Finding your style 4 : trying out clothes

Posted August 22, 2019 by sewingplums
Categories: personal style

Do you feel good about your clothes ? Do they help you to feel you ? to feel special ? to feel confident ?

Have you done some initial sorts of what clothes appeal to you ?
Some of us can imagine ourselves in clothes, but all of us need to try them for real.

Real clothes – if you start from a difficult point

If you are just starting this process, you may find it upsetting – all you’re aware of is how far you are from a ‘good’ solution. But very few people can make the jump from awful to ideal in one step.

If you do a closet clear-out following the rule to keep only items that fill you with joy, and find you have nothing left (I’ve been there. . . ) then keep items that are ‘good enough’ – just remove the items that are clearly ‘never again’.

Deciding if something is ‘best’ for you among all the options may be overwhelming. If so, just try on 2 items and decide which is ‘better’ : which is ‘more flattering’ or ‘more me’. Most people eventually work down to a smaller group of ‘good’ items. Though some people do like to wear a different style every day 😀

During this phase, try to avoid buying anything that you feel doubtful or negative about.

If you feel like doubtful or negative about everything, maybe it’s time to take a pause and focus for a while on other aspects of your clothes choices – perhaps with help from some of the on-line style advisors suggested in this post :
– Do you know what flatters your body shape ? Some of the courses linked in the post about on-line advisors include it.
– And how about exploring your best clothes colours (for over half the population, black is not flattering) – see post about on-line advisors for some places to start. And find your most flattering hair shape and colour.
– Size numbers, like style and colour categories, are just a tool for getting items you probably look and feel good in. Often people look better and feel more physically comfortable in a looser garment. Different RTW and pattern companies use different numbers, so it’s essential to choose patterns by body measurements. Some indie pattern designers are extending their size range, so it’s possible to look good and current at many sizes. Making your own patterns is more of a challenge, but the Sure-Fit Designs master patterns go up to 62″/155cm at bust and hips.
– Several of the courses linked in the post about on-line advisors have sections on body positivity.

For all these aspects of your clothing, give yourself the gift of making small changes towards ‘more me’ or ‘more flattering’. A pity to feel you have to achieve ‘perfect’ in one step ! Make small changes towards having some ‘better for me’ items in your closet, and it will work out in the end.

What to do

Try all this with the clothes in your existing wardrobe. Then go to a store which has full length mirrors on the shop floor and repeat.

In a full length mirror, hold up clothes in front of you and assess the effect.
Try on ones which you feel positive about.

Some people find it helpful to take photos. Gives a more objective view of whether the fit, proportions, colours, shapes, style show you at your best.

Have a good look at yourself, from back and sides as well as front.
Can you can move and bend easily – walk, run, sit down, bend over, bend your arms and knees, reach forward and overhead. . . and does this matter to you ?

Asses the clothes both quickly and slowly : how do you feel ? what do you like/ dislike ?
One feature may be right for you but not all : colour, style of print, size of pattern, texture, amount and type of trim, amount and type of detail, fabric drape/ body/ cling, style drape, line, shape, length, proportions, placement of style elements, closeness of fit. . .
Make notes or take photos of what you feel good about (and what you hate), so you can go back over your experience later and pull together an overview of your positive reactions and what to avoid in future.

Aren’t we sewists lucky that we can pick out the best of these features and combine them for ourselves when they’re not available in RTW 😀

Trying on RTW is rather depressing for me as my body is so far from ‘average’ that nothing fits well. Add on to that problems with finding flattering colours and quality makes. . . If you’re like me, just look out for favourite style elements when you look round the stores. We need to do some work on fitting our own basic patterns, then we can think about how to add favourite style elements onto them.

Remember to try outfits as well as individual items. Perhaps some of your garments look ‘right’ in combination with some others but not all.

You may not have only one style. You may find you enjoy several styles, perhaps different styles for different occasions – you may enjoy sweatsuits at home, but wear dresses so tight you can’t sit down when at posh parties. Or you like one style for clothes and another for accessories. Some people like to wear similar outfits all the time – a ‘uniform’, some like to dress for the mood of the day or always wear something different.

Some of us do not enjoy shopping – if so you will have to grit your teeth and keep trying at an early stage of this process ! Most people who are working can’t shop then, but stores are quieter in the mornings for the first few days of the week. You do have to make a commitment and put in the time if you want to improve your style. Always buying black because it’s easy to find is not the best idea for the billions of us who don’t look good in black.

