Posts filed under the acton

The Acton : A little pocket pattern hack

I made a new Acton dress lately (photos to come eventually... when I finally psyche myself up to get in front of the camera) and while I have been wearing it, there has been a little thing that I think I will change next time I make an Acton. I'd love to extend the pocket pieces so that they can be stitched to the dress waist seam and then always stay in the front of the dress (sometimes they like to flip towards the back skirt). This was something I thought about when developing the pattern, but because there isn't one set place where people like their pockets (as we are all different height) I worried it would make it more challenging for people, if they felt an adjustment needed to be made. 

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So today, I thought I'd show you how to extend the pocket pieces. This tutorial is for you if you have found your optimum pocket position, and now just want to prevent the pockets from moving around when you're wearing your Acton. This tutorial could also be adapted to other patterns too. You could do this for any skirt or dress pattern that has a waistband or waist seam. 

Getting started

To start, take the SKIRT FRONT pattern piece (view A) as well as the original in-seam pocket piece. No alteration will be made to these pattern pieces, so using the originals is fine.

Place the pocket piece on top of the skirt piece, in the position it will be sewn. Use the notches as a guide. If the original pocket placement is too high or too low for you, move to a more comfortable position. 

Creating the new pattern piece

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Take a small piece of pattern paper and place it over your pocket (make sure it extends up to the top of the pattern piece, as this is the area we will be extending on the pocket). It really helps if your paper is transparent enough to see the pieces underneath. If it's not, consider using a light box or taping your pieces to a window. If you are worried about your pocket piece moving, you can tape it in place on the skirt.

Trace the bottom edge of the pocket bag. This will remain the same as the original for the new pattern piece. Stop tracing at (approximately) the point where the curve of the pocket edge turns back towards the side seam. 

Now, draw a straight line up to the waistline from the point on the curve where you stopped tracing. I would suggest that the point on the waistline should be about 6-7cm (2 - 3") from the side seam (measuring from the stitch line, not the cut edge), but this is up to you.

Trace along the side seam of the skirt, between the bottom of the pocket bag and the waist - transferring this line onto your new pocket piece. Then trace along the waist seam until you reach the edge of the pocket. 

Transfer pattern information

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Transfer pattern information onto the new pattern piece. This includes labelling the pattern piece, cutting instructions (cut 2 pairs) and the grainline (which should be parallel to the centre front). For more details on pattern markings, check out this tutorial

Transfer notches

Add notches to your new pattern piece. Start by transferring the relevant notches from the original pattern pieces. This includes the side seam notch and one of the balance points on the edge of the pocket. For more information about notches (and why they really help you when assembling garments), check out this tutorial

A few more notches will be needed, apart from the original ones. Place one notch on the side seam of the pocket, where the original pocket started (this notch will match the notch on the side seam of the skirt). Add two more notches on the curve of the pocket. These notches will act as balance points so that you can match the two pocket pieces together correctly when you are up to that point. 

And there you have it. A new pocket piece! 

Sewing your pocket

1. After you have sewn your front and back skirt pieces together (along with the pocket) - in line with the original instructions (sew-along post here), sew a line of stitching down the side of the pockets on each side to prevent the pocket being open from the waist seam down. 

2. When assembling your Acton with the new pocket piece, be sure to stay stitch the top edge of the pocket onto the front waistline before you join the bodice to the skirt. This will keep the pocket in place as well as help you get a really nice finish (as it means everything will be tucked nicely into the bodice lining). 


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Posted on February 14, 2017 and filed under the acton.

Pattern hack : How to add a full skirt to the Acton dress

Hello, hello, I hope you enjoyed the Acton sew-along! Today I thought I'd show you a little pattern hack. A customer got in touch to tell me she was planning on using the Acton pattern to make her bridesmaids dresses (swoon!) and wanted to know how she could go about adding a full circle skirt, instead of the standard A-line skirt (view A). I thought it would be a good tutorial to share on the blog, as I'm sure many of you would love an Acton with a full skirt, while some of you may also be interested in how you add a full circle skirt to a pattern that doesn't have a straight waist seam - and this tutorial fits the bill for both!

Getting started

To start, trace a copy of the front skirt pattern piece with seam allowance - be sure to also trace the stitch line (the grey line on the pattern) and transfer the notches, grainline and drill hole. Cut out the pattern piece. 

Take a large piece of pattern paper and draw a vertical line down the right hand side. Label line as "Centre Front."

Take your pattern piece and line up the centre front of the skirt, with the line marked as Centre Front on the paper. Tape in place (only down the centre front).

Mark in your 'Cut and Spread' lines

We will be using the 'Cut and Spread' method to add the extra fullness to the skirt.

Draw two straight lines from the top of the skirt to the bottom - roughly splitting the skirt into thirds. 

Starting at the hem of the skirt, carefully cut up each of the lines. Cut up to the stitch line, but do not cut through the stitch line. 

Cut the remainder of each line from the top edge (cutting down towards the stitch line). Don't cut all the way through though, stop a few millimetres from the stitch line, leaving a 1-2mm "hinge" to keep the pieces together (if they do accidentally come apart, just tape back in place). 

Cut and spread

Slowly open up the hemline of the skirt by swinging the section closest to the side seam out from the cut. You will see that the small hinge created will allow you to open (or close) the cut lines by the desired amount. 

Open up the second cut line (closest to the centre front) and then play around with the openings until you are happy with how much you are adding to the hemline overall (and both are opened evenly). 

When you are happy with the result, tape or glue the pieces in place on the backing paper. 

Re-draw the waistline

You will now notice that the waistline is looking a little scary! We will need to rectify that now. 

Re-draw the waistline with a smooth curve (on the stitch line). Be careful not to let the line stray too far from the original stitch line. The new line needs to be the same length as the original waistline so that the new skirt piece will still fit with the original bodice. 

Re-draw the hemline

Re-draw the hemline with a nice smooth curve. 

Trace the pattern

Take another large piece of pattern paper and trace a copy of the new pattern piece. Start by tracing the stitching line - centre front, new hemline, side seam and new waistline. 

Add seam allowance

Add seam allowance to the new pattern piece - either using the original cutting lines as a guide, or adding it yourself - 1.5cm at the side seam, 1.2cm at the hem and waistline. If you are wondering why the seam allowance sits at an angle on the side seam, check out this post

Add notches, grainline and drill hole

Transfer the notches from the original pattern, as well as the grainline and drillhole in the centre front. 

Finalise the pattern

Cut out your new pattern piece and add cutting instructions (i.e. "Cut 1 on fold"). Repeat process for the back pattern piece (opening up each cut and spread line by the same amount as you did on the front piece).

One last tip

Tip: Be sure to let your full skirt hang for a few days before you hem it. Due to the nature of a full skirt, some parts of the skirt are cut on the bias, which means they stretch (or "drop") more easily that other sections of the skirt, which means that if you hem it straight away, you are likely to end up with a wobbly hemline. Let your skirt hang and then re-cut the hemline before hemming. 

The Acton sew-along will continue tomorrow. Hope you are enjoying these posts and learning lots!


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The Acton sew-along : Finishing up (view B)

Welcome back to the Acton sew-along! Today we will be finishing up the wrap version of the dress (view B). 

Prepare the lining

You should have assembled the bodice lining at the same time as you assembled the bodice. If you haven't done it already, check out this post for how to do it (it's exactly the same as the bodice). 

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Take the bodice lining and with right side facing down, fold back the centre back seam allowance 2cm (¾in) and press flat on both sides.

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With the lining still face down, turn up the bottom edge by 1.2cm (½in) and press.

ATTACH THE LINING TO THE BODICE

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With the dress right side out, pin the lining to the bodice (with right sides together). Start at the centre back and work your way around the armhole, matching each set of seam lines. Be sure to have the zip open and the centre back seam allowances pressed flat and not folded back.

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Continue pinning until you reach the centre back on the other side. This step can be a little awkward as the straps are quite short, so keep checking that the straps haven’t been caught up by the pins.

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Stitch along the edge with a 1cm (⅜in) seam allowance.

Trim down the seam allowance by 5-6mm (¼in) and clip into the curves. Turn the dress to the right side.

UNDERSTITCH

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Lay the seam flat, and with the seam allowances pushed towards the lining, understitch the seam
allowances to the lining. Start as close as you can get to the top of the back armhole and continue around the armhole.

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Stitch as close as you can to the strap, before back stitching and then moving on to the neckline.
Backstitch again when you get as close as you can to the second strap, before moving on to the
second armhole.

Attach lining at centre back

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With the bodice turned inside out, pin along the centre back seam - sandwiching the zip between
the bodice and the lining. Turn up the bottom edge by 1.2cm (½in) and pin in place (this is where the crease you made earlier comes in handy).

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Using a regular zip foot, stitch the lining in place, by stitching next to the zip on the side closest to the raw edges. Repeat for the second side.

CLIP THE CORNERS

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Trim back the seam allowances on either side of the corner to minimise bulk. On the lining, trim back the seam allowance from the bottom corner close to the zip, to minimise bulk in this area.

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Turn the bodice right side out and use a corner turner (or pencil) to get a nice sharp corner, before giving the bodice a good press.

Before pinning the lining in place, use the cuts in the seam allowance at either side, to overlap the
seam allowances. Pin seams flat to the bodice.

