Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Summer Series: Five in Five, Take 4

I've got to let go of the idea that it is going to be easy on the sewing front in the next while. Apparently, reality is curing me of the illusion (albeit slowly).

So, as you might imagine, sewing after having been up all night is not likely to result in the smoothest path. Add to this that I was learning all about a new piece of machinery (still very much in play), and you can up the challenge factor. What I didn't count on, with V1027, is that it would be too small in the bodice.

Don't get me wrong. I suspected, even as I looked at the pattern and cut out a size 10 (my standard size in big 4 knits). I suspected, even as I read 80-odd reviews on Pattern Review (90 per cent of them urging one to size down drastically and shouting from the rooftops that alterations or FBAs are unwarranted because the pattern is magic.) I suspected, even as I was sewing it up for the second time (having fucked up the coverstitching the first time).

I compared the flat front pattern piece against my altered Tiramisu front piece and the Vogue one looked bigger. (Intriguingly, for all of their similarities, these surplice bodices fit totally differently IMO.) I thought about it a lot and opted to cut the straight 10 with no alterations.

What I figured out, second time out (I've just cut out an altered bodice unit, maybe third time's a charm?) is that it's cut for a shallow bust. Look at the model in the cover art. Her breasts are shallow and that neckline is very low (front and back). On me, a combo of the bodice being slightly too short (it comes fully under the bust but it's just shy of being too short)  and too open around the neckline left me in danger of utter immodesty. My bust is very deep, even as my torso is narrow. I know that the skirt (which is heavy) will give ballast to the fall of the bodice, but I've worn a lot of bodices like this. I sense the unaltered version ain't gonna work.

I should also mention that I'm using a 2-way stretch knit, not 4-way (which limits the drape). Interestingly, I think this is a small size 10 for Vogue. I make their 10s all the time. They're good because they tend to fit in the shoulders (or to be just slightly too big but alterable). This one's snug. I'm sure that the fabric is contributing to the issue, but how is it that I'm so against the pack with this experience? And I think it's actually verging on too small in the shoulders??

So here's what I've done (and I don't know if it's going to work, but let's hope so) to the front and back pieces:
  • Front: added 1 inch of width to the front neckline, added one inch of length to the bottom
  • Back: added 1 inch of width to the back neckline, added one inch of length to the bottom
I hope that this will give more coverage at the back as well as at the front neck - both of which seem flimsy and overly open to me. The inch of length may be overkill, but I figure I can always serge off any excess when I attach the skirt, as necessary.

On the plus side, I think that Heat n Bond iron-on adhesive is very good (maybe a bit too firm but easy to apply and strong). I can't believe I've never before tried it. I will be using it again! It seems to work well on neck-stabilizing this fabric. It's neat and it's no trouble for the coverstitch machine.

The machine, well, that warrants its own post. It's coming along, in brief, but I'm no savant. I sense it's a trickier machine to get to know than my serger was, but maybe I'm being revisionist. Once you've had a Babylock, everything else seems a bit more complicated at the get-go. I've not worked on a coverstitch or a Janome before (except briefly on a regular machine) and stands to reason that it may take a few projects before I really understand the tension. I did have tunneling, which improved with tension changes, but didn't go away (even after steaming), probably because the raw edge of the underturned hem kept getting almost sucked into that area between the two rows of stitches (hard to explain).

One things for sure, I'm getting a 1/2 inch feller foot so that I don't have to "cheat" the hem. I sense that this will align my fabric to discourage that raw edge from moving which will improve my tension in its own way. I should say, that a truly lovely element of this experience is that the topstitching is beautiful and straight, and the underside of the fabric is strong, flexible and tidy. So I'm very optimistic.

Anyway, everything is still very in process. I hope I might finish this dress tomorrow but I'd settle for a slow completion if I only knew it was going to fit.

Today's questions: Do you know what I mean about the raw edge of the hem getting sucked between the two rows of top stitching? How do you find the tension on the Janome CoverPro 1000CPX? Are you one of the 3 people who ended up needing an FBA of some sort on V1027? Let's talk!


  1. You're just not having much luck sewing lately are you?

    I know for me a Vogue size 10 is a perfect shoulder fit in a 4 way stretch but is definitely too tight in a 2 way stretch. I usually have to go up a size to compensate for the lack of stretch or move the pattern off the fold line a bit to give more width across the back and front.

    I usually find the Heat and Bond, even the lite, much too stiff for necklines and generally anything to do with knits. Either Design Plus ultra lite or there's another one by Sewkeyes that's similar, work better imho, but they don't adhere the 2 layers together like Heat and Bond.