If possible start by walking through a mall, along a shopping street, or around a big department store.
You will probably find that you take a look and just walk straight past many of the options. Would you feel at your best when wearing these items ? Try not to feel you ‘ought’ to want to wear any of the styles – at this point you’re just exploring your preferences. Your likes may not be ideal for working in a bank, impressing a fashion stylist, attracting attention at a festival, going mountaineering – but you’re now just learning about what is ideal for you.
Or perhaps you linger in places you were not expecting. Can you think out why ? what message does this give you about what you like ? about what you feel at your best when wearing ? You’re just exploring, so ignore any ‘I can’t wear that’ messages that spring to mind. You can explore the reasons for that at some other time.

I remember when I first ‘knew my colours’ and found I could just walk in the door of a store, glance quickly around at the colours on the clothes racks, and walk straight out again. Most amazing !

– – –

Make your own choices

Many of us find that limiting ourselves to following a particular stylist’s categories is not the best option for us. We can start by learning from them, as a guide to exploring what we like to wear, but we may end up wearing our own combination of style elements which doesn’t fit closely to any particular category names.

My list of personal style questions is about style elements, not general categories. Perhaps use this as a starting point for finding your own personal combination.

I remember with glee the time when a well known stylist said that no-one should wear what I’ve found is my signature style element ! I’m happiest if I’m wearing a small frill or some ‘heirloom’ stitching, which may be categorised as soft/ romantic/ prairie/ ingenue. Here is my ‘uniform’ of frilled blouse, slim pants, lace-up shoes, worn with an over-sized casual layer.

”soft-flamboyant”

Most stylists are very against over-sized clothes, but I love them. In Kibbe categories, oversized clothes are called ‘Flamboyant Natural’ in style. But my combination of over-sized with softness in neutral colours is not, I suspect, what the person who devised ‘Flamboyant Natural’ style was thinking of 😀

If you don’t fit into any simple group of 1, 2, 3 style categories ? It can be good idea to make your own short list of descriptive words, or a phrase, as a quick reminder when making decisions. Don’t be surprised if they are words which are not used by stylists. Mine might be “quiet classy practical quirky”.

– – –

A few people are in for a big surprise about their style.
I know someone who went from being a tweed and brogue wearing hockey player to reclining on a chaise longue in velvet maxi dresses.
And someone who went from insisting on wearing a wig if her hair was not perfect to being a sportswoman in a wet suit.
Of course for most of us the changes are not so dramatic, but do allow the process to take you where your heart indicates.

And keep an eye open, and an open mind 😀 , for garment types and style words which stylists rarely mention.

Improving your style is like improving the fit of your clothes – for most people finding your personal style is not a quick process, but every little step can improve the way you feel.

Categories can help us at first by simplifying things enough to make sense of all the styling issues. But in truth we are all different, and ultimately we have to make our own decisions. Perhaps Nancy Nix-Rice’s book Looking Good is the shortest good introduction to all wardrobing issues, and so a helpful place to start. But you may quickly find such brief discussions don’t cover all your needs. At the other end of the scale, Imogen Lamport’s blog posts and 7 Steps to Style course are good for introducing all the complexities of individual differences – but there is so much to consider that it can be overwhelming for a beginner. Start with generalities and small steps, and gradually work up to understanding all the special features of your life, your personality and your body.

You may find there’s a switch point in this search for your style. At first you hope someone else can tell you what to wear. But you find that you need to change someone else’s ideas a little to suit yourself. Then you begin to recognise special clothes which help you feel confident when you’re wearing them, and this eventually leads to – magic – you can make your own decisions.

As April Grow at Stunning Style says :
“If you’re trying to talk yourself into anything you don’t genuinely love to wear, just put it away.”
It’s so heart warming and expanding to be surrounded by what you love.
♥️ ♥️ ♥️ ♥️ ♥️

And also knowing
your favourite styles and the colours, shapes, fabrics and trims that flatter your body and warm your spirit
can greatly reduce the number of times you start sewing a garment and don’t want to finish it, or finish making a garment and then find you don’t want to wear it !

So Best Wishes for going through this 😀

– – –

There are 4 in this group of posts about personal style. The others are :
1. using style categories.
2. on-line style advisors.
3. exploring styles.