ATTACH LINING AT THE WAIST

With the seam allowance on the lining still folded under, pin the lining to the bodice, along the waistline.

If you would like to stitch the lining in place by machine, turn the bodice to the right side, insert pins through the wasitline (ensuring that you catch the lining) and then stitch in the ditch (look here for more details). 

To sew by hand (for a really clean finish on the inside and outside) take a sharp fine needle and pick up a few threads at the waistline seam, before feeding the needle through the fold line on the bodice lining and then going back through the waistline.

Hemming

Before hemming your dress it is a good idea to let it hang overnight to let the hem drop (particularly if you are using silk or similar). Trim down the hem if necessary after hanging.

With the dress inside out, turn up the hem by 6mm (¼in) and stitch. You can simply do this with your finger rather than pressing and pinning. Turn the hem by another 6mm (¼in) and press. Pin hem in place and stitch along the original stitch line to complete the hem.

Turn the hem by another 6mm (¼in) and press. Pin hem in place and stitch along the original stitch line to complete the hem.

And that's it! Both our Actons are all done. For a review of all the posts we've covered, have a look here

I hope you have enjoyed the sew-along, and learned a thing or two!


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Posted on February 7, 2017 and filed under sewalong, sewing tutorials, the acton.

The Acton sew-along : Attaching the straps (view B)

Over the past few weeks we have been working our way through the Acton dress for the sew-along. It will finally come to an end this week, as we finish up the wrap version. I'd love to hear what you have thought of these posts, do you find them useful? 

A quick re-cap

Last week we assembled the bodice (it's the same process as the A-line version) and attached the skirt to the bodice. Before working tour way through this post, you will need to insert the invisible zip. The tutorial is for View A, but the process is exactly the same - you just have different back bodice pieces to attach. 

Attach the straps

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When the zip is inserted, it's time to make the straps. Use the same method as we did for View A (these straps are just much shorter). 

Take the straps and place them face down on the front of the bodice, pinning them in place between the neckline and the armholes. The straps need to be positioned with the short end sticking up beyond the top edge of the bodice (it will become right way up when the bodice is lined). Stitch in place 6mm (¼in) from the top edge.

TRY ON THE DRESS

Try on the dress and pin the straps in place at the back (this is when an extra set of hands really helps), at the length that they feel comfortable. Strap positioning is very important, so have a play around to ensure you have got it right. The peak of the princess seam on the bodice should sit on the peak of your bust. If you are struggling with this, it may help to check out some of the tester versions of the dress, to see how the bodice sits on a range of different figure shapes. 

Take the dress off and use a horizontal pin to mark the correct length on the back end of each of the straps, before taking off the dress.

Being careful not to twist the straps, pin the straps in place on the back of the bodice. When attaching the strap to the back, be sure to remember that there is a 1cm (⅜in) seam allowance around the armhole, and the strap will need to sit clear of that. Stitch in place 6mm (¼in) from the top edge.

I was planning on showing you how to line the bodice today too, but I have just realised, that would create a very very long blog post! So, as not to overwhelm you, I'll leave that until tomorrow.


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Posted on February 6, 2017 and filed under sewalong, sewing tutorials, the acton.

The Acton sew-along : Adding waist ties

Welcome back to the Acton sew-along! Yesterday we got started on the wrap version of the Acton dress, and today we'll be continuing by adding the waist ties and finishing up the side seams on the wrap. 

Make the waist ties

Take the waist tie pieces and fold in half lengthways, right sides together. Stitch along the length of the strap with a 1cm (⅜in) seam allowance. Trim the seam allowance down to 3-4mm (⅛in) before using a safety pin (or bodkin) to turn right side out. Use a pin to tuck one short edge of the tie inside itself and stitch close to the edge to enclose.

Attach waist ties + finish side seams

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Take the dress and with it right side out, pin the skirt side seams together, using the notches to guide you. Take the raw end of the waist tie and pin the tie in place at the top of the seam, overlapping the side seam by 1-2cm (⅜ - ¾in). I know this looks a little bit strange, but I promise it will work!

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Stitch the side seam with a 6mm (¼in) seam allowance. Trim down the seam allowance by 2-3mm (⅛in).

Trim back the raw edge of the waist strap by the same amount. Repeat on the other side.

Turn the dress inside out and press the seam flat, being careful to check that the waist ties remain
straight. Pin in place, before stitching with a 6mm (¼in) seam allowance. Repeat on the other side.

And that's it for today's post! Next week we will be finishing up by sewing on the straps, attaching the bodice lining and hemming.


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Posted on February 3, 2017 and filed under sewalong, sewing tutorials, the acton.

The Acton sew-along : Attaching the bodice to the skirt (View B)

If you have been following along with the Acton sew-along, you will have seen that yesterday we finished up View A (the A-line version).

Now it's time to start sewing view B (the wrap skirt version), which I am very excited as I must admit it is my personal favourite!

Construct the bodice

Construct the bodice in the same way that you would construct View A - check out this post if you need some guidance. Follow the same method to assemble the lining. 

Attach the bodice front to front skirt

The method for attaching the skirt to the bodice for the Acton, is probabaly a little different to any method you have used in the past, don't worry about that. Just follow the instructions carefully and I promise it will all come together beautifully!

Take the SKIRT FRONT and lay it right side up on your cutting table. Place the bodice right side down (so the pieces now have right sides together), aligning the opening in the centre front of
the bodice with the drill hole in the centre front of the skirt. Pin in place.

Using the notches on the skirt to guide you (they align with the princess seams on the bodice), pin the front of the bodice front to the skirt on just one side. Stop pinning when the side seam of the bodice lines up with the drill hole on the skirt front.

Move on to the other side of the front bodice, pinning from the centre front to the bodice side seam on the other side (you will notice that the small opening in the bottom of the centre front bodice seam really helps with this bit).

Stitch from one drill hole / bodice side seam, to the centre front, with a 1.2cm (1/2in) seam allowance. As you approach the centre front, go nice and slow - walking the final stitches if you need to. Insert the needle in the centre front and turn the corner before sewing to the other drill hole / bodice side seam.

Press the seam allowance up towards the bodice, before checking that there is no puckering at the point where the centre front bodice and skirt meet.

While the dress is still wrong up, make small cuts in the skirt piece. To do this, from the top edge of the skirt, at the point where the stitching stops, carefully snip into the seam allowance, towards the line of stitching (be careful not to cut through the stitches). This will help you achieve a clean finish when it comes to joining the top edges of the front and back skirt. Repeat on the other side.

Attach the bodice back to back skirt pieces

Take the the back pieces of the skirt and finish the raw edges of the centre back on both pieces. If you would like to get a really beautiful finish, consider finishing with a Hong Kong bind. 

With the dress right side up, fold back the SKIRT FRONT so that you can access the back
waistline on the bodice.

Take the SKIRT BACK and, matching the centre back on the skirt to the centre back on the bodice (with right sides together), pin the skirt waistline to the bodice waistline. Use the notches to guide you like you did with the front bodice. Pin until you reach the drill hole on the skirt back and the side seam on the bodice.

Fold back the unpinned part of the skirt to check that the seam is pinned up until the front skirt meets the bodice, but is not overlapping.

Stitch seam with a 1.2cm (1/2in) seam allowance, going nice and slow as you approach the drill hole.

From the top edge of the back skirt, at the point where the stitching stops, carefully cut into the skirt seam allowance towards the stitch line (in the same way that you did for the front skirt). Repeat on the other side. 

Join the front and back skirt

You will now join the top edges of the front and back skirt with a french seam (for more info on french seams, check out this tutorial). Turn the dress right side out and pin the top edge of the front skirt to the top edge of the back skirt.

Stitch with a 6mm (1/4in) seam allowance.

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Trim down the seam allowance by 2-3mm (⅛in).

Turn the dress inside out and press the seam flat. Pin the seam, enclosing the raw edge inside the
seam.

Stitch with a 6mm (¼in) seam allowance.

Go nice and slow as you approach the bodice, being careful to meet the stitch line at the waistline. Repeat for the second side.

Turn the dress to the right side and give it a good press.

That's all for today's post. I hope you didn't find it too tricky! Tomorrow we'll be making the waist ties and sewing up the side seams of the skirt.


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Posted on February 2, 2017 and filed under sewalong, sewing tutorials, the acton.

The Acton sew-along : Hemming

If you have been following along with the Acton sew-along, you will know we have almost finished sewing the Acton with A-line skirt (view A), which means that tomorrow we will be starting the Acton view B (wrap skirt version)! 

This post is a quick one, as all that we have left to do is the hem.

In the instructions I advise to just do a simple finish and turn hem, but you could consider using binding if you wanted something a little fancier (check out this post for making your own binding  if you want to give it a go). If you are using a really light-weight fabric, you may want to do a rolled hem for a cleaner finish (use this tutorial to learn how to sew a rolled hem without a rolled hem foot). 

Hemming the Acton 

Finish the hem with an overlocker or zig-zag stitch and then fold up by 1.2cm (1/2in). Press and in pin.

Give your dress a good press and you are ready to wear your Acton! 

Told you it was going to be a very quick post today!

All done!

Have you been sewing along with me? I'd love to know how you are going. Let me know by tagging me on Instagram @inthefolds with the hashtag #theactondress. I can't wait to see your progress!


