Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The Felicity Dress Sew Along - Lengthening and Shortening Bodice Pieces


I know that it was supposed to be Bust Adjustment week here at the Felicity Dress Sew Along, but as I was writing it up, I realised that you might need to know how to add a lengthen/shorten line to your bodice first!! So, we'll get to the bust and pivoting darts next week - sorry if you were looking forward to that one. I'll make it up to you - that post is HUGE!!

I opted not to put a Lengthen/Shorten line on the Felicity Bodice mostly because each size would have needed its own (due to the curve of the waistline). When I did that, the pattern ended up looking really messy and trying to find the correct lengthen/shorten line for your size would have probably ended up taking longer than just drawing it in yourself. But don't worry, it's very easy.

I do talk about how to add one in the instructions, but it's always nice to have a visual tutorial, so, this is how you do it -

* My drawings aren't to scale.

1. Measure up from your waistline 2.5cm (1inch) and mark. Do this along the entire length of your bodice waistline.



2. Using a curved ruler or free-hand (or a straight ruler, but you'll want to add more marks in step 1 so you get a relatively accurate curve) join your marks up.


3. Repeat for the back bodice.

4. Done!! Now you can lengthen/shorten your bodice to your heart's content using this tutorial.

See ya next week!

xx
J

Monday, March 23, 2015

Me Made Maternity - Week 30: Missing! One Brain. Reward offered for its safe return.

Last week was a funny old week. With 10 weeks to go, my brain has officially upped and left the building. With no notice.


It was definitely a comedy of errors where any sewing was involved - stitching things upside down, back to front, wrong sides together. It was so bad that all I could so was shake my head, have a little chuckle and wonder what on earth I'd do next.

I was making a simple gathered curtain for the wardrobe we built into our bedroom, carefully measuring and working out all of my seam allowances. I found a lovely fabric in my stash and proceeded to cut it out and sew it up. As we were hanging it, I was telling David about how I had made it quite long, so it would nearly touch the floor. Then, we stood back -

Me: "Erm, that doesn't look right... "
David: "Hmmmm..."
Me: "It's about 40cm too short!!! But....I measured and everything!"

Turns out that yes I did indeed measure, and then instead of using the panel that was measured and cut for the curtain, I used the smaller left over bit... Oh dear.

It works for now though. I'll change it later (maybe...).



I've also had to start taking extra iron supplements because my levels are on a downward curve. And can I just say, having less iron makes it really quite hard to do a lot of the simple things you take for granted, like walking.

I had to sit down the other day after 20 minutes of very light walking because I was so breathless and lightheaded. A combination of less lung room and less iron.



At least my hair is amazing. Seriously, amazing.

xx
J

Friday, March 20, 2015

PDF Pattern 'Diamonds' & My Thoughts

Edit: I just thought I'd point you over to my tutorial on putting my PDF Patterns together to give you a bit of background into why I don't use these diamonds on my patterns - start reading from step 4. There is No Reason why you should trim all 4 sides of each piece of paper when taping up your pattern. It's much easier (and faster!) if you cut one side, and leave the corresponding side of the page next to it untrimmed. This way, it's easy to line up AND easy to tape together, since one page sits on top of the other. I also provide a visual and numbered print-layout for each of my patterns (divided into pattern pieces or different views), to ensure it's simple to put together, which is why, for me, adding diamonds seems like a bit of an unnecessary step.

Another Edit! There has been some discussion, both here and on Instagram about pdf pattern border thickness. I totally agree this plays a big role! The thinner the border the better - for reference, my borders are thin, they are the same size as the pattern outlines themselves.

So, assuming all pdf patterns have thin borders (though I've not used every pdf pattern out there, so I have no idea personally) then I suppose I'm still not sure how having those diamonds on there helps to line things up accurately, because, just like the pattern markings, you can never be sure whether they sit to the inside of the border, the middle or the outside.

And, if the borders are the same thickness as the pattern lines themselves, then how do you know where to cut the actual pattern itself? This goes for paper AND digital! I personally aim to cut down the middle of the line, but when they are so thin, it doesn't really matter a huge amount as there will always be some margin of error.

That margin of error will increase yet again when you actually cut out your pattern in your fabric.

So, I guess there's no easy solution for this other than for pattern producers to ensure they have thin borders on pdf patterns and for the person doing the sewing to make an executive decision on where to aim the scissors when cutting :)

 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

If you've bought one of my pdf patterns, you probably would have noticed that I don't put those little diamonds up the sides of the borders that most pdf patterns have. They are sometimes put there to help you match your pages together as you're assembling your paper pattern.

