Friday, 18 January 2019

To Pre-shrink or Not

Some think that it's unnecessary to pre-treat fabric. 

Yet anyone who has purchased ready-to-wear (RTW) and has lost a garment in just one wash due to shrinkage knows that manufacturers often cut out this step in order to get garments to the market quickly. Maybe that is why the RTW landscape is over run with oversized basic baggy styles? As sewists, we're in control of the quality of the items we sew. So, the question today is do you preshrink your fabric before cutting out a project?   

Cotton stretch shirting fabric.
Pressing out the length of cotton shirting fabric that I plan to use for the next project, I noticed a that my fabric shrunk both in the lengthwise and crosswise grain by a noticeable amount. Luckily, there was enough fabric to cut out all of the pattern pieces. I always pre-treat my fabrics before I cut them out but to be completely honest, my motivation is more about having a cleaned product on my cutting table. The length of fabric came from a shop that had a cat.  I'm terribly allergic to cats. But I digress...

Back to the question of pre-shrinking your fabric. Vogue Sewing, my go-to sewing reference book instructs us to shrink fabric if it hasn't been pre-shrunk by the manufacturer or if it will shrink more than 1% according to the label.  

The advice written in this edition of Vogue Sewing was written in the mid-nineteen-seventies.  I don't know about your local fabric labels but this is unheard of in this part of the world. As a matter of fact, I've never seen a fabric label that contains this information. It's more common to find "unknown fibres" stamped across fabric labels found at the local Fabricland and even more rare to find a label at Northwest Fabrics.   

Vogue Sewing doesn't go into how to test if a fabric is prone to more than 1%, for this information, I was able to discover the method in Sew A Fine Seam, circa 1955. 
If possible, procure a generous sample--at least 1 x 2 inches in size, with a selvedge--so you can easily determine the lengthwise and crosswise grain of the fabric.  Trim the raw edges of sample so the edges are "clean cut."  Cut a piece of paper the exact size of the sample.  Wet sample thoroughly and lay flat to dry.  Do not press dry.  When sample is completely dry, compare with paper.  The slightest difference in size indicates shrinkage. Supposing your fabric was cotton, 36 inches wide and the shrinkage was 1/32 of an inch in the lengthwise grain and 1/16 of an inch in the crosswise grain.  This may seem a very slight amount, but in a yard of fabric, it is enough to result in a snug garment after it has been laundered or dry cleaned (Wilson, 35-6).

This method is basically explain in here as well.

I didn't do the sample test on the piece of fabric I was pressing when I noticed that the crosswise grain was smaller than prior to the tumble in the washing machine followed by the dryer cycle. Instead, I measured my the lengthwise grain before and after and discovered that I lost 0.3 metres in the process.  I'm quite relieved that it shrunk before instead of after I sewed my project. 

Allowance for Shrinkage

What do you do if you're trying to decide on how much fabric is needed for a project when you're not in the position to do the shrinkage test?  Pattern companies don't incorporate a shrinkage allowance when listing the yardage requirements.  It would be a tough thing to suggest considering that different fabrics behave differently when washed or dry-cleaned.  

Sew A Fine Seam provides a quick general guideline:  
  • Allow 1/8 yard or 0.11 metres for a blouse, skirt, or jacket.  
  • Allow 1/4 yard or 0.23 metres for a dress, suit, pajamas, or coat
  • Allow 1/3 to 1/2 yard or 0.30 to 0.46 metres for a floor length garment if the width of your fabric is 36" or 54" respectively.  
If I went with this I would have underestimated how much shrinkage would have occurred with the cotton stretch fabric on my cutting table. These recommendations are from last century when body shapes, clothing styles and fabrics were different than they are today so I would only take them as a interesting footnote rather than a steadfast rule.

I do like the sample test for shrinkage as a reference but to be honest, I don't really put that much research into how much a fabric may or may not shrink.  How about you?  Or do you just cut and hope for the best?

Happy Sewing!

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

National Hat Day

One of the big fashion trends for Spring 2019 is the, wait for it,

The Bucket hat. That iconic fashion item made famous by the likes of American journalist and activist, Hunter S. Thompson and the vintage television character Gilligan from Gilligan's Island. The bucket hat has a wide downward sloping brim and is traditionally made out a heavier natural fibre fabric such as twill, denim or tweed and has two eyelets strategically placed on the sides for ventilation.  

Of course, today being National Hat day, anything goes. And just like the bucket hat, the pattern companies have us covered.  There are even free bucket hat patterns and tutorials for wee kids and adults to be found here and here.  So, the question is will you be sewing this season's fashion trend?  

Happy Sewing & National Hat Day!


Monday, 14 January 2019

National Dress Up Your Pet Day

The market for pet products and services is a multi-billion dollar market. The status of the family pet has evolved to fur babies earning love and affection traditionally reserved for a child. Some pets have a wardrobe to rival just about anyone's.  

Dogs playing hockey 
And did you know there are sewing patterns out there to help you and your fashionable pet celebrate the day?

Butterick 4885

Kwik Sew 4033

Kwik Sew 4227

Okay, there are lots of options for the fashion pooch.  But what about other fashionable pets?  


I couldn't find any kitty coats offered by the big four pattern companies but there are many online sources catering to the fashionable feline.  

All of these are fun costumes for you pets but sometimes there really is a need that dressing up your pet.  


These baby goat sweaters were a life saver for these fashionable kids.  Whatever the reason that you dress your pet have fun celebrating National Dress Up Your Pet day.  

Happy Sewing!

Sunday, 13 January 2019

Terry Cloth Robe: OOP Simplicity 7417

I once vowed I wouldn't sew another terry cloth robe. Plans change.  

