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Most requested tutorials: pick 5


With all the tutorial suggestions you left back in February, you scared me so badly that it took me several months to recover. Yeah. Seriously, the pile was so big and so deep and so tall that I didn’t know where to dive in. And then a bunch of other stuff happened that I couldn’t tell anybody about since I hadn’t dealt with the first mess. I’ll get there.

Moving on, below is an edited list of the requested tutorial topics. You can each pick 5. Speaking of, some topics I’ve already done so those are hyperlinks. If you don’t think the topic has been covered to your satisfaction, go ahead and include it in your wish list. If there is an asterisk by it, I’m not likely to cover it because I think there is sufficient existing information out there -even if means buying a book or something. My focus has always been to explain what isn’t available elsewhere or what hasn't been explained as well as I think it could or should have been done. I'm thinking that I may also post a list of the topics I like along with some possible discussion of why I won't cover some of them.


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An easier way to sew elastic casings

sew_elastic_into_a_circleThis is one of those things that I think everybody knows already so why do a tutorial on it, but I've needed to show it to 2 people in the last month. I would consider these people to be experienced, so I'm thinking it should be better known. This tutorial will show you how to insert elastic into a casing without resorting to using a safety pin or bodkin. It won't help for elastic that is stitched down so all I can say is use what you can and leave the rest.

The first step is to sew the elastic into a loop (without twists obviously). This is pictured at right.

Second step (below), have the garment or product ready for the casing. Meaning, finish off the side seams and what have you. For my sample, I've sewn one seam into a rectangle of muslin. As per my usual, I'm using a contrasting color thread so you can see the stitching.

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Tutorial: sewing #12601, a men’s bomber jacket pt.1

Okay! Most of these instructions are illustrations and I'm not 100% done but this will do for now. Posts you may find of interest include The designing of a man’s jacket, style #12601 and of course, the necessary prelude to sewing being the fusing map.

Before we get started, it might be helpful to download the piece list (xls) so you can follow along. Although this jacket is one of my simpler ones, it has 36 different pieces -and that figure does not include pairs. And yes, this is a real industrial pattern in all respects. If you decide to purchase it (TBA), nothing has been dumbed down or modified. It uses industry standard conventions of construction, marking and sewing. One could think of it as a tool to model one's practices. Speaking of, below is a map showing the seam allowances (click on the image for a larger version). Well, not all of them. The only pieces mapped in this example are pieces that have one or more seams that are 1/4", all others being 3/8".

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The designing of a man’s jacket, style #12601

sew_mans_jacket_finishedI promise there will be a sewing tutorial of sorts once I finish rambling about design -that is always first- so this will come in two or more parts. Fortunately for you, most of the sewing will be illustrations rather than photos. A jacket like this is too complex to show with photos and the color has to be just right -this one is too dark. Speaking of, the finished product is shown at right on my dress form. I have a man's form but it is so terrible ill suited to my purposes (a PGM form if you must know) that I can only aspire to sell it to my worst enemy. It's a size 42 man's form if you want it. $200 (neg.) bucks cash and carry. I'll even buy you lunch! But I digress. A photo of the jacket can also be seen on Mr. Fashion-Incubator but I didn't want to post it because he is not smiley like usual. He does like it, he picked out the fabrication for this one, just as he did for its predecessor, style #12658.

Onto topics related to design!

First of all, in real life, design is much more than picking out pretty fabric and drawing cute silhouettes on 9 head stick figures. Design means selecting materials that will perform congruent with expected performance as it relates to price points.

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Leather sewing tutorial: Cell phone accessory

cellphone_hanger_finalToday's my birthday (yay me) but you get the gift.

I can't speak for you but I'm not wild on practice exercises. Since I like immediate gratification (we should be rewarded for trying, no?), I decided this would be an easy thing to make that is difficult to mess up and even if you do, somebody is going to want it so it won't go to waste.

I did not invent this concept, it's been going around the web for awhile now. Most of the ones I've seen are made out of paper and paper is just fine but using leather makes it a little longer lasting (plus we wouldn't have a sample sewing exercise so I wouldn't have anything to write about). There is also a cute one you can make out of discarded lotion bottles.

