Epiphany

I just had an epiphany (because of something Caroline wrote in the comments of the last post), and as usually happens at those moments, lots of stuff blooms in my head all at once.  Before I get to the epiphany itself, I felt the need to look up the word.

Epiphany: a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience

Works for me.

I was also reminded of some thoughts generated about epiphanies from a book I am currently reading.  (Not the best book…I really am in a drought with good books these days because I want to be reading one that knocks my socks off but instead they have all been pretty ho-hum, except for Susan Jacoby’s The Age of American Unreason.  Quite an amazing book, but I am going between it and fiction books in a quest for a story that truly rocks my boat!)  There is a doctor in the book who fills his brain with as much info as he can and then he sits and waits for his brain to filter & percolate & assemble the epiphany.  I zeroed in on the story then as I realized that is what I do.  Always have, even when I was a young choreographer in college.  I will never forget one of my professors watching one of my rehearsals..she was astounded that I solved a choreographic problem by just sitting quietly watching the dancers.  She couldn’t believe that the answer presented itself in my head, fully formed, and that I did not have to get up and fool around with it.  I did not understand her amazement as that was simply how my brain worked.

Most of the things I figure out for the dresses I make literally wake me up in the middle of the night.  Suddenly, I am just awake and a construction solution is sitting on my chest looking at me like the cat does when he wants a rub!  I count on my brain figuring things out this way.  At the moment, I have a few things I need to decide on, and I am waiting for my brain to sift through all of the info…the decision will quietly appear.  It has been the same process these past few months deciding how I feel about ID, this blog, etc.

This morning, I had a loud epiphany…having them when I am awake is rather jarring as it is like 10 people talking loudly at once.  When I have them in front of the hubby, he always looks at me sideways and asks if I am having a seizure as I sit there blankly!  He walked in this morning as I was staring at the wall with my hands poised above the keyboard, and he says so gently, “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING!?!”  He is such a careful man…

So this is what occurred to me.  There is a way to alter the Feisdress pattern for a tunic dress.  Look at the two lines I have drawn on the pic below.

Photobucket

If I did not have the mighty Susan, I would alter the Feisdress bodice to drop the waist a LOT.  The red line above is my new waist line.  Obviously I have taken into consideration my waist curves.  I am not going to keep this waist line, but this is how I make the bodice to begin with.  Then, after the appropriate number of panels are fully embroidered, attach them to the bodice. (I would have a soft skirt already constructed so that the placement and attachment angles can be easily figured over the appropriate poof.)  The panels should be longer than you will really see.  Once they are firmly attached, decide on a shape to be cut and satin stitched up into the bodice…those are the yellow lines above.  I would baste the panels in place above and around the yellow lines, and then sew that shape with a good zizag to make sure it is all secure before I cut out the bodice fabric below the lines.  Then satin stitch those lines, remove the basting, and decide if the panels above the lines on the back need to be trimmed down.  My instinct is yes so that there is no extra bulk.

Why cut out a shape instead of leaving the straight bodice hem?  Well, besides the fact that it will look like a hem line which for me defeats the tunic look and looks like a flapper dress, I am feeling (like my fortune-teller spiel?) that the whole unit will move better if there is a bit more freedom gained by getting rid of that restrictive hem line…but I could be wrong.  The other reason is that even if the bodice and panels use the same base fabrics, the satin stitched line will look like an embellishment not an attachment line.  Or, if you use a different colored base fabric for the panels, then the shaped line is part of the slimming design.

And I would not put stiffener in the panels beyond the decor bond already fused to the fabric for the embroidery (I only use one layer of decor bond in the tunic panels).  This also obviously means I can embroider directly on the panels instead of making patches as I feel I must for a true tunic.

As for the bodice lining, the easiest way to do this would be to line the bodice and the panels separately.  You could put the bodice lining over the panel attachments either before or tacked on after the panel attachments: before would mean the satin stitching would be seen on the inside while tacked on after would hide the stitching.  The easiest would be to not put the bodice lining over the panels at all, but under along with the base bodice fabric.  The hardest would be to make a bag lining that encompassed the bodice and the panels after they were attached…pay me a bunch and I might do that!!