Some patterns have diamonds or squares, some have circles in the corners, what ever they use, I don't have anything like that.
I've had people ask me or comment about this in the past, never in a bad way, just in more of a surprised way, because out of habit and experience they expect them to be there. My question though is always are they actually useful?

The reason I don't use these extra pattern markers is because I don't believe they need to be there for my patterns - I don't think they are useful or make assembling my pdf patterns easier or faster. In fact, I think they would add an unnecessary layer of complexity to pdf's (which people already find a little draining on the soul to print out and piece together in the first place) that just complicates the whole process.

In my book, you need two main things to accurately assemble a pdf pattern - borders and the pattern lines themselves (as well as some way to ensure your pattern pieces are up the right way. I also provide a visual and numbered layout of each pattern piece in the instructions which shows you how to lay everything out).

The borders around each page ensure that you are cutting out the pattern to the correct size. Then, matching them together (along the side, top and bottom) ensures that you are taping your pages together exactly parallel, as opposed to slightly skewed - which would then result in a slightly off pattern piece.

The pattern markings themselves then become your next check point in making sure your pattern is going together accurately. Once the borders have been lined up, the pattern markings should flow between the borders from one page to the next, joining up at all sizes or forming pattern piece information etc as you tape.

And that's it. I don't think you need to add an extra step to the process by also trying to line up diamonds. And to be fair, if you're accurately lining up your borders and pattern lines (which are the most important), then your diamonds (or circles!) would line up anyway. The only reason your pattern wouldn't be lining up is if you hadn't printed it to the correct scale, or the pattern wasn't exported into a pdf format accurately before you even got your hands on it.

So, that's my argument for not using them. I'm not against extra pattern markings, I just don't think they are necessarily relevant all the time, and what's the point of putting something extra on there if there is no relevance? That's just wasting good printer ink :)

I think it's good to question why things are done they way they are - sometimes it's for a very good reason, but other times, not so much.

So, I'm really curious to hear your thoughts on pdf pattern diamonds - do you pay attention to them? Do they actually help you to assemble patterns? Have I got it totally wrong?

xx
J

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

JLV Patterns - Downloading, Printing & Trouble Shooting FAQ's


This post isn't specifically Felicity Sew Along related as it applies to all of my patterns, but I've been meaning to write up a Downloading, Printing and Trouble Shooting FAQ's page for sometime now, and during a sew along seemed appropriate.

I'm very thankful to have not had too many issues when it comes to people accessing, downloading and printing my patterns, but sometimes things pop up that I think would be useful for others to know. It also means I can point people who are having similar issues over here so I'm not repeating myself.

All of these issues have popped up over the past (almost!) year, and this post will always be updated as and when new issues may arise, so if you're having a problem, or have had one and managed to figure it out, do let me know so I can add it in here :)

Downloading your Pattern:

1. Where is my pattern? Why hasn't it been emailed to me?

Once you've made a purchase from my shop, your pattern is available for you to download from your Etsy account immediately. It will always live in your Etsy account should you ever need to download it again.

To find your pattern, head up to the You button in the top right-hand corner of the Etsy screen. Click this and a drop down box will appear. From there, click Purchases & Reviews and scroll down until you find your pattern purchase.

Once you've found it, click the blue Download button which will take you to another page. At the top of that page is another Download button, click this and save it to your computer.

Unfortunately Etsy DOES NOT email patterns to you. Sorry!

2. I've downloaded my pattern, but where is it?

When saving your pattern to your computer, most computers will automatically choose a place to save it, and sometimes these places make absolutely no sense!

So, before you click save, make sure that you've chosen to save your pattern to a folder you can find easily (or to your desk top!) and not just to the folder (within the folder within the other folder) your computer has automatically chosen.

3. My pattern looks like code when I open it!

My patterns are PDF's so you need a PDF reader to open them. Using Word, Word Pad or Open Office for example WILL result in your pattern looking like code. This is because these are text readers, not PDF readers.

There are lots of PDF readers you can download for free on the internet, I recommend using Adobe Reader.

However, even if you have a PDF reader installed, sometimes your computer automatically chooses to open the pdf using software that can't read it. To stop it doing this, right click your saved pattern and choose 'Open with...' and select your PDF reader.

