Posts Tagged ‘cutting’

Taking shape

I must confess that I don’t always bother to press pattern pieces using an iron, since it is often possible to flatten them out to an acceptable standard by hand.  However, there are two situations in which I always do: if the pattern is particularly creased, or if the pieces are very small.  The pieces for Avon and Vila, naturally, are pretty small.  When I’d finished pressing them, they looked like this:

Pattern pieces for the Avon and Vila dolls

You can just see the fabric on the right, and it is a good representation of the colour (at least, it is on my monitor).  Remember that, if you wouldn’t mind, because I couldn’t get the colour to look right in the next photo.  The boys are really not going to be spectacularly pink.

I’ve just been away for a week, and I took the pieces and the fabric with me.  While I was away, I cut everything out and did as much making up as I could.  This wasn’t a great deal because the arms and legs have to be stuffed before I attach them to the bodies, and I didn’t bring the stuffing with me, but it still took me a couple of days.  The results, as they stand at the moment, look something like this:

Fabric pieces for Avon and Vila dolls

I hate tailor tacks, but I can’t really see a way round them here, except on the arm pieces.  The arms are supposed to have a couple of tailor tacks at the top.  I’ve only put them on one arm, because it’s obvious from the construction where they go; I just need the one arm marking as a reminder which way round they are (the green thread marks the larger circles, the purple thread the smaller ones, and there’s one of each).  I’ve also thread-traced the stitching lines, and will probably replace the thread with chalk just before I actually stitch them.

Now, just look at that first photo again if you don’t mind, the one with the pattern pieces.  The text on the back piece (bottom right) is a tad out of focus, but all the outlines are very clear, and the photo is taken from directly above the ironing board so there is no perspective distortion.  That was deliberate.  I now have a scalable pattern.  You may hear a bit more about this later.

Not the next post, though.  That’s going to be all about the waistcoat. 🙂

Framing the problem

Whew.  This weekend I’ve been working like a Trojan on the waistcoat.

If you remember from the last waistcoat post, I levelled off the fabric by running a tacking thread along the grainline:

Using a running thread to show the grain

Then I folded the fabric down the middle and pinned the line of tacking so that it matched on either side of the fold, and when I’d done that I pinned the selvedges together:

The perfectly matched fabric

Once I’d done that, I first of all cut out the front facing pieces using the same clear plastic pattern piece I used for the mock-up.

The front facing piece ready to be cut out

Yesterday, I got a friend to help me prepare the frames.  The pieces are too big to fit on one of my artists’ canvases (remember those?), so I had to join two together for each piece.  First of all I glued the canvases together at the edge, then my friend cut a piece of hardboard that fitted over the edges of the frames and nailed it in place with short tacks.  Note the piece of parcel tape – that’s where I repaired the rip in one of the canvases.

Showing how the frames are joined together

Once I had a usable frame, I laid a long ruler along one of the edges and pinned one side of the fabric to the canvas along the ruler, stretching it along the length as far as I could while I was doing this.

Lining up the fabric on the frame

Once all the pins were in place, I then stitched it to the canvas with small spaced back stitches.

Stitching in place

Then I stretched the fabric widthways across the frame and pinned the opposite side into place.

Pinning the opposite side

At this point I thought it might be a good idea to make a more substantial repair on that tear, so it didn’t get any worse when I removed the canvas under the linen fabric.

Stitching the tear to prevent further damage

I then did the same for the short sides, and here’s the finished result:

Fabric stretched on frame

The next job was to remove the canvas underneath the fabric to allow it to be stitched.

Removing the canvas


To match the pattern piece to the grain, I started by putting a pin at one end of the grainline on the pattern and wiggling it slightly to make a small but visible hole in the fabric.

Using a pin to match the grain

I removed the pattern piece, put the pin back into the hole, and laid a ruler along one of the warp threads.

Marking the grain with a ruler

Then I laid the pattern piece back on top of the ruler, pinned the ends of the grainline along it, and checked it was still right by folding the pattern tissue back to look.  I anchored the grain marker in place with two pins.

The grain marker is anchored along a warp thread

Then I pinned the rest of the piece in place.

The pattern piece in position, ready for pouncing

Now for the pounce powder!  I had never tried this before in my life, so I must admit I was a little nervous about how it would work.  However…

The design pounced onto the fabric

…as you see, I really needn’t have worried.  The results were superb.  Here’s a closer view:

Closer view of pounced design

I permanently marked the cutting line with white acrylic paint.

Marking the cutting line

Then it was time to start painting in the design, using the same purple and gold acrylic paints I used for the pattern and a very fine brush.

The design with some of the purple lines marked in

The purple lines had to be done first because the gold lines will cross over them.  Here I have added in some gold lines.

The upper part of the design completed

And here’s what it looked like when it was all finished:

The finished pattern piece, ready to embroider

Of course I’ve now got it all to do again for the other front piece; the frame is ready and the piece of fabric has had the edges turned over and tacked to stop them fraying, and that’s as far as I’ve got with it.  Nonetheless, I’m delighted.  That is an excellent day’s work.

Two lengths of blue linen

Apologies in advance for the fact that there are no photos this time.  I’ve taken a couple, but I’m rapidly running out of evening, so I will put them in a future post.

I have some exciting news, though… well, I’m excited, at least. 😀  After all this time spent designing and preparing, yesterday I actually cut the main fabric – a surprisingly tough job.  You would think that a fairly coarsely-woven linen would be easy work with a rotary cutter.  Not so much.

Usually I line up the grain on a piece of fabric by eye, moving one selvedge back and forth along the other until the fold hangs straight.  For this one, however, it had to be exactly right, and besides the ends of the fabric were cut rather more than usually skew, which is the sort of thing that can make things difficult.  So this time, what I did was actually to tack across the fabric between two of the weft threads to give me a visible line.  I then folded it lengthwise, matching up the two halves of this line and holding them in place with pins.  Then I pinned the selvedges together.  Once I’d done that, it was a simple matter to flatten out the fabric and pin the other end in place, enabling me to move it around freely without fear of the grain going wonky.

The pieces which have to be cut in the main fabric are the fronts and the front facings.  I cut out the facings first so that I would have as much fabric as possible left to use for the front pieces, then I squared off the edges of the fabric and cut it into two large rectangles, each of which would comfortably accommodate one of the fronts.  I’m making the frames by fastening two of my artists’ canvases (remember those?) together into a larger rectangle; I’ve glued them, and a friend who can do DIY has promised to add a more substantial join.  (I would do this myself, but I have a problem with my wrists and can’t use power tools.)  The fabric rectangles will be stitched to the canvas, since it’s already stretched, and then I’ll remove as much of the canvas as possible from underneath.  This should be a great deal easier than trying to stretch a piece of fairly heavy linen over the frame with my limited physical strength.

Expect more on this at the weekend, with photos. 🙂