Since I didn't have any dimensions to go by, all I'd seen was a kit you buy, I cut a rough rectangle out of oaktag, punched a hole in both ends and figured I'd reiterate from there. That worked out pretty well, I measured it after the fact and it was roughly 9" long. To neaten things up, I made the final pattern 2" wide but I'm thinking it could be narrower than that. By all means, lather, rinse and repeat to suit yourself.

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Tutorial: Finishing the welt pocket

finished_pocket_bag1Rather late in the game, I'm adding another tutorial to the welt pocket series (links at close). It did not occur to me that one would need specific instructions but I was obviously wrong. Not the first time and certainly not the last.

I took several photos of the process but they seem difficult to follow. That is my opinion, you may find them perfectly clear. In the interests of clarity, I created illustrations too. If you'd like to compare, I uploaded the photos and am posting the illustrations below. Perhaps between the two, the process will be clear.

The below presumes you've completed the first part of the welt pocket and only need to attach the under welt and pocket bag. If you lack patterns for the under welt and pocket bag, here are some suggestions:

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How to change thread on a sewing machine

Apologies for such a basic post -this came up in the process of writing another one but it's not done yet- and I know a lot of you already know this but many people don't -which is, the first step of changing thread on a machine. I showed this to a woman the other day who had been sewing all her life and she didn't know it so I'm often wondering what I should or shouldn't mention.

The way you thread a machine is to snip off the thread of the old spool and tie the thread of the new spool together and then pull it through the guides until the tail end when you have to feed it through the needle. The picture at right shows the thread changeover. I had to tape a piece of scrap paper in place so you could see the threads, sorry that it looks so tacky.

It will annoy everyone if you pull the thread out of the guides and then re-thread it, fishing the thread through the guides anew. In fact, this is why when you buy a machine, it comes pre-threaded from the factory. And sewn off. Sewn off means there is a scrap of fabric under the presser foot with some stitching on it. That is (I suspect) the last quality check at the factory before the machine is packed up and shipped.

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Paper draping

Today I thought I'd show you how I created a fitting shell for the newest dress form I got. Sure, one could do a lot of measuring and finagling to come up with a fitting shell but it strikes me as too much work as compared to easier ways to do it. Mind you, I don't have a problem doing it the long way if it produces a superior result but I don't think it does.

I like to drape with paper, specifically marker paper. Now of course I could do it like everyone else on the planet and drape muslin over the form but muslin (or any fabric) gives too easily. When you pull the fabric off the form, lines are curved where they're supposed to be straight so you're never quite sure which line to follow when you make your pattern. Then you have to sew up a test draft of your drape, fiddle with it -it never looks like you want it to- make adjustments, then another pattern, then another test sew and so on. Like I said, too much work for a basic fitting shell.

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How to cut stripes and plaids to match

By way of introduction, Betsy writes:

I could get very good at matching the stripes on samples and even tiny runs, but I've still got to trust any contractor to cut them correctly and sew them correctly.

Matching a stripe or plaid has less to do with trust -which is ambiguous, implying a leap of faith- and more to do with engineering. Before I explain the factors that affect stripe matching in both small and large quantities, you should know that the costs of producing matching stripes will be higher. How much more I cannot say but pattern and marking services will cost more especially in more complex products. This is in addition to the increased cost of goods because there will be more fabric wasted.

Here are the specific items (more or less in order) that make stripe and plaid matching possible in production:

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How to check the accuracy of graded patterns pt.2

Picking up where we left off in part one, someone I'll call Mary asks:

At this point I'm not 100% sure what the procedure is, hopefully you can confirm. Once I get the nest I will test it by sewing one sample? or should I sew every size?

The short answer is no, kind of. The real answer is that it depends. I'll explain still another way to check the grade on the nest without convoluted charts. In part three I'll explain why you mostly shouldn't sew up a set of sizes to check the grade.

Checking the nest:
This presumes you provided the grade or grading guidelines and calculated its division across however many pieces. It also presumes you know where the cardinal points lie (these points are numbered in the Excel grade rule report I showed you in the first entry). What you want to do is measure along the XY grid to see the grade of each point and for each size. I'll show you how to do this for one point; this is the junction of the side seam and under arm.

This first illustration below shows a line drawn perfectly vertical and another horizontal to intersect with the base size cardinal point. Since all of your sizes grow and shrink from the base size, each cardinal point of the base size is effectively the zero point.

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