– – – – –

August 2019

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Learning to use my Bernina B480

Posted August 5, 2019 by sewingplums
Categories: sewing technique

”bernina480”

The new 4 series are Bernina’s top sewing-only machines. I am pleased with the facilities on this 480 machine.
But I think Bernina is very wrong to say the 4 series are suitable for beginners.
There are so many options, it is a very ’sensitive’ machine. It needs to be threaded exactly correctly. All the settings need to be just right for it to do what you expect, and often you have to find out what those are for yourself. I’m an experienced sewist and I have not found the 480 quick and easy to learn.

I have used a Bernina 330 for years so I know Bernina basics (I love my 330 but wanted more decorative stitches and more buttonholes). I have a Bernina 500E (embroidery-only machine, also difficult to learn) so know something about this screen and bobbin.
And I know the sources of support.
There are Bernina video tutorials for the new 4 series (click tutorials tab). But some of them skip through a quick demo with little explanation – I suspect only an experienced sewist can follow what is going on.

The very good and much more detailed Sewing Mastery videos for the Bernina 710 show the previous version of this screen and software. Many useful tips which apply here too.
Note November 2019 : the wonderful Sara at Sewing Mastery has started filming videos about the Bernina 480. Perhaps I should have waited 6 months and then I would have been able to learn how to use this machine with much less pain !

I really needed all my experience when I first had this machine, to sort out what was going wrong and why. The first few days I was reduced to tears and thinking I had a lemon several times by all the problems. Okay it all turned out to be user error, but it was not a happy time.

Whoever writes Bernina manuals does not think the way I do. I read manuals, but this one doesn’t mention much of what happens. The threading guidance is clear.
The new Bernina workbook is sometimes more helpful.
Typical problem – the workbook frequently tells you to use the transition arrow/window, but the word ’transition’ does not appear in the manual – the same function gets several names there.
I’m glad I’ve got pdfs of both manual and workbook for quick ‘finds’ as the index is not much use.
The ? button on the machine is also good, so long as you’re not too flustered to remember to use it ! It’s the only source for meanings of the Sewing Consultant icons.

My guess is the manual was written by engineers, the workbook by teachers (who know user needs), the engineers have higher status in the company and are in head office so their opinions have precedence, and the two groups don’t communicate very much.

I also guess Bernina assume the old support model of customer working closely with dealer to learn how to use a machine, and working with a personal teacher to learn how to sew. But here in UK most Berninas are bought online, and most sewing teachers wouldn’t know how to use this machine.

I do now know :
– I need to make many exploratory samples, to find how to get the machine to do something before doing any process ‘for real’.
– it saves me much hassle if I go through the workbook exercise the first time I do something. I can still end up puzzled, but not as much as if I try to work out for myself what to do. . . Often the results seem random, but that usually turns out to be because some function I hadn’t realised is important is not switched on or off as it should be.

The manual/ workbook/on-screen tutorial instructions are not complete, and you need to try things out to fill the gaps. I make notes, and sometimes have had to try several times before I found what works.
I like detailed written instructions when I’m learning, and what’s provided was not enough for me. I don’t know how a ‘jump in and have a go’ learner would get on with this machine, I got thoroughly confused when I tried things that way !

Yes it’s good to have so many options on this machine. But many options make for a complex machine, and choosing between the options is also complex. It would have been good to have better help with learning to do that.

After 6 weeks of using this machine I am gaining confidence.
And the sewing is not a problem ! I have sewn 8 layers of cotton batting, also one layer of rayon challis, both without difficulty.

I haven’t yet explored or mastered all the options, but I think the 480 has excellent modern-style facilities for an experienced sewist :
– 5 presser feet supplied – general 1C, overlock 2A, buttonhole slider 3A, zipper 4, blind stitch 5 : mine also included a walking foot 50.
– presser foot pressure control, ‘free hand’ knee lift for presser foot, foot pedal control of needle, big front-loading bobbin.
– securing stitches, thread cutter (some choice about how those are used, I found the defaults confusing, and now just press the buttons when I need them),
– classic Bernina rotary knobs for changing stitch length and width while stitching,
– 9 buttonholes, 2 eyelets, proper bartacks – on-screen measure of button size, adjustable buttonhole width, density, slit width.
– 9mm width decorative stitches (5.5mm on the 435, 475), about 250 of them, and 3 western alphabets with lower case – which can all be combined (a challenge to learn),
– pictorial colour touch screen for stitch editing and combining (edits include mirroring, number of repeats, lengthening with stitch density maintained), screen shows each sub-stitch in a stitch pattern, in real size – during stitching the screen shows the current needle position in the stitch pattern,
– automatic adjustment of top tension with stitch type.
– personal memories, plus usb socket for external storage.
– on-board support : brief written operating instructions, sewing consultant suggests stitch choices and settings to use for main fabric groups, ‘eco’ standby mode, choice of display styles, servicing information.
– optional extras :
. . . many other presser feet as both 5.5mm and 9mm feet can be used (if the foot hasn’t got the top ’sensor’ the machine automatically defaults to narrower stitches, and if you try to sew a wider stitch the screen shows an animation of the needle hitting the foot !),
. . . BSR for free-motion sewing,
. . . gold (high tension) and red (thick thread) bobbin cases for special techniques.
And the stitch quality is a treat.

