Monday, February 25, 2013

Plaid Wintertime Jumper

I'm so glad I got this done before spring came! Last week Mood did a blog post that began with "Done with winter sewing?"  and I thought, "No, I'm not done, Mood! Stop stressing me out!"

The insides. Silk lining with lace detail at the hem.

The Materials 

The pattern for this is from Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing. She has a few "base" patterns in her book, as well as several ways that you can modify them. This is the Sultry Sheath pattern, modified with a square neckline to be a wintertime jumper. 

I got this lovely wool fabric from Hart's Fabric in Santa Cruz, CA when I was out visiting for my sewing workshop. It's so soft and warm! 

Oxford agrees. He found the scraps to be excellent for napping.

Matching Plaid is Hard

This was my first time matching plaid, and let me tell you, it's not for the faint of heart. Lucky for me, I'm stubborn and really love wearing plaid, so I soldiered on. I spent a lot of time pinning and basting while watching episodes of "The Dick Van Dyke Show".

What went wrong: 

1. I like to have a glass of wine or two on occasion while I'm stitching away. This is less than an ideal combination for matching plaid. It usually results in stitch ripping and swearing.

2. This dress has four darts under the bust, and I've decided it's impossible to match plaid with two darts right next to each other. The first one throws everything else cattywampus. Maybe it's achievable by a better seamstress than I.

3. I selected an "uneven plaid", which isn't impossible to match, but definitely harder. Romy warned me about this, but like an idiot I said, "Oh, of course. Don't buy uneven plaid." without understanding what that was until I was sewing with it. 

I later found this great documentation from The University of Kentucky on working with plaid that helped me understand this one. 

Yup, I was sewing with uneven. Source

 And sometimes you have to make concessions on matching areas like this. Source.

It would have been great if I found that in the beginning instead of the end, though. Instead I spent a week yelling at the plaid, "I'M PRETTY SURE IT'S AGAINST THE LAWS OF PHYSICS THAT THIS COULD MATCH." And I totally matched above the dart instead of below. 

Good Tutorials on Matching Plaid: 

Sewaholic- Matching Plaids: A Step-by-Step Guide

Drafting Necklines is Even Harder

This was also my first time drafting a neckline on a pattern, and I kind of goofed. Believe it or not, I did two muslins before I sewed on my fashion fabric, so I thought I had this problem fixed. I did a forward-shoulder adjustment, narrow shoulder adjustment, and added width to the straps all while in muslin form. Then I tried tweaking when I got to fashion fabric and found out it was still a problem. I was starting to muck up the bust area, though, so I gave up...

A wobbly bit I'm glad I can hide with a cardigan.

I don't think I understand enough about drafting, and clearly I had some fit problems here. So I think I will finally get around to reading Make Your Own Dress Patterns by Adele P. Margolis. I read The Dressmaking Book and loved how she explained why you do things in addition to how. Plus, she was a sassy writer and sometimes her prose makes me chuckle. 

Adele will help me understand what went wrong! 

Off to read and contemplate my next project!


  1. Next time call me. I can help with the wine drinking and the seam ripping. Oh, well, maybe that's not actually helpful. Instead, I say you're being too hard on yourself. Plaid is hard! You did it anyway!

    1. Very true! This is a pretty stellar dress, despite its faults. And I always love learning new things, so it's nice to keep moving forward.

  2. I have just read your whole blog, and I must say that you, your blog and your jumper are brilliant! I love your pictures, your projects and the way you tell your stories. And I love that you share about your grandmother's stashed treasures (drooling over the button and belt-making supplies).
    I love wool, and especially plaids. I can only see a little of the plaid up close, but it really looks like an even plaid to me, as the stripe repeat pattern of both weft and warp appear symmetrical. Are you sure it's an uneven plaid?
    Also, for future reference, did you know you can "add" two darts together? Just add the two depths together and you'll be subtracting the same amount of fabric as if you were making the two shallow darts. You may have fewer issues with plaid-matching that way.
    I love construction details too, and I will be watching to enjoy your future projects!

    1. Thank you, Wendy! I think you might be right about the plaid being even. I've been following along with Sunni's tutorial (, and began to suspect the same myself.

      Excellent tip about the dart changes! I just took an intro to pattern making class and they showed us how to do that. I will have to give it a try on my next version!

      Thank you so much for the helpful suggestions! I love continuing to learn how to do things better!