Welt Pocket Tutorial (cutting)

tutorial: double-welt pocket w/grosgrain ribbon

Pocket pr0n!
Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon

There are many ways to create a double-welt pocket, but this is my favorite for a very fast and easy pocket. This method involves no measuring (that’s right!), and no interfacing. Best of all, it’s really easy to memorize. This translates to great-looking welt pockets that come together very quickly.

This method is also ideal for very spongey, thick, or wonky fabrics that don’t respond well to fiddling. I came up with it after dicking around for wayyyyyy too long with this perfectly lovely ponte that was bulky and terribly susceptible to pressing transfer.

This method only needs a few supplies!

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon

At left: shell fabric (houndstooth), pocket bag (shot cotton), and welt fabric (typically the same for shell but, for the sake of this tutorial, a dark brown). You also need 7/8″ grosgrain ribbon,basting spray (or gluestick), and marking chalk.

I like to use a fine cotton, as I like to tear (not cut) my pocket bags. Very fast, very accurate. If you use satin or some other foolishness, you will need to cut.

As with any welt pocket treatment and any new technique, please make a sample first!

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon

Cut a piece of ribbon that is at least 2″ longer than your pocket. Lightly spray the grosgrain on one side, and lay the ribbon along the crossgrain of a piece of welt fabric, making sure the welt fabric is about 4″ wide. Pro-tip: I spray by placing the ribbon in my wastebasket, so the trash liner catches any overspray.

Next, sew two channels a generous 1/4″ from the grosgrain edge, using a basting stitch. I like to stitch in the same direction for both channels. You don’t want to stitch any closer to the edge than this 5/16″, or the threads may show in the welt lips.

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon
This is what your stitches will look like on the other side:Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon
Now, flip the assembly with the ribbon side facing up. Fold over one edge, snugging it against that ribbon. Stitch at 3/16″ from the folded edge, using a regular stitch:
 
Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain RibbonTutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon
Now, cut 1/8″ from that stitching line:Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon
Repeat with the other side, folding and stitching, then trimming from that stitching line:

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon

So for pocket placement, you really only need your vertical end marks! Pin the welt to the right side of the shell fabric, with the trimmed part of the welt facing up. Pin well and, if you’ve already done a sample and are working on the garment, you can use this opportunity make and align the other welt to the corresponding side:

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon
Now, we’re going to stitch the welt to the garment – think two parallel lines (NOT a rectangle). Stitch right on top of those previous 3/8″ stitching lines, making sure to stop and carefully backtack right at the ending marks of the pocket. Unless the fabric is very shifty indeed you can confidently backtack – but if you are worried, leave long tails at these four ends, pull the ends to the welt-side after stitching, knot, and secure the thread tails in the welt.

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon
You really want these stitching lines to be a very scant 3/8″ although this is why you make a sample – because the turn of the cloth will vary a bit depending on what you’re sewing:

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon

Here is the backside of the work – two parallel lines. Make sure to double check before proceeding.

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon

Now cut the welt I (not the shell) right down the middle:
Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon

Next, you want to cut from the backside, catching only the shell (not the welt). You want to cut to the stitching lines, and right exactly to those stitching lines. Make sure to make a very long triangle at these ends. I like to start cutting at the triangle point that intersects the center line, and cut right to my stitching lines using a very sharp scissor. Then I cut the center line.

Welt Pocket Tutorial (cutting)

Now flip it! FLIP IT GOOD! From the front side of the work…

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon
Push the welt through the back, being very gentle with those little triangles but giving them a bit of a tug. The ribbon welt will lay SO nice and flat and the little triangle will rest on top:

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon
This is how it looks – no pressing or stitching yet! Very promising:
Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon

So go ahead and flip your shell back and, using a zipper foot (or not, but it’s handy), stitch that triangle right to the welt. The ribbon will help the welt lips lie wonderfully close together. Repeat with both sides.
Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon

Time for the pocket bag!

Two things, before we proceed.

1. If you want, you can tear or cut a shell facing strip, to put at the top right side of the pocket bag. This is pretty standard, especially for a pocket that may gape. For kidswear or casual wear or a small pocket, I don’t add the facing bit as it is unneccesary and adds bulk, and pocket gap is not an issue.

2. This pocket treatment looks gorgeous enough it does not need a lining to obfuscate it. That said, the only application I would install these without a lining, would be the back of trousers. In that case, make sure your pocket bag strip is very long, so you can bring up the top edge to later snug it into the waistband of the trouser – a really classic look.

OK so – here is our trouser bag, torn at the exact width of the welt, which I have trimmed to about 5/8″ past the pocket width:

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon
Now how long do you make the bag? Well I like to measure such that the torn bottom edge overlaps the bottom raw edge of the welt by 1/4″, and the fold is no deeper than the bottom edge of the garment (obviously). If this is confusing you, don’t worry. If your pocket bag ends up too long, because you can always stitch it shorter. I love the neat look of the fold at the pocket bag bototm, but it’s also standard to stitch a U-shaped curve and cut the fold off. Reminder: that torn edge at right, on the trouser application I described above, will extend much further than the top welt raw edge.

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon
So let’s stitch that top edge! Go ahead and place the assembly right-side up, and flip down the top edge of the shell. Stitch, using that zipper foot, and aligning the pocket bag just a little past the welt raw edge. No need to back-tack here, as we’ll be catching the stitching line with our side seams – but do use a short stitch length:

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon

Here is that gorgeous seam, as it finishes:

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon
Here’s the right side with a finished top welt edge and the pocket hanging all the way down, not yet pinned to the welt’s bottom raw edge:

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon

Now bring that bottom edge up, getting ready to stitch, tucking it under the pocket:

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon
Go ahead and stitch the raw edge of the pocket bottom to that bottom welt, just as you did the top welt:

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon
Now finger-press the pocket down, and prepare to stitch your side seams! Make sure you stitch the side seams down the right way, or you’ll make an upside down pocket (ask me how I know this!). If the pocket is going to be visible in any way – or if like me you just like accuracy – go ahead and trace your stitching lines straight down from your side seams, before stitching:

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon
You can leave these side seams as they are, or pink them. If I was using a trouser application, I’d probably pink, bind or serge them, depending on the weight of my trouser fabric (this houndstooth is too thin for binding).

Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon
Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon

All done! Good work. 🙂
Tutorial: Double-Welt Pocket w/Grosgrain Ribbon

Star Hoodie from FreeSewing.org

tutorial: puffed taffeta patch

Shown here: patches in taffeta (silver) and satin (red), augmenting a hoodie and jacket, resp. I’ve long loved the look of a bit of posh on casual wear.

Star Hoodie from FreeSewing.org

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
It took me a few tries to get the look I wanted – a raised puffy patch, quilted, that retained its shape accurately and really showed off that topstitching. Although the satin (red) is super fun – and will be the version I am showcasing today – I like the taffeta even more. It has a crisp but antiquated look I am just drooling for!

Star Hoodie from FreeSewing.org

So let’s do this!Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

You will need (from left to right) your satin or taffeta, some fleece (no-stretch works best), and an interfacing. You also need basting spray, a pattern template (handmade or computer-made), and tracing wheel and paper. For interfacing, think about what color you want to use, as a little may show in the final product. You want a color that matches either the patch or the garment beneath; you can also use white and a bit of Sharpie to help with that (which is what I’m going to show you here).

And of course you need the things you always need for sewing: a machine, thread, scissors, iron – et cetera.

So first, iron your fabric nice and flat:

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

Next, pin the paper template to the satin/taffeta, and carefully slide the tracing medium underneath, to transfer markings to the right side of the satin/taffeta. Remember that the outer line of the template will not be stitched – it represents the turn of the cloth.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

Trace carefully, making sure not to shift the paper template as you trace. You need to make sure you will be able to see the tracing marks while you sew; a red background, by the way, is one of the most difficult to read!

