Wednesday, July 18, 2012

First step

If i'm aiming to get this dress sewn up in time for the fair, it's high time to get started. I'm working with a 1950s mail order pattern, so the first step is to trace out the pattern.  (Yep, i'm working outside, partly for the light, but mostly for the lack of feline assistance.)  I've got my pencil and my trusty Sharpie.  The gridded mat makes it easier to align everything.

I carefully lay out the pattern pieces, one at a time, on the mat, and then spread the tracing material over the top.  If whatever you're tracing onto has a grid printed on it, it's helpful to line up the markings with the straight grain arrow on your pattern piece.

Weights come in handy here - you can buy special-purpose ones, or you can do what i do, and make off with all the tuna cans from the pantry.  Once you've got everything in place and smooth, trace the grain arrow, then the edges of the pattern piece, carefully, in pencil.  Don't forget notches and such as you go around.  I usually start by marking each corner of the piece - if i knock something out of alignment, that makes it easier to line things up again.

Once you've got the basic outline, remove the original pattern piece, and then go over the lines in marker, which will be easier to read when you go to cut the pattern.  Lay the original pattern piece over the top to check the alignment of notches and other markings - this is especially important if, like me, you've been too hasty or too paranoid to press the pattern tissue first.  Make any necessary corrections, then tuck the original pattern piece safely away.

Be sure to label the pieces as you go - it's no fun to have to go back later to try to sort out whether that's the back yoke or the front yoke, or whether the sleeve you've got in hand really belongs to that dress.  I write out what piece it is, and add the number if it's got one, and also the pattern company and pattern number, just to be on the safe side.  The same goes for any instructions printed on the tissue ("slash along this line to large dot," that kind of thing...).  I confess, i don't take the time to draw in seamlines, unless their different from whatever is the normal seam allowance for that pattern.

Next up, pin-fitting the pieces to see whether i can avoid grading this pattern (i have high hopes - it's a design that should have a fair bit of ease, and it's only starting out one pattern size smaller than i'd take by the measurements...).

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