Thursday, June 30, 2011

How to Eliminate Facings on a Sleeveless Garment

I do not like facings, whether it’s neckline, armhole, or waist, because, in my experience, the seam line inevitably shows through on the right side and disrupts a smooth look, like panty lines. 

To eliminate the unnecessary seams and excess bulk, I sew a full lining just to the edge of the garment.

For a sleeveless dress or top, I remove 1/8” from the neckline and armhole edge on the lining pieces.  This does take a little extra work up front, but the results are well worth it.

Reducing the lining will ensure that the garment fabric will wrap around to the underside and avoid the lining peeking out.  I like to understitch around the neck to keep it all flat and to stablize the neckline.

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Rival Cooks While I Sew

I usually like to cook, but with this current heat wave, the last thing I want to do is slave over a hot stove, and my husband will only eat so many salads.  Enter the Rival Crock Pot.  Thank goodness for slow cookers; I can throw in fresh ingredients and go sew while they cook.  My current favorite recipe is Chicken Tortilla Soup.
In a 4-quart cooker, combine the following ingredients:
1 cup onion, diced
1 cup celery, sliced
1 cup red pepper strips
1 cup yellow pepper strips
1 chicken breast, diced
3 cups chicken broth
14.5 ounce can stewed tomatoes
Garlic cloves (optional)
Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 6 to 7 hours or on high-heat setting for 3 to 3-1/2 hours. 
Serve in bowls with tortilla strips, avocado, jalapeno, and cilantro.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Serger Review: Singer 14CG754

Price Paid:  $185.
How long have you had this machine?  Less than a month.

Would you recommend this machine to others?  No.

What do you like about this machine?  This machine is the lightest serger I've ever come across. 

I really wanted to like this machine, since it was a great price for a new serger.  I was hoping to replace my  old Singer serger which had some great features that are not on my other sergers, such as a free arm the ability to adjust the stitch width by moving the knife blade. 

This model does have a free arm, but it does require removing a big piece of plastic from the left side to access it.  This sizable piece does not stand up on its own, so it must be stowed on its side somewhere until it's ready to be put back on the machine.
By contrast, my old Singer serger has a lever which simply pushes down to access the free arm; this is so much more convenient.

Although the machine does have the capability to adjust the stitch width by moving the knife blade closer in or further out from the needle, the knob to do this is difficult to turn.

Things you DON'T like about this machine:  Even after I oiled the machine, it still makes a strange clackety sound, which is apparently normal for this machine (according to the salesperson trying to upsell me on a different serger).

The stitch quality is either poor or inconsistent.  I can spend hours adjusting the tensions and still never get them to be as nice as on my other machines.  Even after I get it to form a tolerable stitch, it goes wonky every few inches on the underside.

The lighting is very dim; the bulb is a small blueish speck:

I had such great hopes for this serger, despite the previous negative reviews.  I ended up returning this serger.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Dress with 20 Darts

Vogue 8280,
best known for the knock-off of Roland Mouret's Galaxy Dress, view E:
I made View B, a similar version but with a sweetheart neckline, which I find more flattering than a horizontal line across my chest.

Pattern Description:  Fitted dress with lined bodice, back zipper closing, front flange, back slit opening, and sleeve variations.

Pattern Sizing:  4-20.  I used size 4 in the back, shoulders, and sleeves.  I used size 8 in the bust and size 6 for the rest of the front.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?  For the most part, yes.

Were the instructions easy to follow?  As noted in previous reviews, the instructions do jump around for the different views, to accommodate the various armhole and sleeve variations.  Some views are sleeveless, which require a clean finished edge around the armhole, others have regular sleeves, which don’t, and still others have a combination of the two.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?  I ended up sewing 20 darts on this garment, 10 in the dress and 10 in the lining.  I’m kind of burned out on darts at this point.  Also, there are seven points at the waistline where seams intersect which must be matched perfectly.  The center back, with the invisible zipper, took several attempts to line up just right.

Fabric Used:  Black stretch satin jacquard suiting, lined with silk satin.  The fabric had an interesting silver grey contrast on the wrong side, so I used it to highlight the flange and two-piece sleeve details.         

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:  According to the pattern, only the bodice is lined, so I added a lining to the skirt to complete the inside of the dress.  As usual, I shortened the skirt a couple of inches.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?  I don’t plan on making this pattern again.  To achieve the same look, I would use McCalls 5269 for inspiration, with streamlined princess seams rather than numerous tedious darts, and simpler sleeves.

Conclusion:  I like the style of this pattern, but there are easier ways to achieve the look without the fussy details.