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Once you have both your patches traced, lightly – and I mean lightly – spray the rough side of your fleece, with a layer of basting spray. If you spray too liberally, the glue might transfer through the satin/taffeta and leave an icky mark.

By the way – I always lay my fabric in my waste can before spraying, so I don’t get any stickiness anywhere else in my studio. Then I remove the sprayed fabric and proceed.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Press your satin/taffeta wrong side to the glued surface of the fleece, and smooth by hand. Securely pin. Then machine-baste around the motif and move the pins; you won’t want to have them hanging out for all the rows of stitching you’ll be doing.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Begin stitching from the top (satin/taffeta) side, ending in the same location and carefully pulling all threads to the backside. When you’ve finished, you will be knotting those threads securely and clipping about 1/2″ from the knots.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

Shown below: the fully-stitched patch. Note the outer line remains unstitched, with the basting line further out from that.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

Now, cut 1/4″ to 1/8″ away from that traced, unstitched line. I know I can sew very accurately here so I have only cut 1/8th away.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Cut your interfacing according to the paper pattern, and pin to the right side of the satin/taffeta, with the sticky side of the interfacing either up or down, depending on what you want. If you put the sticky side up here, then when you turn the patch, you will be ironing the interfacing to the patch itself. If you put the sticky-side down, you will be able to use the fusing to apply the patch to the garment. I have used both methods and they both worked great.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Now, stitch around the perimeter! Make sure to firmly catch the satin, fleece and interfacing:

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Cut a small slit in the interfacing, and use this to carefully turn the patch right-side out:
Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Now if you like, you can use a sharpie and color your interfaced edge either the color of the patch or a color that works with the garment:

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Now – it’s time to press! If your sticky side is on the outside of the patch, you want to position the patch on the garment (see below). If, like for this patch, the sticky side faces the underside of the patch, this pressing will help anchor the patch into a firm shape.
Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Pin the patch in place:Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
If you have two patches in symmetrical locations on the garment, I have a method to use. I like to pin the first, then lay the second patch right-sides together, then lay the respective pattern pieces on top of that. It’s a fast way to end up with symmetrical pockets/patches etc.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
Now you can certainly machine-stitch this patch to the garment – but having gone through all this trouble, a fell stitch is a gorgeous touch! Since this garment is lined, I went ahead and pulled the running part of the stitch to the backside of the sleeve; for the blue star hoodie shown in this post, since it was not lined, I enclosed the running part of the fell stitch into the patch itself – thus making for a completely invisible patch installation.

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch
The backside of the installation – halfway through:
Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta Patch

And – all done!

Tutorial: Puffed Taffeta PatchStar Hoodie from FreeSewing.org

[mc4wp_form id=”19978″]
Hold Up!

hold up!

[Stuart voice]: “Look what I can do!”

Hold Up!

Hold Up!
The Beyoncé “Hold Up” dress (here’s the original: yes, it’s amazing!) was my biggest project this Halloween. A friend saved up and went big – she not only requisitioned the dress, she acquired the hair, shoes (which were then hand-painted), and jewerly. There is nothing I like more than someone going all-out, and it was wonderful to be a part of that.

Hold Up!

Let me get right to the knitty-gritty of how (I think) the dress was originally constructed (it’s from a collection, so there is more than one version out there – which is confusing for a reconstruction effort), and how I duped it.

So, he dress appears to be made with tiered chiffon flounces, and lace appliqué on a mesh and spandex underdress. The flounces were also roughly pleated and lettuce-edged; the bottom two flounces were trimmed with lace. The dress is hardly structured at all, a lot of bare skin shows as well as the actual push-up bra. My client found the black bra herself and hand-stitched an interlining to emulate the double-strap look on the bra. I wish I’d paid more attention to that particular bra detail, as I could have done that job for her by machine; her handstitching failed at the party she was at (bras need to be very sturdy, especially for the large-busted)!

Because the dress is mostly a monochromatic garment, I had to figure out how to get four matching colors in the absolutely gorgeous yellow of the dress, and this affected my choice of fabrics. Notice in the photo at upper left a version of the dress looks warm and poppy-colored, at left – and greenish at right; you will also notice the dress appears several different colors in this post depending on the lighting I am working with. I ended up deciding to buy my 25 yards of chiffon, and dye the other fabrics to match using a local dye artist. Note that dyeing different fabrics (including fabrics with differing fiber content) is a bit of a technical challenge, and will likely involve lots of testing and different types of dye processes.

It took trial and error to get the fabrics dyed the correct color;  one nylon lace, for instance, simply didn’t take dye. My dye artist friend (Val from FiberPlay) had to do two washes to get the colors deep enough – but they were lovely and all matched, by the time she was done. Below, you see (from left, clockwise) the chiffon, spandex, mesh, and lace I used.

Hold Up!

One other major technical component was the pleating. I believe the flounces on the original garment were cut circular, not straight – which meant the pleats were formed that way as well (I think of this as sunray pleating although I’m sure it has other names). After lots of pleating research and a few phone conversations with the *amazing* Rusty at SF Pleating (415.608.1983), I opted to send Rusty labeled strips, and he pleated them all. The pleats arrived in these fabulous crepe paper bundles. Rusty was beyond amazing and I hope to work with him again!

Hold Up!

Hold Up!

Now that I had the pleated chiffon and all properly-hued fabrics, it was time to assemble! I build the mesh and spandex underdress, using carbon paper to trace my flounce positions. I then fussy-cut the lace motifs, and applied the lace to locations on the mesh underdress:

Hold Up!

The mesh needed a stabilizer to form a nice strong zig-zag stitch.

Hold Up!
All of the chiffon flounces had to be finished by serge, as chiffon likes to fray into these teeny tiny fibers. These flounces were then either edged by serge or edged by fishing line. The latter process is so fun! You wrap your fishing line around a form, use heat (boiling water or heat gun) to seal the shape of the circular culry-q’s, let cool, and feed this line into the chiffon while hemming. This process required a lot of trial and error; you have to find the right weight of fishing line – but was super fun. I’ll have to create a tutorial someday!|

After the flounces were hemmed, I applied them to the mesh in the locations I’d traced:

Hold Up!

One regret I had was not acquiring a twist-cord blank to dye. Instead I created cord from the spandex fabric, and used it for the dresses’ back-tie, as well as the three straps in the bodice.

Hold Up!
The original dress likely does not fasten by tie, but this is the most adjustable and comfortable way to go for a costume:

Hold Up!

So, obviously my friend K. stole the show at her event. It was both an honor and a privilege to get to make her something so special! And I can’t wait for my next pleated project!

Hold Up!

Dance Party!

bootstrap dress form tutorial: inner support, stuffing, & mounting

Today – we finish our Bootstrap Dress form! Yes, you heard right!

Dance Party!

The four parts of this tutorial:
Post 1: Preparing your pattern
Post 2: Cutting and marking your fabrics
Post 3: Constructing the shell
Post 4: Inner support, stuffing, and mounting

First, I want to thank all of you who’ve commented and followed – and texted me through Instagram and Facebook. After I hit “publish” on this post, I will make sure I have responded to all comments thus far posted. But remember, if you don’t hear from me – email me! The squeaky wheel, and all that!

A recap: Bootstrap’s dress forms are custom-drafted patterns that you generate, sew, and pack, then mount on a stand. They come with an inner sleeve and support structure, and include cardboard and foam to bolster the base, arm, and neck. Bootstrap offers two versions: a misses size, and a plus size. They are both sewn by an identical process. Both forms correct for posture, shoulder shape, belly protuberance, and buttocks shape. There are also additional measurements you can take to customize the form: neck circumference, shoulder width, bust height, front length, back length, and back width.