Now I know how to learn to use this machine, I am enjoying what it can do. You need to be determined to keep trying, if you want to find how to use this machine to its full potential. But it repays putting the work in.

But beginners won’t know enough to know what a machine ‘should’ do, or how to recover when things go wrong. I think this will be a ‘machine too far’ for most, and they would be very much better off with one of the Bernina 3 series machines. Those may not have all the fancy facilities but they do everything needed for general sewing of garments, home dec and crafts. With one of those, a new sewist can get confident with sewing basics. Learning to sew is difficult enough without having to try to understand a complex machine at the same time.

– – –

Links available August 2019

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Sew a garment in less than 3 hours ? – 2019 patterns

Posted March 2, 2019 by sewingplums
Categories: speedy sewing

These are patterns which the pattern companies claim you can sew in 3 hours or less.

These times assume you’re an experienced sewer ! And they usually only mean time at the machine, and don’t include preparation and cutting out time. Also they use quick techniques which may not give the best quality result – from looking at some of these instructions, they may not include seam finishing and pressing time. . .
But still these times are reasonable, they’re not stressed-sewing. They’re much easier than the patterns that Great British Sewing Bee contestants are expected to make in 3-1/2 hours.

These are the timed patterns I’ve found in print in March 2019.
Speedy patterns are mostly basics which stay in the catalogues, but there are a few new ones since I last wrote on this (2016), and a few have disappeared.

There are 100s of patterns in general for men, see this post. But there are very few speedy patterns for men.

In 2016 I also wrote a post on patterns that are quick makes but the companies don’t claim specific times for : Very quick and easy patterns which are not timed (I have not checked that for still-valid links.)

Obviously these patterns have to avoid any technique that takes time. So they have few design features and little shaping. But there are designers who provide interesting shapes and design elements that don’t need much work.

Very few of these patterns include pockets.
Add a patch pocket taken from another pattern.
Or with a little more time : here are instructions and pattern piece for in-seam pockets, from Sew Over It patterns.

And allow for the sewing techniques you’re relaxed about. Most quick patterns avoid zips, buttonholes, collars, set-in sleeves, any hand sewing. But if you’re a sewist who can do those in a whizz, then why not.

Fabric choice can be crucial.
Quality fabrics can give a luxury look to even the simplest of styles.
For easy making : choose wovens with a bit of body, so they don’t need much support from interfacing and don’t change shape while you’re cutting and sewing them. Not slippery, don’t fray easily. Similarly with knits – choose stable ones, that aren’t too floppy. Knits have the advantage they don’t fray, so no need for seam finishing.

– – –

BIG 4 PATTERNS

These are the Big 4 time-limited patterns available in March 2019.

Outfit patterns

4 hours for a 2-piece outfit, 6 hours for 3 pieces ? Well, perhaps double that to include preparation and cutting out time.

Simplicity 1563, knit tee and tank, woven elastic-waist pants/shorts and kimono/robe – unisex casual wear, nightwear.

For a quick capsule, make all those items at several lengths in casual and dressy fabrics (tee and tank dresses, capris. . .). Perhaps add a dressier top and a skirt from the patterns below.

New Look 6816, knit top, skirt, pants.

Tops, Dresses

Surprise – the patterns above are the only timed knit fabric tops. Of course many people find knit tops a quick make, but the pattern companies don’t label the patterns with times.

All the patterns here are for woven fabrics. All have bust darts and no waist seam, unless mentioned.
The dress patterns can be shortened to tops and tunics, or vice versa.

Butterick 5948, classic dartless tops. Butterick used to claim these could be made in 2 hours, but they’ve changed the envelope.

