Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Diamonds - Dress - Part IX

Today is Tuesday!

That means it's Diamonds day! Today I'll show you the foundation/underlining complete with boning and bust cups.

I've already stitched the underlining together, so the next step is to put in the boning. I'm using polyester boning for this project. It is bought by the yard with the boning casing and boning together and ready to use. You don't always have to use the casing that comes with it - bias strips or twill tape can be used, too. At any rate, I measured and cut each piece and then attached them to the bodice.

To attach them, I basted the channels in place by hand first directly down the center of the channel. The channels are narrow and pinning them in place isn't sufficient and it's too awkward for the application I'm doing. For this project, I'm stitching the channels to the seam allowances only. At this point, you could just stitch right through all the layers, and end up with topstitching on the outside. This gives the finish product more of a corset look, nice, but not what I wanted to do. I extended the seam allowance with the boning channels already on them and then stitched them down. In the picture below, you can see the progression from pinned to basted to stitched:

In this photo, you can see the seam allowance extended so that the channel will be stitched only to the seam allowance:

After all the channels are in place, I inserted the boning and trimmed the pieces to the correct length and shape. Rounding off the top of the boning makes wearing the garment more comfortable, as there's not a pointy end to poke through the fabric. Compare the untrimmed on the left with the trimmed on the right:

Bodice with completed boning:

Once the boning is all in place, it's time for the bust cups. There are three basic styles of cups: soft cups, hard cups and cups with push-up pads built in. They come in cup sizes, usually A/B, B/C, and D/DD. The way the sizing is split up depends on manufacturer. For vintage clothes, I prefer the hard cups. The reason is that they're a bit more pointy, and give that definite "lift and separate" look to the bust line that the old "bullet bras" used to. Notice the difference between the two sets of cups below. The cups in the blue are the hard cups and the ones in the musline are the soft cups. (The muslin is for the wedding dress and I do have permission to post a few pictures of it. ) The hard cups basically stand up on their own, while the softer ones sag a bit.

The best way to insert the cups is to first mold the fabric over the cups. The bodice should have enough shaping to accomodate the 3D shape of the cups. If you are not a B cup, which is what most patterns are designed for, you will definitely need to do a small or full bust adjustment on your pattern first! Trying to fit a D cup into a B cup top is asking for trouble (and tears). Imagine trying to wear a bra that is 2 cup sizes to small. You get the picture. What I do is to place the cups on a hard surface and mold the fabric around them, pinning carefully, and smoothing the fabric out around the cup. Once I get one in, then I measure the location, mark for the second side and pin that one in.

The cups are then basted in and then catch-stitched in by hand, resulting in this:

Overall, it was some good progress. Well it was until I tried it on. This is a good point in garment construction to try on the bodice. This is the underlining and any changes will not show - or a new one can be cut out if things are really wrong. Ripping stitching out of satin or silk doesn't work well, you're almost guaranteed to be left with a mark. So, I basted in a fitting zipper and put it on. It was too tight. I could get it zipped, but you should have seen the horizontal ripples. I must have gotten over-zealous and folded out too much on the pattern pieces. It was the back and the waist area that was too small, so out came 4 boning channels and seams. I re-seamed and tried on twice and the problem is now fixed. I think one of the cups might be a bit off, too, so I'm going to do some very careful measuring and see if I can get that fixed. This whole refitting thing was not what I planned, but I'm glad I can fix it before I sew up the satin and have a mistake so bad that I have to recut the entire bodice.

Next week, I think I'll be able to construct the outer bodice and lining. I need to try on the foundation one more time in a few days and evaluate the fit before I do any stitching on the outer bodice or lining.

Parting Shot: New Patterns! I went fabric shopping Manchester today, and Martin's House of Cloth sells the discontinued patterns for 25 cent each. I usually pick up 4 or 5 everytime I go. You have to sort through what's available, but for the price it's worth it. I got a Vogue casual pants pattern, a Burda coat pattern that will make a nice dressy coat for my son next winter, another pattern for my daughter, and two of the larger envelope Vogue patterns, a Guy Laroche, I've liked the pattern for a while, but just never bought it, and I couldn't leave the Koos pattern behind. I couldn't leave the Koos behind not only because of the price, but also because I very curious as to the construction methods as it is a labeled as a "couture" pattern.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Diamonds - Part VIII

A thank you and some progress!

Thank you to all your kind compliments on my Easter dress. All the inside details really make a difference when wearing it! It's nice to have friends who understand and appreciate the love and care that goes into making such garments.

So what did I do on Diamonds today? Well, one thing I did was to cut out almost all the fabric (still need to get lining). What an accomplishment, huh? Actually, it is. Let me explain. Remember all that fitting - what was it, four sessions or so? Right, well all those changes had to be carefully checked, measured and transferred to the pattern and then cut out. There are two ways of going about this. One, you can take the muslin completely apart and use that for a pattern (which is probably "the correct way") or you can measure carefully all the changes and then transfer those to the pattern or a tracing of the original pattern. I prefer to just alter the pattern. At least I know I'm starting with the correct lines and then just folding out or adding where necessary. If the pattern is vintage and I need to cut it apart, I'll trace and cut the copy. Here's the bodice underlining in the cutting stage. Notice that most of the pieces have sections folded out:

About some of those folded out sections: from the muslin I determined that I needed to remove at least 1" from each of the side seams (so 2" total per side, for a total of 4" all around). You can't just cut off an inch at the side seam and be done with it. The pieces won't match smoothly at the top when you sew them together. It might work for experimenting with a muslin, but won't work for a finished garment. Check out how even the edges are below:

To make sure the side pieces match properly under the arm, I fold out the appropriate amount somewhere in the middle of the piece and then true the top edge. If the front or back has several pieces, the whole amount could be distributed evenly. For example if the back had a center back and side back piece, each piece would have 1/2" taken out for 1" total in that section. Here's a piece where I've trued the edge before cutting out:

The two front pieces with folds within the piece:

The final product, a side seam that matches perfectly at the top:

As you can see from the above picture, I've also assembled the underlining. It is now ready for boning and cups. I have the cups, but will have to pick up boning on Thursday when I get the lining.

The inner and outer bodices are not exactly the same. They are the same size and use the same back pieces. They are shaped differently in the front - the outer bodice pieces are shaped via side and underbust darts, whereas the lining is shaped via a center horizontal dart (shown above) and curved princess style seams (you can see those in the picture of the two pieces side by side but not sewn). It's interesting as I've never worked with this style of inner bodice, but those extra seams do provide a nice place to put the boning!

Parting Shot: Fashion show make-up! I went last night to have the make-up artist at the salon do a trial run for the fashion show my daughter and I will be in on Thursday night (more on that later in the week!). We'll be wearing some of my art garments, including Little Red Empress and Waiting for Spring. My make-up artist is really great - she was a runway model in the 80's, so whenever I do a show I have her design the make-up. She loves to do it and I have great fun working with her.

Tonight, I'm going to keep working on Diamonds and tomorrow I'll show you the fabulous thing I got in the mail today, plus my new chainlink fabric top and plans for the rest of the chainlink fabric!