As for this tutorial series, there are four posts. In my first post, I covered how to take your measurements and record your body build, generate your pattern, and gather your supplies. In the second post, we prepared our fabrics, cut, and marked out pieces. In my last post, we constructed our shell.

Today, we construct the inner support, stuff the form, and mount it!

If you are just now finding this series, you can find out how to generate the pattern and collect supplies in my first post.

boostrap dress form (misses size)

boostrap dress form (plus size)

So let’s get started! 

 

We are beginning on the page that is headed with:

Pin the Neck Top to the Neck, matching notches and stitch

Sewing the neck top, to the neckline is a pretty easy stitch. You want to make sure there are no bumps or ripples, then trim and grade well. This seam is highly visible on the form.


Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting

 

Now it’s time to sew the armhole covers to the armhole! We’ll be sewing the outer armhole closed first, and then adding the inner armhole piece and inserting our cardboard support. The armhole covers are such that I find the markings designating “front” and “back” to be very helpful here:

Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting


Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting

Pinned, checked, and ready for sewing:

Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting

After sewing the armhole closed, I like to trim and grade well here. Again, this is a highly visible seam on the finished product:

Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting

Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting

Now, we get to baste the stabilizer armhole covers to the inside of the form, and slip in the cardboard as we go! I found I could easily shift the cardboard and finish up the stitch by machine.

Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting

Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & MountingBootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting

We are now on the page headed by:

INNER SUPPORT


Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting

Above, you can see I made sure to secure and trim the top edge of the sleeve. Your piece may have been cut on the fold as per instructions, but mine was not (to conserve yardage). Either way is fine.

At this point, I like to insert the sleeve and make sure it slides in smoothly and easily, but without a lot of slack:

Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting

It’s time to carefully cut the lower, unsewn edge of the pipe sleeve into fringe, 1″ to 3/4″. This fringe will be used to secure to the bottom cardboard structure and help stabilize the form when it’s mounted.

Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting

Now it’s time for our inner support pieces! These pieces confused me at first, but they are simply a stabilizing structure to keep the form from twisting and sagging. We’re affixing the straight parts of these support pieces, to the pipe sleeve seam allowances; and affixing the curved edges of these pieces, the seam allowances at front and center back.

Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting

Sandwiching the pipe sleeve seam allowance in between the two support pieces for the back pieces, we stitch together right on the seamline.

Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting

We then flip those front pieces out away from the sleeve, and repeat the above process for the back support pieces.

Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting

Looking good! You can give the assembly a light press, if you like.

Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting

Now it’s time to stitch vertical lines through these curved stabilizing pieces – not the sleeve! – to add more structure. Shown below, in a chartreuse thread:

Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting

Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting

Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting

Now as shown in instructions, lay the pattern pieces on the inner structure and make sure your notches correspond (top photo on the page that’s first text reads: “Place the pattern pieces on top of the correlate details…” and yes, that’s a typo on that page).

Now here’s a bit of a tricky part – but only if you’ve topstitched those center front and back seams. We are going to pin those curved front and back raw edges of the inner support, to the corresponding center front, and center back seams. This means I open up those center seams, and means I’ll be sewing four seams in total.

Pin and sew slowly!

Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting

Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting

Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting

Once you’ve determined your support is installed firmly and with all notches met, it’s time to set the shell aside and work on the neck. The neck piece is cut from your 3″ sponge (or stacked sponges secured with a light adhesive). I use an electric carving knife to cut my foam. It doesn’t have to be perfect!

Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting

It is oddly satisfying to install the neck here! Push it right up into the finished neck top.

Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting

After inspecting your neck top to make sure everything looks good, set aside the assembly and pick up the four base pieces. Pin front base pieces together, and back base pieces together, right-sides together. Stitch along the straight edge and around the pipe opening.Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting

Clip and grade:

Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & MountingTurn and press:
Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting

Now, install your zipper. Hand-basting is always a good idea for a zipper installation. This zipper won’t show to the public much, but you do want an accurate install as the base size should match the dress form’s raw edge circumference.

Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting

Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting
Before installing the zipper, I switched to a zipper foot:Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting
Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting

Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting

Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & MountingNow, we are in our last bit of stitching!

We are installing the dress form to the base, making sure we do not stitch in any puckers or pulling. I sewed with the base against the feed dogs, but you might find it easier to flip the assembly with the body of the form against the machine. Again – stitch slowly to make sure things go together smoothly.Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting
Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting

Can you believe it? We are all finished with our sewing!

Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting

Now comes the fun part. “Fun”, she says – the stuffing! This takes a bit of time, but not as much as you might think. Stuff firmly, using small amounts to reduce lumpiness. Have your tape measure close by to make sure you stuff to the right Bust, Waist, and Hip measurements. Make sure to stuff the breasts firmly.Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting

Can you see above, that on the bust of the half-stuffed form, I have a few puckers? This is where I hadn’t fused enough when I interfaced. Fortunately, it is easy to re-fuse here. Have a friend insert their hand and push the stuffing up into the form. Use steam to re-fuse any ripples out, being careful not to steam-burn yourself or your friend!

After your form is stuffed, insert the cardboard base support (as per instructions), and haul out your fringe to glue or tape to the cardboard from. Then use the oval holes to continue to stuff until the form is firm.

Some people will not want to mount the form on a stand; for completeness’ sake, I went ahead and did so. We bought an inexpensive stand on Amazon and cut it to size (an adjustable stand would be ideal, as it’s rather difficult to make sure to get your height perfect, when doing this part!). You notice we cleverly used the PVC pipe flange end, to hold the PVC inner pipe, and we stabilized this flange piece with a few bolts. 

Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting

Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting

Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting

Here is my model, standing alongside their form!
Bootstrap Dress Form Tutorial: Inner Support, Stuffing, & Mounting

So there we have it! BOOM!

Style

I hope you’ve enjoyed putting together your dress form as much as I have!

Thank you for all your participation. And please leave any comments you have – or post links to your form! And enjoy your new studio’s tool!

Fashion!

Late getting started? Pick up your pattern here: MISSES or PLUS

boostrap dress form (misses size)

boostrap dress form (plus size)

The four parts of this tutorial:
Post 1: Preparing your pattern
Post 2: Cutting and marking your fabrics
Post 3: Constructing the shell
Post 4: Inner support, stuffing, and mounting

 

Let's roll!

bootstrap dress form tutorial: constructing the shell

Let's roll!The four parts of this tutorial:
Post 1: Preparing your pattern
Post 2: Cutting and marking your fabrics
Post 3: Constructing the shell
Post 4: Inner support, stuffing, and mounting

Can you believe it? After today we will be about halfway done with our dress form construction. For such a complex process, it goes rather quickly!

In my first post, I covered how to take your measurements and record your body build, generate your pattern, and gather your supplies. In the last post, we prepared our fabrics, cut, and marked out pieces.

Today, we get to constructing our shell! Please note: if you want to receive email updates for these tutorials, sign up at the bottom of this post!

A recap: Bootstrap’s dress forms are custom-drafted patterns that you generate, sew, and pack, then mount on a stand. They come with an inner sleeve and support structure, and include cardboard and foam to bolster the base, arm, and neck. Bootstrap offers two versions: a misses size, and a plus size. They are both sewn by an identical process. Both forms correct for posture, shoulder shape, belly protuberance, and buttocks shape. There are also additional measurements you can take to customize the form: neck circumference, shoulder width, bust height, front length, back length, and back width.

If you are just now finding this series, you can find out how to generate the pattern and collect supplies in my first post.

boostrap dress form (misses size)

boostrap dress form (plus size)

So let’s get started! 

