Thursday, April 24, 2014

Yay, I finished my hand embroidery class

Readers, you cannot imagine how I feel today! It feels so good to finish this class. A whole new set of skills that I learnt and can now use in my sewing projects. I love embroidery and I will definitely continue learning. If you haven't followed my work-in-progress posts, I was taking a Craftsy Hand Embroidery class, by an excellent instructor Jessica Marquez.

Here is my Fill Stitches sampler, the final sampler you do in this class, as you see I have experimented with the density of stitches, and shapes of the leaves (I like the grey one most). 

Flat Stitches Sampler, Lesson 2

Looped Stitches Sampler, Lesson 3

Knotted Stitches Sampler, Lesson 4

Crossed Stitches Sampler, Lesson 5

Fill Stitches Sampler, Lesson 6

In the last two lessons, Jessica shows how to embroider on knits and how to design your own embroidery patterns. Now I just need to find more embroidery classes and start applying the skills I learnt. Are you taking this class too? 

P.S. I forgot to add that I was using Finca cotton embroidery floss, which I bought in New York's City Quilter. They got a nice selection of embroidery materials as well as some resources. The latter, though, are more expensive than on Amazon. Hope this helps new embroider recruits among my readers :)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

SSDA 8: Calculating Darts

Readers, these are our final calculations. They may seam a little complicated now, but once we will be doing our real measuring session it will all become clear and easy. I will organize calculations on one sheet with measurements, so you will have only a few clear steps.

The purpose of this post is to explain the logic behind this patternmaking approach, as well as to close the darts chapter with final calculation.


  • we measured depth (intake) and length of front, side and back darts. 
  • we checked the sum of all dart intakes against the difference between the hip and waist circumference (in ideal world these two values should be equal)
  • we clarified some terminology: dart depth for the measured value, and dart intake for the final calculated value (we differentiate this terms only for our process, normally they mean the same thing)

so far, so simple, right?


  • calculate relative error (a concept from high school math that helps reduce measurement error)
  • calculate final dart intakes taking into consideration the relative error calculation. To simplify calculations, I use abbreviations which appear in brackets next to the corresponding term.

Do bear with me, it is still simple I promise.

RELATIVE ERROR (or how to reduce measurement error for darts)

Darts are little tricky to measure, that's why we introduce the relative error calculation (Er): (a) to make our final values more accurate and (b) to integrate the error margin (e) that we got by comparing the sum of measured dart depths (DD) with the difference between the hip and waist circumference (DI).

Er = DI / DD


All we need to do now is multiply the measured dart depth (FD, BD, SD) for each dart by the calculated relative error (Er). FI, BI, SI stand for the corresponding front, back and side intake.

FI = FD x Er
BI = BD x Er
SI = SD x Er

We are finished with all the measurements, readers! I hope I managed to write it in an easy and coherent manner, however, if you notice any errors or typos please do let me know in a comment. What's left before the final drafting is determine the side seam placement, or, in other words, the front and back width. I'll be happy to answer your questions about darts, and if you want, I can add a post about the logic behind splitting the darts into two or more. Just let me know

Previous Straight Skirt Draft Along (SSDA) posts:

Coming up:

SSDA 9: Side Seam Placement and the Front/Back Width Controversy
SSDA 10: The Measuring Session Summarized
SSDA 11: Drafting the Skirt
SSDA 12: Making a Toile and Analyzing the Fit

Monday, April 21, 2014

In search of a perfect tank

Every now and then I am overcome by an urge to participate in a collective sewing challenge. As social as blogging is, I just want to go a step further and get involved in some group project. is usually my place to go. Dozens of pages of comments on a particular undertaking is just the thing to waste your time on read and draw some inspiration for something you may or may not  make at the end. It’s probably the chatter I miss, especially since I left New York for a somewhat secluded and leisurely Cyprus. 

So, after some inactive months I logged in to patternreview again to discover a Terrific Tanks contest. It started on April 16th, I believe, and will run until the end of the month. The emphasis is on embellishment, rather than elaborate patternmaking. This week I am busy working on my Burdastyle dress, but if some time is left next week I may as well participate. Not knowing whether I will ever need this, I nevertheless went to Pinterest and pulled together loads a few inspiration images of tanks. You can check out my board, or, if you are a Pinterest abstainer, see some of them here. 

Love this back (I want to believe it is back). It is probably a two-layer chiffon, which makes finishing of the neckline and armholes more convenient. And perfect for the hot Cyprus summer!

A-dor-a-ble! A vintage lace doily, little applique, embroidery, and some basic beading! A perfect project for my newly acquired beginner embroidery skills.

A quickie, readers! All you need is a nice piece of graphic lace. The bigger the pattern, the better. I think I got some from the Mood's remnant box. In black?.. Hello stash, I am maybe coming.

simple classic tank in silk satin or crepe-de-chine. Neutral color + maxi skirt = great styling opportunity

Why make it simple, if it can be complicated? Love the twisted shoulder design and the V-neckline. It's a Burdastyle pattern.

I guess you all know where this comes from. A reverse appliqué with same-color layers. Shaping achieved through side seams and center front, and, pretty sure, center back seams. Not a week's project, but worth aspiring, sigh... Actually, no sigh - I love hand sewing, so maybe it will become a daily sofa sewing. Some pretty basket, holding work-in-progress pieces, a vintage needle and embroidery thread etui, embroidery scissors, and off you go running-stitching.

By the way, if I manage to participate, it will be my first me-made tank. Which one is your favorite?

Friday, April 18, 2014

CoutureGRAM: Underbust Stay

I thought I would make it a separate post to highlight the technique, rather than put it as a reply to your comments. You asked about the blue strip that extends from the center front between the bra cups to side seams all the way to center back.

Image: Source
What we see here is an underbust stay. This one I think is made of a max 1cm-wide elastic encased in the same fabric as the dress (you can recognize an elastic by the gathering of the silk casing). It is held in place by at least four thread chains, around the bust cup, close to side seams and in the back, over boning channels. The ends are finished with a hook and eye. This underbust stay may have been sewn ( it is not really recognizable on this image) to the garment where bust cups begin at the center front, about an inch from where they cross.

The purpose of an underbust stay is to ensure a closer fit of the bodice in a strapless dress. It provides additional support to the underwires and creates a cage effect with the vertical boning. Just note how the boning extends over bust points across underwire - this can tend to move away from the body where the underwire is placed. This is, by the way, another reason why spiral steel boning is better than rigilene for example, which is less flexible.

I can imagine this dress had a waist stay as well, but was removed at some point. All in all, quite an interesting construction we are seeing here.

Phew, I don't know how about you, but I love peeking into couture garments. I wish I had an access to a costume museum archive - I would accept any job there, just to have an opportunity to see and touch these garments. Sigh...

Happy Easter to those who celebrate, and a wonderful sunny weekend to those who don't :) 

P.S.: Thanks a million for your amazing feedback on my patternmaking and fit series. It means a lot to me!

CoutureGRAM: Dior Silk Gala Dress

Dear readers, I continue my Couturegram series and present another recent find from the web: Dior Gala Dress from Spring 1958 collection. The dress sold for a whopping $16,000 on   The purpose of COUTURERAM posts is as always to learn from great masters of couture. Enjoy!

"Robin's egg blue faille with sweetheart bodice, built-in boned net corset with hooks & eyes, full skirt over ivory silk and seven layer banded crinoline, ivory silk under skirt, self rose and bow at bodice center front and over gathers at either side of hem, back zipper" 

Image: Source
Image: Source
Image: Source
Image: Source
Image: Source


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