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Posted on February 1, 2017 and filed under sewalong, sewing tutorials, the acton.

The Acton sew-along : Attaching the bodice lining

One of my favourite things about the Acton is the lined bodice. It really helps you get a beautiful finish on the inside, and aligns well with the dressy and glamorous feel of the dress. In todays' post for the Acton sew-along, I'll be showing you how to attach the lining to the bodice. 

Prepare the lining

You should have assembled the bodice lining at the same time as you assembled the bodice. If you haven't done it already, check out this post for how to do it (it's exactly the same as the bodice). 

Take the bodice lining and with right side facing down, fold back the centre back seam allowance 2cm (¾in) and press flat on both sides.

With the lining still face down, turn up the bottom edge by 1.2cm (½in) and press.

Attach the lining to the bodice

With the dress right side out, pin the lining to the bodice, starting at the centre back, with right sides together. Be sure to have the zip open and the centre back seam allowances pressed flat and not folded. Pin until you reach the side seam. You will need to sew the top edge in small sections, as the straps make it difficult to get the top edge to lie flat. Stitch this section with a 1cm (⅜in) seam allowance.

Next, pin from the side seam, around the armhole, neckline and second armhole, until you reach the side seam on the other side. Again, stitch with a 1cm (⅜in) seam allowance.

Pin the remainder of the seam in place, before stitching with a 1cm (⅜in) seam allowance.

Before continuing, turn the dress to the right side and with the facing flipped up, check that the seam along the top edge is even on either side of the zip. Clip into the seam allowance (particularly around the curves).

Understitch

Lay the seam flat, and with the seam allowances pushed towards the lining, understitch (stitch the seam allowances to the lining). Start 2-3cm (1in) from the centre back and stitch as close as you can to the strap, before back stitching and moving on to the neckline and second armhole

With the bodice turned inside out, pin along the centre back seam - sandwiching the zip between the bodice and the lining. Keep the bottom edge of the lining turned up by 1.2cm (½in) and pin in place (this is when the crease you made earlier comes in handy).

With a regular zipper foot. Stitch the lining in place by sewing close to the zip on either side.

Clip the corners

Trim back both sides of the corner at the top of the zip. This will help you get a nice sharp corner and a lovely clean finish. 

Trim back the seam on the lining only from close to the waist seam, to minimise bulk around the zip and waist seam.

Turn the bodice right-side out

Turn the bodice right side out and use a corner turner (or pencil) to get a nice sharp corner at the centre back, before giving the bodice a good press. It's looking pretty nice, right?!

Attach bodice at the waist

Turn the dress inside out and with the seam allowance still folded under, pin the lining to the bodice, along the waistline. In the next steps I will show you how to attach the lining to the bodice using a sewing machine. If you would prefer to stitch by hand (to get a more discreet finish), I will show you how to do that later on in the sew-along (when we're working through view B).

Turn the dress over to the right side and pin along the waistline, checking regularly that you have caught the lining on the wrong side. Remove the pins from the wrong side.

Stitch the lining in place by carefully stitching in the groove created by the waist seam (this is called stitching in the ditch).

You'll see that we're almost done! Just to hem and then you'll be ready to wear your Acton!


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Posted on January 31, 2017 and filed under sewalong, sewing tutorials, the acton.

The Acton sew-along : Inserting the invisible zip

In yesterday's post for the Acton sew-along, we joined the bodice to skirt to form a dress, and today we'll be inserting the invisible zip. For any of you who just ran away screaming, please come back! Once you know how to do them (and with a few little tricks under your belt, which I'll be showing you today) they really are a piece of cake. 

Prepare the centre back seam

With the dress right side down, turn the centre back seam back by 2cm (¾in) and press . Repeat on the other side of the opening. This crease will help when you insert the zip.

Position the zip

And now it’s zip time! Take your zip and unzip it. Using a warm, dry iron, press the zipper teeth flat. Make sure you check your irons heat setting. You really don't want to melt the teeth!

Turn the dress right side up and unfold the centre back seam.

Starting at the right side of the centre back opening, take the zip and place it face down on the opening. Place the zip stop 1cm (⅜in) down from the bodice edge, and align the zip teeth with the creased line created in the previous step.

Pin the zip to the centre back, regularly checking that the zip teeth are aligned with the crease.

Baste zip in place (Top Tip #1 for sewing perfect invisible zips every time)

Take a needle and contrasting thread (a great chance to use all those strange coloured threads you have somehow accumulated over the years), and baste the zip tape to the dress by hand. This will ensure the zip does not shift while you are sewing it in. Remove the pins.

Stitch the first side in place

Using an invisible zip foot, stitch down the length of the zip, using your finger to uncoil the teeth as you sew. Try to get as close to the teeth as you can (without stitching them).

Backstitch just before you reach the end of the zip (you won’t be able to get past the zip pull).

With the dress right side out, turn the seam allowance under (flipping the zip tape to the inside of the dress) and press the fold nice and flat.

Line up the waist seam on either side of the zip (Top Tip #2 for sewing perfect invisible zips every time)

To ensure that the waist seam matches up on either side of the zip, take a pin and put it through the zip tape (on the side not yet sewn) horizontally, in line with the waist seam.

Now open the zip and place the tape face down on the left side of the back opening, aligning the
horizontal pin on the zip tape with the waist seam. Make sure the zip is not twisted. Pin in place.

Attach second side of zip

Place pins along the length of the zip, and again baste in place by hand.

Stitch in place with an invisible zip foot, again uncoiling the zip teeth with your finger and stitching as close as you can to the coil. 

Job done. Your zip is inserted! Now to finish off the centre back seam. 

Close the centre back seam

Turn the dress inside out and pin the remainder of the centre back opening closed, keeping the ends of the zip tape out of the way.

With an ordinary zip foot, stitch the centre back seam closed. Start by putting your needle in the
endpoint of the zip stitch line (or as close to it as you can get) and continue down the seam with a 2cm (¾in) seam allowance.

Give the centre back seam a good press, with the seam allowance pressed open.

And you have an invisible zip in your Acton dress!

How do you feel? Less daunted by invisible zips?


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Posted on January 27, 2017 and filed under sewalong, sewing tutorials, the acton.

The Acton sew-along : How to attach the bodice to the skirt (view A)

Over the last couple of days, I have shown you how to assemble the bodice and skirt of the Acton (view A). In today's post for the Acton sew-along, we'll be attaching the bodice to the skirt.

Line up the side seams

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Take the bodice and skirt and match them together with right sides together. Start by matching the side seams. The side seams meet at different angles, so you will want to start by ensuring they line up at the point where you will stitch the bodice to the skirt (this position is different to wear the seams meet at the cut edge).

To do this, measure down the side seam on the bodice, and mark the stitch line, which is 1.2cm (½in) down, with a horizontal pin. 

join_skirt_bodice_acton_2.jpg

Use a second pin to push through the side seam on the bodice (at the position you just marked) and then through the side seam of the skirt, aligning the two seams at the point they will be stitched. Secure with a pin. Check that the seam allowance on the skirt side seam is still pressed towards the front.

Now that you know that the side seams are aligned, pin the bodice to the skirt on just one side, working from the centre back to the centre front. Use the notches and seam lines to guide you. The opening at the bottom of the centre front line should match up with the drill hole on the centre front of the skirt.

With a 1.2cm (½in) seam allowance, stitch the bodice to the skirt, being careful to start or finish (depending on which end you start stitching at) your row of stitching right at the centre front seam on the bodice.

Repeat the previous steps for the second side, remembering to carefully match the sides seams on the bodice and skirt first.

Press the seam allowance up towards the bodice. This seam does not need to be finished as it will be enclosed within the bodice lining (unless your fabric is prone to fraying).

Job done! The bodice and skirt have now become a dress. In the coming days we'll create the straps and insert the zip. It's really coming together now!


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Posted on January 26, 2017 and filed under sewalong, sewing tutorials, the acton.

The Acton-sew along : Sewing in-seam pockets

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Hello! Welcome back to the Acton sew-along! Yesterday, we finally got started on our bodice, and today we're onto the skirt. 

View A has in-seam pockets (pockets hidden in the side seams) because I love to put pockets in every dress I can! This post will guide you through inserting the pockets with a standard finish (zig zag or overlocking), if you are using a really soft or flimsy fabric, I would suggest using french seams instead. The process is a little more involved, but you will achieve a really beautiful finish. You can check out that tutorial here

If you aren't including pockets in your Acton, you can simple stitch the front and back side seams together with a 1.5cm seam allowance. Finish the seams and press them open. 

Getting started :

Finish the edge of each pocket individually

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Take both pairs of IN-SEAM POCKETS and finish the curved edge of each pocket individually, using an overlocker, zig zag stitch or bias binding.

Stitch pockets to front skirt

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Take one pair of IN-SEAM POCKET pieces and pin to the FRONT SKIRT (with right sides together) by lining up the straight edge of each pocket with the side seam of the skirt. Stitch from the top of the pocket to the bottom, with a 1.2cm (½in) seam allowance. Finish the side seams - capturing the edge of the pocket, as well as the side seam - using your chosen method.