Let's Get Rambling!

We are beginning on the page that is headed with:

SEWING INSTRUCTIONS
DRESS FORM COVER

Before we start, I need to divulge two things. I topstitch along every seam, in this dress form. This is different than the pattern instructions, that suggest only the horizontal seams of the bust, underbust, waist, and hip. I topstitch along all vertical seams as well as the shoulder line. This is for two reasons: I love how this looks, but also more practically: it will help me in garment construction. By being able to see the center back through my muslin fitting, or the shoulder line, I can better make fit adjustments.

If you aren’t absolutely positive you can form perfect seam allowances, or if you are a beginner or an intermediate stitcher, you may not want to topstitch the center front and center back, as those seam allowances are used later to affix to the inner support. Don’t worry too much though – if when you get to the inner support (my next post) you find your topstitching has hindered your ability to affix these supports to the inner seam allowances, you can pick out your topstitching.

Secondly: I go a little out of order on the directions, here, when it comes to staystitching the neck and armholes. Otherwise, as per the last entries, I follow the instructions in the order written.

I was so pleased to find that the notches on the pattern, always line up. Here, we are stitching center back pieces to side back, matching notches. Stitch exactly at the 3/8″ seam allowance (or whatever seam allowance you employed, if you did your own):

Bootstrap Dress Form: Constructing The Shell

Bootstrap Dress Form: Constructing The Shell

After you join these panels, you will find your traced lines line up perfectly, along the horizontal locations of bust, underbust, waist, and hip. Remember I made a faint line for mine:

Bootstrap Dress Form: Constructing The Shell

Clip these allowances about 1 5/8″ apart:Bootstrap Dress Form: Constructing The Shell

And then press open. We will be pressing open every seam on this form’s shell. It is good advice to have some pressing tools with curves (like a tailors ham and roll), for many of the seams you’ll be pressing.

Bootstrap Dress Form: Constructing The Shell\Bootstrap Dress Form: Constructing The Shell

Now it is time to pin and stitch our cups, as well as our lower side and lower center fronts, and upper side and center fronts. We will be following the same procedure as the first two seams; stitching, clipping 1 5/8″ apart, and pressing open.

The cups are the pieces most easily confused with one another – this is one reason I suggested keeping the paper pieces with the pattern right up until we stitch:Bootstrap Dress Form: Constructing The Shell

Bootstrap Dress Form: Constructing The Shell

Now after we join these six pieces in three sets, we have our upper and lower fronts, as well as our cup. Clip and press seam allowances:

Bootstrap Dress Form: Constructing The Shell

Now, we will sew the cup to the lower part of the form.

The cup seam is the trickiest in the entire dress form. I clipped the lower side-and-center assembly’s raw seams at 1/4″, before pinning and stitching with the cup side down. This helps the natural gathering motion of the feed dogs to ease this curved seam together.

Bootstrap Dress Form: Constructing The Shell

Bootstrap Dress Form: Constructing The Shell

Bootstrap Dress Form: Constructing The Shell

Shown below: a finished cup, before any pressing:

Bootstrap Dress Form: Constructing The Shell

Now before we press, we can look at this seam. You will see at right, my clipped seam allowance on the lower-side of the seam. At left, the cup’s seam allowance. Like most curved joins, we want to notch out the fullness in that cup seam allowance, and clip the curve in the concave (lower) seam allowance. Note I’d already clipped the lower side before stitching.

Bootstrap Dress Form: Constructing The Shell

Shown below, after careful pressing:

Bootstrap Dress Form: Constructing The Shell

Now this is a fun part – we get to topstitch the cup here! As I’ve mentioned, I topstitched all my seams – horizontal seams first, then vertical seams. I used a golden heavy thread for the horizontal and cup seams, and a scarlet heavy thread for the vertical seams. Stitch slowly, making sure the seam is pressed flat as you travel over it:

Bootstrap Dress Form: Constructing The Shell

Now, we stitch our upper front assembly to the lower assembly, carefully matching the princess seams:

Bootstrap Dress Form: Constructing The Shell

The directions now call for you to hand-sew along the horizontal lines of underbust, waist, and hip. I simply made sure my chalk lines were heavy enough.


Bootstrap Dress Form: Constructing The Shell

Next – missing from the instructions – we need to stitch our side seams. I also notched here at the more severe curve at hip:

Bootstrap Dress Form: Constructing The Shell

I then carefully pressed this seam open on my tailor’s ham:

Bootstrap Dress Form: Constructing The Shell

Then, I stitched the center front seam, clipped, and pressed. This is really coming together!

Bootstrap Dress Form: Constructing The Shell
Time to start stitching those horizontal lines – bust, underbust, waist, and hip. At the underbust join to the cup, I carefully pulled my threads to the backside and knotted them.

Bootstrap Dress Form: Constructing The Shell

 

Looking good!

Bootstrap Dress Form: Constructing The Shell

Now time for all the horizontal lines (except the center back), seven in all. I used a red thread for these:

Bootstrap Dress Form: Constructing The Shell

Bootstrap Dress Form: Constructing The Shell

Now this is the point where I stay-stitched the armscye. It doesn’t matter when you do it, though, really.

Bootstrap Dress Form: Constructing The Shell

Bootstrap Dress Form: Constructing The Shell

I stitched the shoulder seams and topstitched them, in preparation for installing the neck.

Bootstrap Dress Form: Constructing The Shell
After stay-stitching the neckline on the body (bottom of step 9 on the directions) and the top edge of the neck piece (step 10), I installed the neck. The neck is notched and you will find, an easy fit:

Bootstrap Dress Form: Constructing The Shell
I went ahead and topstitched this seam, after clipping and pressing open:

Bootstrap Dress Form: Constructing The Shell

Stitch the center back seam, clip, and press open.

And now, for the most annoying topstitching seam in the whole experience – the center back seam! You will be stitching from the top side, up from the bottom of the now-closed form assembly. Sew slowly, always adjusting the work to make sure you are not catching the wrong layers. The larger the dress form you are making, the easier this seam is. By the end of this seam you are kind of stitching in a tunnel. But it is not the hardest closed topstitching seam I’ve constructed!

Bootstrap Dress Form: Constructing The Shell

Here is my last bit – finishing up to that neckline!Bootstrap Dress Form: Constructing The Shell

Voila! We are ready for our next steps – installing the neck top and armholes, and putting together the inner structure!

Bootstrap Dress Form: Constructing The Shell

So there we have it! Great job today!

Agent Cooper approves

Next up, we put together our inner structure! If you have any questions, please feel free to comment here!

Late getting started? Pick up your pattern here: MISSES or PLUS

boostrap dress form (misses size)

boostrap dress form (plus size)

 

Burnside Bibs pattern description

pattern review: the burnside bibs by sew house seven

Sew House Seven:

I had quite a week, and it cheered me immensely to sew up the Sew House Seven Burnside Bibs. I think of these as “Rosie the Riveter”-style overalls, and as far as I know mine are the first pair in existence to be made out of a knit fabric. This involves the extremely judicious use of interfacings (I used two different types), and in this case – a lot of stripe matching and fussy-cutting.

The pattern features two versions. Version one – the version I made – features a slightly curved front bib, and a slimmer-fit trouser with deep back darts and an invisible zipper at the side. Version two features the standard straight bib, and full back legs. Both versions feature an option for a cropped or full-length leg, and long ties that can be worn a variety of ways, to pass through belt carriers in the back. You can see several versions on the site’s pattern page.

Burnside Bibs pattern description

I may or may not have gone mad with stripe-matching power. If there are stripes, I have to make them match perfectly. I also used the lengthwise, crosswise, and bias grain in ways that were not indicated by this pattern, nor are typical for knit garments.

