Thursday, July 23, 2015

Lazy Graining, Fighting Fabric, and Other Sewing Dramas

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New Look 6847 skirt with RTW top

True confession:  I sewed for years without being aware of what a grainline is.   Then waaaay back in 2009 or 2010, Elizabeth (of Sewn blog, formerly of Sew a Beginner) wrote about how her sewing teacher emphasized how impt it is to grain fabric and I had no idea what she was talking about.  Since then I do something which sewing purists would not consider to be graining at all.  For woven fabrics, I make sure the grain line is parallel to the selvedge, or if it's corduroy, I make sure the grain line is right on top of one of the wales of corduroy.  This was "good enough" for me.

(Graining knits, I use the technique Sarah Veblen shows in her PR class "Understanding Knit Fabrics").

So my lazy graining technique totally backfired on me with this fabric.  Honestly I think this fabric, which is a stretch woven and somewhat plastic-y feeling, really really wants to be a bag.  However, I was utterly determined to make it into a skirt, and it became one of those projects where I made it three times and even then it's not quite right.

Issue #1 PROBLEM:  FABRIC NOT ON GRAIN
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Look at the dots at 12". Vertically they're great, but horizontally.... 
One of my biggest issues was the grain.  I just assumed I could line the grainline of the skirt on top of the vertical dots and away I could cut.  However what I found is that while the dots looked vertically ok down the center of the skirt, horizontally they were totally OFF.  After cutting out the skirt, I could not get the dots to align on the side seam at all. I made the skirt anyway thinking I'll just ignore the side seams but there was NO IGNORING THE HEM.  There was NO IGNORING THE top of the skirt near the waistband either.  It was SO obvious the dots were not horizontal.  UGH.
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Issue #1 SOLUTION:  GRAINING the fabric: 20150613_150433
Now the dots are in alignment horizontally and vertically

A while ago I started watching Lynda Maynard's Perfect Fit class on Craftsy and suddenly, as I contemplated my graining issue, an image of her tugging on the muslin like her life depended on it flashed through my mind. I bought the last of the fabric, and put a ruler on it.  If I aligned the dots vertically, I could see that they were off horizontally.  So I tugged on the fabric's bias until the dots aligned horizontally and vertically on the ruler.   Then I was able to cut and sew the skirt.
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Verifying vertical and horizontal alignment


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Dot alignment on the side seam:  close enough!

ISSUE #2 PROBLEM:  DARTS BREAKING UP THE PATTERN
I used my favorite skirt pattern which has darts front and back, but they broke up the flow of the dots.  I felt it was ok in the back, but I did not like how they looked the front (They also seemed to stick out a bit even after pressing, so they were probably stretched out). Next time I will try what Tomasa recommends for stabilizing darts in knits.
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Issue #2 SOLUTION:  Fold out the darts, but....
I have traced a version of this pattern where I folded out the darts for stretchy knit fabrics and it totally works, so I cut the front again using the folded out version.  However, this woven fabric does not have a lot of stretch.  So after folding out the darts, it is a bit too tight across the front.  UGH.  Since this is my third version and the fabric store has no more of this fabric, I'm done!
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Too tight across the front

Issue #3:  Fighting Fabric
Honestly I think this fabric is screaming to be a bag and I wanted it to be a skirt.

Issue #3: SOLUTION:  Lesson learned, never fight the fabric.
I may have enough left over from my two prior skirt attempts to piece it together to make a bag (you know, like those LL Bean tote bags, where the strap is sewn down the front and back--the fabric could be pieced underneath the strap).

OTHER ISSUES (4, 5):
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Carefully stitching a grosgrain ribbon....only to remove it later!