Does this make sense?  I feel like I am leaving something out, but I will add it if I think of it.

Corset-style Bodice

— In IDDressmaking@yahoogroups.com, “snipper0104” <musicalpair3@…> wrote:
>
> Can anyone please tell me if there are directions to alter the Feisdress pattern for the corset-
> style bodice? I’m assuming this is a one-piece dress because of fit issues. I have a design I’d
> like to try and I think it would look best with the corset top. Thanks so much.
>
> Debbie

I responded, but wanted to move it here to add pics.

I have done this in one configuration or another onseveral dresses.  Only 2 were specifically sweetheart/corset line, while the others were v-neckline variations, but my construction is the same.  This method can also be used for asymmetrical bodice colors as well

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPhoto Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

PhotobucketPhotobucket

Embroidered for MJ Farr
MJ Farr 2009 (1)

MJ bodice front

Embroidered for Colleen Murphy
Good photo of color

Pinned, no zipper

I am such a freak about symmetrical placement that this is what I do:

1 – Cut the full bodice out of the least expensive of the 2 bodice fabrics.  Let’s say I am going to use velvet for the corset body, so I would cut out the bodice using the fabric that will show above the corset neck/bust line.  Call this fabric 1.

2 – draw the sweetheart line onto the paper pattern pieces.  Decide where the shoulder/ side seams will meet (if necessary) so the front and back meet up neatly.  Cut the top and bottom apart on that line.  You have not added any seam allowance to that line.

3 – cut the velvet bodice using the bottom of the separated pattern pieces.  Call this fabric 2.

4 – Lay the cut velvet pieces onto the full bodice pieces you cut before.  Now you have to decide if you are going to keep all of fabric 1.  I have done 1 of 2 things: a) kept all of fabric 1 to act as a stabilizer for fabric 2 ; or b) cut fabric 1 free behind fabric 2 after sewing them both together to keep the bodice from being too bulky.  No matter what I decide, after I have lined up the pieces I pin or baste them together so I can sew a narrow zigzag stitch at the edges where the fabrics overlap, in this case along the corset bust line.

     a) If I am using fabric 1 as a stabilizer, I will fuse them together.  However, with velvet, I would probably not fuse but sew them together in the seam allowances.  If I am going to fuse, I already attached Misty fuse to the corset fabric before I cut it out.  Once the bust line is sewn, I fuse.

    b) If I am going to cut fabric 1 free after sewing them both together to keep the bodice from being too bulky, I do so after I run the zigzag attachment stitch.  Then, on the wrong side, I neatly cut near the stitching to remove the extra fabric.

5 – Now, using a good tear-away, I satin stitch over where the 2 fabrics meet.  I have done this with contrasting threads and with matching.

Why do I do all of this instead of creating an actual pattern with seam allowances?  Because I already know that my pattern fits as is and creating a sweetheart neckline pattern with seam allowances will create (for me, I just know it!) issues with puckering, fabric not laying right in the center, etc.  This way, I do it all as if it is a giant applique and no matter what shape I use, it works and lays beautifully.  Quite frankly, this is fast.

In the above pics, the only one that I did not cut away was the pink and black one.  I felt that the angle of the pink might not resist stretching even though it is all interfaced with a fusible.  I left the black intact underneath.

Edited 9/27/2010: Nowadays, I digitize this entire process so I am doing all of this in my massive hoop. If you would like more info about that, just ask!!

Triangle Method for jutting skirts

Diane had a question…sooner or later, ALL ID dressmakers will have to deal with this one!

I have a dress that I made this past spring that was just fine on the dancer when she got it, and quite honestly, is fine on her now – when she’s standing in a normal position. But, when she gets ready to dance, she pulls her shoulders back, puts her stomach and chest out and it makes the skirt stick put funny.  Of course, it’s all a problem with the dress, not the dancer.

I was thinking that the best way to remedy this problem on the dress, short of standing behind the dancer on stage and telling her not to stick her belly out – was to drop the center front of the bodice – graduated from side seam to side seam, so that it was nothing at the side seam and 1″ at the center front.  I was thinking that maybe the center skirt front needed the same thing, but then just pinning it, it looked funny. Unfortunately, she’ll be loosing a good bit of her bodice let down room- about half –  but that’s life.