At the pant leg: a deep blind hem. This gives the pantleg a wonderful weight. I find sewing a blind hem very satisfying!

Sew House Seven:

Sew House Seven:

Shown below: the center-back seam and the back pockets (cut on bias, and fuse-lined). The pockets on the pattern are too low for my body, so next make I will shift them up.

Sew House Seven:

Sew House Seven:

The front pockets are also fuse-lined, and finished with a knit strip rather than the shaped facing in the pattern:

Sew House Seven:

Sew House Seven:
The side invisible zipper, perfect and bump-free as you see here. Version two of the pattern has a looser pants back, and can be pulled over the hips. The back will have a fuller gather at the waist.

Sew House Seven:
I pieced the front bodice on the bias, and used the crosswise grain for not only the pant leg, but also the front waistband and the straps. I think I only used the knit grain “correctly” twice – the bib facing/lining, and the front pockets.

Sew House Seven:
The back of the pant has an internal facing, and six tie carriers. I cut everything out fussy af so my carriers would all be identical, and placed in identical locations on either side of the center back:

Sew House Seven:
Belt carriers, with the chambray tie passing through. These long ties were barely able to be pulled through using the tube method, and I used pretty lightweight fabrics. Save yourself some trouble and either cut a wider tie, sew a narrow seam allowance, or do a test run of loop turning.

Sew House Seven:

I like a lot about Sew House Seven, including the geometric but feminine shapes within the patterns, and the simple fabrics often used to showcase the garment lines. But I recommend them for their instructions, especially. There is a really great methodology to the patterns, and it is a bit different than other indie designers. The methods are very persnickety and precise in a way that I absolutely love, and allow for a really gorgeous clean-finish on the inside of the garment. I think the patterns are miniature tailoring tutorials in and of themselves, and I recommend them to any committed beginner, or intermediate stitcher who wants to up their game.

This pattern comes in bust/hip measurement 31″ / 34″, to bust/hip 47″ / 50″.

Sew House Seven:

boostrap dress form (misses size)

bootstrap dress form tutorial: cutting and marking your fabrics

I barely have my toe in this dress form and I can already tell it’s going to be great! 

Last post, I covered how to take your measurements and record your body build, generate your pattern, and gather your supplies. Today, I will be covering fabric preparation, cutting, and marking.

The four parts of this tutorial:
Post 1: Preparing your pattern
Post 2: Cutting and marking your fabrics
Post 3: Constructing the shell
Post 4: Inner support, stuffing, and mounting

A recap: Bootstrap’s dress forms are custom-drafted patterns that you generate, sew, and pack, then mount on a stand. They come with an inner sleeve and support structure, and include cardboard and foam to bolster the base, arm, and neck. Bootstrap offers two versions: a misses size, and a plus size. They are both sewn by an identical process. Both forms correct for posture, shoulder shape, belly protuberance, and buttocks shape. There are also additional measurements you can take to customize the form: neck circumference, shoulder width, bust height, front length, back length, and back width.

If you are just now finding this series, you can find out how to generate the pattern and collect supplies in my first post.

boostrap dress form (misses size)

boostrap dress form (plus size)

So let’s get started!

¡Vamanos!

Today, we are preparing our fabrics (by prewashing and fusing), cutting, and marking. This is part of the process of sewing I used to dislike. But now, I really enjoy it. It gives me an opportunity to familiarize myself with the pattern.

So first, I cut out all eighteen pieces of my paper pattern.

Bootstrap Dress Form: Prepping Fabric, Cutting, & Marking

In this case, I labeled how many of each piece I want to cut out (note there is an error on the PATTERN PIECES page of the instructions: under piece #15 “Back Inner Support”, we want to cut out two). Two images down, I also prepared a schematic so you can tell how many pieces, and of what medium, you will be cutting.

This is important: if you plan on topstitching your center front and center back seamlines, you will likely want to add a larger seam allowance to these seams. This is especially true if you aren’t sure if you can sew an exact 3/8″ seam.

Bootstrap Dress Form: Prepping Fabric, Cutting, & Marking

Now, we need to determine how much main/self-fabric to cut. We will need to interface all of these pattern pieces. You want to take the pieces in the top section “CUT FROM SELF-FABRIC (INTERFACED)”, and lay them out on your self fabric. In the schematic below, I’ve kept the orientation along lengthwise grain. The bottom two pattern pieces are cut from cardboard so grain does not matter. Here is a PDF if you want to download and print this guide, and make notes.

Bootstrap dress form, pattern layout

 

[ PDF link ]

Bootstrap Dress Form: Prepping Fabric, Cutting, & Marking

Shown below, my woven interfacing. As per the pattern’s instructions, you want to pre-shrink all fabrics. You may want to pre-treat the interfacing too. Battles rage over the issue of interfacing pre-treatment! I always say, “follow the manufacturer’s instructions”.


Bootstrap Dress Form: Prepping Fabric, Cutting, & Marking

My thirteen year old son fused all my self fabric for me! What a doll. This process takes a bit of time. Make sure to get a very good fuse, aligning the grain of the interfacing with the grain of the fabric!


Bootstrap Dress Form: Prepping Fabric, Cutting, & Marking

Once your self yardage is fused properly, it’s time to fold, pin or weight, and cut! This part gets so exciting! In general, for this pattern it’s a good idea to leave the paper pattern pieces pinned to the fabric pieces even after cutting, and you’ll see why in a moment.

Bootstrap Dress Form: Prepping Fabric, Cutting, & Marking

There are many notches in this pattern – to help you line things up beautifully. I clipped 1/8″ into the seam allowance for all notches.

Bootstrap Dress Form: Prepping Fabric, Cutting, & Marking

Now let’s talk about those awesome horizontal lines at bust, underbust, waist, and hip! They not only will help with fitting issues – they look pretty swanky on the dress form! I marked mine immediately, using a tracing wheel without a tracing medium, and very firm pressure. This makes a near-invisible line on the fabric – but depending on your eyesight, you may want to use a tracing medium. If you plan to re-use this pattern, tape these areas with clear tape before you use the wheel.

Bootstrap Dress Form: Prepping Fabric, Cutting, & Marking

Bootstrap Dress Form: Prepping Fabric, Cutting, & Marking

Bootstrap Dress Form: Prepping Fabric, Cutting, & Marking

I then went over these faint lines with some white chalk:Bootstrap Dress Form: Prepping Fabric, Cutting, & Marking

I set aside all my pieces, with the paper pinned to each. The armhole cover will have two self fabric pieces, and two interlining pieces:

Bootstrap Dress Form: Prepping Fabric, Cutting, & Marking

Once we’ve cut our self fabric pieces, it’s time to cut our interlining. This interlining and sleeve, forms the inner structure to keep the from stable. The interlining pieces – front and back supports, and the pipe sleeve, are all cut from sturdy interlining fabric.

When it comes to the pipe sleeve, there are several marks for sleeve width depending on the diameter of your pipe. My pipe is 1 1/2 inches, which corresponds to 3.8 cm. I cut a sleeve piece from the 4 cm width, by tearing my fabric along the grain. Don’t worry too much about this right now, because when we get to sewing up this sleeve we will be checking for fit. You mostly do not want to cut a sleeve that is too narrow!

Bootstrap Dress Form: Prepping Fabric, Cutting, & Marking

Cardboard times! We are cutting the two pieces without seam allowances – the base support and armhole cardboard (17 and 18). I elected to trace using carbon paper, and cut with a fresh razor blade.