Stitch pockets to back skirt

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Take your BACK SKIRT pieces and place them side-by-side, with the centre back seams next to each other. Take the other pair of IN-SEAM POCKETS and match with the notches on the side seam of the BACK SKIRT pieces, with right sides together. Pin in place and stitch from top to bottom, with a 1.2cm (½in) seam allowance. Finish the side seams - capturing the edge of the pocket, as well as the side seam - using your chosen method.

At this point you can also finish the centre back seams with your chosen method. 

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Press each pocket bag away from the body of the skirt. Understitch the seam allowance to the pocket bag on each pocket (this will help keep the pockets on the inside of the dress).

Join front and back skirt

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With right sides together, match the SKIRT FRONT to the SKIRT BACK at each side seam. Pin in place, around the pocket and then continue pinning the rest of the seam.

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Stitch along the side seam with a 1.5cm (⅝in) seam allowance, reducing to a 1cm (⅜in) seam allowance around the pocket edge. Pivot to get from the side seam to the pocket edge. Press the seams, and the pocket, towards the skirt front. 

And that's it. Your Acton dress now has pockets! Tomorrow we'll be attaching the skirt to the bodice and all these pieces are really going to start looking like a dress. Yay!


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Posted on January 25, 2017 and filed under sewalong, sewing tutorials, the acton.

The Acton sew-along : Construct the bodice (sewing princess seams)

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I can't believe that I am saying this, but it is finally time to start sewing today! If you have been following the Acton sew-along, you will know that I have gone through A LOT of alterations (check them out here). When it comes to the Acton, fit is important, and I really wanted you all to feel confident to make any alterations you require. 

But by now, you should have printed the pattern, made the alterations required to the pattern, got some inspiration, cut your fabric and be ready to sew.

We'll be starting with the bodice. You will notice that seam allowances vary in my patterns. This is to help you get a really nice finish. Different seam types require different finishes. For example, when putting in a zip, you will want a 2cm (3/4in) seam allowance, to get a really nice finish, while around an armhole or neckline (which is quite a sharp curve), 1cm (3/8in) will work much better. So be careful to check wjat seam allowance is required for each step. 

Join the centre front bodice pieces

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Take the CENTRE FRONT BODICE pieces and pin together, down the centre front, with right sides
together. With a 12mm (1/2in) seam allowance, stitch down from the neckline to the drill hole (the point marked at the bottom of the seam). This little opening at the bottom of the seam will help you get a really nice point, when you join the bodice to the skirt. Repeat for the lining pieces. Seam allowances can be left raw, as the bodice will be fully lined, but if your fabric is prone to fraying, you may choose to overlock the seams (or cut with pinking shears). 

You can press the seam allowances open at this point, or wait to the bodice and lining are constructed and press all at once (I always wait until I have multiple seams to press at the same time, as it can be a big time saver). 

Stitch the princess seams

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Pin the SIDE FRONT BODICE pieces to the CENTRE FRONT BODICE (with right sides together), using the notches to guide you. The seam on the CENTRE FRONT BODICE is straight, while the panel line on the SIDE FRONT BODICE piece is curved, so you will need to ease the curved seam into the straight seam. It may seem like the curve is longer than the straight seam, but the stitch lines are the same length, it is just the added seam allowance that changes the length of the seams. Once your panels are nicely pinned, stitch with a 12mm (1/2in) seam allowance. Repeat for the lining.

Assemble the back bodice

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Take the SIDE BACK BODICE piece and pin to the CENTRE BACK BODICE, using the notches to guide you. These pattern pieces are quite similar to one another. If you think there is a chance you will mix them up (which could lead to an upside down bodice), put a pin, or chalk mark on the centre back pieces. Stitch seam with a 12mm (1/2in) seam allowance. Repeat for the lining pieces.

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With right sides together, pin the front bodice to the back bodice at the side seams, before stitching with a 15mm (5/8in) seam allowance. Repeat for the lining.

Press seams

Press all seams open (on both bodice and lining) - carefully clipping into the princess seams if you feel the need. This is a great time to use a tailor's ham if you have one. It can help you get a nice smooth curve over the bust. 

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Once pressed, carefully stay stitch (a line of stitching that is sewn along a shaped - or bias cut - seam to keep it from stretching as a garment is being made)  along the top edge of both the bodice and the lining 6mm (¼in) from the edge. This will mean the stay stitching remains inside the seam allowance (the seam allowance along the armhole / neckline is 1cm / 3/8in). 

Your bodice and lining can be set aside for the moment. Tomorrow we will be moving onto the skirt... starting with attaching the pockets!


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Posted on January 24, 2017 and filed under sewalong, sewing tutorials, the acton.

The Acton sew-along : 6 tips for sewing with silk (or other delicate fabrics)

When the Acton pattern was in testing, a few of the testers ran into some problems working with silk (or similar shifty fabrics), which got me thinking that it would be a good idea to do a post in the Acton sew-along with some tips, as there are a number of things you can do to make life a lot easier for yourself when working with silk. 


1. PRE-WASH YOUR SILK

Just like with any other fabric, you will need to pre-wash your fabric before you get started. Use the method suggested on the fabric label. Some silks will require hand washing, while others will be fine with a cold machine wash. Wash your fabric and then hang it on the line to dry, before giving it a good press (this is a good time to see how your fabric handles being ironed, and whether a pressing cloth will be required when you're sewing). 


2. Sandwich fabric between thin layers of paper when cutting

This one has probably got a lot of you freaking out already. Yes, I said it... Cut your fabric between layers of paper! I know cutting paper with your fabric scissors is generally a big no-no in the sewing world, but I have been doing this for years (and was taught to do this when studying fashion at university) and my scissors have lived to tell the tale. When working with silk, I think the most important thing is cutting it correctly. If you have ever tried to cut silk without it being sandwiched between papers, you may have realised that it's REALLY difficult. It doesn't want to stay straight, and it is really easy to lose the grain. This leaves you with cut pieces that are not fun to work with. With paper, you can be sure the fabric is on grain, and that you have cut it out correctly (without any of those ragged edges). Convinced you yet?

How to do it...

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The way I do it is I take a large sheet of paper (I use "dot and cross" drafting paper) and draw a straight line along one of the long sides and one of the short sides. 

I then take the amount of fabric I need, and tear (if possible) along each cut edge (not the selvedge), if they are not already torn. This helps ensure you have got the fabric on grain. If your fabric does not tear nicely (always good to check on a small scrap of fabric first), instead you can find your cross grain by snipping into the edge of the fabric and then pulling a thread or two down from the cross-wise grain. This will create a straight line that you can cut along. Check out this tutorial from Colette if you need more details on how to do it this way. 

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Now, take the fabric and place it on top of the pattern paper, with right side up - lining up one edge (selvedge side) with the horizontal line on the paper (we'll deal with the vertical line soon). Pin in place, being careful to check the edge remains straight between each pin. 

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If you are working on the fold (you will cut a pair of each piece), carefully fold the fabric in half, by bringing the opposite selvedge towards you. Line up the selvedge with the pinned edge, and then pin in place (using the original pins, so that the pins are now holding two layers of fabric and a layer of paper). 

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Make sure both layers of fabric are also straight on the cross-wise grain (marked with the vertical line on the paper), and pin in place. I generally just pin the two sides, but if you feel it will make things easier for you, you can also pin the other two sides of fabric to the paper.

Gently smooth out any wrinkles or bubbles in the fabric. I use a long plastic ruler to do this. 

Put another layer of paper on top, sandwiching the fabric in between the two layers, before putting pins through all four layers.

Now, place the pattern pieces on top of the paper, and line up the grainline on each pattern piece with the selvedges pinned to the paper. 

I normally just pin the pieces in place and then cut.  If you have your pattern on card, you can simply trace around each piece, and use a few pins to anchor them. You could also use pattern weights instead. Carefully cut into each notch, and mark drill holes / darts (in the case of other patterns) etc. with a tailor's tack, rather than marking the fabric (use this Craftsy tutorial, if you're unsure how to do this). 

Tip

I find it easier to leave the cut pieces between the layers of paper until I'm ready to sew them. This way, they remain protected, but are also much easier to identify. 


3. Use the right tools

It's really important that, when you are working with silk, you use the right tools. Make sure your scissors are sharp, use sharp pins (or even better, use silk pins), and use the right machine needle. Using a standard machine needle can cause silk to pull - or may not even be able to get through the tightly woven fibers. Use a fine, sharp needle (such as a 60/8 or 70/10) to prevent this from happening. 


4. If in doubt, hand baste

When sewing with silk, hand basting is your friend. I know many people don't like having to pick up a hand needle and thread, but for me, I'd rather hand sew first, to prevent unpicking later. If your fabric is likely to stretch, and pins aren't going to cut it, then baste the seam before machine-stitching. If you have already made the Acton (or the Rushcutter), you will know that the instructions guide you to hand baste the zip in, before sewing it. You could also hand baste the princess seams, if you are worried that the seam will stretch, 

5. Use a pressing cloth

Before taking to your fabric with the iron, use a small scrap of fabric to check how it takes being pressed. Put your iron on the silk setting and see how it goes. If it looks like it may damage the fabric, use a pressing cloth, 

6. Use tear-away / vilene

When I was at university, as well as in studios doing casual production work, tear-away is used in almost all garments. I am always surprised to hear how few sewers use it. When sewing with flimsy fabric, that is likely to stretch, tear-away helps prevent that from happening. It is particularly useful to use on necklines and armholes.

