30 May 2012

[Insert reference here]

Maybe you could tell from my extended, overly formal explanation the other day that I was nervous about using a Philip Larkin title to refer to a post about turnback cuffs. Can't imagine why I would have been, of course. It's not like the words were taken out of context or anything.

But I couldn't resist! Maybe as an english specialist I can't go too long before I start making references of mild interest and questionable relevance -- either that or I just want to make this blog as much about the "lit major" as the "(sewing) business".

I'm not writing a whole post only to explain that I'll be slipping allusions into my other posts, of course. I do realize that everybody does it already. (Including my sister-blogger, who has the enviable talent of being able to reference anyone from Wallace Stevens to Red Hot Chili Peppers.) I'm just providing some back-story as to why, from now on, you might see a quote like this in a post that claims to be about sewing:

'Into many a green valley
Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
And the diver's brilliant bow.


27 May 2012

Turnback Cuffs: The Less Deceived

The title is from a poetry collection published by Philip Larkin in 1955. It's called, well, The Less Deceived, and includes such poems as "Toads" and "Lines on a Young Lady's Photograph Album."

When I first decided to sew turnback cuffs I was sure I understood how they worked. You have a long cuff, a tapered end, a couple buttons, and you fold the whole thing over. Easy. But when I started cutting the pattern the silhouette looked remarkably awkward. Naturally, I headed back online to figure out what was wrong.

In searching for tips I happened across a website called The Suits of James Bond. Turnback cuffs, also known as cocktail cuffs, also known as James Bond cuffs? It wasn't exactly hard to realize this site might be useful. On the post devoted to 2-Button Turnback Cuffs, the author presents an image of what a turnback cuff ought to look like when unfolded, which I used in my redesign.

More than that, though, the post gets into details about interfacing and folding and how corners curl -- I think I have a better grasp of what the cuff is supposed to actually do. Well, other than look nice.

So here's my new pattern for the turnback cuff, complete with measurements, now that I'm less deceived about it's purpose and design:

design for a james bond cocktail turnback cuff

22 May 2012

Warning: Detour Ahead

Or - this post has nothing to do with those turnback cuffs I was supposed to be sewing.
Or - why cutting on the grain is important.

For all my worrywarting about self-drafting, I can't seem to stop doing it. Yesterday I finished a pair of black trousers, based on a pattern that I designed and drafted back in the fall.


When designing and sewing these, I used a list of observations I made nearly a year ago in July 2011, about the problem of fitting pants (Part 1 and Part 2). And I think that helped, a lot. These trousers have a good fit around the hips and thighs, they're loose enough but not as baggy as my original pair were, and the stretchy synthetic fabric means they're incredibly comfortable.

17 May 2012

Day 4 - How to sew a Turnback Cuff, sort of.

When it comes to this blouse I almost wish I'd used a pattern.

Don't get me wrong -- I like self-drafting. Taking a couple-dozen measurements and carefully drawing out lines that I'll reverse in a minute because, say, I forgot all about the waist darts?  I like doing all that, because I like being able to know what's going on inside the garment I'm making. Knowing how a piece of clothing will work, or why it'll hang in certain ways is interesting, almost ridiculously so.

(And somewhere in the dark recesses of my mind I probably resemble Calvin's dad, and am convinced that painstaking work, however unnecessary, is the key to building character.)

But what I don't like is to go through all that work and -- no, I'm not going to say "have the garment not fit", though that certainly is frustrating.

13 May 2012

Day 1 - How to Sew a Turnback Cuff

I think this post needs a soundtrack. If I could pull it off without embarrassment, I'd have a tough-guy song playing in the background while the camera panned down this week's shirt, section by section. As it is, I'll have to make do with plain graphics.

You start off, and it looks like a pretty average blouse:



Pointy shirt collar? Check.




Buttons and pocket? Check.


Bust and side darts? Check.





... And then you get to these cuffs:

turnback cuffs sketch

Stop right there.
(Oh wait, you'd have to stop there anyway.)

06 May 2012

Final day! - Slash-and-spread shirt

This shirt is done.


I finally finished off my slash-and-spread shirt last night (about an hour or so after also finishing off several slices of home-made pizza - double satisfaction!) And even though my goal was Friday I'm still pretty proud right now; it's been a while since I designed and completed a sewing project so quickly.


Of course, despite my excellent intentions when it came to this shirt, I changed my design quite a bit. The cyan-coloured sketch above is the original design, but by the time I was done sewing, the pockets had entirely disappeared, along with the band along the bottom and the decorative button.

02 May 2012

Day 6 - Slash-and-Spread Shirt

(I'm getting a little tired of that title.)

So I haven't quite reached the halfway point on my shirt, but I have finished the front yoke section! That's the part that had all the gathers and folds, the slashed-and-spread panel.

I started off like this: