I RECENTLY returned from a trip to Montreal to visit with my family where I brought a few sewing patterns with me from Switzerland just in case there was spare time to explore some of fabric stores that I used to haunt as a teenager.
Turns out that jaunts to the local branch of Fabricville were a hit with my sisters, Pamela and Andrea, as much as they were with me. Love of fabric runs in our blood: our maternal grandmother was a brilliant self-taught seamstress who made many of her four daughters’ outfits whether for everyday or evening wear.
In the end, I had to borrow Pamela’s gym bag to cart back all the fabric I purchased. I should qualify this by saying that there was a 40%-off sale underway and with the purchase of a reasonably priced client card the savings were even bigger. It’s as if Fabricville saw me coming.
I enjoy shopping locally in Geneva and Lausanne, but so far no one store includes under one roof the huge selection of fabrics and notions nor the price range to be found back home.
Maybe that’s for the best as I’d have to build a new room just to accommodate the fabric (and patterns) I fall in love with and just have to have.
Getting on with it: A flowing cotton-silk shortsleeved blouse for Spring
Lest I spent too much time ooh-ing and aah-ing over my new, vast fabric collection I decided to plunge into the actual sewing bit. My first choice was this (now out-of-print) Kwik Sew pattern that I’m teaming with a gorgeous cotton (70%) and silk (30%) fabric in tones of light and deep purple, chartreuse green and melon, with a luscious sheen that shimmers in the light.
It will work nicely for the feminine, flowing blouse and be suitable cool Spring days and Summer evenings.
Patterns have changed a lot over the decades and where once I was safe to choose one dependable size for everything, top or bottom, I now find that the measurements provided on the envelope no longer correspond to the finished size (this applies to all pattern brands).
So a crazy amount of pattern adjustments for the bust (small) to hip (medium) ratio have been needed before I even set needle to fabric.
Yesterday I made a start though and am counting on ‘Kwik’ to mean the actual sewing part — please check back to learn if that’s the case and to see the finished garment, which I hope will be ‘kwikly’ completed.
Has any other sewer found that pattern sizes have drastically changed and now require a lot of adjustments? I found these guidelines for selecting the correct pattern size helpful. I also found instructive this video about using the Palmer/Pletsch Tissue Fit method to achieve a perfect fit with all patterns. Can you recommend any sources that have been helpful to you?
A fait accompli and lessons learned (or remembered)
Hello again. Well, as you can see from the photo above my sewing project has been completed, after three days’ worth of (on-off) sewing. When I read ‘quick’ or ‘very easy/easy’ on a pattern envelope to me that means about a day’s worth of actual sewing.
I am ever more convinced that in order to get a quality finish with attention to detail there’s no way (unless you’re sewing a paper bag) that you can accomplish a garment to be proud of in only a few days unless you’re going day and night.
There were a few challenges: slippery, ultra-fine fabric that made handling and back-stitching difficult as well as some frustrations arising from pattern bloopers, such as neck and arm bindings that are not wide enough to accomodate the called-for 1/4″ seams. And I preferred to hand- rather than machine stitch the bottom hemline. I also added extra fullness to the ‘loop’ of fabric at the neckline. Little things that take a bit more time.
All in all, I’m pleased with the way the fabric did justice to the pattern and the fact that my pattern adjustments were just right (I also added 2 inches to the length as well as adding a Medium bottom to a Small top). Next up is a sleeveless blouse with a rutched neckline and tucks at the waste…this time I’m using polyester and I’m hoping it will be a little less slippery than this project.