If you'd like to use tear-away for the neckline / armholes of the Acton, put the SIDE FRONT BODICE and CENTRE FRONT BODICE together as if you have sewn them (stitch line on stitch line).

You will need a pattern piece that looks something like this. Draw a smooth curve 4-5cm (2") down from the neckline and armhole.

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Trace the piece onto a blank piece of pattern paper, before adding cutting instructions. Repeat for the back pieces. Cut these pieces from tear-away / vilene. 

Stay stitch the tear-away to the neckline (once the bodice is assembled) and then sew as normal. Remove tear-away after you have sewn the neckline / armhole seam. For more details on this process, check out this tutorial from Tessuti.


Now, with those tips under your belt, you should find sewing silk a breeze!

Did I miss anything? Is there a tip you would like to add? I'd love to hear in the comments!


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Posted on January 23, 2017 and filed under sewalong, sewing patterns, sewing tutorials, the acton.

The Acton sew-along : How to grade between pattern sizes

For many women, your measurements will range across several sizes, and you will need to grade between sizes after you print your pattern. For example, in most patterns, my hip measurement is usually a size or two bigger than my waist measurement, which means I need to grade up from the waist to the hip to account for this difference. It's a really easy adjustment to make, and makes the world of difference when achieving a great fit (and that's one of the main reasons we all sew, right?)

So today, to coincide with the Acton sew-along, I thought I'd show you how it's done!

Print the pattern

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To start, take your measurements to work out what size/s you need. Print the Acton dress pattern. In the Folds digital patterns are layered, so you can just print the size/s you need. Check out this tutorial if you need some help with this step (please note : for the Acton, there is just a "Pattern Info" layer that includes the grid and tags). Assemble the pattern as normal.

Mark hip line on the pattern

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Mark the hip line on the pattern. You can do this by holding the pattern piece up to your body and marking your hip location. 

Grade between sizes

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In the case of the example, I am grading between a size C at the waist, up to a size D at the hip. To do this, simply draw a diagonal line from the size you are at the waist, to the size you are at the hip. As you can see in the illustration, the top of the pattern is still a size C (which means it will still fit together with the size C bodice), but at the waist it is now a size D.

Complete the pattern

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Now, there are a couple of options for what to do next. You can either continue the side seam on the size you have reached on the hip, or continue the straight line created by the diagonal line. You can see that the first option creates a shallow point at the hip, but when just grading up one size, it's no big deal - it won't effect the shape of the skirt.

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If you're grading between more than one size (or don't mind a little more volume in the hem), then you can just continue the diagonal line, until you reach the hem. 

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Complete the hem, by extending the original hemline (you choose which size you prefer at the hem line - according to the length you want) until it intersects the new side seam. 

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Move any notches that have been displaced by the new side seam... And you're done!

Cut out the new pattern piece and get sewing.


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Posted on January 20, 2017 and filed under pattern making tutorials, sewalong, the acton.

The Acton sew-along : Small Bust Adjustment

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Today, for the Acton sew-along, I'll be showing you how to do a small bust adjustment. Although the pattern I have used for the example is the Acton dress, you can adapt this tutorial to any pattern that includes princess seams. 

WHEN YOU'LL NEED TO DO A Small BUST ADJUSTMENT 

Most indie pattern companies (including In the Folds) draft for a B cup bust. There are of course exceptions to this rule (such as Cashmerette and Colette), so make sure you check on your pattern before assuming the bust cup size.

This means that if your bust cup size is smaller than a B you will need to do a Small Bust Adjustment, otherwise known as a SBA, and if your bust cup size is larger than a B you will need to do a Full Bust Adjustment or FBA

WORK OUT YOUR CUP SIZE

Your cup size in sewing patterns may not always correspond to the bra size you wear. To be safe, check your measurements before deciding if you need to make any adjustments to the pattern. 

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Measure your high bust measurement (the area above your breasts, under your arms) as well as your full bust (the fullest part of your chest / horizontal measurement across your nipples) and then take note of each measurement, as well as the difference.

If the difference is 2.5cm (1") your bust is an A cup, 5cm (2") it's a B cup, 7.5cm (3") is a C cup and so on. 

CHOOSE YOUR SIZE

Now, go back to your high bust measurement and add 5cm (2"). This is what your bust measurement would be if you were a B cup and therefore the size you should be choosing from the pattern.

For example, let's say your upper bust measures 81cm (32"). Add 5cm (2") to this measurement to find out what size your bust measurement falls into on the In the Folds sizing chart (and what size you would be if you had B cup breasts). 81cm + 5cm = 86cm which corresponds to a size C. Your actual bust measurement is 83cm though - 3cm (just over 1") smaller than the bust measurement of the pattern. This means you will need to do a SBA and remove this 3cm (1") from your pattern. 

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Just like when we did the FBA, we will also need to remove some length from the bust panel, not only width.

To work out how much length you need to remove, measure from your shoulder down to your bust point. Take note of the measurement. The pattern has been drafted to accommodate the following shoulder to bust length:

Size A - 25cm / Size B - 25.5cm / Size C - 26cm / Size D - 26.5cm / Size E - 27.5cm / Size F - 28.5cm / Size G - 29cm / Size H - 29.5cm / Size J - 30cm / Size K - 31cm

Select the pattern size you will be using and deduct your shoulder to bust measurement from the relevant measurement. For example, my shoulder to bust measurement is 24cm, my measurements put me into a size C bust (although my bust measurements tells me I need an SBA) which is designed for a 26cm shoulder to bust length. This means I will need to reduce the bust seam by 2cm. 

GETTING STARTED

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Trace a copy of the SIDE FRONT BODICE and CENTRE FRONT BODICE. I always suggest to trace a copy of the pattern, so if you make a mistake you always have the original to go back to (although with digital patterns you can just print another copy if necessary). Be sure to include all pattern markings (in this case: grainline, notches and drill hole) and make sure you trace off the stitching line (the grey line on the pattern) - this is really important. When making pattern alterations, I normally suggest removing the seam allowance, but because the stitch line is marked on the pattern, you can leave it on if you like. 

Mark the bust line

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A : Draw a horizontal line across the fullest part of the bust on the SIDE FRONT BODICE. Mark the point where the horizontal line intersects the stitching line at the side seam as point 1

B : Mark this horizontal line (in the same position) on the CENTRE FRONT BODICE. Mark the point where the  the horizontal line intersects the stitching line at the centre front seam as point 2. 

Remove length from the bust

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A : From the bust seam, cut into the line you just marked. Cut towards point 1 and stop right on the side seam stitch line. (This will help us remove length from the bust, but not the side seam).

B : Cut in from the other side of the line now (from the side seam), towards point 1, leaving a 1-2mm "hinge" to keep the two parts of the pattern attached (this techniques is called 'Cut and Spread' - for more info on this technique, check out this tutorial).  

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A : On the stitching line of the bust seam, measure down from the cut line the the amount you need to remove from the bust length. Mark with a dot or small line and label as point 3. For example, I am removing 2cm from the bust length, so I marked a point 2cm below the cut line.

B : Gently pull the top section of the pattern down, so that it overlaps the lower section, until the cut line intersects point 3. Tape or glue in place.

Repeat process for the centre front bodice panel

It is now to make the same changes on the CENTRE FRONT BODICE piece, so that the CENTRE FRONT and the SIDE FRONT bodice pieces still fit together. 

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A : From the bust seam, cut into the horizontal line on the CENTRE FRONT BODICE. Cut towards point 2 and stop right on the centre front stitch line. 

B : Cut in from the other side of the line now (from the centre front seam), towards point 2, leaving a 1-2mm "hinge" to keep the two parts of the pattern attached.

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A : On the stitching line of the bust seam, measure down from the cut line the the amount you need to remove from the bust length. Mark with a dot or small line and label as point 4. For example, I am removing 2cm from the bust length, so I marked a point 2cm below the cut line.

B : Gently pull the top section of the pattern down, so that it overlaps the lower section, until the cut line intersects point 4. Tape or glue in place.

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A : Re-draw the centre front seam with a straight line (by joining the top of the original centre front stitch line with the bottom).

B : Re-draw the bust seam line with a straight line (by joining the top of the original seam stitch line with the bottom).

C : You will notice that you removed width from the pattern piece when you re-drew the centre front seam and added width when you re-drew the panel seam - which now cancels each other out. 

Remove width from the side front bodice

Now that we've removed some length from the bust, it's time to remove some width. Take your bust measurement and remove it from the pattern's original bust measurement (found on the sizing chart). For example, as I mentioned at the beginning of the tutorial, I am using a size C bodice - which has a 86cm bust. I have a 83cm bust measurement, so I need to remove 3cm overall. 

Remember, we are doing things on the half (as each piece is cut as a pair), so that means we need to remove half of this overall difference from the SIDE FRONT BODICE and CENTRE FRONT BODICE. I will be removing half of 3cm (i.e 1.5cm) from each side of my bodice, which means I need to remove half of that (8mm) from each of the front bodice pieces.

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A : Measuring inward from point 3, mark a point the distance you are removing from the SIDE FRONT BODICE. As mentioned in the example, I will be removing 8mm from the width of each pattern piece, so I will mark a point 8mm in from point 3

B : Now re-draw the bust curve, by drawing a line from the original stitch line, through the point marked in part A, and then down to the stitch line at the waistline. As you can see, the bust line is getting a lot flatter, which is what us small busted ladies like to see! 

