Tuesday, August 25, 2009

A dress form and much-needed tank tops

I'm super excited about my latest craiglist acquisition, a Dress Rite professional dress form. I just picked her up last Thursday, for a great price and in almost new condition. She has collapsible shoulders, linen covering, thick padding, and is on a sturdy wheeled frame with fully adjustable height. I've had so much fun playing with her this weekend, draping fabric is a breeze on a form, and combining outfits is so much easier. It gives you a very objective look at whatever you are working on. She's a little smaller than me in the waist and hip, so I'll probably try a bit of padding if I want to use it strictly for my own garments. The shoulders and bust are actually really close, it was weird to see my own clothes on her! No name yet, but I am up for suggestions from the blog world. :-)

I've been trying to replace worn items in my closet, and of the 5 favorite tanks I have 3 of them have holes. I made a copy of the pattern (from RTW), which was super easy as its the same thing front and back. Of course the fit isn't 'perfect', but as long as you use a stretch knit it's fine. And the added benefit is you can craft two different necklines, and just wear it whichever way you are feeling that day. I like to make a higher and a lower one on the same top.

The first one I made is from a black bamboo rayon/lycra from Stonemountain Fabrics in Berkeley. I was inspired by this tank from J.Crew and decided to make my own. I cut 5/8" strips of fabric, gathered them using elastic thread in the bobbin, and sewed them to the tank spaced 1" apart. Knits don't fray so you don't have to finish them any other way. Then I bound the neckline and armholes using more strips (1 1/4"), sewing them right sides together while stretching the strip a bit, folding the strip to the inside, and topstitching from the right side catching the raw edge of the strip. I trimmed away the excess strip on the inside. This isn't my favorite way of doing binding but it works. I did all this on my home machine.

And I made another top from this same pattern, from some silk jersey I purchased in Portland at PR weekend. For this one I did the binding differently, this is my preferred method and the one I use on my wrap dresses. I use an industrial double fold binder that takes a 1" strip of fabric and creates a 1/4" binding along the edge. Then I turn the whole thing inside and topstitch. This was all done on my industrial machine. I really need to get around to doing a tutorial on this method. Maybe this weekend. :-)
For hemming knits lately I've been super lazy and using my blind stitch foot on my serger. It's incredibly quick, and if you're not too picky about how invisible it is you don't have to mess with adjusting the foot to get it perfect. I have it set for doing thicker doubleknits, and on these thinner ones the thread is visible from the right side, but it's even and looks better than a topstitched hem.