I used grosgrain as a waistband on the skirt, but it was way too tight for sitting in.  Again, it's not a stretchy knit, it's a stretch woven that's not very stretchy  I then removed the grosgrain waistband and sewed on an exposed elastic waistband instead.  Now I can actually sit in the skirt.20150615_071935
Elastic waistband

I intended to do a rolled hem and made a sample first.  I had not actually set the rolled hem feature on my serger so it came out looking like this.  I actually like how this looks so I left it like that for the real deal.
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Not-so-rolled hem
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I made this skirt way back in June....and have not sewn a garment since then, only bags!  Honestly I am enjoying my sabbatical making bags--I have two more to blog about that you haven't seen yet. I definitely don't get as frustrated since there isn't much fitting involved (fit the lining to the exterior, making sure the interior zipper fits in space created for it, that kind of thing).   But I would like to make at least one dress, as it is summer.

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Mother nature is such a tease....will this sunflower (totally a volunteer) open tmw???

Be well!

28 comments:

  1. I can't tell if your dots are woven into your fabric or just printed on one side, but if they are printed on and crooked, trying to get your fabric on grain based on dot placement is not really on grain. It's on "dot." ;) If the dots are woven into the fabric, then you are on grain. At any rate, your skirt looks very nice.

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    1. I forgot to mention that the dots are woven into the fabric, so it's on grain and on dot. Thanks for commenting!

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  2. I think your skirt is very nice too!! I wish I had some helpful advice to give, but this is not my area of expertise. I do make sure my wovens are on grain, but I must admit I sometimes neglect my knits.

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    1. I highly recommend the PR class Understanding Knit Fabrics, as it has a really clever way to grain knits.

      Graining wovens is definitely not my area of expertise either!

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  3. Cute skirt and it looks great, despite your grainline issues.

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  4. See. You are way more dedicated. I would have tossed the whole lot of fabric into a box in the corner.

    It's SO cute!

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  5. Way to go persevering! The side seams line up really well, and the exposed elastic is a nice finish. I've taken that class and that trick works so well especially for super fussy knits.

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    1. Yes, I love that technique for graining knits. I think that class was one of, if not THE best online class I've ever taken.

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  6. Way to go persevering! The side seams line up really well, and the exposed elastic is a nice finish. I've taken that class and that trick works so well especially for super fussy knits.

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  7. Way to go persevering! The side seams line up really well, and the exposed elastic is a nice finish. I've taken that class and that trick works so well especially for super fussy knits.

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  8. The skirt looks cute despite your struggles with it! You did a great job graining this fabric. Using elastic for the waistband is a great idea. Love it!

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    1. Thanks Tomasa! It took a lot of tugging to grain it.

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  9. Wow - I would have wadded up the first and exited stage right. Good job for staying with it. Good tips on getting knits to lay straight on grain.

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    1. Thanks Kathy! The PR class "Understanding Knit Fabrics" has all the deets on getting knits to be on grain; the fabric in this post is a stretch woven.

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  10. Kyle I've been very bad at keeping up with my email of late. Would you please resend the Friday tee shirt???

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    1. Hi Faye! I posted the link to the picture in a comment on your blog.

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  11. You are a trooper, seeing it through to the end! I think it's lovely and that you did an amazing job on it. Only bags since June??? I've never done a bag, I don't know how you do it!

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    1. Thanks Kristine! I really love making bags as a palette cleanser when garment fitting gets me down. I really should make another one that closes with a zipper sometime soon.

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  12. This turned out so cute -- your perseverance paid off! I am obsessed with graining, especially muslin fabrics. Hope that sunflower opens!

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    1. Thanks Jean! My hat is off to you for being obsessed with graining! The sunflower did open --- check out my latest post to see it in all its beauty!

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  13. The skirt really doesn't look that tight across the front, but I can imagine that it can feel a lot tighter than it looks. Hope it is comfortable enough for you to wear because it is beautiful!

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    1. Hi AC! I've only worn it once...maybe I'll try again tmw??

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  14. I am sorry the darts didn't work out for you...stretching might be a factor but I was thinking maybe the fabric in this case also may have caused the fabric to stick out? It seems like it is a substantial fabric...just some thoughts...regardless, you made a skirt that looks really cute on you!

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    1. Thanks again Tomasa. It is a pretty substantial fabric, so much so that it wants to be a bag. :)

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  15. Despite your grainline woes, the skirt came of fabulous.

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    1. Thanks Sheila! I really want to make one of those dresses you've been making lately, that McCalls one....

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