Re-draw the side seam

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A : You will notice that the side seam is no longer a straight line, since we removed some width from the bust. Re-draw as a straight line by joining the top of the original side seam stitch line with the bottom.

B : This will remove a little more width from your bust width. Take a ruler and check how much this new side seam will skim off. 

Trace the new pattern piece

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A : Take a fresh piece of pattern paper and trace the SIDE FRONT BODICE. Start by tracing the stitch line. Be careful to check that you are tracing the new side seam line and new bust curve.

B : Add seam allowance to the pattern. You can do this by transferring the original seam allowance lines, or just add yourself - 1.5cm at the side seam, 1.2cm at the waist and bust seam and 1cm around the armhole. Transfer the notches and grainline. 

By this point we have removed width from both sides of the SIDE FRONT BODICE. For example, I removed 8mm from the width at the bust line, and then a further 3mm when I straightened out the side seam. This means that when I cut a pair of this piece, I would have reduced the bust measurement by a total of 22mm {(8mm + 3mm) x 2}. Overall I need to remove 3cm, which means I just have to remove 8mm from the CENTRE FRONT BODICE (half for each piece - i.e. in the case of the example, 4mm either side).

Remove width from the centre front bodice

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A : Take the CENTRE FRONT bodice, and measuring from the new bust seam line, on the cut line, mark a point the distance inwards that you still need to remove. For example, I need to remove 4mm from the piece, so I marked a point 4mm in from the new bust stitch line.

B : Re-draw the seam line intersecting this point. You will need to make it slightly curved to intersect. 

Trace the new pattern piece

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A : Take a fresh piece of pattern paper and trace the CENTRE FRONT BODICE. Start by tracing the stitch line. Be careful to check that you are tracing the new bust seam line and new centre front.

B : Add seam allowance to the pattern. You can do this by transferring the original seam allowance lines, or just add it yourself -  1.2cm at the waist and bust seam and 1cm around the armhole. Transfer the notches and grainline. You will notice that that we have almost lost the notches on this piece. Transfer the notches from the SIDE FRONT BODICE piece to ensure the notches are in the right place (if you're not quite sure how to do this, don't worry, I've got a tutorial on it coming tomorrow!)

All done! Can you believe it?! It was quite a long post...

Now, before cutting into your real fabric, I suggest making one more toile. Better to be safe than sorry, right?  


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Posted on January 19, 2017 and filed under sewalong, pattern making tutorials, sewing patterns, the acton.

The Acton sew-along : Shorten the bodice (below the bust)

Last week I showed you how to lengthen the bodice on the Acton dress (or any pattern that's similar) for the Acton sew-along, and now it's time for me to show you how to shorten the bodice. 

To start, trace a copy of the CENTRE FRONT BODICE and SIDE FRONT BODIE of the Acton pattern (it's always a good idea to trace a copy of the pattern, rather than using the original, in case you make a mistake. Although with a digital pattern you can always print another copy if necessary!), including all pattern markings (in this case the stitch line, grainlines and notches). 

Normally I suggest removing the seam allowance when making pattern alterations, but when it's as simple as this alteration, there really is no need. 

By referring to your toile, you will be able to know whether you need to remove length below the bust, or above the bust. The method is exactly the same, just the location of the cut is different. This tutorial will show you how to remove excess from below the bust, and later today I'll show you how to remove length from above the bust. 

Getting started 

Draw a horizontal line (perpendicular to the grainline) through each pattern piece between the lower notches. On the CENTRE FRONT BODICE piece, make sure the line is far enough up the piece that it intersects the centre front of the piece and not through the bottom edge.

Cut through the patter

Carefully cut through each line, separating each piece into two. 

Remove the excess length

Work out how much you will be removing from the length of the bodice by referring to your toile.  For the sake of the example, I will be removing 2.5cm (1") from the pattern. Draw a line parallel to the cut, 2.5cm / 1" (or the amount you are removing) on the upper section of the CENTRE FRONT BODICE piece. 

Move the lower section of the piece up to meet the horizontal line. Check that the centre front on both upper and lower pieces are aligned and then tape or glue in place. 

Re-draw the seams

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Redraw the panel line, by drawing a straight line from the original line at the top of the seam and the bottom. Do this for both the stitching line and the cutting line. 

Re-draw the notches

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Re-draw the notches - so that they won't be trimmed off when you remove the excess from the piece. Cutting along the new line to create the new pattern piece.

Make the same changes to the side front bodice

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Repeat the process for the SIDE FRONT BODICE, before moving onto the back panels and repeating the process.

Keep your eye on the blog for more Acton sew-along posts coming in the next couple of weeks (and check out the link to see what I've covered so far). 


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Posted on January 16, 2017 and filed under the acton, sewalong.

The Acton sew-along : How to lengthen the bodice (above the bust)

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If you have been following the Acton sew-along, you will know that we're now onto making pattern alterations! The bodice of the Acton is quite fitted, so making some alterations to get the bodice just right for you, is really important (if the pattern doesn't fit you straight out of the packet).

I know a lot of people get quite daunted about pattern alterations, but the ones required for the Acton aren't too scary at all, as it doesn't have sleeves or shoulder seams - which simplifies it quite a bit. I showed you how to make a toile a few days ago, and now from doing a fitting, you should know what changes you need to make. Lengthening or shortening the bodice is a common adjustment to make, so I thought I'd show you how to add length in two different spots. By referring to your toile, you should be able to tell where you need to add length - it could be from below the bust line, above the bust line, or even a bit from both. 

Getting started

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To start, trace a copy of the CENTRE FRONT BODICE and SIDE FRONT BODIE of the Acton pattern (it's always a good idea to trace a copy of the pattern, rather than using the original, in case you make a mistake. Although with a digital pattern you can always print another copy if necessary!), including all pattern markings (in this case the stitch line, grainlines and notches). 

Normally I suggest removing the seam allowance when making pattern alterations, but when it's as simple as this alteration, there really is no need. 

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Draw a horizontal line (perpendicular to the grainline) through each pattern piece the location you need to add length. On the SIDE FRONT BODICE piece, extend the grainline so that it crosses the horizontal line and is on the top part of the pattern piece. As I said, for this tutorial I will be showing you how to add length above the bust line. If you need to add length below the bust line, check out this tutorial.

Cut through the pattern pieces

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Carefully cut through each line, separating each piece into two. 

lengthen the bodice

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Take two pieces of pattern paper (this is a great time to use up some of your paper scraps!).

A : For the SIDE FRONT BODICE you will need your piece of paper to be slightly wider than the one for CENTRE FRONT BODICE. Draw a horizontal line straight through the (roughly) middle. In the centre, draw a line perpendicular to the horizontal line, creating a right angle. This will be the grainline of the new SIDE FRONT BODICE piece. 

B : Draw a horizontal line straight through the (roughly) middle. On the right hand side, draw a line perpendicular to the horizontal line, creating a right angle. This will be the grainline of the new CENTRE FRONT BODICE piece. 

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A : Take the lower section of the SIDE FRONT BODICE and line it up with the horizontal and vertical line you just drew - the grainline matching up with the vertical line (you can now see why this line had to be closer to the middle) and the cut edge aligned with the horizontal line. Tape or glue in place. 

B : Take the lower section of the CENTRE FRONT BODICE and line it up with the horizontal and vertical line you just drew - the centre front matching up with the vertical line and the cut edge aligned with the horizontal line. Tape or glue in place. 

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By looking at your toile, work out how much extra length you need to add to the pattern. For the case of the example, I will be adding 1.5cm (5/8").

On the vertical line on each pattern piece, mark a point 1.5cm /5/8" (or whatever length you are adding to the pattern) above the cut edge. 

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Draw a line parallel to the cut edge of the pattern running from the point you marked in the previous step on both the SIDE FRONT BODICE (A) and CENTRE FRONT BODICE (B).

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A : Take the upper section of the SIDE FRONT BODICE and place the cut edge on the second horizontal line, aligning the grainline with the vertical line. Tape or glue in place. 

B : Take the upper section of the CENTRE FRONT BODICE and place the cut edge on the second horizontal line, aligning the centre front with the vertical line. Tape or glue in place. 

Trace the pattern pieces to create the new pieces

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Take two pieces of pattern paper to trace the new pattern pieces. 

A : Trace the stitch lines on the SIDE FRONT BODICE. Re-draw the armhole line and princess seam line, by finding a line of best fit between the original stitch lines. 

B : Trace the stitch lines on the CENTRE FRONT BODICE. Re-draw the princess seam line by joining the top of seam to the bottom with a straight line. 

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Add seam allowance to both pieces - by using the original pattern edges as a guide.

A : Add 1.5cm (5/8") to the side seam, 1.2cm (1/2") to the waist seam and princess seam and 1cm (3/8") to the armhole.

B : Add 1.2cm (1/2") seam allowance to the waist seam, princess seam and centre front. Add 1cm (3/8") to the armhole and neckline. 

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Be sure to also transfer all pattern markings - notches, drill hole and grainline. 

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Label the pattern for safe-keeping. You can now cut out your new pattern pieces. Repeat process for the back pattern pieces (if you also need to add length to the back of the bodice).