Decades ago, I made a terry cloth robe similar to this one that I wore out. It's a messy project. But I missed the terry cloth robe with the hood trimmed with lace. A couple of years ago during Mitchell Fabric closing sale I picked up this cozy terry cloth. And yes, it's taken this long to get to this project.  I don't know why.  It's an easy peasy project and something that I've wanted to replace for quite some time.  

I'm so happy to finally have this project checked off the want-to-make list. 

The pattern is out-of-print (OOP) Simplicity 7417, circa 1996.  If you come across a copy, I would recommend picking it up even though robe patterns are widely available from the big four pattern companies.  This vintage pattern, unlike modern patterns, offers a variety of neckline details and hemline lengths.  It was the hooded version, just like the previous make, that I was drawn to.  Want a hooded robe and can't find a copy of OOP Simplicity 7417, consider Burda 6740.  

The Stats

Fabric:  3.7 metres

Pattern:  Simplicity 7417

Additional Tools & Supplies:  Cutting table, sewing machine, serger, scissors, clippers, pins, pin cushion, tailor's chalk, threads, measuring tape, serger needle and a vacuum for all those little stray threads.  

Happy Sewing!

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Long Time in the Making: McCall's 2447

Another project from the long-ago cut and forgotten pile. I actually cut this project nearly six years ago when I cut this shirt out. I think it was a sewing blooper which made it a short sleeve shirt that lower my confidence at finishing starting the second shirt, until now.

And would you believe that McCall's 2447, circa 1999, is still available? I really do recommend this pattern.  It's well drafted and has classic Oxford shirt detailing that hasn't gone out of style in the past century.  Why mess with a classic?

Okay, I did mess with it, just slightly. I used a RTW shirt as a guide for the button placement because I wanted more buttons down the front. And I omitted the chest pocket.

The fabric is a 100% cotton print. It was prewashed and aged ;) before the construction. Thankfully there was no fading to the fabric after all these years. The buttons were recycled and gifted from Mom's stash.

The Stats

Fabric:  2.1 metres

Interfacing:  0.9 metres of fusible interfacing

Buttons:  10 - 9 mm

Pattern:  McCall's 2447

Additional Tools and Supplies:  Iron, ironing board, cutting table, pins, tailor's chalk, sewing machine, walking foot, buttonhole foot, screwdriver, jean-a-ma-jig, serger, threads, hand sewing needle, tailor's wax, buttonhole cutter, seam ripper, scissors, thread clippers, clapper and point presser.

Happy Sewing!

Wednesday, 2 January 2019

In Sewing News Today...

Did you know that there is a couture method to sewing the yoke on a men's shirt? 

Photograph source:  The Idle Man
It's true. According to the 1978 edition of Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Sewing, it doesn't involve top-stitching or the slip-stitch. 
Couture method:  Do not topstitch yoke seamline.  Baste right side of yoke facing to wrong side of shirt fronts at shoulder seam.  Right sides together, match shoulder seams of yoke and shirt front. (Shirt will be between yoke and yoke facing.) Stitch through yoke, shirt front and yoke facing.  Thurn shirt to right side and press. (402)
Goodness! Do I ever love my vintage sewing library resources. I really want to try this on the next men's shirt, along with finishing the seams with French seams. I think that would look smart. I'm not a real fan of the Oxford styling with the flat felt seams and topstitching. It's not that there is anything wrong with it, I just see it everywhere in men's shirts. If I'm going to sew a classic style I prefer to make it stand out a little.  

I wonder if any modern day pattern instructions include this method? I checked the menswear patterns in my collection and they all only allude to the top-stitched method and the same goes for my vintage Vogue Sewing book.  

In other sewing news, I spent some time in the local bookstore that stocks sewing magazines and books. I have to say that I haven't been finding anything that I find inspiring. Is it me, or is there a over abundance of sewing literature geared to beginners or home décor?  

I did find one book that I would like to read but it wasn't a sewing reference book.  

Photograph source:  The NY Times
It has an interesting story as to how it came to be, I'll let you read about it here. First, I have to finish the book currently in my bag, blink. So far, it's a good read.  

Well, my Christmas break is coming to an end and the sewing machine will have a break until the weekend.  Until then, that's all in sewing news today.  

Happy Sewing! 

Monday, 31 December 2018

Top 5 of 2018: Goals

As 2018 is coming to an end and a new year is quickly on its way the question remains, what's next?  

1.  I would really like to finish sewing some projects that I've cut out many moons ago that have been abandoned for far too long. I started off with finishing OOP Vogue 1306 yesterday and there are a few others on the forgotten pile that I would like to continue working on.  

2.  More charity sewing projects and sewing for kids. Defiantly, more sewing for others.   

3.  Practical sewing.  There will be some selfish sewing.  I could use some new underwear.  

4. Close down the Etsy shop, with the recent increase in fees it just doesn't make sense anymore.  The patterns and other items once they expire won't be renewed.  I believe the last pattern will expire in the spring.  And then I'll figure out what to do with the collection.  

5.  Sew a pair of boot cut jeans.  I'm sure I'm going to have to work on a muslin or two. 

How about you?  Do you have any sewing goals lined up for the new year ahead?  Well, before I sign off I would like to thank you for all your kind words and encouragement in the comment section and sharing a laugh or two at the sewing bloopers as they pop up.  Please know that connecting with like-minded sewing folks fills my heart with joy as I admire your many creations and I am looking forward to the continued inspiration that I find along this journey.  

Happy Sewing!  

And Happy New Year.  

To Pre-shrink or Not

Some think that it's unnecessary to pre-treat fabric.  { Source } Yet anyone who has purchased ready-to-wear (RTW) and has lost...