Veblen before writing about the experience here on the blog. Sarah has been a joy to work with, and I have learned so much from my exchange with her.

You see here the back pattern piece in progress, on its way to one final muslin before heading to fashion fabric. (Click/tap for a bigger picture).

New Men’s Sewing Blog – “Sew Masc.”

During my blog panel discussion, I commented that there are very few male sewists with blogs, and we all know who we are!

And now there’s one more.  Allow me to give a shout-out to Patrick and his new blog Sew Masc. He lives in Manhattan and sews for himself out of the 4×4 space in his kitchen. I discovered him when he followed me on Pinterest.

I hope you’ll consider adding him to the list of blogs you follow.

Wild Ginger is In The House

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I took advantage of today’s 20for20 sale at Wild Ginger Software to pick up Pattern Master Tailor Made software for 20% off.

My first task for Wild Ginger might be to draft the facings, fly pieces, and waist bands for my pants pattern.  I’m not completely sold on the idea of digital pattern manipulation – I’ve gotten used to the french curve, and the way you can use it to blend and compose a wide variety of curves with paper and pencil.  But for revising a pattern, the computer looks way faster.

I hope to write about digital pattern drafting using Wild Ginger in future articles.

A New Toy

I’ve been reading David Coffin’s brand new book, The Shirtmaking Workbook: Pattern, Design, and Construction Resources. It’s a wonderful book, and it’s best described as the “yang” to the “yin” of his classic book, Shirtmaking: Developing Skills For Fine Sewing. While Shirtmaking centered mostly on skills and technique in construction, this new book concentrates on design inspiration and pointers to helpful resources.

I’ll probably post a detailed review here soon, but if you’re reading this blog you should just go out and buy it.  It has a ton of content, and it’s more than worth the price.

Coffin discusses digital pattern drafting in the early portion of the book, and describes his workflow using a large-format office printer/scanner to scan patterns and garments, edit the patterns in Adobe illustrator, and print on large format paper (13×19 inches).  With a machine that can gulp in scans that large (11×17 inches), you can scan large pattern pieces and even whole garments into the computer fairly easily.  And printing out patterns is a lot easier because there’s a lot less cutting and taping involved.

I’ve shied away from print-at-home patterns for the most part, as well as using a computer to do my own pattern work. I don’t like cutting and taping letter-sized sheets a whole lot.  And I simply don’t have the space for a large-format plotter, like many digital pattern junkies have.

Following his recommendation in the book, I recently purchased an Epson Workforce WF-7610 printer.

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I got it from my local Office Depot, because the price was comparable with Amazon (it was on sale) and I didn’t have to worry about having a bulky item shipped.  It cost less than $200.

This machine can scan (and copy) at 11×17, and is also an inkjet printer that can print on 13×19 inch paper.  I bought a package of 11×17 inch paper from Office Depot since it seems to be a better “bang for the buck” than 13×19, and is easier to find.

I’ve already started using the Epson to “archive” my revisions to the pants pattern I’ve been fitting by scanning the front and back pieces in to the computer as chunks, and using Inkscape software to combine the scans into a full-sized scan in the computer.  Here’s a tutorial video that shows you the process.

I’ve also been examining Wild Ginger pattern-making software to use to create and alter my own patterns, then print them out on the printer.  Wild Ginger’s CAD editor also allows you to take a scan or a photograph of a paper pattern and digitize it, so you can alter it onscreen.

Wild Ginger’s Pattern Master Tailor Made software is geared specifically for menswear. It sells for $125, but for 2015 they offer 20% off many of their products if you purchase on the 20th of the month.  I’ve downloaded their free demo edition (which doesn’t save or print) and am checking it out.  It requires Windows, so that might be an issue for some.  More on this in future articles.

Next Time

More on pants fitting.

Vogue 8940 Pants Fitting, Round 5

My quest to find the perfect fitting pair of pants continues, but work-related drama has been consuming my time and energy.  So apologies for the slowdown here on the blog, and I hope this is only a temporary state of affairs.

I thought this round of alterations was going to take me very close to something ideal, or at least something I would move to a test pair with.  Instead, I was very disappointed with the changes I’ve made and I feel like I’ve taken some steps backwards.