Printing your Pattern:

I have a detailed tutorial on printing and putting my patterns together here, they are designed to print on both A4 and US Letter size paper. ALL pattern pages should print with a border and page numbers in the bottom right-hand corner.

However, some people have encountered issues that are easily resolved, try one of these first if you're having issues -

My pattern is falling off the page! or My Test Box isn't printing to the correct size!

Before you try anything else, please make sure you are printing your pattern to either 'Actual Size' or 'Scale: 100%' as stated in your pattern instructions. You should not need to centre your pattern.

If it's still not working, try the below - 
  • Make sure you have saved your pattern to your computer and are printing from the saved version. Printing a pattern that is open from your internet browser will cause the pattern to not print out correctly.

  • For everyone else I've encountered with patterns not printing to scale, it's always been because of a pesky printer setting they didn't know was ticked.  Try this: below the 'Actual Size' box may be a box called 'Choose paper source by PDF page size' that is ticked. Un-tick this box and try printing again.

  • If that doesn't work, have a look at your printer settings first as there may be something else that is ticked (or un-ticked!) that shouldn't be.

If you've tried all of the above and are still having issues downloading or printing your pattern correctly, please send me an email with your issue as as well as whether you're on a Mac or PC to jenniferlauren.is@gmail.com and a screen shot of your printer settings box, and I'll get my tech guy straight onto it.

xx
J

Monday, March 16, 2015

Me Made Maternity - Week 29: Hey Old Man...

I've officially turned into an old man.



If you were sitting in a coffee shop, with your back to the door, and I came in and sat down behind you, you'd swear on your life that it was an old man grunting and groaning as he sat down and tried to get comfortable. Then he'd grunt and groan 5 minutes later as he tried to pull himself up off the chair to make his way over to the bathroom.

And that's when you'd realise, as he walks past you, that it is in fact not a little old man, but a pregnant lady.

And I fear it will only get worse.




These knit vogue dresses are still going strong, even now, as I am officially in my third trimester. In only a few weeks, I'll be able to look face to face at the little person who enjoys kicking me every time I find a comfortable position to sit or lay in.

When we first found out, it seemed like we had so much time to get ourselves and everything ready, now, it's only a few weeks away?? Yikes! Better get onto officially sorting out his room I guess. We have most of the major things, but, it's still a bit of a storage area at the moment. Sorry baby.





It really does help to grunt and groan as you sit down/get up from a chair or a couch or the bed though. It really does.

xx
Jen

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The Felicity Dress Sew Along - Selecting Fabric and Stabilising Seams


Let's get this Felicity Dress Sew (Reference) Along started then shall we? Today we're talking about appropriate fabrics and tips on stabilising seams for your Felicity dress...

But why are we starting with this before we've even covered flat pattern adjustments? Good question!

Basically, covering fabrics first gives you plenty of time to consider your options and to gather your supplies. It also means that as soon as you've got your fabric, you can wash it (go on! Do it! Pop it in the wash you're about to do with similar colours. This will pre-shrink your fabric so you have no nasty fitting surprises when you wash your finished garment for the first time. If you're going with an underlining option to help stabilise your seams, make sure you wash this too!!).

Fabric Choice

The right fabric choice for the Felicity Dress (especially the bodice) is a really important one. You really really do want to stay away from heavy fabrics with no drape for Felicity.

You'll get the best Felicity dress if you at least make the bodice in a light weight fabric that drapes well. Luckily, these are probably the easiest kinds of dress fabrics to find and you probably have some in your stash already. Think lovely light cotton lawns and voiles, linen and cotton poplin. These are especially lovely fabrics to use as they are not only perfect for summer but they are easy fabrics to use if you're a beginner and depending on where you purchase your fabric, they are inexpensive and come in a huge range of prints and colours. Vintage cotton sheets would work wonderfully.

If you are feeling more adventurous or want more of an evening/vintage feel to your dress, then rayons, silks and crepe de chine would all make beautiful dresses, with just the right amount of gather sitting at your neckline.

Normally I don't tend to pay too much attention to fabric recommendations on patterns, mostly because if I have a fabric in my stash that I think will work perfectly for a garment, I'll use it, thank-you-very-much. BUT the main reason why you might like to take my advice (if you're so inclined) is because the gathers at the neckline can become very bulgy, bubbly and pronounced if you choose a heavy fabric or one that doesn't drape well. Like, say, a quilting cotton.