New Look 6483, sleeveless and short sleeved tops.

New Look 6892, peasant style tops with gathers.

New Look 6347, sleeveless dresses.

McCall’s 6102, short sleeved dresses with 3 cup sizes.

McCall’s 5893, sleeveless and short sleeved empire waist dresses.

New Look 6352, sleeveless and short sleeved dresses, no bust darts.

McCall’s 6465, sleeveless and short sleeved dresses.

New Look 6889, sleeveless and short sleeved dresses.

McCall’s 6558, peasant style tops and dresses, gathers at shoulder and waist.

McCall’s 6098, girl’s dresses, no darts.

printed for you, USA only, very expensive :
Simplicity EA591701, jumper dresses, no bust darts.

Shirts, also for men :

Simplicity 8180 1-piece collar shirt, tie.

In previous editions of their unisex shirt patterns, Palmer-Pletsch claimed their camp shirt and banded collar shirt patterns took 2 or 3 hours. They’re now not so optimistic !
McCall’s 6932, 1-piece collar camp shirt (Palmer-Pletsch say 3 hours on their web-site, McCall’s don’t).
McCall’s 6613, band collar shirt (no time now given).
Lengthen for a shirt-dress.

Skirts and Pants
for women

There’s no longer a timed commercial pattern for the basic ‘sew 2 rectangles together with an elastic waist casing’ skirt, but there are several in the other post about quick patterns. The Hassle free make your own clothes book says you can make one in 10 minutes 😀

These patterns have elastic or knit band waist unless mentioned.

McCall’s 5430, wrap skirts with waist tie.

Simplicity 6338, girl’s skirts, knits and woven.

New Look 6053 2-hour skirts with darts and zip.

New Look 6843, 1-hour skirts with darts and zip.

printed for you, USA only, very expensive :
Simplicity EA701501, skirts.

New Look 6399, skirts and pants.

Butterick 5153, shorts and pants.

The skirts and pants/shorts in Butterick 3460 are very basic, but they don’t make any claims about sewing time.

Pants for men :

All have elastic waist, no pockets.

Butterick 5153, casual shorts and pants, no fly opening.

Simplicity 1563, casual shorts and pants, no fly opening.

Simplicity 8180 shorts, fly opening with snap closure.

printed for you, USA only, very expensive :
Simplicity EA995801, boxer shorts, fly opening with snap closure.

Layers
for women

Except for the blazers, none of these have any shaping darts.

Pullover layers :
Try Butterick 5948 or New Look 6892 View A,B
1 size larger for 2″/5 cm more ease, 2 sizes larger for 4″/10cm more ease.

Layers with front opening :

A camp shirt is classic casual layering : try McCall’s 6932. Check the finished garment sizes and make larger if you prefer.

McCall’s 2260, unlined vests.

Simplicity 8219, lined vests.

McCall’s 6209, ponchos.

McCall’s 6084, shawl collar cardigans, woven.

Simplicity 1563, kimono, perhaps shorten for a jacket.

Butterick used to have a quick pattern for waterfall front jackets, Butterick 4989, now out of print.

Butterick 4138 was an unlined blazer pattern they claimed you could sew in 2 hours ! That is oop, but it’s interesting to know someone thought it’s possible 😀

McCall’s 6172, the latest version of the famous Palmer-Pletsch 8-hour lined blazer pattern which sold over a million copies, is out of print but still available from Palmer-Pletsch.
This has been replaced at McCall’s by a unisex blazer pattern, McCall’s 7818.
Palmer-Pletsch claim this is an 8 hour pattern, McCall’s don’t !
Palmer-Pletsch say this has ‘boyfriend’ styling for women. Roomy and straight with shoulders wider than hips, so best for wide-shoulder inverted triangle, rectangle body shapes.
McCall’s 6172 blazer is for women only and has more shaping and closer fit, line diagrams here. Probably better for full busted inverted triangle, hourglass, triangle body shapes.

There are many other quick jacket patterns. Some of them are on this pinterest board. But very few jacket patterns are given specific sewing times, which is the focus of this post.

Layers for men :
All mentioned before.
camp shirts : Simplicity 8180, McCall’s 6932.
kimono robe : Simplicity 1563.
blazer : McCall’s 7818.

Costumes for men and women

McCall’s 7229, nativity, adult.

McCall’s 7228, nativity, children.

McCall’s 6142, clown.