    Yes to the raw edge getting sucked into the stitching. Your machine has the option of 3 needles while mine only has 2. What I did was measure from the left needle to the edge of the clear foot. My turn under amount is just slightly more than that distance, less that an 1/8", and I use the edge of the foot as my guide and mostly avoid that happening. If it does it's for a very small distance. The biggest thing is you have to be pretty precise in your turn under amount for it to work.

    I've found that the tensions are not as cut and dry as a serger where you can pretty much set it and forget it. Every fabric is different and you just have to adjust and do samples until it's right. Sometimes it's only a tiny change and there have been some fabrics where the tensions have been off the wall compared to anything else I've done. That's one of the reasons I suggested the sample cards. They really do help in the long run.

    Just like any new machine you have to learn how to use and adjust it. It's a really nice machine but it does come with it's own learning curve! Time and practice will get you there.

    1. Debbie: You're a wealth of knowledge! I didn't realize how much impact the extra fabric stretch might have on an (already knit) garment. I will keep this in mind for the future.

      After considering what you've said about the Heat n Bond being too firm (and I agree) I think I'm going to stabilize the next version with fusible stay tape. Of course, it won't adhere one side of the hem to the other so I'll have to factor that element into the hemming. I guess I'm back to starting on scraps again.

      I see your point about the cards...

    2. Once you've stabilized it use a washable glue stick to stick the two layers together. That will stabilize it even more and prevent the edges from rippling. Make sure it's a washable glue and you must let it dry before you stitch and depending can take 1-2 hours. Yes, it's a pain but it really helps, imho.

      I use a glue stick to hold down any of my turned edges, hems etc. before I cover stitch. It does not have to be one for fabric. The ones I buy are for school kids and as cheap as I can get. I've never had a problem with it washing out.

      Some people reading this, maybe even you, may think I go to extremes with the cover stitch and even my sewing in general but my aim is for my garments to look better than RTW. Being a perfectionist doesn't help!

      I sew almost exclusively with knits and the stretch factor is one of the things that tripped me up the most when I started. 2 way and 4 way stretch can give you a completely different fit, or not fit, from the same pattern as you found. My bet is that if you'd used a 4 way your size 10 would have fit.

      I just like to pass along what I've learned to make things easier for other people.

      From you other comments I know that the tape that Sunni sells is much the same as what I use. You'll do fine with that one.

    3. That's a great idea - the glue stick! Keep giving advice Debbie. I'm benefiting a lot!

  2. Can't help with your bust issues, having the smallest bust ever, but a question: Can you please show some pictures of the original left side of the neckline with the overlocker? I never realized I should stabilize the neckline and (although I don't have an overlocker) I would like to know what i should be doing.


  3. R: There are so many ways to stabilize a neckline (and even woven fabrics benefit from stabilization). If you don't have a serger, I would not recommend clear elastic (it comes in various widths but the most popular is 1/4 inch). It's quite difficult to apply. I would, instead, recommend using fusible stay tape (like Heat n Bond - though it's too firm for many necklines, as Debbie notes above) or fusible knit interfacing that also come in tape. Sunni sells it for wovens and knits here:

    I'll try to take some pics today when I put together the next version of the bodice. Keep in mind, though, I'm going to coverstitch over the hem at the end.

  4. I can't help with the coverstitch, but I've had a similar experience with some Vogue patterns. I also normally make a size 10 (with FBA and taking a little out of the back neck). However, I've noticed with the designer patterns like this one that I sometimes have to go up a size. The DKNY/Donna Karan ones in particular seem to have more realistic ease than a lot of Vogues. So, I'd probably be in the same boat if I was making it.

    Oh, and I hear ya on sewing not going smoothly at the moment. I'm blaming the heat. But sleep is always a factor in my relative success or failure in the Craft Lounge too.

    1. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who has experienced this! And good info about the DK patterns having less ease than the others. I'll keep that in mind. I hate it when everything seems difficult.

  5. I find the tension on my coverstitch (I have the same Janome) to be very consistent but that it needs tweaking with different threads and materials. So for example wooly nylon in the looper -- NO tension. I mean not going through the extra thread guides, nothing. Have you read the guide on the PR forums? I found it helpful, since presser foot pressure can also be an issue.

    1. This is really good info. Thanks! I have read bits of the PR forum but, really, it's too long and unwieldy. Who has that much time?!