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Posted on January 13, 2017 and filed under fitting, pattern making tutorials, sewalong, the acton.

The Acton sew-along : How to lengthen the bodice

Welcome back to the Acton Sew-along.

In yesterday's tutorial, I gave you all the reasons why you should always make a toile (especially when you're making a fitted garment like the Acton) and showed you how to go about it. In the next few tutorials, I'm going to show you what to do if you have realised that you need to shorten or lengthen the bodice. This is probably one of the simplest pattern alterations you can make, so please don't be daunted by it if you've realised that you'll get a better fit by changing the length of your bodice. 

By referring to your toile, you will be able to know whether you need to remove length below the bust, or above the bust. The method is exactly the same, just the location of the cut is different. This tutorial will show you how to remove excess from below the bust, and later today I'll show you how to remove length from above the bust. 

Getting started

To start, trace a copy of the CENTRE FRONT BODICE and SIDE FRONT BODIE of the Acton pattern (it's always a good idea to trace a copy of the pattern, rather than using the original, in case you make a mistake. Although with a digital pattern you can always print another copy if necessary!), including all pattern markings (in this case the stitch line, grainlines and notches). 

Normally I suggest removing the seam allowance when making pattern alterations, but when it's as simple as this alteration, there really is no need. 

Draw a horizontal line (perpendicular to the grainline) through each pattern piece between the lower notches (below the bust line). On the CENTRE FRONT BODICE piece, make sure the line is far enough up the piece that it intersects the centre front of the piece and not through the bottom edge.

Cut through the pattern pieces

Carefully cut through each line, separating each piece into two. 

lengthen the bodice

Take a piece of pattern paper (this is a great time to use up some of your paper scraps!) and draw a horizontal line straight through the (roughly) middle. On the right hand side, draw a line perpendicular to the horizontal line, creating a right angle. This will be the grainline of the new pattern piece. 

Take the lower section of the CENTRE FRONT BODICE and line it up with the horizontal and vertical line you just drew - the centre front matching up with the vertical line and the cut edge aligned with the horizontal line. Tape or glue in place. 

Add length to the pattern piece

By looking at your toile, work out how much extra length you need to add to the pattern. For the case of the example, I will be adding 2.5cm (1").

On the vertical line, mark a point 2.5cm / 1" (or whatever length you are adding to the pattern) above the cut edge. 

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Draw a line parallel to the cut edge of the pattern running from the point you marked in the previous step. 

Take the upper section of the CENTRE FRONT BODICE and place the cut edge on the second horizontal line, aligning the centre front with the vertical line. Tape or glue in place. 

Trace the new pattern piece

A : Take another piece of pattern paper and trace your new pattern piece. Start by tracing the original lines of the pattern which have not been affected by the changes.

B : Redraw the panel seam by drawing a line from the top of the pattern piece, down to the bottom - meeting the original line at each end. Do this for both the cutting line and the stitching line. 

Be sure to trace all pattern markings - notches, drill hole and grainline. Label the pattern for safe-keeping. You can now cut out your new pattern piece. 

Repeat Process for the side front bodice

For the SIDE FRONT BODICE you will need your piece of paper to be slightly wider than the one you used for the CENTRE FRONT BODICE. Again, mark the horizontal and vertical lines on the paper - but this time, place the vertical line closer to the centre of the paper. 

Take the lower section of the SIDE FRONT BODICE and line it up with the horizontal and vertical line you just drew - the grainline matching up with the vertical line (you can now see why this line had to be closer to the middle) and the cut edge aligned with the horizontal line. Tape or glue in place. 

On the vertical line (the grainline in this case), mark a point 2.5cm / 1" (or whatever length you are adding to the pattern) above the pattern edge. This distance needs to be the same amount that you added to the CENTRE FRONT BODICE.

Draw a line parallel to the cut edge of the pattern running from the point you marked in the previous step. 

Take the upper section of the SIDE FRONT BODICE and place the cut edge on the second horizontal line, aligning the grainline with the vertical line. Tape or glue in place. 

You will see that the changes are limited to area where the paper was added, so there is no need to trace the pattern. Simply re-draw the side seam and princess seam and cut the piece out.

Repeat process for the back panels and that's it!

Are you enjoying the Acton sew-along? There are still plenty of posts to come!


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Posted on January 12, 2017 and filed under pattern making tutorials, the acton.

The Acton sew-along : Making a toile

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Welcome back to the Acton sew-along! Now that we've taken our measurements and worked out what size (or sizes) matches our measurements the closest, it is time to make a toile!

WHAT IS A TOILE?

A toile (also known as a ‘muslin’) is basically a draft version of a garment. A toile is normally made from a cheaper fabric, so that you can test the fit of a particular garment before cutting into your real (and normally more expensive) fabric. 

It is best to choose a fabric to toile in, that is similar to what you plan to make the actual garment in. If you are using a lovely sandwashed silk, then you will need something with a similar handle and drape as the silk, so you can get a good idea of what the final garment will look like. Making a winter coat? Choose something with a similar thickness and drape. For the Acton, it is designed to be used with 'drapey' fabrics, but to get a good idea of the fit of the bodice, I would use something stiffer than suggested - such as calico or cotton. 

WHY SHOULD I TOILE?

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We all come in different shapes and sizes, and although I may have the same measurements as the girl next to me, this does not at all mean we have the same body shape. Some of us may have a sway back, forward sitting shoulders (that’s me!), narrow shoulders, longer torso etc. By making a toile, you can quickly see if any adjustment needs to be made. As you sew more garments for yourself, you will get better at knowing what to look for, as you will often notice the same fitting problem across the board. You may think that In the Folds patterns would fit me straight out of the packet. They don't! My patterns are drafted to fit a "standard" (is there such thing?) size 10 fit model, which means that before making something from one of my patterns, I must make a few alterations too... So I am right here with you!

HOW DO I MAKE A TOILE?

After choosing your size, printing the pattern, and making any alterations that are standard to you (such as an FBA or SBA), make up the garment in your chosen toiling fabric. You don’t have to add facings, collars or pockets etc when making a toile. I never bother with buttonholes or zips either, I just pin the opening closed when it’s on. For the Acton, if you're short of time, you can get away with just toiling and fitting the bodice. 

You just want to check the overall fit of the garment, so you will only need the main pattern pieces (in the case of the Acton, you just need to cut the bodice pieces, not the lining). There is no need to even finish the seams!

To Start

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Cut out your bodice pieces in your chose size. Remove the seam allowance from the neckline and armholes, as well as the waistline seam. This will help you get an accurate idea of the fit, without getting confused by the seams that have not been finished. 

For loose fitting garments, that have enough ease to fit a wide range of shapes (such as The Rushcutter) you can go right ahead and cut out your toile and get sewing, but for fitted garments like the Acton, it is best to mark some guidelines on your pieces first. This will really help when it comes to fitting the bodice and working out what changes need to be made. 

Mark guidelines on your pattern pieces

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Take your pair of SIDE FRONT BODICE pieces and draw a horizontal line through the fullest part of the bust. Transfer this line onto the CENTRE FRONT BODICE too (at the same level).

Draw a vertical line through each piece too. This doesn't have to be exact - these lines will just act as reference points when you are fitting. They will help you tell if the bodice is sitting as it should. 

It can be a good idea to try a toile on inside out, so transfer these guidelines onto the wrong side of the fabric too.

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Do the same for the CENTRE BACK BODICE and SIDE BACK BODICE pieces. 

Sew the toile

Sew the bodice together, according to the instructions in the pattern (leaving the centre back seam open). When sewing, consider using a long stitch length, so that you can quickly and easily unpick any seams that need to be altered. You can also use a contrasting thread to make it even easier to see your stitches (and remove them if necessary).

Press all seams open before stay-stitching around the top edge of the bodice (neckline and armholes) - this will prevent the toile from stretching while you are fitting it. Press the centre back seam allowances in by 2cm - these creases will help you pin the bodice closed in the correct place. 

WHAT’S NEXT?

Tie a piece of elastic (or similar) around your natural waist. This will act as a reference point for your bodice so that you are able to check the bodice length, as well as act as a guideline to check that the bodice sits correctly.

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Line up the bust line on the bodice with your actual bust line (the line that runs through the fullest part of your bust - or across your bust apex / nipples), and get pinned into the bodice (up the centre back seam) with the bodice inside out. It is a really good idea to have a friend around to help you with the fitting. It can be a little tricky if you're on your own! If you are on your own, try turning the bodice around so that the centre back is at the front and pin the back seam closed before twisting it around the right way.

As the bodice doesn't have straps yet, it can be helpful to try the bodice on with the fitted jersey top on underneath. This way you can pin the bodice to the top if it's not staying up on its own! 

Get in front of the mirror and take a look.

Fitting is a process, one change will effect another part of the toile, and so on and so forth - so it is important to do your fitting in a methodical way. When working on a full garment, work from the top down - fitting the bust, the waist and then the hips. 

Check the side seam

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First things first, check the side seam. Is it sitting perpendicular to the elastic you have around your waist? If it is being pulled forward, it could be a sign that you need to do a FBA. 


Check the bust

Check the overall fit of the bust. The Acton is designed to be quite fitted (there is only 2cm / 1" ease at the bust).

If the bust is too small...