– – –

INDEPENDENT PATTERNS

These are just a few patterns I’ve found which claim specific making times. I’ve looked at very few of them, so give no guarantees !
There are many more independent pattern companies mentioned in my other post on quick patterns : Very quick and easy patterns which are not timed.

Pattern lines :

For modern casuals, try Seamwork download patterns from Colette Patterns – supposed to take less than 3 hours in total (a few for men).

Seamingly Smitten claims most of their download patterns can be made in an afternoon.

‘Made in a day’ :

With a little more time – Decades of Style ‘Everyday’ patterns are supposed to be sewable in a day. Most are also rated ‘easy’.

If you love making your own patterns there are several simple tops and bottoms, many of them knits, among the Sure Fit Designs Made in a Day styles. Most of these can be made starting from any basic top and pants fitting slopers, not just the SFD ones.

Individual patterns (only the first is for men) :

For a very quick unisex fleece jacket/coat, watch Shirley Adams show how to make a jacket without a pattern and only 2 seams – in her Bog coat video. She claims 10 minutes. Take a little more time and add strips to the front opening if you want it to close.

These free download patterns from Camelot Fabrics are said to take an afternoon :
boxy dress – for variations : shorten to top / tunic, change neckline shape or finish.
cropped jacket – for variations : lengthen, change front shape.
pyjama pants – with elastic waist and side seams. Make a size smaller for a daywear version ?

Christine Jonson Studio Collection draped vest and jacket download patterns for knits. She says the vest can be sewn in 5 minutes !

CNT patterns : ‘A little somethin’ 3 hour shawl collar jacket.

Fancy Tiger Crafts free pattern for a One Hour Top is a simple dolman shape knit top. They have a video class for it at Creative Bug, with download pattern and showing how to make it on a serger/overlocker and a sewing machine.

If you enjoy self-drafted patterns from a book there’s the 1920s One Hour dress by Mary Brooks Picken.

Sew Over It claims an Intermediate sewer can sew their Ultimate Shift dress paper / download pattern in 3 hours.

Silhouette patterns :
600 classic blouse, with 1-hour sew-along webcasts.
85 sweater wrap, basically a knit circle with added sleeves.

Allow for 4 hours : French company Louis Antoinette have several patterns. And I think this is 4 hours total time.

– – –

Of course you may well have your own patterns which you can whip up in a short time. This post is about patterns the pattern companies are willing to make a commitment on. They show that everyone can make a garment quickly, not just people who have a serger/overlocker and are making a tee 😀

Surprisingly, there are few knit patterns in this post, though there are many in the related post : Very quick and easy patterns which are not timed. Perhaps there are so many techniques / tools / notions for making knit garments, the pattern companies don’t want to guess the time you might need.

Whether you enjoy using these fast patterns may depend on your sewing style.
I prefer slow sewing and quality, and I don’t do well under pressure. I need to develop the fit of a pattern and get secure about the techniques used before I’m relaxed about making it more quickly.
But there are many people who love to jump straight in for a quick reward to their sewing.

So Good Luck with developing a range of speedy Tried ’N True patterns, if that’s what you enjoy.

– – –

Patterns and links available March 2019

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Pattern making for front openings – 2. combined facing to front edge and neckline

Posted December 6, 2018 by sewingplums
Categories: pattern making for clothes

The first post about pattern making for front openings was about adding zips or bands down the opening edge, with a separate finish for the neckline.

This is about finishing both front opening and neckline with a facing.
Again starting from a basic pattern, perhaps your TNT pattern for a pullover style, or your personal bodice block.
Doing the pattern work is still easy. But not quite so easy !

2 sections here :

Pattern making
Neckline facing patterns have curves, so it helps to draw them on paper first.
I give 3 examples, each a little more complex.

Sewing
General guide to adding a facing to an unlined garment.

Then a separate post with ideas for how you can add to a pattern with faced opening.

– – –

Pattern making

Tools :
– starter pattern pieces for front and back, with marked centre front CF and centre back CB.
– measuring tape.
– pencil.
– ruler.
– french curve – I have one with width measures round the curved edge, makes it easy to add seam allowances, here’s an example.
Consumables :
– pattern paper you can see through.
– transparent tape for joining paper pieces.

