Monday, October 31, 2016

Back To Basics: Understanding Patterns and Mock-ups

Keep and eye out for my video demonstrating this information.

So you got the machine, now you want to buy a pattern and fabric. What do you need to know?

First, you need to have some measurements available to tell you what size pattern you will need to purchase. That is your high bust aka chest, full bust, natural waist, and hips. When you buy the patterns you want to buy based on the high bust measurement. Your measurements may not fully align with the pattern packet, and this is fine, you can always adjust sizing, but we pick high-bust because it gives you the best fit in the arms holes, shoulders, neck, and back area if you're making a dress or shirt. If you are making skirts or pants, you choose the bigger measurement, which is usually the hips. This picture is an example of high bust vs full bust from Pamela's Patterns. This link will take you to a more in-depth blog on sizing and measurements. 

Once you know what size pattern packet to get you want to see how much fabric it suggests. It will tell you on the back under your size column. Error on the larger size for fabric amount because it's easier to take away than it is to add. As an example, I said to base your sizing off high bust for shirts and dresses, but let's say you have beautifully wide hips and that puts you are a larger size than your high bust, get the fabric for that. Get the fabric suggested for your largest size based off of measurements. Also, almost always you should pretreat/preshrink your fabric so allow a few extra inches for that. If you know ahead of time you need to add width, or length or other larger adjustments, bear that in mind as well.

Every pattern packet comes with a set of construction instructions, as well as the layout of pattern pieces for fabric based on size and width, plus tips for making simple adjustments or using multiple sizing, and other terminology. All the info provided is generic and included in all patterns so some may not apply just focus on that which does. I always encourage doing a thorough look over before you construct to see if there is anything you may be unclear on.

So now you know your pattern size, and fabric amount, time to start cutting right? WRONG!

All seamstresses will advise that before you ever cut into your pretty, pricier fabric, you make a mock-up. How you do that is by purchasing very cheap muslin fabric. That's right, you need to purchase more fabric. Muslin is a cheap cotton fabric that you can get as low as $1.99 a yard, and if you use those coupons you can get it sometimes a much as 60% off. I usually buy it by the bolt to always have a bunch on hand. (I suggested buying a bunch in an earlier blog for practicing threading, running fabric though machine, and different stitches before you ever considering buying patterns). The benefit of this is to make a mock version of your outfit to test for fitting issues so you can be aware of any fitting adjustments that need to be made prior. Also, it makes you familiar with the construction so you can work out any hiccups or questions you have before you compromise your pretty fabric. The biggest and most important benefit is the fitting, but the last thing you want to do is make an error during construction, and have to seam rip something like linen or rayon because it will start falling apart.

Quick side note: Here is some bolt information from the Sew Chic Pattern Company blog, there are a few things I want to direct you to briefly, and the most important one is the width. Fabric comes on the bolt folded in half (selvages together). The width is when it's unfolded. Most patterns have you cut fabric while folded. Muslin sometimes comes as narrow as 32 inches which aren't on the packet, so when making a mock up look at the fabric layout in the pattern instructions to see if you need to buy more muslin. Always ask someone, like people at the cutting counter what they suggest if you're not sure. You can get muslin that standard width but it may be a few dollars more expensive, just be aware of the width and how much the pattern says you need.

It will also give you care instructions.

So more info to come soon, and keep and eye out for video as well. :)

Jessi Harm

Friday, October 28, 2016

Back To Basics: Sewing Machine

So you decided you want to home sew, and your not sure where to begin. The biggest and most important decision is the sewing machine.  This is getting a blog all on its own because it is very important.

I will tell you is having a good sewing machine is a must, but you don't need all the bells and whistles. Nowadays many sewing machines are computerized, some have fancy features and stitches, but for 99% of all projects those added features are a waste. You don't need them. What you need is a machine that is going to give you the longevity and reliability for all your projects years to come. I always suggest a base model mechanical/manual machine. You don't want to go for the cheapest, but you don't need to spend lots of money either. A sewing machine should be an initial investment since it is the center and a staple of all your projects but let us not go overboard.


There are some reliable names like Husqvarna Viking, Bernina, Juki, Singer, and others, so how do you decide what's right for you? Well, this will take some research. Talk to people at fabric stores, (but bear in mind they make sales commission and sometimes have contracts with certain companies) tell them what types of things you are looking to make. Clothes? Costuming? Home Decor? Other types of crafts? Also ask around in Facebook sewing communities. Different brands will have different price points.

From experience I would ask how the machine handles heavy fabric or multiple layers, what about light and delicate fabrics, and any tension issues. Those are the most common hiccups you might have with machines. Be prepared to spend no less than $200.00 but you don't need to ever spend more than $500 for a beginner home sewing machine. Something like this Viking model is more than adequate and can be purchased around $350.00. Viking is a great reliable brand that handles several layers of heavier fabric just fine, and a base mechanical model like this will last you forever if you take care of it.