Diane’s idea is right, change the angle of the skirt attachment, but there is a fairly easy way to accomplish this: the Triangle Method!

Here’s my answer to her:

Hi Diane,  All you need is to haul it up into the side seams. 

Triangle method: I always do this with the bodice sewn on the right way (meaning I don’t remove the skirt to fix this), then I go back in and draw a line from the waist seam at the front dart/princess seam up to a point that is about ½” higher than the waist seam on the bodice side seam, and then back down to the waist seam at the back dart, pin the skirt and bodice together, and then sew this new line on both sides.  It accomplishes what you need without having to change the length of the front skirt…it just changes the length of the side, but no one ever notices.  This will help flatten the skirt and counteract what the dancer is doing.  Susan wrote about this thing exactly here: “Brainstorm alert – The Unified Quantum Theory of the Skirt Hang”

The one thing about this problem is that dancers really do slip back into a more natural posture once they start moving.  I do make this change when it is a glaring issue, but I also tell the dancer and the mom exactly why the problem is happening in the first place!

If this is unclear, please let me know.

For more about fitting issues caused by the exaggerated dance posture: Fitting issues: Dancer mis-alignment

Alterations Price List

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
The same message post that got me going in the post below has continued and evolved into a discussion of doing alterations on ID dresses, something many of us hate to do. Certainly is not one of my favorite things to do. I send my folks to an alteration shop near here. I sought her out, showed her how the dresses should work, and she took that over for me. The shop is very fancy and rather elegant…the woman there considers alterations to be an art. Quite frankly, she is so good at it that it IS an art. Here is her website.
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

So on the IDDressmaking board, Terrie posted this. Had to post it here because I thought it was hysterical…and true!

“One tailor shop that I worked in around twenty years ago had a fun sign that sometimes we all could use. I’m sure that I’m paraphrasing it, but here goes…
Thanks for the morning laugh, Terrie!
Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

PRICE LIST

Alterations – $30 per hour

You worked on it first? – $50 per hour

You want to watch? – $60 per hour

You worked on it first AND want to watch? – $100 per hour

You want to “explain” to me how I should do it? – You can’t afford me.”

Feisdress pattern: The physics of the skirt hang!

I have made over 30 dresses using the Feisdress pattern in the past year. I obviously love it and will never use another. The logic behind its design is solid. Any problems I have ever had are of my own devising. I have every size: the skirt has been perfect and except for waist enlargements, I do not have to alter the skirt pattern. I do alter the bodice pattern for every dancer because no two bodies are the same and I know the fit I like. I think I have only ever had one small dancer whose measurements matched the pattern exactly. I choose a pattern based on the upper chest measurement and then alter what I need.
Every problem I have encountered with skirt hang has been caused by something I did wrong. The Feisdress skirt pattern is brilliantly engineered – the angles of the panels and of the pleat seams and the tension of the pleats and waist seams make this skirt work the way it does. Folks claim that a curved waist seam keeps the skirt from being able to lay flat. I think it is the illusion of the straight waist line that makes folks think the skirt is hanging straight. Not so. The pic below is a flat skirt with an obviously curved waist seam. This pic showed me I had a waist seam to correct a bit, but everything worked so well with the skirt construction that the waist seam fix was more for my sense of symmetry. It is hard to see because of the fabric, but the skirt is offset forward of the side bodice seam about an inch. (This is the under-bodice and skirt of a 2 piece. I love these because I can make the skirt fit snugly and get the drop-waisted look with the shape of the jacket. Whole dress here.)

 

 

For the record, I check skirt hang on a hanger unless it is big enough to fit on my dress dummy. I have found that the problem I see on a hanger is exactly the same on a body. Sometimes on a body the problem is less exaggerated, but it is still there. When a skirt lays flat on a hanger, all is well with the world!

