Sunday, January 24, 2021

bathing suit sewing tips- a bagged out edge with elastic

Okay, so apart from the basics of getting the swimsuit and lining cut out, there was a small sample to be made.

On the neckline of the bodice, the elastic is applied differently than on the other edges. The front neck edge does not have a visible zig or cover stitch holding the elastic in place. The lining is used to bag out that edge. It is the left edge in this photo, where you see the zig on the blue lining.

You can see here, that the neck edge is bagged out but the armhole edge has a visible zig stitch 

I made a sample before starting.

For the sample you need a piece of the fashion fabric, a piece of lining and the elastic. I thread marked the line in yellow so you can see it. 

The lining and the fabric are placed right sides together. The elastic will be serged to the two fabrics, keeping the one edge of the elastic right against the line that is marked in yellow. 

You could zig it on if you do not have a serger. 

Here you can see that as the lining is turned to the inside, the elastic edge stays along the yellow thread line, which of course, is the finished edge.   
It all nice and neat. 

The final step is to control the edge by understitching. I am going to zig the elastic to the lining and in doing so, that will keep the lining and elastic in place on the inside of the garment.

The layers are opened up and laid down flat (sorry no photo of that!!)

The lining and elastic seam is under the foot and the fashion fabric is to the right of the foot while you are stitching. 

This is when you can test your machine for the best zig width and stitch length, as well as to see that you need a new needle! (Boo, skipped stitches are not good!) That is why a sample is a good thing to do! Identify issues before you work on the final garment.

Remember, the face of the fashion fabric is not caught in the zig, and when it is all laid in place, you get this nice clean edge. 

This, by the way, is the same technique I use on a tailored trouser waistband. Instead of bagging out  the top edge of the waistband, I do a variation on this, using the waistband canvas in the place of the elastic and it offsets the seam between the wool and the silesia. 

I will have to look for a photo of the technique used on trousers, I am sure I have one somewhere.


Sunday, January 17, 2021

Bathing suit drafting and construction- 2020 projects

 Well, where are we?

Oh yes, lets look at the next bathing suit I drafted. I had one successful pattern and contruction under my belt, so I felt this next one was worth using some fabric I had purchased but didn't want to waste on a trial garment.

I had an existing tankini suit that had seen better days, and I liked the design of the top, but I felt that it never really fit me that well. You know, it was good enough but better is better, right?

The top was a halter style with ties and a ring detail at the centre front bust. The ring was in great shape, so I took the old bodice apart- which is always an interesting and informative process. You can see the order that the garment was constructed and the techniques that were used.

I had been poking around at my local fabric store and I found some lightweight power net in a pale blue colour. It was onsale too! I decided, since I am experimenting, that I would try that as a lining in this suit. I think I also bought some flat rubber elastic for this one as well. I hadn't worked with it before, so why not now?

Stuart had a tutorial on his website for this process. I have since discovered that these lessons are now under a paywall. I think if you are interested in making bathing suits, or stretch wear it is well worth the cost.

My first draft, and then the altered pattern. I basically made the same pattern alterations here as I did in the first bathing suit in the previous post. (I added length over the bust)
I started again from scratch though, partially for the practice, and also to make sure that I wasn't making changes based on fabric characteristics.  

The second photo is the altered pattern. 

At the bottom you can see the idea of the design pinned up on the stand.

We will have a more detailed look at it next...

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Keeping busy?

      In March of 2020, when everything shut down,  I was up to my eyeballs in work. It was quite astonishing how in the previous year and a half we had gone from worry about not having enough work being available, to way too much work, and then absolutely no work at all.

At the time of shut down, I had a large ongoing project for the new Swan Lake for the National Ballet of Canada, I had a project for a suit and overcoat for a tv show, and I had started back at the Festival. (once those projects get onstage or onscreen I will share, but for now I cannot)

On paper, and in our most positive outlook, it was all scheduled to pan out properly but of course it didn't. Unexpected delays, fabrics or fittings unavailable pushed all these projects upon each other. It is exactly the kind of situation that I try to avoid.  