To clarify what I mean by a mechanical machine is that you manually change the settings but turning the dials, not hitting a button and the machines internal computer doing it for you. The picture above is a mechanical machine. The picture of the Singer is an example of a computerized machine. I have this Singer, but I also have my moms New Home which is mechanical. I prefer her New Home.

Lastly about sewing machines, is get a full-size machine, not a mini or portable. Working with a full size is so much easier when you are learning. There are other types of machines out there, like embroidery machines, sergers, and so on, but those not needed right now, so don't even look at them. Those types of machines are nice convenient additions, but you will always still need a sewing machine. Lots of features those machines offer can be imitated with a sewing machine, and I will explain more later.

For those more experience leave advice and suggestions below. Next, I will talk about reading pattern instructions, making mock-ups, fabrics, and notions.

Jessi Harm aka The Evil Regal

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Back to Basics: Sewing tips

So I have my first serger on the way and I am so excited to start working with it. I am no longer afraid to work with Rayon and linens because now I can properly overlock the edge and reduce fraying. In the meantime, I wanted to talk about some things I have learned over the last year of sewing. I want to preface by saying I have been sewing a year and I am self-taught so it's been a lot of trials and error. Any corrections or suggestions please leave below.

As a general overview for someone who says they want to home sew, I would suggest the following (I may break up into blogs for length);

The first thing I would tell a beginner is to relax. When you decide to sew you can get very excited as well as overwhelmed. Slow down and don't' take on more than you can handle. Find the beginner tutorials on YouTube and get a good book.

I reference "The Sewtionary" by Tasia St. Germaine from Sewaholic. The link will take you to Sewaholics page. It's an a-z guild of sewing terminology and how-tos with color photos and easy to understand explanations.

Another good book is "Dressmaking, a complete guide to making your own clothes" by Alison Smith. The link will take you to an amazon retailer. This covers everything from equipment to materials, techniques for fitting and some follow along patterns. Again, it has color photos and easy to understand explanations. These are great references for any newbie, but even after a year I still use them.

The next thing I would tell a beginner is to make sure the projects they want to do are appropriate for their skill level. I didn't know for the longest time that patterns usually have a difficulty rating on them. Some are more obvious than others. If you look through a Vogue pattern catalog they even have a whole section dedicated to "Vogue Easy" without sacrificing style, and there are also Vogue Very Easy patterns. Love it! So make sure you are sticking to something within your skill range.

The third thing I would mention is to get those coupons!!! I live near a JoAnns, Michaels, and Hobby Lobby who take each other's coupons, so get those apps, get on that mailing list. They have 50% off items, 60% off items, 20% off total orders and so on. You can use those for craft supplies, notions, fabric, and equipment. Coupons can't be used on Patterns, but those babies go on sale all the time. When simplicity has their $0.99 each pattern I stock up! Butterrick and McCalls also have something like $1.99 each, or 3 for $5 and Vogue will go on sale for $4.99 each. May vary by area. Also use the internet to hunt down cute patterns.

There is so much more I want to tell you but I am going to break this up. Next, I'll talk about the must have equipment, understanding patterns, choosing sizing and making mock-ups.

Hope you enjoy,

Jessi Harm aka Evil Regal

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Vintage Vogue Dress: V8789

     So, this is the lovely Vintage Vogue circa 1957 that I recently made and it was surprisingly easy. I bought this beautiful cotton sateen by Gretchen Hirsch a while back with the intention of making a princess seamed peplum blouse, but when I decided on this for a wedding I knew the fabric was perfect. I did the boat neck version on it, however, other than the bodice necklines everything else is the same. 

     This is the skirt, which was 4 yards alone. I did three lines of basting stitches for this beauty. I did not construct a cummerbund, I simply wore a belt in its place.

     This is the dress of the form as I am trying to gage a few thing in regards to construction and fit. No crinoline and no hem, yet.
     One more view from the side. It looks a little loose and baggy because my dress form isn't to my size, I just use it mostly to assist with even hems and a few other things, but never sizing. I promise it's not as pointy when it's worn.
     I even went to the antique store and got me a little clutch bag and gloves to match.

Here is the beauty with the hem, which I did a deep 1 inch, followed by a 3-inch hem. There are a few more pictures on my Instagram page. One change I did was in place of an armhole and neck facing, I just lined the whole bodice in white cotton.

I rushed to meet the wedding date, so I need to make a few fixes and then I will post pictures of the cute button details on the shoulders, and maybe I'll model a few too.

Monday, October 10, 2016

M7154 Shelved for now

     So I regret to inform you, but I had to cancel the party and I was having a hard time with the fitting that I had to put the project aside. I did, however, do a Vogue 8789 vintage Tea Dress that I will put together a blog of that for you. :) I'll be back soon. :)

Jessi Harm
Evil Regal