But, you know me, I love breaking the sewing rules, so if you already have that perfect fabric in your stash that isn't light weight or drape-y but you're still determined to use it, who am I to say you can't?

Stabilising Seams

One thing you'll notice when using the light weight fabrics I recommend for Felicity (or any pattern that lists these fabrics as recommended), is that sometimes, the seams just aren't as stable as they would be with a fabric that is heavier in weight.

Seams that run vertically on a body (or that will pull outwards on a body) have quite a bit of strain placed on them, for example, front and back centre seams, side seams and darts. Stabilising these seams is a good idea to ensure a long lasting garment.

Seams that sit horizontally however, such as shoulder and waist seams, have much less strain put on them (they aren't being 'pulled apart' by your movement or breathing) but they still definitely benefit from being stabilised. It's completely up to you if you choose to stabilise these or not but if you're going with an underlining, they'll be stabilised any way.

So, how might you go about stabilising your Felicity seams? Below are two ways I would recommend:

1) Fusible Interfacing

You can stabilise seams with some strips of light weight fusible interfacing placed where your seam would go.

I would really encourage you to take this extra step if you are using rayons or slippery fabrics in general. Especially when it comes to inserting your zip a bit later on. They not only make the seams sturdier, but rayon especially, has a tendency to stretch out, and so using an interfacing should help to prevent this (or at least minimise it).

In the image below, I cut strips of light weight interfacing about 2cm wide (3/4inch) and gently pressed them to my seams, on the wrong side, making sure they would cover where my stitching would be.

I've only taken photos of the front bodice, but you should do the back side and centre back seams as well as the shoulder dart. I've also opted to interface my shoulder and waist seams as well, though again, it's really up to you.



2) Using an Underlining

Another way you could think about stabilising your seams is by using an underlining.

An underlining is cut from the same pattern piece as your shell fabric but in a sturdier light weight fabric (or even the same fabric as your shell, depending on what that is). The two are then basted together around the edges, within the seam allowance, wrong sides together, becoming one.

This is exactly what I did for the bodice on my pink version.


Steps:

1. Cut out bodice pattern pieces (both front and back, but the front is pictured here only) in your shell fabric and your underlining fabric. Make sure to mark notches etc on both the shell and underlining fabric.

Note - you can cut both the shell and underlining at the same time if you wish by placing one fabric on top of the other and then placing your pattern on top. I prefer to cut them seperately though, because while it may take a bit longer, I can ensure my pattern piece is on grain and being cut more accurately if I'm only worrying about one bit of fabric at a time.


2. Wrong sides together, match your shell fabric with your underlining fabric and baste together around the edges (using the longest straight stitch on your sewing machine), within the seam allowance. You can use your machine to do this or you can do it by hand using a running stitch.

Note - Doing it by hand will mean you are less likely to accidentally move your pattern pieces off grain as you are joining them together, but doing it by machine is faster (just use lots of pins). It's entirely up to you how you choose to do it - I did mine by machine.


A Note on specifically underlining the Felicity Dress Bodice:

You'll notice I haven't basted my neckline to my underlining in the photos above. Absolutely feel free to do this, but because you need to baste along the neckline anyway once the two front bodice pieces have been joined at the centre, I decided not to do it here.

I also recommend basting your Felicity arm holes to prevent stretching them out in the instructions. By basting my underlining and shell fabric together at the arm hole now, I won't need to do it when it comes time to start constructing my dress.


Do be warned, if you pair two fabrics together as you are with an underlining, they will become heavier overall and so you need to be extra sure that both of your fabric choices, for the shell and the underlining, are light weight. In the example above, I'm underlining a very light weight (and quite sheer) vintage cotton with some white cotton lawn.

The reason I chose to underline the bodice of my pink Felicity dress is because the top floral fabric is actually see through. It's a printed muslin (or what some people call cheese cloth). The threads are woven together very loosely, resulting in a beautiful light weight fabric, with gorgeous drape, but, you know, see through and really not structurally sound to be a bodice all by itself, even with interfaced seams.

Because my bodice shell fabric was so light weight, I felt confident underlining it with the pink linen I used for the skirt, and I think the result is beautiful - the pink backing makes the floral print so much more vibrant. Which is another thing underlining can do - it not only prevents see though-ness (totally a real word!) and adds structure, but it can act as a fantastic base to shell fabrics to really make their true colours shine.

For reference, my green Felicity dress is made from a 100% cotton voile - just in case you were wondering.