When we were sent home from the theatre two weeks before the tech dress, I frantically used the strange gift of time we had been given to get everything back in order. Ballet costumes done as far as possible, check! Overcoat and three piece suit finished?Check!

Then what? If you work in this business you get used to deadlines and gearing up to the finish line, but the finish line became a distance blur.

We made masks, yes, many masks. When the call came from the local hospice, we were a well oiled machine of co-operation, organizers, cutters and sewers.

then what?

Well, we (myself and Lela- with whom I share the studio space) started creating projects with deadlines for ourselves! Honestly! Old habits die hard.

The first project was stretch wear- specifically bathing suit drafting and construction. Luckily for us, Pattern School Online run by the amazing Stuart Anderson had resurfaced from the depths of neglect on the internet, and it proved to be a valuable learning experience.

I made three bathing suits, and not only did I finish them, but I am very happy with them. The first was the trial run and mock up of a basic rather modest pattern. Cheap and cheery too. 

I went on a shopping expedition. I found this basic floral print fabric and I found something to use as lining- not marked as bathing suit lining per se, but something I felt would perform well as a lining. Since I was making a trial garment that I hoped would be wearable, I went old school and hand basted in the lining, and left a fair bit of seam allowance for alteration purposes. It was zigged together and tried on, then serged using a domestic four thread serger for the main seams and an industrial three thread serger and domestic zig for elastic application. I think I found patience to be a virtue in this endeavour especially with the elastic and how the machines handles the fabrics.

I think the calculation for elastic was the most challenging and most interesting part of the process. I really appreciated delving into the why and how of it all. Stuart does an excellent job of examining and explaining how stretch works (or doesn't). 

By the time I was ready to hit the beach, there were shutdowns at the lake due to overcrowding, so this piece had its debut at a friend's pool! My daughter thinks it is matronly looking but I don't care. The next one has a lot more flair!

That will be next.


Sunday, January 3, 2021

Books and references

Since I cleared out all my books from the theatre workspace, I had to find a shelf and space at the studio for them. Its rough but but at least I can see them. It was quite a job moving 30 years of stuff out of there and finding room for what I wanted to keep; patterns, tools, books, memorabilia, thank you cards,,,, you know the kind of things I am talking about.

I still have a box of vintage catalogues and the like which I am not sure how to store, so for now in a box they shall remain. I still have a box of vintage catalogues and the like which I am not sure how to store, so for now in a box they remain. 

I have not purchased many new books recently, trying to cut down on all that as I am more at the end of my career than the beginning, but I do love books. 

I try to keep track of them on Librarything .  If you are a member there, I am TTailor if you want to have a peek at my modest list. I think I say modest because there are some people there with vastly large collections! where do they keep them all?

Have you purchased any new costuming or tailoring books recently? Do you have any worthwhile books to recommend? Tell me about them, old or new books, no matter! do you want to see more of any of my books? Let me know.

Friday, January 1, 2021

Well, shall we get back to it?

 Good Question. Shall I get back to it? What is it I want to get back to? Not to make this tailoring blog  a confessional, but these are questions that I am asking myself.

Where do I go from here may be a more pointed question. The past three years (that is shocking!) since I last posted seem have flown by in a mishmash of illness and stress and just carrying on as best as I could. The past year has hit our industry particularly hard and I have friends and colleagues around the country reeling from the blow. Almost all avenues of making a living as a theatre professional have disappeared, although film and tv work is continuing on, not all of us are able to, or desire to tap into that side of the business in a full time manner.

So, standing at the edge of 2021, looking over the edge, I think that I need to come up with a plan, and I hope that I can come back to the blog and perhaps with a few adjustments, move forward with learning some new things and bringing you along on the journey.

I wish you all the best in the year to come, stay safe, be kind.


Art installation  Entre Les Rangs  by Kanva architecture at Place des Arts/Quartier des Spectacles Montreal