There are a few things to consider when trying to achieve a flat skirt front. First is the actual shape of the dancer – the flatter the dancer, the flatter the skirt. Susan explains it clearly here. Evaluating your dancer’s actual shape will help you figure out how to adjust the skirt for the flattest look possible which usually involves deciding how far to offset the skirt…or even deciding that the young lady’s shape may preclude a totally flat skirt. There is an offset skirt line on the pattern, but it is just a suggestion. Choose your own, move it forward, back, whatever works for you.

Second, there are inevitably skirt issues to resolve no matter the skirt shape and these involve simply getting the skirt panels to hang right, period.

1. Folding/bending of the top of the side panels at the sides. When this first happened to me, I solved this by sewing the sides of the skirt higher into the bodice. I angled the seam from the front dart, up higher to a point on the side bodice seam, then back down to the real waist seam line at the back dart. Because I kept having this problem, Susan included this alternate line (dotted) on the pattern. Below is the back and front bodice pattern pieces (1″ side seam showing).

And here are the front side panel (FSP) and the back skirt lined up to show the corresponding line.

This is a fix many folks have figured out for themselves no matter the pattern.

However, the problem I was having was completely my fault. There were 2 issues.

a) At first, I was not pressing and basting at all before I sewed the skirt on. As I have said before, I am a master with pins. Brilliant genius, truly. Well, the Irish dance dress skirt exists to thwart all seamstresses, to torture us, to humble us. The stiffened panels WILL move, WILL shift, WILL prevent you from every getting that skirt on correctly unless you PRESS & BASTE! You may laugh, you may scoff, but I guarantee that if you PRESS & BASTE, the skirt will behave and your adjustments will be fewer. I liken this to constructing a building – they don’t just pound in nails to make something fit and stay…they cut things to exact measurements and do all the necessary prep so that all the pieces simply fit. Same for this pattern. Yes, I do pin the skirt to the bodice after it is pressed & basted. I feel that this is more stable for sewing the 2 sections together.

b) I was altering the bodice pattern incorrectly: I put the bodice side seams too low on the altered pattern. I had not measured them too long but rather made them too low in their placement on the pattern which made them too long. Learning curve. So, if the side bodice seams were too low (long), then there was no tension on the skirt sides to hold them up, so the top of the panels would bend. I have corrected that alteration mis-perception and the problem has disappeared.

I was seeing the above bending problem mainly on smaller dresses because the skirts are not heavy. However, on bigger dresses with heavier skirts I was seeing…

2. Center front panel jutting forward. Because the entire skirt is heavier, the same issues discussed above (a & b) will cause the CFP to stick out. If you look inside the pleats, the half of the pleat attached to the CFP is folding, being pushed by the stiffened FSP, which does not allow the CFP to lay flat, hence the jutting. Pushing it flat then causes the tops of the side panels to bend. So, pulling it up into the side seams will help get rid of this unless you did not PRESS & BASTE…you might just have to start over.

3. Twisting center front panel. It won’t lay flat or evenly…you push the offending side down and the other side pops out. Things to consider:

a) Have I done the “PRESS & BASTE?”

b) When basting, did I lay the skirt flat to find the flat alignment of the pieces? This is important. If you are basting with the skirt in your lap, it WILL NOT line up as it should. Lay it flat on your table and baste it tightly, especially at the seam line itself.

Below is a pic of how my wrapped pleats seams line up when I lay the dress flat to begin basting. (I have put white fabric under them for contrast.)

Granted, if my pleat seams are not the same length to begin with, this is not a reliable indicator, but I try to cut and measure things consistently. If I have checked this prior to basting and they are even, all should be well. However, if twisting occurs and the inside looks like this (below), then things shifted or were basted incorrectly to begin with. One of the pleat seams has been pushed down (or up) and is pushing the CFP. If you only pin, no basting, this happens very easily.

c. Twisting can also happen if the CFP is too narrow at the top. This pic is of a different pattern for a skirt I was asked to fix because the CFP was twisting. Couldn’t be done…made a new skirt.

d. If all else is good and it is still twisting, check the waist seam. Is it even? I sew the skirt on from the bodice side (meaning I am looking at the bodice while sewing), but I check the OTHER side, the skirt side, for seam evenness. I can tell right away if things have slipped, shifted or if my sewing line went off on a random journey. I then re-sew or start over to make that seam line as even as possible.