If you have any questions, feel free to pop them in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them for you.

xx
J

Friday, March 6, 2015

The Felicity Dress Sew Along {Sort of...}


Hey there guys!

I'm just popping in to give you The Felicity Dress 'dip-your-toes-in-when-you-feel-like-it' Sew Along dates (aka, What I'm planning to talk about and roughly when OR The Felicity Dress Reference Along).

Before I launch in, I just want to point out that the timeline below isn't your typical 'Sew Along' timeline. It's really stretched out. Like, I'll have a baby by the time it's finished kinda stretched out.

I've decided to do it this way because personally, if I'm not participating in a sew along, no matter how interesting/informative the content may be, I tend to find them, well, kinda boring.

When I was running The Bronte Top Sew Along, even though I was the one running it, I ended up getting so bored of solely posting sew along posts for several weeks straight (and I'm sure regular readers that weren't taking part must have been equally, if not more so, bored). It just completely took over and this is mostly why I've not run an official sew along for any of my other patterns since.

I feel like generally, sew alongs are more like reference guides, no body really reads them from start to finish and I think there are very few people that actually follow along in time with the sewing part (am I wrong?). I've found that generally, people like to dip their toes in here or there, they jump from one technique to another, based on their skill level and how quickly they like to sew. Some might 'sew along' in a years time when they finally find the time to stitch up the pattern.

Doing it this way not only allows me to really think about each topic and write in-depth about them without getting overwhelmed (and bored), but it also allows me to think and write about things that aren't sew along related in between, without feeling bad that I might miss a date or two. That also gives people who are reading my blog, but not taking part, a breather from a constant barrage of sew along posts and hopefully keeps the content a little more relevant and interesting to them.

Felicity is such a quick wee make and it really does lend itself to so many interesting techniques to talk about that don't just apply to this particular pattern. It also gives me a great excuse to talk about my very favourite thing - breaking the sewing rules!

So, while it's still a Sew Along in it's content, it's a sew along that isn't going to solely take over my blog. Having it stretch out over a longer length of time means that I can add in other interesting little discussion points as and when I feel like it (or as they pop up - so if you have any questions, feel free to sing out!) without feeling restricted. It also means I'll hopefully have a few pre-written blog posts for that hazy new-born-no-sleep phase (yes, just a phase...).

Maybe I should rename it The Felicity Dress Reference Along...?

Below are the topics I'll be covering along with a timeline. I'll be posting them once a week, and on the odd occasion, twice, depending on the subject -

Wednesday 11th March


Wednesday 1st April 
FBA on The Felicity Dress Bodice - Moving Darts Around

Wednesday 8th April
How to grade patterns at the hips with yoke pockets

Wednesday 15th April
Stitching up Felicity: Stay-stitching, stitching in back bodice darts and
Assembling the Front bodice (to clip or not to clip?)

Wednesday 22nd April
Stitching up Felicity: Gathering the Front Bodice and attaching the Back Bodice pattern pieces

Wednesday 29th April
Attaching yoke pockets to skirts - should you top stitch, under stitch or neither?

Wednesday 6th May
Stitching up Felicity: Attaching skirt to bodice & thoughts on which way to press waist seams.

Wednesday 13th May
Stitching up Felicity: Inserting a Lapped Zip

Wednesday 20th May
Inserting an Invisible Zip

Wednesday 27th May
Stitching up Felicity: Making and attaching Bias Binding

Wednesday 3rd June
Finishing your Felicity Dress, including a few fun ways to finish the back neckline binding

Wednesday 10th June
Pattern Testers Blog Tour and some of your Felicity Dresses

If you've made a Felicity Dress and want to be included, send me an email and let me know, I'd love to show it off here (with a link to you of course!).

Fun Extras
These are a few little extra tutorials that I thought I'd throw in as and when I had time. The maternity skirt will probably come a bit sooner though...

  • Making and inserting piping into the Yoke Pockets
  • Removing yoke pockets from pattern pieces
  • Adding a lining to skirt sections
  • How to make a peplum top from the Felicity Dress Pattern
  • How to make a Maternity skirt from the Felicity Dress Pattern

PHEW! Are you exhausted by that list? I'm actually excited, I've already written a bunch of them and can't wait to share them with you.

And of course, the obligatory blog button :) If you're taking part, feel free to grab the code below so that you can let everyone know.


Grab button for The Felicity Dress Sew Along by Jennifer Lauren
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xx
J