Top Draftalong # 32 – Sway Back Part 2

This post has been in draft for some time. Seriously….weeks.  Day to day life and family matters have been pretty hectic to say the least. In any case, FINALLY I have a toile that I can turn into a block with which to begin drafting some designs! Hurrah!! That aspect of things I will now have to put on hold until the new year, due to Christmas gift sewing. I’m guessing though that anyone who may be following these posts will be in the same position, so it seems to me that starting the drafting process fresh in January is the best option. So this will be the last Draftalong post until the New Year.
When I last posted, I had adapted my pattern to take out a big tuck as part 1 of a sway back alteration, but had yet to test the results on my final toile. Well, here it is….(I’m not quite sure why I look like I’m striking a body builder pose on the right,btw! Heurgh!!))

See the difference?! Excess fabric gone and the additional ease at the side seams is alowing it to fall comfortably over my hips. The image on the left shows the excess fabric pinned out in a horizontal tuck in the small of my back on the original toile, and the very slight snugness on my hips.  The one on the right is the final toile, cut using the newly altered pattern . No more fabric pooling…….

and from the side……

Apart from the tuck itself, there were a couple of other elements to finalising my toile. In my previous post, I incorrectly assumed that I needn’t square off the hem after I had taken the tuck out of the pattern. I assumed the “distorted” hem was all part of the “optical illusion”  to correct the sway back. Hmmmm. Not so apparently. I did indeed need to square off the hem from the CB to the side seam. You can see the distorting effect of the tuck on the hem in the left hand picture; and the “wedge” added on below the dotted line in the right hand picture….

In addition, I added a CB seam to this toile on the advice of my tutor. “Just in case” further alterations were needed. Good job too, because the tuck on it’s own wasn’t quite sufficient. In order to get the back to sit just right,  I ended up taking out a tapered vertical “tuck” along the CB seam of the toile,to remove the last bit of excess fabric. It tapers to nothing at the neckline, with it’s widest point at the hem. Essentially, taking in the CB seam at an angle. Were I being truly conscientious or aiming for a totally accurate fitted toile, then the new CB seam would be curved inward at the small of my back. But I was happy to keep it simple and opted for a straight tapered CB seam as opposed to a curved one.

The overall shape of this toile is exactly what I’d envisaged as a basis for future designs. I will never want to make a top more fitted than this. It just wouldn’t suit my shape. So for me, a simple, semi fitted, boxy shape that I can add some design details to, and manipulate shape wise, is just perfect.

One final tweak I’ll make is to lengthen the bust darts. I shortened them a bit tooooo much on this toile, trying to avoid the pointy bust look. But where they are now, they’re not providing quite the right amount of fullness. (Ohhhhh, NIPPLES to it!) I’m pretty sure just lengthening them will sort out any remaining drag lines on the bust….

Sooo, here is my block. Traced onto card from my final pattern. Without seam allowances. Ready to start playing with designs in the New Year. Here’s a round up of the main adjustments I’ve made to my toile to get it to this point:

I’ve been sketching out some ideas as well as perusing the ones in the book that got me started on this draftalong in the first place. (Epic journey that it has become! 32 posts so far! What planet was I on, thinking I could have this done and dusted withing a few weeks??!)
I fancy starting off with experimenting with collars (Peter Pan, Sailor?) and maybe some pintucks, pleats, gathers etc. How about you? What design details would you try first if you were drafting a pattern to your own design?

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Draft your own simple top……A Simple Tutorial

Firstly, forgive the top of my head being lopped off in this photo. I’ve been experimenting with pin curls and hadn’t got round to taking them out when I took this picture. Secondly, yes Karen, you do recognise this fabric! Purchased at the Fabric Fandango, and mindful of Karen’s warning about how much it creases (oooooh how it creases!!) I thought it would be perfect for a simple project like this so as to keep future ironing as easy as possible!
Now, back to the subject in hand….pattern drafting. My toile for the Top Draftalong is FINALLY finished!!!! (More on that to follow) Which means that the design drafting element of the draftalong is imminent, and not a moment too soon in my view. ( Have I mentioned how much I detest fitting…?) Anyway, I thought I’d limber up my drafting muscles with a fun and, yes, easy peasy lemon squeezy, quick and simple “freestyle” drafting project that anyone could do. Seriously. You could draft AND make this top within a couple of hours. Faster if you’re not a slow coach sewer like me. Even if you have never put pencil to paper and drafted anything before in your life. Don’t believe me? Here’s how….

Start with a rectangle and calculate the length of the sides as follows:
A = Bust or Hip Measurement (whichever is the larger) + 2-3″ (ease) divide by  4 and + 3″
B = Required length of top + desired hemming allowance
Mark which is your side seam and which is your centre back/front line….

