Monday, June 9, 2014

Emery wearable muslin


I completed my first Emery dress this afternoon - a wearable muslin.  It was a really fun pattern to sew & I am pretty pleased with the general outcome, but there are still some things I would like to troubleshoot with fit and technique.

This is my second Christine Haynes pattern, and like the first, it has been challenging for me to fit the upper body.  I think she designs for a very different body type in the bust/throat/shoulders area of her patterns than my shape. I made two versions of the Chelsea dress and gave up on the style before perfecting the fit.  My first version was a 10 in the yoke/sleeve and I went down to an 8 for the second version.  The second version fits across the back and armscythe, but still has this weird bagginess at my throat - just extra fabric in the yoke that seems bulky and unflattering on my shape. I thought that it was maybe just the style was wrong for my shape.

For the Emery, I knew the style was going to be flattering on me if I could perfect the fit because it is one of my go-to shapes that I wear all the time.  Measurement-wise, I am in between the 8/10 in the bodice and I planned to cut the largest size of skirt and gather a fuller skirt into a more fitted bodice.  This is a much easier shape for me to pear-ify than the trapeeze style of the Chelsea & I'd read many blogs raving about prefect fitting muslins with no adjustment needed, so I had high hopes.

A perfect muslin was not to be for me. When I sewed it up and tried it on, the bust darts were way lower than my bust and again there was all sorts of extra material at the throat.  It frankly looked hideous - but I knew it could be sorted out. I tried Gertie's method of starting to pinch and pin fabric in different places to figure how how to alter the bodice to solve the fit issues.

I tried pinning to see if it would look better with higher darts, but raising the darts exacerbated the extra throat fabric problem.  It turned out the best effect came from taking another 5/8" out of the shoulder seams and likewise and extra 5/8" off the side-seam of the sleeves - and if I make this dress again, I will actually take the narrow shoulder adjustment of reshaping the angle of the shoulder too.

I also reshaped the neckline on the bodice and lining to more of a boatneck by cutting down two inches from the original pattern.  This was another alteration that mitgated the excess fabric around the throat and upper chest area. My best guess is that the pattern is just designed for a taller person with more length in her whole upper body, so I need to scale everything down, but keep the bust the same as my bust measurement.


For a day dress, I wanted some extra ease - I like being comfortable if I am going to sit at work all day or go out to lunch in a dress, so I am fairly happy with the ease elsewhere in the bodice, but I would like to try an 8 bodice and see if there is still enough ease to be comfortable while possibly improving the fit further.  I also think the back waist needs to be raised ever-so-slightly on my body to ensure the waist falls at the same line on the body all the way around.

The other thing I would like to improve for this dress is the back zip.  This was my first invisible zipper installation on the back of a dress.  I have always favored traditional zippers installed on the center back seam after it is already stitched or else a lapped zipper.  I've sewn fly front zippers too, but never an invisible zipper.  I didn't even own an invisible zip foot for my Viking... but the process looks quite simple on the Emery Sew Along invisible zipper tutorial so I decided to try it out.

Both the Emery and the Cambie dresses call for invible zips, and I don't have a Viking invisible zipper foot so I ordered a real Viking invisible zip foot, but I was impatient and so I raided the feet on my hand-me-down Janome to find a generic invisible zipper foot which clipped onto the Viking shaft. I used it for this zipper installation, which may have been my first mistake.

It was a relatively painless installation process - in theory! I had no trouble lining up the waist seam or finishing the top edges, as I read others had.  I didn't have any complaints about the process for finishing the bottom part after stitching the rest of the back seam either.  It was an elegant and easy installation process... that is, until I actually wore the dress and discovered something disheartening about the back zip.  It is decidely not invisible!

I pressed it in place and it looked great on a hanger, but after I wore it a bit, I noticed that the fabric had pulled away from the crease it was pressed into and the zipper was showing a lot. And since it was a muslin, I'd just used a black one instead of making a special trip to JoAnn to find a matching colored one - so it was painfully obvious.
Here you can sort of see what has happed with the creases along the edge - they didn't stay in place no matter how much I steamed and pressed them into place when the dress is lying flat.  At first guess, you'd think I just need to sew closer to the edge of the teeth, but my invisible zipper foot didn't permit me to sew any closer than I did without actually sewing into the teeth of the zipper, preventing it from opening and closing.  (I know this because I was sewing so close that I did sew into the teeth for a few stitches at one point & had to unpick and restitch them.)

This sort of imperfection drives me crazy because I don't know what I could have done better to avoid this and found no answers online. I must figure out how to install a better invisible zip or give up on them and use a regular one next time.  My best guesses as to why this looks so dodgy are two-fold. The gerenic/Janome foot wasn't a great quality foot.  Everything I've read points to the fact that having the invisible zipper foot designed particularly for your machine will give better results.  I am hoping the one I ordered will allow me to get into the edge near the teeth even more closely.

Also, I think I may have been worried about pressing the teeth too much and actually failed to press them out enough, so it maybe wasn't as easy to get right into the edge of the zipper as it could have been if it were pressed differently.  I'm not sure about that.  Different tutorials show to press the teeth open to varying degrees from flat to 90 degrees. I will try again and hope for better results on my next Emery. 

I can't believe I am the only person who has this problem with invisible zippers... but I didn't see any posts or advice for how to troubleshoot the problem, so it is going to involve some experimentation on my part to work it out.

Despite the challenges of fitting the bodice and installing a truly invisible zip, it's a beautiful pattern and I will definitely make it again - more that once more.  The instruction booklet is so professional and sturdy and even has room for notes in the back, so that I can write down all these little changes I've made for fit and also note how much yardage the skirt and bodice took separately for future two-toned versions! 


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