Bootstrap Dress Form: Prepping Fabric, Cutting, & Marking

Bootstrap Dress Form: Prepping Fabric, Cutting, & Marking

Make sure to cut and mark the armhole cardboard as mirror images. I suggest doing them one at a time, rather than in layers:

Bootstrap Dress Form: Prepping Fabric, Cutting, & Marking

Bootstrap Dress Form: Prepping Fabric, Cutting, & Marking

Bootstrap Dress Form: Prepping Fabric, Cutting, & Marking

Shown below – all of my pieces! Cardboard pieces are at top-left, and interlining at top-right. All the remaining pieces are interfaced self fabric. The two neck pieces – the circular top and the neck itself – only have one copy per paper piece.

Bootstrap Dress Form: Prepping Fabric, Cutting, & Marking

So there we have it! Great job!

Awesome!

Next up, we begin sewing! If you have any questions, please feel free to comment here!

Late getting started? Pick up your pattern here: MISSES or PLUS

boostrap dress form (misses size)

boostrap dress form (plus size)

 

upcycling t-shirt upgrayedd

upcycling t-shirt upgrayedd

upcycling t-shirt upgrayedd

There are an awful lot of t-shirt upcycle/t-shirt surgery posts online, and it’s wonderful. Today, I wanted to put together something that gets to the heart of the process – an overview, as well as a few couture details.

I’ve known several stitchers who got started with t-shirt recons. After a few successes they’d run into frustrations – popped stitches, wonky shirts, puckered neckbands, shirts that didn’t quite feel right. I want to help with that.

So in that spirit, this last week I sewed up seven t-shirts in a row – modeled here by my thirteen year old son. Every original shirt was fifty cents (or free!) and all of them were men’s L or XL, with no undersleeve, stripe, or hood detail. Both the resizing and colorblocking and hood details were added by my magic!

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

And here we get into the main advantage of t-shirt upcycles – perfect fit. Whether you are sewing for yourself or a client, you can create a master pattern that can be used time and time again. My model here is tall and slim – a shirt that fits his girth is usually about three to four inches too short. I have a master pattern for these seven garments: the Flashback Skinny T by Made by Rae with some extra added length. I’ve also drafted several extra details – colorblocking, stripe detail, and cowl hood, to use at will. Below, I’ll talk a bit about when and how to add these details.

So let’s get this post started!

1. Learn knit fabric 101.

Knit fabrics (think: “stretchy” garments like t-shirts, hoodies, and leggings) are a whole discipline separate from woven fabrics (think: what a quilt is made of). T-shirts are almost always made of knit fabrics – and every t-shirt I’m talking about here is made with a knit with 2- or 4-way stretch (more about that in a moment).

What’s the difference between a knit and a woven? Mostly, the difference is in the structure of the fabric’s weave. Knit fabrics are made in a series of interlaced loops while woven fabrics are made with warp and weft fibers on a loom.

In general, knit fabrics will drape well, while woven fabrics may drape, or they may be crisp. Knit fabrics are associated with being stretchy, and woven fabrics are not.

That said, there are exceptions. Some knit fabrics can have zero stretch – and some woven fabrics can stretch.

But when it comes to t-shirts, almost every t-shirt you find will be a cotton, or a cotton polyester blend. You may see some bamboo out there, too. Compression/sportswear shirts include fibers like spandex (also called elastane or lycra) and nylon, but for graphic t-shirts you are likely to see cotton, poly, a blend, with maybe a bit of spandex for stretch and recovery. Graphic t-shirts are constructed in a knit weave that stretches either 1-way (across the crosswise grain), 2-way (across both the lengthwise and crosswise grain), or 4-way (across both directions, with excellent snapback and recovery). Don’t get too fixated on 1-, 2-, or 4-way as, sadly, this language isn’t really standardized. Even fabric stores won’t be clear about the stretch of their fabrics and sometimes you have to order swatches or write an email to ask!

Moving on.

How do knits handle, to sew on a machine? It’s a mixed bag. I love them – but there is a learning curve, and beginners may find them frustrating. On the plus side, the fabrics’ stretch and drape mean that you are more likely to get a fit you like, than when making a fitted garment from woven fabrics.

Some people love sewing with knits; others are scared to do so. I’ve written several tutorials on the topic of knits, including more than one introductory post where I put forth some great resources. I’ve also archived the Timmel lessons (and posted them with permission here). Feel free to read up – and you can always ask questions here on this post.

There are several different technologies that will help you work with knit fabrics, and some of these bits of tech are expensive indeed. I could write a chapter or two on that alone! But without going into detail I’ve already belabored before, at bare minimum you will want a sewing machine that can form a good zig-zag stitchan appropriate needle (a ballpoint is a good start, in the right size), and a polyester or poly-based thread. When you’re ready to upgrade your kit (and in order of expense) you may look into stretch or wooly nylon thread, a serger (for either seams or seam-finishes), and a coverstitch machine (for fast and  professional hems and/or decorative seams).

Shown below: poly thread in the needle, wooly nylon (for more stretch in the seam) in the bobbin:

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

But listen – don’t worry if you don’t have any fancy gear. You can sew t-shirts on old machines – every shirt you’re seeing here was sewn on machines no younger than a 70s vintage! All except the goldenrod shirt were sewn with regular poly thread.

2. Find the shirt grain!

Just a few days ago I had a student over, and I demonstrated the grain of fabric on the quilting cotton we were working with. While she has sewn a bit over the years, she had no concept of fabric grain. The grain of a fabric is so important it would be impossible to cover all of the implications here. Let me do a bit of bare-bones illustration.

Almost every fabric has a grain (the most notable exclusion is felt, which like paper is made of fibers pressed and dried in a random orientation). In general, even though woven and knit fabrics are different, their grain is similarly named. If you are looking at fabric coming off the bolt at the fabric store, below is a demonstration of the crosswise grain, lengthwise grain, and bias grain – as well as the selvage edges which are important in understanding fabric mechanics. (We won’t be talking about the bias grain in this post – another important and awesome topic for another time!)

Fabric Grain, SelvageIn general (except for bias-cut garments), you want the pieces of a garment to hang off the body such that the lengthwise grain of each piece in the garment, is perpendicular to the surface of the planet! Put another way, the lengthwise grain should run corresponding to gravity. The centerline of your t-shirt, from neckline to hem, should run right along the lengthwise grain. This helps the garment hang and perform well.

So how does this pertain to t-shirts, and especially t-shirt upcycling? It is relevant when it comes to selecting a suitable shirt to work with.

A t-shirt is not going to come with selvage edge for clues as to grain – but it is very easy to see the grain of a t-shirt. The lengthwise grain looks like long channels and are quite beautiful: here is a close-up of a (gorgeous) monster hoodie I made a few years ago. You can see the grain of the knit fabric quite easily in the striped hood lining:

Monster Hoodie For Megan

In general, a knit fabric and therefore a t-shirt will stretch more across the grain than along the length of it. This is no coincidence: this is why and how the knit stitch was developed, to provide clothing that moved with our bodies.

Oops! I got back into fabric theory! Back to t-shirts.

When you get your t-shirt, you are not going to have a lot of options! Your motif will be printed on the shirt, and if you want the motif centered and to take advantage of the fabric in the t-shirt, you are not going to get to be picky about the grain. You have to trust the shirt is printed more or less on the grain.

So are (ready-to-wear, likely sweatshop-produced) t-shirts printed properly on-grain? In my experience, none of them have come close to my results in my studio. But most are decent enough. About 40% of t-shirts in a thrift store have good grain. Some are abominable and unless you are DYING over how lovely the print is, leave them be. If you select a shirt with very poor grain, the final result may hang crooked, or a side seam may creep alongside the body.

There is one other consideration for grain. If you are going to be using the body of the shirt to cut your neckband (like the Treasure Island shirt three photos down), or cuffs, you are going to want to cut these bands on the crossgrain. For that reason, a shirt with a good grain is a better choice than one that is sub-standard.

