I have a friend who recently purchased a serger. She wasn't really sure what to do with it. So Tonya, this one is for you!
Flat lining with a serger, the comprehensive photo guide, step by step.
1. Of course the very first step is to cut out your pattern, in both the fabric and the lining fabric. I like the cut the lining first, and then the dress fabric second. The reason for this is that when you cut the pattern the first time, cutting through the paper along the lines, you get the cleanest cut. Subsequent cuts will usually be less precise as the paper separates itself from the fabric and the exact edge is harder to follow. This means that my lining is the best version of the pattern, and the fabric layer can just be close. This will become important later on.
This also means, I never trim my paper pattern to the cutting lines, before cutting the fabric. It just works better if you don't. If my scissors get dull faster cutting the paper, so be it. I can always buy a new pair or get them sharpened. The garment will come out better, and that to me is more important.
2. On the ironing board, press the lining out as flat as possible. In my photos, I am using tea-dyed muslin, which seems to have some permanent fold lines I can't press out. No worries; do the best you can, though. When pressing, try to move the iron only with the grain, or the cross grain. Pressing diagonally may cause the piece to stretch on the bias.
3. Lay out the fabric over the lining, with the correct side facing up.
4. Match up all the edges as best you can. It will most likely not be a perfect copy of the lining, and will usually extend out in places, or may come up short in others. If you have a slinky fabric, like the one I am using here, shift the bias around as needed to get the fabric back into the original shape matching the lining. Press the fabric smooth.
5. Pin through the pieces to the ironing board, about 1 1/2" in from the edge, with the pin heads towards the inside. I like to place my pins every few inches or so, and be sure to get every corner and high spot.
6. Gently, one pin at a time, lift the fabric and pin the pieces together without removing the pin, or disturbing the other pins. This will keep the fabric layers from shifting and keep everything as smooth as it was when you pressed it flat. The tips of the pins should be at least 1/2" away from the edge of the fabric, or it will jam the serger cutter bar.
Your piece should look like this on the front side:
And will most likely look like this on the back side. You can see the uneven edges not matching. This is why I cut the lining first.
7. Take your piece to the serger. Treat it gently on the way, so as to no separate the layers. Start at a corner, any corner. You will be using the LINING layer edge against the cutting bar as your sewing guide. Begin by lifting the front tip only of the foot and sliding the fabric under the front of the foot, just short of the cutter. There is never a reason to lift the presser foot up completely, just lift the tip and go, then run the fabric out from underneath at the end.
Trim off any excess fabric with the cutter. You can usually see the lining edge through the fabric to know where to run the cutter. If you have trouble seeing this edge, then flip your fabric over, and sew it with the lining side up.
Do not trim any parts where the fabric is shorter than the lining. The lining is always your guide.
When you come to a corner, run the fabric straight through and make a 3" thread tail. You usually have to pull the threads a bit to get the tail to form. Pull the threads only, not the whole piece to keep from stretching the fabric. Turn the fabric to start the next run. This will make loops of thread at each corner.
8. Once you have completed going around your entire piece, take it back to the ironing board. It will most likely look rumpled and sad, like this.
But it will look great again once you repress it flat. Sometimes your layers may have shifted a bit, so carefully press it all back out to the perfect match you had before. If you can't get it back to perfect, press the excess to the serge stitching, and it will be hidden later in the seam allowances.
9. Be sure to make a left and a right hand side.
And there you have it, perfectly shaped and flat lined, ready for construction!
|Ok, so you have decided to start a new sewing project. You have chosen your patterns, and are looking at them trying to figure out where/how to begin. Yay! Congratulations, for getting past the wishful thinking/design stage!
The very first thing you need to do now, is take your personal body measurements. It is tempting to take quickie measures by yourself, just so you can get to the next step. But you really need to take your time, get a friend, and do this part right. Unlike modern patterns that have a minimum of 4" of ease added to them, most historical pattern have virtually no ease allowances. Which means if you measure poorly, your dress most likely won't fit. A really big problem is that the 4" ease gap of modern patterns has allowed hobby seamstresses to become overly lax in taking proper measurements. In particular, the Bust Measure. The most important measurement of them all.
But let's back up a minute. Before you take your measures, you need to put on your underwear and corset. I highly recommend that you wear a proper corset, and not just a modern bra/panty set. I will save the corset debate for another post. But if you are measuring over a bra, and not a corset, the resulting lower bust height can be a little problematic with getting a Victorian bust measure. Another note is that historically, a tailor would take a ladies measurements OVER her clothing. As we today take the measures over the corset, not the dress, be sure to not pull the tape too tight.