A = Mark a point approx 8″ down the side seam from what will be the top of your pattern. (This will be your armhole. I made mine 8″. Your’s may be slightly more or less depending on how big you want your armhole opening to be).
B = Along the bottom edge mark a point 3″ in from the side seam

Join these two points up creating a curve for the underarm…this will become your actual stitching line/side seam…

Now for the neckline:
A = Mark a point approx 2″down the CB/CF seam from the top (depending on how low you want your neckline to scoop this could be more but wouldn’t advise it being any less. As you can see from my top, 2″ has it sitting just at the base of my throat)
B = Mark a point along the top edge where you want your neck opening to finish. I used my bra strap as a guide as I don’t like to flash them!

Draw in your neckline curve either freehand or using a French Curve. Where the neckline curve hits the CB/CF seam needs to be at a 90 degree angle so as to avoid “peaking” when you come to cut out the pattern piece on the fold. I’d also advise a slightly less acute angle where it hits the top edge/shoulder seam too. I cut mine as shown here and it’s resulted in a very slight pulling at the point where the neckline hits the shoulder seam of my top.

Add a seam alowance to the underarm/ side seam AND the shoulder seam…

Cut out your new pattern piece. Then cut 2 on the fold out of your fashion fabric and with RS together sew together the shoulder seams and then the side seams. Finish seam allowances.  I also put 2″ slits in the side seams for a little extra ease at the hips, finished the neckline with self fabric bias tape,(see posts here and here) and just hemmed the bottom and sleeves with a narrow hem. Voila! Simple top perfect for layering under a cardi for the winter months. Go on! Give it a go! ( I’d love it if you’d let me know if you do!)

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Sewing Basics # 15 – Using a Bias Tape Maker

I’m sure that there are many good tutorials of how to use this little super gadget out there on the web. But since we have been on the subject of bias strips I thought I may as well follow up with a brief explanation of my own to round things off nicely on this particular subject….

Placing RS together with the top strip perpendicular to the one underneath, pin like so….

Sew diagonally left to right, (corner to corner if you imagine as a square, the area where the two strips overlap) at a 45 degree angle…

Press the stitching line, then press the seam allowance open, then press the seam on the RS too…

Trim seam allowance close to the stitching….

The RS……

RS down/WS facing up, insert one end of the strip into the widest end of the bias gadget ensuring the fabric strip is as central as possible…..

Gradually feed the fabric strip along until it pokes it’s little nose out the other end of the gadget (I found that the strip would sometimes get stuck a little way along so I gently poked the tips of my thread snips through the gap along the centre of the bias gadget to help move it along)…

Press the tip of the strip as it pokes through…

Then pin in place on the ironing board…

Take hold of the handle of the gadget and gently slide it along the fabric strip…

…bit by bit, pressing as you go….the first bit is the trickiest….

Keep going all the way to the end of the strip. Depending on how long it is you may have to shift it along the ironing board and re-pin it several times along the length of the strip…and there you have it…nice neat bias tape ready to use on your next sewing project 🙂

Toodle pip!

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Sewing Basics # 14 – Easy Peasy Bias Strips

I don’t know about you, but the prospect of accurately marking out and cutting narrow strips of fabric on the bias seemed a bit too fiddly and a bit too much like hard work for my liking. So for ages I relied on my stash of ready made bias tape for projects. Then I had a minor brainwave and tried out the basic idea here. What d’ya know…it worked! Alot of you seemed to think it was a pretty neat idea, so I thought I’d share my  bias strip technique in a little more detail in case, like me, you can’t be arsed to faff about 😉

I used one of these bias tape makers to make my bias binding.  This particular size requires strips of fabric 1″ wide. So I got me some 1″ wide low tack masking tape (masking tape comes in several widths in our local hardware shop. If I need 2″ wide bias strips I just use 2″ wide masking tape)…

The easy way to make bias strips at

The fabric pictured is cut in a perfect square. (See here for an easy way to do this. The technique applies the same way to fabric as it does for paper!)  Now for a little geometry. Bias tape needs to be cut at a 45 degree angle to the grainline. On a perfect square, from point to point diagonally across the square, is exactly 45 degrees. So the strip of masking tape below, marks out a 1″ wide strip of fabric at a 45 degree angle…

The easy way to make bias strips at

Every subsequent piece of tape lined up against it will therefore be at the perfect 45 degree angle too. I just kept adding strips of tape either side until they became too short to be of reasonable use. (For zero waste, the resulting corners/trianges left over at the end.could go in your scrap pile until you’ve enough to make some bunting)….

The easy way to make bias strips at

Leaving just enough gap between each strip of tape for your scissor blades…

The easy way to make bias strips at

…provides a super accurate cutting guide and stabilises the fabric whilst you are cutting (bias by it’s nature is prone to stretching) this is especially useful on fine and/or slippery fabrics….

The easy way to make bias strips at

You end up with a load of strips backed with masking tape. Exactly the right size, with poker straight edges and cut precisely on the bias….

The easy way to make bias strips at

Square off the ends….

The easy way to make bias strips at

…and there you have them. Lovely neat bias strips. Ready to use to make your own bias tape. (I’ve been making up more than I need, then peeling off the masking tape as and when I need the make some bias tape up. Otherwise I leave the masking tape in place to keep them stabilised and store them for future use)

The easy way to make bias strips at

Easy peasy lemon squeezy!

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