Edge to edge front opening, with cut on facing

Sorry my photos have got rather blurry at reduced size, but you only need to see the general idea.

attach pattern paper to CF of basic starter pattern which you want to adapt.
”add
half size practice pattern from Czachor & Cole

fold paper on CF.
”fold

cut out along neckline, shoulder seam, lower edge, then unfold.
mark inner edge of facing.
”draw
set the facing width by eye or by measure, usually 2-3″ / 5-7 cm.

cut along this line.
”edge
Finished pattern

Overlap front opening

Add an overlap strip to the centre front.
Usually the width added to CF for the overlap is width of button.
This overlap/extension may be called a ‘buttonstand’.
So choose the size of your buttons before doing your pattern making !

Overlap with cut-on facing – often used on blouses.

attach paper as before.
add overlap extension width and draw fold line.
”add

fold paper back on this line.
”fold

cut out along edge of neckline, shoulder, lower edge, then unfold.

mark inner edge of facing, at least 2x button width, usually 2-3″.
Blouses / shirts / dresses / skirts usually have vertical buttonholes, with horizontal ones at stress points such as shirt neck and waist.
Jackets / coats usually have horizontal buttonholes, so you need to allow a wider facing to have space for them.
”mark

cut along line.
”cut
Finished pattern

Overlap with separate facing – often used on jackets and coats.
A seam along the front edge gives a firmer result with more support, better able to stand up to wear.
Extension for double breasted/wrap styles can go out to about bust point or 4″/10cm beyond CF.

attach paper to CF.
add extension.
mark stitching line.
add seam allowance.
mark and cut on cutting line.
”front
This is the front pattern.

You can trace off a facing pattern from this, or make it by cutting as before.
Pin to pattern paper and cut around.
”pin

mark width of facing :
– remember to include width of seam allowance down the front.
– facings for jackets and coats are often wider – out to bust shaping, so the garment looks good when worn open.
cut along marked line.
”separate
2 pattern pieces

If you prefer professional quality instruction 😀 here’s a video from the University of Derby. She’s using a half-size practice pattern block without seam allowances.

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Back neck facing

Use the same method to make a back neck facing pattern.
Either trace the top of the back pattern.
”facing
Or pin the pattern to paper and cut out round the edge.
Make the facing with a CB fold, even if the main garment back has a CB seam.
Match length of back facing shoulder seam to length of front facing shoulder seam.
Then mark the facing edge, and cut out.

If you prefer a video, here’s one from Aneka Truman of Made to Sew.

Those facings are the same width all round.
Perhaps add interest by making your back facing deeper at CB.
Here’s a how-to video from Louise Cutting.

And of course, making a facing pattern for a front neckline without a front opening is just as easy.
Or a front neckline facing for a pattern with a front band or zip.
Or a facing to finish a sleeveless armhole.

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Sewing a facing

These are general points which usually apply to sewing a facing to an unlined garment.
Just a list of what to do, not how to do it.

Prepare body unit :
Staystitch neck edge.
Sew, press, finish shoulder seams.
If possible do neckline-front opening work on main body unit before sewing side and sleeve seams – so the body unit can lay flat and is much easier to work on.

Make facing unit :
– interface facing pieces (optional).
– join front and back facings at shoulder seams.
– press seams open.
– finish facing edge.

Join body unit and facing unit :
– baste/pin facing in place, right sides together.
– stitch main body and facing along front opening and neckline edge.
– clip or notch so seam allowances lay flat (good advice in this photo tutorial from Sew 4Home on clipping and notching curves).
– grade/layer seam allowances (trim them to different widths so they don’t make a lump by all ending at the same point – trim main fabric s/a to about 2/3 width, facing s/a to about 1/3 width).
– under stitch (tutorial from Colette patterns).

There’s a wealth of facings information in this pdf from the University of Kentucky, though it’s not very visual.
If you prefer video instruction, here’s one on sewing facings from Sure Fit Designs.
Sarah Veblen has a photo tutorials class at Pattern Review on facings (not free).

Note different experts use different techniques. That can be disconcerting at first, but try them all and see which suits you best.

Then sew side seams, add sleeves, sew hem, add fastenings, and you’ve made your own design 😀

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Enjoy using your pattern 😀
Then there are many ways you can vary it slightly.
Some ideas in the next post.

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This is the group of 4 posts about pattern making for front openings :
1. zip, button band
1b. adding extras to a front band
2. combined facing to front edge and neckline (this post)
2b. adding to a front-neckline facing

And here’s an earlier post on the opposite : closing a front opening.

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Links available December 2018

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