4. Bowing CFP. I have never encountered this in a dress I was sewing, but I did just recently have to trouble shoot this while helping someone put a skirt on. I had cut the dress out so I knew we were ok in terms of proportions.

When she first arrived with the dress, the skirt was on and the CFP was twisting. There were enough issues to resolve that I had her take the skirt off and start again. What I did not check was how well the skirt was basted to begin with. This time, when the dress went on the hanger, there was the bowing CFP! Pulling it up into the side seams had a bit of an affect, but not enough. We straightened the seam across the waist to no avail. It was eventually time for her to leave, so I gave her a few more hints to try, but I have not heard from her since. I do not know how it ended up.

The one thing that occurs to me having had time to think, is that the front pleat seams were pulled up too high into the waist seam. Like I said, I did not check the basting stitches. If they were loose and she pinned that area pulling the tops of the pleat seams up to meet the selvedge edges, then the CFP is going to bow out because the pleat seams themselves have been shifted closer together changing their angle. They are closer together at the bottom of the CFP, and because that seam is stiffened (the only seam in which I include the stiffener because it does not fold)there is no give and the CFP is bowed and forced to stick out. Even if the pleats were totally soft, there would still be a problem – the pleats would fold and crease still affecting the hang of the CFP. Only solution is to rip it out and start again.

5. Vertical folding/collapsing of back or DUCK BUTT!So far I have found the fix for these two problems to be the same though they are usually caused by 2 different issues. I simply change the angle of the back outside pleat lines. I have not had to change the entire pleat. To figure the new fold line, I look at the back either on the dancer or on the dress dummy, and then I pin the new fold line. This obviously helps you see that it is going to lay flat and/or stop collapsing. I had a Duck Butt issue with the Flower solo and it was solved by moving the fold line out…the pic below shows a red line where the original fold was. For the collapsing issue, I move the fold the opposite way, in toward the zipper.

Webmaster’s re-vamp

Webmaster, Susan and I all agreed that we wanted to re-do the bodice of the Webmaster’s new dress. Being a 2-piece, we had wanted to try to make it as comfortable as possible, so we were trying for a t-shirt feel…nothing was stiffened except for the embroidered areas, and even those were cut out and appliqued onto the unstiffened bodice pieces. Although soft, it did not lay right and Webmaster was somehow uncomfortable as she kept tugging on it…it seemed to ride up.

This is the original bodice.

We decided to re-vamp it and make it stiff with a v-shape at the center bottom.

I took the entire bodice apart. It was originally a one-piece darted bodice on the front with an embroidered panel appliqued onto it, and we wanted to change it to a princess seam. I left the sleeves as they were – soft and unstiffened. I kept the original back bodice. I cut the embroidered panel off of the front bodice, and cut a new front princess seam bodice. The fabric was interfaced first with french fuse as was the finished back bodice. Then I interfaced all five pieces (2 back, 3 front) with Decor-bond – 1 layer on the 2 back bodice and 2 side bodice pieces, and 2 layers on the center front bodice. This pic below is the new very stiff center front bodice.

Below are all five stiffened pieces. The embroidered front panel has only been partially attached to the center front bodice. I finished attaching it after I have sewed the princess seams because the panel overlapped the seams.
All bodice pieces were all lined in cotton (I love having a wild inner bodice!) and serged.
The Feisdress pattern does not use any ease in the princess seam. (For a thorough discussion of the reasons for this go here.) Webmaster’s original pattern was custom-made for her, so I altered that to create a princess seam pattern and did not include any ease. Here the two pieces are ready to be sewn.
Here is the finished seam showing no puckering because there was no extra fabric to be “eased” in.

The bottom edge of the bodice was satin-stitched as was the neck. I still included the neck facing for a clean look.

Here is the finished bodice.

I used a separating sports zipper in this bodice. They feel so much sturdier… I am thinking I might start using these in all the dresses I make from now on.
Now, Susan came up with an ingenious idea for attaching the soft shawl. The triangle knot seen here is a “pin.” It is a mirror of what is on the other shoulder, but this lifts up…

…and underneath the pin and on the bodice are two big pieces of the soft side of heavy-duty velcro.

