Friday, September 24, 2010

Adjustable Me

One of the things I love most about my life is the ability to walk to and from work every day. It gives me some (much needed) exercise but, more to the point, it keeps me sane. You think I'm being glib, perhaps. Alas, I'm not. Fortunately I have strong legs and I love to move so it's an entirely optimal form of therapy.

Walking facilitates my segue from working person to mother person. It takes quite a while to shake off the first and accept the second. And as I go, I think.

One of the other things I love most about my life is my ability to think. I am the best company! I come up with all kinds of crazy theories and associations and blog posts and ways I'd like to change the world and stuff I want for dinner. And I do it all simultaneously. They may say multi-tasking is a fallacy, but they obvs don't know my mind.

I also mull over sewing matters. It might be more accurate to call them issues. Or problems. Or things I can't figure out and it's really bugging my ass. I think of the super smart posts of other sewists I've read and life-altering book chapters. I consider the intricacies of the pattern, of my shape. And I come up with a plan. (FYI, in case I haven't made it clear, this thinking can be very painful. Hitting up against the brick walls of my inexperience or inability or limitation or whatever you want to call it is SO viscerally unpleasant.)

With the Lady Grey coat, based on all of your wonderful feedback, I've made the following alterations on the paper pattern, which I'll use to cut the fashion fabric and lining soon:
  • Removed a (graded) inch of fabric from the lower (under) sleeve. I didn't impact the armscye so I wouldn't have to adjust other pieces. Also, the shoulders fit well so I didn't want to mess with them. I took the fabric from the centre of the sleeve piece and the seam allowances will remain the same for the side seams joining the upper (top) to lower sleeve. Thanks, Stacy for your feedback. Can you confirm that this method of removing the fabric will work?
  • Speaking of seam allowances, or SAs, I am going to make all of them slightly under 1/2 inch (instead of 5/8 inch). I always intended to do this (pending the fit) because I prefer smaller SAs and because, given the vast number of pieces in this garment, it will give me an extra inch at the bust.
  • I did modify the collar slightly - just a touch - by cutting the unencumbered sides to a size 6 (I cut the rest of the pattern in an 8). This won't impact any joins.
  • I opted not to adjust the lapels - but instead I'll use a wider seam allowance on those. Once the facing is attached they will be 5/8 inch (by pattern SAs) smaller. If I increase that to a graded inch (merging back to the regular SA at the waist) I can diminish the lapels without sacrificing fabric I may need to reincorporate.
  • The really intriguing alteration was for my short waist. (Of course, my waist is perfect, it's the patterns that are too long! :-))Remember those weird fabric bubbles at my waist? It turns out a lot of LGSA participants are having the same issue. For some, the problem requires a swayback adjustment. For others, such as me, it's a bodice length issue. On the muslin, I took an inch out of the waist length (1/2 inch below the waist and 1/2 inch above it) and the problem was solved!!! Of course, transfering that to a paper pattern which is a) flat b) bias cut on some pieces and c) many pieced has turned out to be a fascinating alteration lesson. For starters, I did it without a book. I know, what am I, insane??? Seriously though, the method came to me by osmosis (i.e. the hive mind of my sewist collective) and I knew how I had to do it. I could have disassembled the muslin and placed the altered fabric pieces on the the paper. But I didn't want to for a few reasons. So I came up with a system (Alert: it may bore you if you don't sew - or even if you do): I determined the centre panel point at the waist of each piece and the height from the bottom of the piece to that centre point (15 inches up from the bottom). It meant I had to estimate the waist on the pieces that didn't label it for me (all but 1), though I did have that one piece (the centre front) as a guide. For the bias cut lining pieces, I made sure that the grain arrow continued to align after the length was removed from the waist area. As such, on the paper pattern, I'll need to cut the new lines around the waist to true up the shape again - somewhat more so than the tiny amount I may have to do it for the on-grain adjusted pieces.
The reason this short waist adjustment thrills me is because I feel like my experience - in addition to my community - has contributed to my action! To some extent, I intuited the methodology and intuition is a beautiful gift. Never ignore it.

The caveat is, if it fails, you are going to have to read an epic post. But we all have a while to come to terms with that potentiality :-)

PS: If y'all think I've done the wrong thing with any of these adjustments - PLEASE SPEAK UP!!! Thank you. xo


  1. There is something comforting about reading your sewing posts. Thank you for sewing and writing!

  2. I do love these long rambling posts filled with ideas. They make me feel like I am wandering around with you. And there is nothing wrong with an epic post when they are such fun.

  3. It is said that walking is the most natural state of the human body - more than sitting, lying down, squatting (I don't think that's ever comfy). So that you can "transform", think and create while walking seems totally normal to me!!

  4. I too am a lover of walking. That's a very calming morning ritual.

    Go you on the coat--sounds beautiful. And your haircut is so cute!

  5. I am walking either to or from work this year (about 1.5 miles) and agree. I have to shake off the motherhood by the time I get to work, and vice versa. And my satchel functions as a good weight for curls (I change hands, obv.)

  6. I love the symbolism of how movement( walking) and space help create the move from one persona to the next. My walking doesn't do that. My walking is about walking. I start and end at the same place and Lily is always with me so I don't get lost in my thoughts the way I used to. I miss that. It was one of the things I loved about Chicago. I walked to and from the train and that I could sit alone in some kind of quiet and I could come close to a moving/sitting meditation.
    p.s. I am so glad you have lovely readers who can give you feedback on your sewing projects. All I can do is be impressed by your dedication, your passion and the resulting product.

  7. I love walking, too... I used to have an hour's daily walk on my way to work and I MISS it.

    Re. reducing the seam allowances---just remember doing this will increase your armscye and neck circumferences. If you're reducing your SAs by 1/8", that'll give you 1/4" extra for each seam, so potentially 1" on the armscye (vs. 1/2" to the sleeve pieces) and 1/2" extra on the neck. Assuming my early-morning match is anything like correct ;)

  8. Susan: Well thank you for reading!

    Mardel: My mind is a dangerous place.

    Claire: Isn't it the truth?!

    Hannah: Thank you!

    Miss C: It's hard to switch gears quickly for me...

    Bel: All of my readers nurture my sewing habit, just by continuing to show up :-) And you will return to meditative walking at some point. Sometimes meditation is replaced by the banal. But it comes back.

    tanitisis - Oh, I'm confused by what you're saying. I have so many thoughts in my mind I need to think this over some more. Or maybe email for clarification. But thank you for giving me the feedback!