Shown below: finding the grain and lining up logo placement. The shirt is folded in half, the grain straightened, and carefully smoothed before cutting my front pattern piece on the fold.

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

3. Think about (vertical) logo placement.

One of the biggest issues with re-sizing t-shirts, is you often end up with a skewed logo. Many examples you will see online either feature a printed motif right at the neckline, or even partially-truncated entirely:

Treasure Island T-Shirt Redesign

This factor is complicated if you want to transition your t-shirt to a deep neckline – say a scoop or v-neck. When you lay your front pattern piece on the vertically-folded t-shirt, the shoulders will extend up and usually intersect the original neckline. Things get crowded very fast!

There are many ways to get around this. You can colorblock your t-shirt, as I’ve done in this example:

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

You can also make a cold-shoulder top, using a band of identical, similar, or contrasting colors. You can add a saddle-shoulder effect (below and – yes, this is the same child!), which does wonderfully at dropping that logo lower on the shirt body. These solutions involve a bit of time and a bit of pattern-drafting knowledge – available with a Google search, and patience on your part. But they are considerations if you want a good-looking logo instead of one chopped to pieces.

Askance4. “It’s gonna get weird… TWO t-shirts!”

Sometimes you find some cute t-shirts at the thrift store – and there are multiples! Or perhaps you find one awesome shirt – but with some searching you can find another that is made from a similar fabric. This offers you up some awesome possibilities – namely, hoods, undersleeves, cuffs, or saddle/raglan sleeve details!

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Below: the original shirt. Notice that even as big as it was, I still needed to use another shirt for the undersleeves, cuffs, and cowl hood! 

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Note that you do not have to have a fabric that is exactly like the original t-shirt, to use it. In general you want a similar weight and a similar degree of stretch. You can grab up cheap shirts that are plain, wash and dismantle them while watching telly, and store them folded. Not that I do that! (I totally do!)

And this leads me to my next point:

5. Stock up on jersey fabrics.

If you’re a little little upcycle freak like me t-shirt aficionado, you might consider collecting and keeping jersey fabrics in your stash (besides the aforementioned extra t-shirts). These fabrics are inexpensive and wonderful. This will also extend your ability to upcycle for larger bodies.

T-shirts can come in so many fibers, but 100% cotton jersey or 50/50 cotton/poly in mid- to heavyweight are the most common t-shirt blends and weights. Remember – always prewash your new yardage before combining it with a thrifted t-shirt. The thrifted t-shirt has likely been washed many times. Personally, I’d pre-wash the t-shirt itself, too.

The strips of t-shirt and jersey you stockpile like a post-apocalyptic hoarder collect can be used for collars, cuffs, stripes (as seen below on this upcycle), and other colorblocked or appliquéd detailing. When I have enough high-quality scraps from a t-shirt upcycle, I take a few moments and cut strips with my rotary cutter, to use on the next shirts I mess with.

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Shown below: a Mario shirt re-sized and amended with undersleeves in a soft periwinkle interlock.

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

5. Re-use & Co-opt

These days I almost always reuse the neckband, sleeve hems, and (when possible) shirt hems of the original. This makes for an extremely fast sew-up. It took me much longer to write this post, than it did for me to make any one of these t-shirts, for instance.

Let’s talk about those sleeve and shirt hems. With careful pinning and tidying of your thread tails, the end result looks great. And while you may not be able to use the shirt’s hem for your resize, you can almost always use the sleeve hems if you’re making a short-sleeved shirt, as you simply fold the sleeve and cut as low on the sleeve as you need do . Shown below: a photo tutorial of how I tidy up the thread tails (in this case, a serge-finish) to keep these sleeve hems looking good.

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Gorgeous!

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

So as for the neckband: in the seven new shirts shown at the top of this post, I re-used the neckband for all the shirts except the cowl hoodie and the GBO shirt.

When removing the neckband, oftentimes you can just tear it out. Be careful here, however. If you aren’t rather nimble-fingered and experience you can end up tearing right into the shirt. When in doubt, carefully cut this neckline out and use a seam ripper to clear the ribbing! Go ahead and get all those little bits of thread off the neckband before applying.

The new neckband will likely be too large for your new raw neckline – but that all depends on the neckline you have cut and selected. The ribbing of neckbands usually stretches well with good recovery – a good rule of thumb is you want a neckband about 80% of the neckline it is affixed to. After I have my neckband I usually pin the center front of the shirt to the band, stretch firmly and evenly, and pin toward the center-back. At that point I will get a good feel for how much of the original band to cut off. I then cut the neckband to size at the center back, sew the center-back seam of the band, finger-press this seam open, re-pin, and sew up. It is incredibly fast!

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)


Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

 

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

I like to give a steam press of this neckline, on a tailor’s ham. Some people finish this neckline with topstitching but I generally omit that.

If you can’t use the original shirt’s neckband or don’t want to, you can use a contrast ribbing, a self-fabric neckband. Tthe Timmel lessons I mentioned above, go into detail here on neckline finishes.

6. Finally: make it your own!

Phee + T-Shirt Surgery, 6
Seriously? the possibilities for t-shirt upcycle are endless! An inexpensive and unique screenprinted patch (below), stripey sleeves and gathered necklines (above), slot seams, asymmetrical detailing, double-hoods (with or without ears!), cold-shoulder tops – after you do a few t-shirts you are going to find a lot of inspiration out in the world and eventually from your own little braincase! And let me tell you – it’s pretty special to go out and about and have people stop you to say – “I love your shirt! Where did you get it?” 

Close up of Siamese twin patch

Sparrow patch closeup.

Upcycling T-shirt Upgrayedd (on the blog)

Fabulous!

bootstrap dress form tutorial: preparing your pattern

Bootstrap’s new dress form pattern is incredible, and I am here to help make it a reality for you!

Fabulous!

The four parts of this tutorial:
Post 1: Preparing your pattern
Post 2: Cutting and marking your fabrics
Post 3: Constructing the shell
Post 4: Inner support, stuffing, and mounting

So many dressmakers struggle with fit when they sew for themselves. It becomes obvious relatively early on, that a body double would be a wonderful helpmate – and that is where dress forms come in. You can purchase standard dress forms, and those help a great deal. Standard forms can be expensive, and they are not shaped for realistic posture and distribution of body fat for the vast majority. There are other options: custom forms that are more expensive still. You can make your own through various DIY processes, but these methods can be arduous and can result in an ugly mannequin which for some, is a dealbreaker. Some people who want a form don’t want to have a “buddy” measure and wrap them in duct tape.

You get the idea.

The new Bootstrap pattern eliminates all these issues! I am very excited for this project as it is not only a great boon to my own studio, but making one is the perfect gift for another seamstress! And I already know who is first on my list! 🙂

So for those new(ish) to sewing, this project is easy enough for a committed beginner, but it also is a bit of a detailed process. My advice is to carefully read through this post first, before starting. Don’t worry if you get too overwhelmed when reading ahead. The instructions provided in the pattern are second-to-none, and I will be blogging my efforts over the next few days. You can also post questions here at my site.

Today, I will be covering taking measurements and body build, generating your pattern, and gathering your supplies.