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A : If the bodice feels as if it's pulling across the bust (or you can't even get the bodice closed at the centre back), unpick the princess panels from the bust line up, and then the bust line down - releasing the fabric - but not unpicking the whole seam. Make sure you do this to both sides so you can get a correct gauge of the fit with the extra width added.

B : Measure how much your princess panels are opening up at the bust line. Measure the opening on both sides. If they are not the same, add them together and divide by 2 (to find the average), so that you add the correct amount when you do your Full Bust Adjustment (tutorial coming soon). Take note of this number, so that you can use it when doing your FBA.

If the bust is too big...

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A : If you have the opposite problem, and the bust area is too big, carefully pin down the princess seams, removing the excess. Do this on both princess seams, being careful to remove an even amount from each side.

B & C : Take a pen or marker and draw the new panel line on both sides of the princess panel by following the pins.

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A : On the bust line, on the CENTRE FRONT BODICE, measure the difference between the original stitch line and the marked line, take note of the measurement. Repeat for the other princess panel. 

B : On the bust line, on the SIDE FRONT BODICE, measure the difference between the original stitch line and the marked line, take note of the measurement. Repeat for the other princess panel. 

Add up these four measurements to find the total you need to remove from the bodice when you do a Small Bust Adjustment. 


Check the bodice length below the bust

Once the bust is sorted, it is time to check the length of the bodice.

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A : Measure down from the bottom edge of the bodice at the centre front seam to your waist. The bodice was designed to sit roughly 12cm above the natural waist. Take note if your bodice sits above or below the 12cm mark. In a later tutorial I will show you how to add / remove length to the bodice if your bodice is too long or too short. 

B : Measure down from the bottom edge of the bodice at the centre back seam to your waist. The bodice was designed to sit roughly 5cm above the natural waist at the back. Take note if your bodice sits above or below the 5cm mark. 

Check the bodice length above the bust

You may notice that your bodice is sitting in the right place in relation to the waist, but there may be too much (or too little) fabric above the bustline. 

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I have two dressforms with very similar measurements, you will notice that in photograph B the bodice sits much closer to the neckline than in photograph A. This shows that the dressforms have different proportions above the bustline only (as the bodice sits 12cm above the natural waist on both).

Work out where the problem is, do you need to remove length above the armhole? Or is the armhole sitting too close to the armpit too? (if this is the case you will need to remove length from the side seam across the whole bodice)

Remove length above the bust

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The best way to really work out the fit issues you have in a toile is to start cutting into your fabric and making changes. This way you can get a real idea of the changes as you make them, and hopefully save yourself from making too many toiles!

A : Cut through the bodice at the point that has too much length - this may be above the armhole, below the armhole but above the bust line, or below the bust line.*

B : Move the detached piece down until it is sitting in the correct position. Pin in place and measure how much length has been removed. 

*You may need to add length in more than one place

Add length above the bust

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A : Cut through the bodice at the point that is too short - this may be above the armhole, below the armhole but above the bust line, or below the bust line. (Again, length may be needed in multiple spots).

B : Take a strip of scrap fabric and pin to the lower portion of the bodice. Move the detached piece up until it is sitting in the correct position. Pin in place and measure how much length has been added.  

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Repeat the process of cutting and opening (or cutting and closing) to add / remove the length from the places it is needed. If you want to get a really good idea of how the new bodice is fitting, you can stitch the strips of fabric in place on the machine, before trying on the bodice again. 

Add the straps

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Once you have the bodice right, use thin straps of fabric (or bias binding or tape - whatever you have around) to make two "straps" (this will save you sewing up straps) and pin in place. Getting the right strap length is crucial to getting a good fit with the Acton. Make sure your straps allow the bodice to sit comfortably, and the peak of the bodice (the bust guideline) remains on the peak of your bust. Take note of the strap length so you have it for when you are making the real thing.


What's next?

If this fitting has revealed that you have lots of changes to make to the pattern, make the changes and make another toile. It is always good to check the fit of a pattern after making significant changes.

And don't worry, I won't leave you hanging now that you know what pattern alterations need to be made!

In the coming days I have the following tutorials lined up for you:

January 12 and 13 : Lengthening the bodice

January 16 and 17 : Shortening the bodice

January 18 : Full bust adjustment (FBA)

January 19 : Small bust adjustment (SBA)

January 20 : Grading between sizes


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Posted on January 11, 2017 and filed under fitting, pattern making tutorials, sewalong, the acton.

The Acton sew-along : Selecting your size

To kick off the Acton sew-along series, we'll be talking about selecting your size.

The Acton sewing pattern is available in sizes A - K (approximately equivalent to AU size 6-24).

TAKE YOUR MEASUREMENTS

To select the appropriate size, first take your measurements.

It is best to take your measurements while wearing only underwear, or otherwise very tight clothing, so that you can get true measurements. Get someone to help you, if you can. Otherwise take your measurements in front of the mirror, so that you can check that your tape measure remains parallel to the floor, and is not twisted, as it is wrapped around your body.

First, measure your bust and take note of the measurement. 

As the Acton has quite a fitted bodice, you should also take your high bust measurement. This will help you determine whether or not you will need to do a Full or Small Bust Adjustment. The 'high bust' is the area above your breasts and under your arms.

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Measure your waist... and (if you want to be able to eat in your Acton) don't suck in your tummy like me!

And then measure your hips. Make sure you are measuring your low hip (i.e. the fullest part of your hips - that includes your butt!)

BODY MEASUREMENTS

Now look at the size chart and circle where your measurements lie. Your measurements may lie across several sizes or between sizes - that's no problem at all!

Before going ahead, we need to check that you are choosing the right size for your bust measurement (you may need to select a different size to your measurements and then to a full or small bust adjustment to get a good fit).

WILL YOU NEED TO DO A FULL / SMALL BUST ADJUSTMENT?

Most indie pattern companies (including In the Folds) draft for a B cup bust. There are of course exceptions to this rule (such as Cashmerette and Colette), so make sure you check on your pattern before assuming the bust cup size.

This means that if your bust cub size is smaller than a B you will need to do a Small Bust Adjustment, otherwise known as a SBA (tutorial coming soon), and if your bust cup size is larger than a B you will need to do a Full Bust Adjustment or FBA (tutorial coming soon). 

WORK OUT YOUR CUP SIZE

Your cup size in sewing patterns may not always correspond to the bra cup size you wear. To be safe, check your measurements before deciding if you need to make any adjustments to the pattern. 

Find the difference between your bust measurement and your high bust measurement.

If the difference is 2.5cm (1") your bust is an A cup, 5cm (2") it's a B cup, 7.5cm (3") is a C cup and so on. 

CHOOSE YOUR SIZE

Now, go back to your high bust measurement and add 5cm (2"). This is what your bust measurement would be if you were a B cup and therefore the size you should be choosing from the pattern.

Change your size selection on the chart if necessary.

For example, let's say your upper bust measures 81cm (32"). Add 5cm (2") to this measurement to find out what size your bust measurement falls into on the In the Folds sizing chart (and what size you would be if you had B cup breasts). 81cm + 5cm = 86cm which corresponds to a size C. Your actual bust measurement is 89cm though - 3cm (1") larger than the cup size of the pattern. This means you will need to do a Full Bust Adjustment and add this 3cm (1") to your pattern. 

An example - looking at my measurements

I thought I'd show you my measurements and how I go about selecting my size, to give you a concrete example of this process. As my patterns do not fit me straight out of the packet! Some designers use themselves as a fit model, but I choose to use a "standard" size 10 model as a base, which means I have to make alterations to my patterns before I can get sewing too.

Bust : My high bust measurement is 82cm. I will add 5cm to this measurement to check whether or not I need to do a FBA or SBA. The result is 87cm - which puts me in a size C. My actual bust measurement is only 84cm though (not the 86cm of the size C bust measurement), which means I will need to do a Small Bust Adjustment to remove the excess 2cm from this area.

Waist : My waist measures 72cm. This is slightly bigger than the size C waist measurement (which is 71cm), so before choosing to use a size C, I will check the pattern's finished garment measurements to see if that will work. 

Looking at the "Finished Measurements" table, you can see the finished waist measurement of the size C is 81.5cm (there is about 10cm ease in the waist), which means that the fact that my waist measurement is 1cm bigger than the size C measurement, is absolutely fine.

Hips : My hip measurement is 100cm, which moves me from the size C, up to the size D. Again, my measurement is 1cm over the size D measurement, but by looking at the Finished Measurement table, I can see that again this won't be  problem due to the amount of ease in the hip, so I can stick to a D.

NOTE : The wrap on view B is deigned in such a way that there is A LOT of extra room at the hips (to allow for the wrap). If your hip measurement is only slightly outside your waist size range, I would not bother grading up at the hips (there will be ample room). If your hip size is more than a size bigger than your waist I suggest grading up. For my measurements, C at the waist and D at the hips, for the wrap version (view B), I just made a straight C (with only alterations made to the bust). 

What size to print?

The pattern has been made with embedded layers so that you can just print the size/s you need! Layers make it much less confusing to cut the right size, and also saves on ink (and paper, in some sizes). Take note of the size or sizes you need to print and then check out this post how to print and assemble your PDF pattern


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Posted on January 10, 2017 and filed under the acton, sewalong, sewing patterns, sewing tutorials.