The end of the shawl is encased in a double triangle of the hook side of the velcro which then is sandwiched (pinned) under the shoulder “pin.”

The same happens at the right hip.


Webmaster also asked for a crown…

…and a second shawl.

I will post full pics in the next post.

Altering the Feisdress bodice

The Feisdress pattern comes in a full range of Girls and Juniors patterns. There is no specific set for women…the patterns are easily altered. As it is, it is a rare child or teenager that fits one of the patterns exactly and I alter the bodice pattern for every school dress and custom solo that I make.

This post will document how I alter the Feisdress bodice pattern for the ID school dresses I make. Have to admit that I have a free-form approach to this…whatever works. This is by no means a “this-is-what-you-MUST-do” document. (If you are interested in a more technical approach to pattern altering, Susan has one on the Feisdress design cd.) There was a comment at one point on one of the boards that there are no “lengthen or shorten here” lines for altering the bodice…that is correct because all bodies are different and there is not simply one place to cut on any pattern that makes it fit every body, regardless of what we find on the patterns we get at the fabric store. So, here is one way I deal with it.

Below is the measurement sheet we use. I use this to decide which size pattern to use.

I start with the upper chest measurement…most times matching this measurement gives me the appropriate pattern to start with. However, there are times when other measurements (usually shoulder seam and bust) conspire together to make it necessary to start with a different upper chest measurement because my alterations will change it. I begin by outlining my pattern piece only at the neck & shoulders, also marking the shoulder seam and top of the bodice center line (I have put holes in the pattern piece at these points). I have pulled the pattern piece down here to show my first markings. (I actually use pencil since I make mistakes, but I have used black marker here for illustration purposes.)

Next, I mark the end of the bodice center line at the pattern waist line. In this instance, the dancer’s center front measurement is longer that the pattern, so I draw a line through the point at the neck and the pattern waist point to create a longer center front line and make a new waist point at the correct length. I then line up the bottom center point of the pattern with the new bottom point, making sure the center line is on my drawn line, and then I draw the edge of the 2 inch seam for the center front of the bodice. (You can see at the top of the pic below that I have pulled the pattern down to a new length.)

The pic below shows my adjustments – the center horizontal line at the bottom was the original pattern edge, the lower one is the new edge. I have marked the center front line. The right side of the ruler is measuring the full front length, from the beginning of the shoulder seam at the neck to the waist line. I got lucky here…lengthening the center front also lengthened this measurement the appropriate amount.

Next, I alter the length of the shoulder seam – here I have to make it shorter.

Then I check the shoulder slope length from the end of the shoulder seam to the center front waist. Again, I got lucky and the length was right.

Using the new shorter shoulder seam length, I line up the pattern piece and pencil trace the armscye to the top of the bodice side seam so I can check the new bust measurement. It is too narrow (I needed to add ¼’ to the pattern bust measurement to begin with) so anchoring the end point of the pattern (at the arm) to the new end point of my altered pattern, I swing the pattern out to the appropriate bust width and draw the armscye. I check this here.

The pic below shows the completed bodice side. You can see the original bottom edge of the pattern. The finished bodice side seam is in a different place because changing the shoulder seam length and then swinging the armscye out to the correct bust measurement pulled it up. The waist measurement of the pattern matched the dancer so I lined up the pattern piece with the new side seam and drew in the seam (which is 1”).
I now go through the same permutations with the back bodice pattern piece: I draw in the neck, center back line and shoulder seam. I lengthen the center back line, check the full back length (which is correct) and then check the back shoulder slope. In this instance, the shoulder slope is too short, so I mark the correct length which moves the end of the shoulder seam as shown here.

This is a closer look at the moved shoulder seam.

Here I line up the shoulder seam of the pattern with the new shoulder seam to draw the first part of the pattern edge.
Then I line up the end of the shoulder seam of the pattern to begin drawing the armscye.

After I check the bust width again, I finish drawing the back armscye.

Once I check the back waist width, I line up my new front bodice pattern side seam line with my back bodice seam line to draw in the seam allowance shape.

Et voila! My new back pattern piece.

Previous Older Entries