Bootstrap’s dress forms involve two versions: a misses size, and a plus size (I will be creating a misses size for this sew-along; the processes are identical, however). The plus size version is shaped with a bit more curvature, as you can easily see from the site’s photos. But both forms correct for posture, shoulder shape, belly protuberance, and buttocks shape. There are also additional measurements you can take to customize the form: neck circumference, shoulder width, bust height, front length, back length, and back width. In short, this form includes every posture variance you can imagine, for a torso.

boostrap dress form (misses size)

boostrap dress form (plus size)

You will first need to create a Bootstrap Fashion account, before proceeding. This is very simple (just in case, here is my walk-through on the Tea & Crumpet sew-along from 2016). Next, select the pattern: misses size, or plus. You will notice immediately there are a series of fields you need to fill out, as well as a “fit adjustments” tab that includes more measurements. I will first go over the measurements listed under “customize”, as those are all that are needed to generate your pattern.

bootstrap dress form sal measurements

Before starting, I find it helpful to tie a string around one’s waist (where the body creases, if you bend to the side. If you do not have a prominent C7 vertebrae at the base of the neck, you can put on a necklace and the point where the necklace naturally hangs, will serve as that location.

Height is self-explanatory; most of us know our height. If you do not, or if you are making for someone else, simply stand in sock feet at a wall and use a pencil to make a mark flush with the top of the head. Then, step away from the wall and measure, with a tape perpendicular to the floor, the height. Let’s move on.

BUST

bootstrap measurement bust

Bootstrap Dress Form: Measuring, Printing Pattern, & Assembling Materials.

UNDERBUST

bootstrap measurement underbust

Bootstrap Dress Form: Measuring, Printing Pattern, & Assembling Materials.

WAIST

This measurement is taken directly over the string you tied.

bootstrap measurement waistBootstrap Dress Form: Measuring, Printing Pattern, & Assembling Materials.

LOW HIP

Measure around the fullest part of your hips and buttocks. If you have a large bum and also a protruding tummy that is higher up on the body than this measurement, don’t worry – we’ll be adding another metric in to account for belly ease.

bootstrap measurement low hip

Bootstrap Dress Form: Measuring, Printing Pattern, & Assembling Materials.

BELLY PROTUBERANCE, BUTTOCKS SHAPE, AND POSTURE

I put these three together as one full-body side profile picture will tell the tale here. Please take a photo rather than relying on your own “sense” of your figure, or your client’s figure.

bootstrap measurement belly protuberance bootstrap measurement buttocks shape bootstrap measurement evaluate posture

Bootstrap Dress Form: Measuring, Printing Pattern, & Assembling Materials.

My model here is a belly protuberance B, an “average” buttocks shape, and a straight back.

SHOULDER SLOPE

This is another metric best served by a photo. You can see my model has between a “square” and “normal” shoulder slope.

bootstrap measurement shoulder slope

Bootstrap Dress Form: Measuring, Printing Pattern, & Assembling Materials.

Those are all the measurements you need, to print your pattern! You will be selecting the method of deployment (I select a 36″ pdf to print at the copy shop, as I dislike printing and taping). If you like, you can “Get a Free Pattern Preview”, in order to look at your pattern first before purchasing it:

bootstrap free pattern preview

For this preview, you simply proceed as if making a purchase – you will be “charged” $0.00. After you complete your purchase and the pattern builds (this takes no longer than 15 minutes), you can view the preview either via the Bootstrap email that will be deployed (check your Junk Mail folder if you do not see it in your Inbox), or under your “My Account” page, by clicking TO ACCESS YOUR PATTERNS, PLEASE CLICK HERE>>. Bootstrap stores all your patterns and instructions in this kiosk.

bootstrap to access your patterns

Once you are satisfied, you can purchase the pattern as per the above steps.

Now, I will speak to the “fit adjustments” second tab. These measurements are not required to generate your pattern. You should only add them if you are sure. You can also get a free preview of your pattern to check to see that things look good; however if you are a newbie, you may not even know enough to know if your generated pattern is off, or not! In that case, I’d suggest sticking with the measurements in the “customize” feature only.

So here are the fit adjustments:

bootstrap measurements fit adjustment

NECK CIRCUMFERENCE

bootstrap measurement neck circumference

Bootstrap Dress Form: Measuring, Printing Pattern, & Assembling Materials.

SHOULDER WIDTH SPAN

This is measured between bony shoulder points. Most people have a curvature here, so go ahead and measure directly atop this curvature if so.

bootstrap measurement shoulder width span

Bootstrap Dress Form: Measuring, Printing Pattern, & Assembling Materials.

BUST HEIGHT FROM CB NECK POINT AND FRONT LENGTH FROM CB NECK POINT

I’ve said a mouthful! I include these together as you can take them at the same time. You are measuring from the C7 bony point at the neck, around and atop the bust apex, and down perpendicular to the waist. The number on the tape at the bust apex, is your bust height measurement. The number at the wait, front length.

Bootstrap Dress Form: Measuring, Printing Pattern, & Assembling Materials.

BACK LENGTH

This is a measurement familiar to many of us. We measure from the C7 neck point, straight down to the waist.

bootstrap measurement back length

Bootstrap Dress Form: Measuring, Printing Pattern, & Assembling Materials.

BACK WIDTH

This is measured across the shoulder blades, right where the skin of the arm meets the skin of the back.

bootstrap measurement back widthNote in this photo below, it looks like the measurement is too low; it is not, it is just that by bending their arms back, the model has effectively lifted the crease height up. This is the one measurement here that is best-served by having someone assist you – you can take the measurement with your clothes on, and let your partner feel for the crease.

Bootstrap Dress Form: Measuring, Printing Pattern, & Assembling Materials.

Having taken our additional measurements, we can add the pattern, preview, and purchase.

Now let’s talk about our supplies!

Once you’ve purchased your pattern, you will note (in both your email and your My Account patterns files) that the pattern includes a very thorough series of directions, that detail supplies. Read through your directions – don’t worry if you’re a bit confused, as the instructions are thorough and will help you through the process.

Here are my supplies, and a few notes about them:

Bootstrap Dress Form: Measuring, Printing Pattern, & Assembling Materials.

I will be using a main fabric (mid-to-heavyweight with drape cotton twill), an interfacing to interface the entire shell of the form, and an interlining fabric for structural support (a mid-to-heavyweight duck). The instructions talk a bit more about fabric requirements. I will also need cardboard for the neck, armhole, and bottom of the form. I need a PVC pipe from 36″ to 48″ long, sized at a diameter that will fit over the stand I plan to use (this is important, as we will cut an inner sleeve to fit snugly over this PVC. I also need two zippers for the bottom closure, adhesive to glue the interlining to the PVC, cutting implements to cut the cardboard templates, and poly-fill (2 kg to 5 kg or 5 to 12 lbs).

So there we have it! I will be blogging my progress through the form through early August. If you have any questions about the process, please feel free to comment here! If you have any issues with Bootstrap, do email Yuliya (you will get an email from her when you buy your pattern) – she is very responsive.

So let’s get to it!

Rock and Roll!

Customize your pattern here: MISSES or PLUS

boostrap dress form (misses size)

boostrap dress form (plus size)

 

P4P Slim Fit Raglan SAL

slim fit raglan sew-along: cuffs, waistband, & curved hem

P4P Slim Fit Raglan SAL 

 

Thank you for joining us for our final post, in our Patterns for Pirates Slim Fit Raglan sew-along! 

For each sew-along post, I like to recap what we’ve already accomplished. First, I posted a bit about the pattern and supplies last month. On the 15th of this month we got started: cutting and marking our fabrics. Then, we created our triangle patch and our elbow patches. On the 19th, our most recent post, we created our side seams and neckband. Today, we finish our shirt: with cuffs, waistband, and curved hem options.

And a reminder – Rachelle has been working away making up a few awesome pattern hacks. Today’s post features a kangaroo pocket for a men’s hoodie version. Make sure to visit her blog and give her some love!

Remember – if you have any questions, you can post them here, email me, or message me through Facebook (either my personal page, or my sewing page – The Vegan Tailor). Even if you are getting up to speed a little late (or a lot late!), please feel free to contact me for any help you need.

P$P SFR badge

Ready?

Let's Rock & Roll!