Saturday, June 23, 2007

Waterproof overtrousers for J

In the beginning there were Pertex overtrousers but, as it turned out, Pertex doesn't really have what it takes to keep out Japanese rain, so, in January I bought some Paclite Goretex from a shop called Rocky Woods. I also got Textile Outfitters to convert my prize into 7m of iron-on seam sealer, only I made the mistake of thinking James' inside leg measurement was his outside leg measurement so there wasn't enough sealer to tape the hems or waistband.

There is something that I have realised that I really like about sewing functional clothing. With normal clothes there is always the worry of "do I look awful in this?", but with functional clothes the question is "does it work?" and if it does work then its a success and that's it!

This is the same pattern as last time. The only difference is that this time, armed with seam sealer to seal the extra seams, I made a gusset at the leg zip area. I hope they still fit over hiking boots. The previous version just had a zipper guard sewn to the zipper tape. The other difference is sewing Goretex rather than Pertex. It was actually much easier, although time consuming. You just sew the seam, trim the seam allowances and then iron on the seam sealer. It is the ironing that takes all the time. You can pin in seam allowances (especially those you will cut off), but mostly I used basting glue (washed off afterwards with a sponge and water). I also used steam-a-seam to help secure the hems. I read somewhere that as well as mircotex needles a long stitch length is the way to go for waterproof fabrics. The idea is to make as few holes in the fabric and to make them small. With my new machine I can change stitch length so I used lengths of between 3.5mm and 4mm.

The first torrential rain of rainy season was last night. James says the new trews are "great". I think they are relatively sexy too - for waterproof trousers.


Monday, June 18, 2007

Frock meets royal

I have to give a special mention to the colourful frock which was lucky enough to meet Prince Andrew a few weeks ago. Although all the men wore gay ties, colourful frock was, by sheer acreage, the brightest thing in the room.

Story of the full diplomatic incident on James' blog.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Tshirt festival

Recently I have at last got round to working on my T-shirt pattern. My strategy was to construct each shirt, alter it to fit a bit better and then adjust the pattern for next time. I'm not sure how well it has worked out since with 3 shirts done the fit is still not quite right. Probably it would have been better to make a single, trashable, test version but the problem is that I wanted something wearable to result from each one, and none of the fabrics were ones where unpicking a stretch stitch would not have left marks. One additional tricky part is that each fabric is a bit different, so perhaps that also changes the fit. Nevertheless I think things have improved a bit along the way and I have had my first successful twin-stitching experiences. While taking the Tshirt class last year I tried twin needling on my old sewing machine and managed to sew through my finger, nail and all, twice. The subsequent pulling out of broken bits of needle with pliers was sufficiently distressing that I didn't dare try again until well practised with my new machine.

T-shirt 1 - Black 4-way stretch cotton and lycra.
The fabric was a remnant from a frock I made. It is 4-way stretch but quite firm, so probably better for the frock than a T-shirt which tends to be somewhat looser fitting. I started with the princess seam pattern (drafted for the vest top) and made cap sleeves and a self-bound neckline. When it was finished I had to take up the shoulders, because it was too baggy. I altered the pattern accordingly. I twin needled the hems and the neckline. No pic yet since this top is at work.

T-shirt 2 - dark green lightweight knit cotton
This fabric was also a remnant, from James' green T-shirt. It is really quite lightweight and shiny on the right side. I now think this fabric is probably a bit too lightweight for a manly man's T-shirt. The sleeves were going to be long but I ran out of fabric so instead I am starting a new fashion by having my sleeve stop at the elbow...hmmm. I moved from using the princess seam design to using single pieced fronts and back with eased darts. This inevitably ends up with creases atthe back around the waistline because there is no back seam to adjust.

This time I discovered that I needed to change the slope of the shoulders - I suspect my previous adjustment had messed them up. I also had to take a seam at the back of the neckline - perhaps I stretched the neckline, but I was also getting extra fabric at the front around the arms so adjusted the garment (after basting together) and the pattern to take out a bit of width at the upper chest. I should also have smoothed off the armhole shape on the pattern - I could see it was not the right shape anymore - nevertheless I headed on to T-shirt 3.

T-shirt 3 - patterned lightweight cotton knit
The previous 2 versions seemed to have slightly stretched necklines. This time I did not twin needle the neckline and I also cut the binding shorter - so it was 2-3 inches shorter than the neckline. This did seem to work much better. With the shorter binding I may again try the twin needle another time. In this version I also had to take in the sides around the bust level, more at the front than the back. I now see lines on the picture which may indicate I have brough the armhole in(up?) too far. I'll have to think about that but it feels more like extra fabric remains on the lower part of the upper chest (that I should have got rid of by shaping the armhole nicely!). If I pull my shoulders back the lines disappear.

That is as far as I have got - I don't have much knit fabric left to carry on this rather more tricky than expected project! My first test a year ago made from and old tshirt and including a bust dart seemed better than these, although I never finished the neckline. So I remain a bit uncertain about the whole easing of darts idea - perhaps I should try an uneased version to see if it is actually helpful - I wonder if these eased darts may be adding to the extra fabric at the armhole problem.

sewing machine
foot pressure - 0!
top tension 5.5
bobbin - loose for twin needle (half-turn left), normal position for stretch stitch.