Ok, back to the bust measure. Have your partner who is measuring you stand behind you, holding the end of the tape in one hand. As your partner passes the tape around your body, you are in charge of placing the tape so that it passes over the widest part of your bust. Interestingly enough, while you fiddle with this, your elbows will be up in the air. During this time, your partner should be lifting up slightly on the tape, so that the tape passes up into your armpits. While your partner maintains enough tension on the tape to keep it in place, you drop your arms to your sides, and stand comfortably straight, head up, shoulders down, back, and even. In this position, your partner can take the tape straight across your back and read your measurement. Unless you have a very high back to your corset, this will most likely place the tape above the corset. Lay the tape smoothly across the back, but don't pull it tight. If you have a lot of extra tissue that comes out over the top of your corset at the back of the arm, you can pull the tape a little bit tighter. (This will make the dress pull in some of that tissue later.)
View from the back.
View from the side.
View from the front. (the tape slipped upwards slightly durring the photo sesion.)
As you can see, the tape will most likely raise a little bit at the back. If you are wearing a bra, the fullest part of your bust may be lower in front, and the angle towards the back more pronounced.
This method measures you at the absolute fullest part of your body. This is the most fabric that you will get in your bodice. And remember, there is no ease. What you measure is what you get. Commonly today, a person will stand in front to measure. But doing so allows the back of the tape to drop too low, or to fall about bra band level. It is my experience that allowing the tape to fall in the back will make your measurement a full 2" less than what it should be. I get complaints all the time about mockups and bodices that are 2" too small, or reviews saying the patterns runs small, etc. Well, this is where it all most likely went wrong, not taking a proper bust measurement at the very beginning.
Up next, the back width and other measures.
Thank you, Sandy and Tonya for modeling for me!
Lately, I have gotten a lot of interest in this particular bodice. So I have decided to start off my Sewing Tips series with details and images of how achieve this fairly easy effect from any basic vest pattern. This bodice specifically was made from the 1884 French Vest Bodice - TV463. The layered effect is all built onto the vest portion itself, before the vest is sewn to the rest of the bodice. Of course, since this bodice is already completed, the pics will show all the pieces attached to the bodice, instead of separate as you construct it.
First, a quick rundown of how this is put together. There is a fitted lining made from the vest pattern piece under what you see on the outside, and closed with hook/eyes down the center front. The gathered "blouse" portion is added to this lining. And lastly, a vest with working buttons/holes is laid over the lining. So now you know where we're going, let's get to it!
(view from the inside)
First thing is to figure out the shape of the vest you want to make. After fitting your mockup, mark on the vest exactly where you want the vest to end and the "blouse" to begin. Transfer that line to the vest pattern, and add 1/2" above that line for the cutting line of your over vest. Add 1 to 1 1/2" below that line for the cutting edge of the blouse portion.
Next step is to create the vest lining. For my bodice, I was using tea-dyed muslin as my flatlining. I cut 4 of the entire vest pattern piece out of the muslin. I also cut the point off of the bottom about 1" short at the side and straight across. This would help separate the hems, keep the lining from showing, and make it easier to do the finish facings on the main bodice. After they are cut out, sew the vests pieces right-sides-together, along the center front and bottom edge. To make the center front edge just meet (instead of over lap for buttons) sew the center edge with a 1" seam allowance. Clip, turn right side out, and press. Baste the neck and side edges together just to keep it all organized. Sew the hooks and eyes to center front edges. I spaced the hooks farther apart under the outer vest, knowing that the outer vest would hold that part of the bodice.
(the bottom point, from the inside. Under my finger is a bone casing sewn to the vest seam.)
And now on to the "blouse" portion. Take your vest pattern and extend it wider to about 3x the width of the pattern piece. If you can, cut the center front on the selvedge, and cut 2. Fold the front edge under 1" and press. Gather the top edge and the bottom edge to fit the lining. Baste along the gathers. I like to zigzag over the bottom edges to hold the down smooth. Be careful sewing over the hooks and eyes.
(blouse portion sewn to lining and the over vest folded back.)
Lastly, the outer vest. Cut 4 of the shortened vest pattern. Sew them right-sides together along the top and center front edges, 1/2" seam allowances. I left the bottom edge open to be finished later. Turn the right side out, and sew the buttons and button holes along the center front, 1/2" from the edge. Lay the over vest pieces onto the vest lining pieces matching the side edge. Check to make sure that the vest properly covers the blouse gathers. Baste the layers together along the side edges only.
Now you just have to sew the completed vest to the rest of the bodice. Add the collars as per the instructions. Add boning and everything else, as normal. I did not do a full lining, and instead ran bias facings around the hem and inside the neckline. The back had wide facings the depth of the pleats.
And there you have it, a fabulous layered look! See, easy!!
The Back Width measure is the second-most important measurement with Truly Victorian patterns. It is a rather hard measure to take, more guessed at than decidedly placed. But once you get an idea of where to measure to and from, it really isn't that much of a problem.
