Thursday, April 4, 2013

Ready and ....Go!

Tilly and Twill
First up, here is my new dress form. Her name is Tilly which is the same name as the drawing manikin I have too. Tilly as in Tillamook. My sweet dog Twill is checking her out here. I live in the very north end of Tillamook County. Yes, the Tillamook cheese county. There is also a lighthouse out in the ocean named Terrible Tilly. It is an interesting bit of history and a great documentation on the folly of man.
Since a picture is worth a thousand words here is one of the reasons for the lighthouse name. Remember, this is a full sized lighthouse with room for a keeper and all.  It is now a columbarium (yes, I had to look that up!).
Tillamook Rock Lighthouse. Picture from
But I digress, on to my first sewing project.
I actually started working on this tunic top a while ago and decided to tie up some loose ends and pull it out to finish it. I have to back up a bit to tell the story of this garment.
In the fall of 2009, my mate and I moved to Ashland Oregon so I could attend the Ashland Academy of Art. Ashland is home to a world class Shakespeare Festival and is a pretty little city at the foot of the Siskiyou Mountains. There is also a jewel of a fabric store there called Fabric of Vision.
Even though my sewing machine was in storage during our year in Ashland and I was busy with school, I couldn't help wandering in from time to time.
They have wonderful fabric and supplies and they make up samples from the patterns and fabric they sell, like most independent fabric stores do. One day I saw a top made from this Amy Butler pattern:
Amy Butler's Liverpool pattern. Note the pressing ham behind the pattern. A thriftstore score.
Of course, I fell for the wicked marketing ploy charming sample garment and gladly purchased the pattern. The fabric I am using is not quite as crisp as the one in the picture, which is what I deliberately chose. I will have pictures of the garment in progress soon.
I did have to do some alterations to the pattern, and this was all before the recent arrival of Tilly. The top/tunic/dress has bust darts in the front. Bust darts are worthless for me. The purpose of a dart is not only to shape the garment but to release fullness over an area that needs more room, like a full bust.
Since I do not have a full bust, I don't need a bust dart and I find them unattractive. I did a little pattern manipulation and eliminated the bust dart, shifting the fullness to a waist dart. It is a neat trick and I will have to find some good illustrations to explain it for those who have never done that. It will be in another post.
While I am on the subject of darts and neat tricks here is another one I am pleased I remembered. When sewing the darts the instructions read, "Starting at the top dot (meaning top of the dart), backstitch as you begin and stitch along the marked guidelines to the center dot. Pivot slightly and continue to to stitch stopping at the bottom dot and backstitch again."
Here is what I learned in design school. Start at the "center dot" backstitch as you begin. Sew down to end dot and take the final stitch over the fabric edge. Do not backstitch. Leave thread tails, return to center dot and sew to other end, backstitching as you begin. Finish the same way. When the dart is sewn, take the long thread tails on one end and tie a square knot snug to the fabric fold, but not so tight to pucker it. Do the same for the other dart end. For single ended darts, like a bust dart, you just stitch from edge of fabric to the dart point with the stitch over the edge like above and tie the ends. Then the dart is pressed. Here is a picture that hopefully makes it a little more clear:
Sewn dart, before pressing,(from left to right) with thread tails ready to be tied.
I know this is hard to see but the dart stitches are coming from the left and ending at the point where the thread tails are. The purpose of doing this is that there is no bulk or puckers at the dart point and it lies smoothly over the body. I trim the thread ends close to the knot leaving about 1/8-1/4 inch of thread tails. I have never had a dart come out. If you are worried about that you could put a small dot of fray-check on the knot.
I had an enjoyable afternoon working on the tunic. It is storming out and the house would occasionally shudder from a strong gust of wind. All was warm and cozy in the studio with Twill curled up nearby. The ocean is roaring and the rain pounding as I write. The occasional wind gust sets the stove pipe cap to groaning as it turns in the wind.  I will have to go check out the waves tomorrow morning with an eye to painting them if the weather permits.
I will be basting in the ties and then basting the side and shoulder seams for a quick fitting. I will take a picture at this point and post it. The top has a collar and stand. I haven't sewn one of those in years.
After this project I am going back to sew some foundation garments and then work out from there.
That is it from the sewing room for now!


Theresa said...

Welcome Tilly! Dogs must think we are crazy. I was taught to do darts the same way you were. And that is a super cute pattern.
A fun site for info on darts and their manipulation is here: Check out spinning the dart. Quite fun!

Cindie said...

That's a really cute pattern, can't wait to see the finished top.

We've never seen the Tillamook lighthouse - what a great picture.

R. Delight said...

Thanks for the link Theresa, I will check it out. I figured there already was some good info out there somewhere online. Much easier to put links in to a well done explanation rather than reinvent the wheel.
It sounds like you had a good sewing teacher. We learned a lot of tried and true traditional techniques rather than industrial techniques, although we learned a few of those too. I did sew before attending school but learned a lot more. The books I have can be somewhat technical and I was thinking how to put it in general sewing terms.

R. Delight said...

Hi Cindie, the Tillamook lighthouse is to the north of us and can be seen from the Cannon Beach area. It has an interesting history. Thanks for the comment!