But first, let’s go over what I did to the pattern after Muslin D, before we talk about what didn’t work out.

Muslin E

Here’s Muslin D deconstructed, pressed, and laid out on my work table.  The front piece (to the right) has two different front crotch curves I experimented with, and the back piece has a  back crotch curve that has been scooped a little bit more.  You can also just see see the purple markings where I added to the back crotch by letting out at the inseam.  The side seams are also marked where I pinned out excess curvature at the hip.

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Front Crotch Curve

I took the innermost of the two front crotch curves and traced out a seam line in pencil to approximate the muslin.

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Here’s the new front crotch curve.  Pencil line is seam line, red line is cut line.

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Back Crotch Curve

I scooped out yet more of the back seam.  Again, pencil line is the new seam line and the red line is the new cut line.

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Here’s a closeup of the additional length I’m adding to the back crotch right at the inseam.  Again, pencil is the seam line, red line is the cut line.

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Side Seams

I redrew the side seams with my metal hip curve ruler, which has less pronounced curves than my regular plastic pattern ruler.  Also, I took a longer taper to the knee, and added 1/4 to each piece near the waistband, again to keep the seam straight.

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I also put the zipper in back rather than in front, because I wanted it out of the way for the front crotch fitting I wanted to do with this muslin.

First Tryout

How does Muslin E look? Not much better than Muslin D, to tell the truth.

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Adding the ease has introduced all kinds of wrinkles and drag lines along the back, and the front is still puffy.

Addressing the Excess Fabric in Front

I attempted to get rid of the fabric in front in what I thought the most straightforward way possible.  I pinched out the excess fabric along the center front crotch, and pinned it out (using safety pins, of course).

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This got rid of a lot of fabric puddling in the area.  But it caused a new problem.  The action of “scooping out” the front crotch also lowered the entire crotch seam, so it now hangs an inch lower from my body.

Here’s what the new front crotch seam looked like, after I put a basting stitch in place of the pins.  The deeper curve takes fabric and puts it into the seam allowance, but also lowers the seam.

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Even the back crotch was affected; the stitch line lowered the point where the back crotch meets the inseam.

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I noticed the lowering of the crotch seam immediately – because I got a lot of pull on my front thighs when walking.

Piling One Mistake Onto Another

I decided to raise the crotch point by taking a 1-inch tuck at the hip all the way around, effectively pulling the crotch up so it would meet my body again.

Here’s the full set of photos of Muslin E after this alteration.

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The tuck did make the pants feel more comfortable and move more freely.  BUT, it caused new problems.  It shortened the back crotch seam, and now the back crotch is completely out of adjustment.

The vertical balance lines in back are bowed out once again, indicating insufficient front-to-back depth, and the horizontal lines distinctly show a downward “V”, indicating there is not enough back crotch length.  This is easy to tell, because if I make any movement other than standing still (bending, sitting, etc), the waistline wants to pull down in back.

What went wrong?

I think there’s a couple things I could have done differently.

  1. I ignored the front crotch seam until very late in the process.  I now realize I should have done this sooner, together with the back crotch seam.  I think I will now have to revisit/redo some parts of the fitting process once I get the crotch seam back in shape.
  2. I made changes without a clear idea of what the alteration was doing, and what the outcome would be.  I kind of winged it by just deciding to pin out the excess fabric in front. That got me into trouble.
  3. I made too many changes at once in this muslin.  Once I did try fixing the front crotch, that led me into changing the back crotch, which led me to taking a tuck.  All of them together makes it very difficult to fix the true problem.  Instead, I should have backed up once I realized that the front crotch change had unexpected effects.

Time for a Lifeline

On the gameshow “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire”, contestants could ask for a lifeline.

I’m choosing “Ask an Expert”.  I’ve sent this last set of photos to Sarah Veblen, who offers paid consulting via her website.  She’s already told me that I’ve made too many alterations, and at least one isn’t helping.  I’ll be working with her to get her suggestions for what to do next.

Another lifeline is “Ask the Audience.”  If you have any suggestions to make, I’d love to hear them!