And the really good news is that with the TV sizing system, even if you get the back width wrong, you still have a pattern that fits. It also means you can fudge it if you need to make the pattern a little easier to work with. For example, if the math tells you that you need a size that is beyond the range of the pattern, you can adjust the back width to a number that gets you back on the chart again.
So what exactly does the back width do, if it doesn't matter what number you measure? It basically tells you where along the bust measure your armhole is placed. The armhole placement determines where the back ends and front begins and the proportions of front to back. This helps give you a different pattern that suits both 42AA bust and a 42DDD. The 42AA bust has more room in the back and less in the front, whereas the 42DDD has less room in the back and more room in the bust. The armhole placement can also be adjusted for manually, during a mockup fitting, so making changes to back width measure can still be worked around if needed. As you will always have the 42" needed to get around your body, it will fit no matter what, but you might need to make extra modifications.
I love the historical idea of this measurement, and how it relates to the sizing system. Today, we just measure the front and the back and go from there. But in Victorian time, men (tailors) where starting to make women's clothing. And it would be a horrible breach of propriety for a man to be "fondling" a woman's bust to take measurements. So the idea was to measure the whole, from behind as discussed in the previous chapter, and then measure the back. When you subtract the back from the whole, whatever is left has to be the front by default.
So, how do you take the measurement? The first step is to find the point on the back of the shoulder where the arm seems to attach to the back. Many of the old manuals say to measure from dress armhole seam across the back, but if you don't have a dress already, that doesn't help much. Halfway between the bottom of the armhole, and the top of the shoulder, at the back of the arm, is the "sweet spot". Once you have found the place, measure across the back from one side to the other.
Most length measurements start somewhere but usually end at the waistline. Which means that knowing exactly where your waistline is, is absolutely critical. Before you start, take a ribbon or string and tie it around your waist, at the narrowest point of you body. The string much be horizontal to the floor, front to back. Some people believe that their waist is lower in the front, and want to push the string down. But unless you are wearing an Edwardian corset, the waist never dips in the front.
If you are wearing a corset, then the placement of the string is very easy to get. Without a corset, it usually isn't where you think it is. The modern style has the waistline at or just above the hip. But the reality is that your waist is usually about 2" above your navel, or even with your lowest rib. If in doubt, start there.
The length measurement most people are familiar with is the Back Length. This is measured from the base of your neck, down the spine, to the waist. While taking this measure, is it crucial that you stand straight, with your head level. If you duck your head forwards, you will lengthen your spine and get too long a measure. Start at the top of the large bone at the base of the neck, and measure straight down to the string at the waist.
Easy and simple. This measure is listed on the size charts, and helps you choose sizes to select a pattern length that matches your body length. However, it really is only half of the issue. There are two sections of your body that make up the total back length. The upper back, from armpit level to nape of neck, and the lower back from armpit level down to the waist. And not everyone follows the same proportion rules of upper to lower black.
I don't talk about the side length in the patterns, because I find most people don't want to sew with math. And any needed adjustments can be made during your mockup. But for those who want to solve problems on the pattern before the mock up, this is an excellent measure to get a good fit at the beginning.
For this measure, you will need a straight edge of some kind, like a ruler. Place the ruler high up under the armpit, parallel with the floor from front to back. Drop your arm and stand comfortably straight, with shoulder down and back. Make sure the person is not lifting their shoulder!! Then measure from the top of the ruler, just at the front of the arm, straight down to the string at the waist.
The Hidden Math
So now that you have these measures, what do they mean and how do they relate to the patterns? I have discovered that a person's body length really has nothing to do with a person's overall size anymore. Unlike modern size charts, which get longer when they get larger. Truly Victorian chose to keep the side length the same for all the sizes. And that side length is 9". Which means that if your side length is anything other than 9", you know you need to adjust the lower body length by the exact difference. For example, if you measure 9 1/2" side length, then you know that you need to lengthen the entire bodice pattern, (Front, Side, Side Back , Back) by 1/2", between the armpit and the waist. Or the opposite, if you measure 8 1/2" side length, you will need to shorten the pattern by 1/2". (More on how to manipulate the pattern in another post.)
OK, so far so good. Lets move on to the second part of the math.
If you make any adjustments for the lower back length to your pattern, remember to add or subtract that to the overall back length of the pattern. For example: you added 1/2" to the pattern length for your side measure. If the pattern originally measured 16" back length, when you added the 1/2", the total pattern back length now measures 16 1/2".
And, now the last bit of math.
Now, compare the newly adjusted pattern back length to your measured back length. If there is any difference, then this difference must be added or removed from the upper section of the Back pattern piece. For example: the new adjusted pattern length is 16 1/2". Your back length measurement is only 16". This means that you need to shorten the upper back pattern by 1/2". OR if you measure 17" back length, you will need to add 1/2" to the upper back pattern.
You may end up shortening both upper and lower sections, or lengthening both sections. Or you may have to shorten one section and the lengthen the other. It can get a little confusing, so go one step at a time.