Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A New Tote Bag and Maker Faire

Side 1

Side 2

If you recollect, I reported on a FabMo tote bag class I took a couple weeks ago. In class we made a small tote bag, a perfect size for a sewing caddy or a lunch tote. But our packet included measurements and instructions for a large sized tote.

So, last Sunday, looking for a fun creative outlet, I rummaged through my FabMo fabrics looking for larger pieces. This tote is more involved than the smaller one, because it has 6 pockets: one zippered inside pocket, two inside patch pockets, and three outside pockets: one on each side, with a credit-card sized pocket peeking out from one of the larger pockets.

It ended up being a one day project.

One of the lining pieces with a contrasting patch pocket. Notice the lower right corner? That's an oops. I was supposed to cut away a 3" square to create the bottom, but I cut away a 4" square. To fix it, I pieced in another square and then cut the proper amount away.

The other lining piece. This one has a contrasting patch pocket below a zippered pocket. Notice that this one has the same oops? I had layered the two pieces together when cutting out the too-large square.

The backside of the above lining piece, showing the bag for the zippered pocket.

Alongside the smaller tote, for comparison.

Maker Faire 2012

The FabMo booth, before the event opened and the crowds descended.

And speaking of FabMo, last Saturday I volunteered to work in the FabMo booth at Maker Faire. I had been meaning to get over to Maker Faire for years but never quite managed it, so this was a good excuse. After my Saturday morning shift, I didn't have much time to see the rest of the fair, but I managed to see a bit of it before I had to leave for another event.

Maker Faire is an interesting event - it's a bit like "Burning Man Lite". It includes a Steampunk contingent. (I saw a couple who had just married in a Steampunk-themed ceremony, riding a Steampunk carriage around the grounds.)

Decorations on one of the booths selling Steampunk jewelry.

I didn't hang around long enough to understand what was going on here, but this exhibit was playing music.

There is a darkened building filled with light shows and laser booths. There are areas to play with legos, electronics, computers. There are funky vehicles to ride. There are robots including at least one Dalek. There are people sporting interesting and bizarre costumes.

This metal dragon is capable of breathing fire.

There is an area with people knitting and making jewelry and doing Tapigami. Tapigami is kind of like origami, but with masking tape.

The Tapigami display


In one building there are crafts activities, such as the FabMo booth. And there is food — lots and lots of food.

The beignet booth was right near the FabMo booth.

Will I go next year? I'm not sure. But it was interesting.

The Mammoth Dart

It's interesting that I often get questions from folks who sew for the uber busty more than I get questions from the uber busty. I guess the uber busty learn to deal with it, and move on. :)

I recently received a question from an expert sewist who was sewing for her uber busty daughter and struggling with the mammoth dart. I'm not talking about those darts where the legs are maybe half an inch apart. I'm talking about darts where the legs are 2" or 3" apart. This sewist was asking me how to sew such a dart so that you don't get a "point" at the end of it.

I hate that point. Hate hate hate. And I don't know about you, but my uber bust lacks sharp points, so a dart that ends in a point is to be avoided at all costs.

There are several ways to deal with a large dart. All are valid and you can play around to find the approach you like best for your particular project.

  • Convert the mammoth dart to a seam, for example a princess seam. A princess seam goes through the bust point. It can go from the bottom seam/hem to the armscye, from the bottom seam/hem to the shoulder (I recollect this is called a military princess seam), from the side seam to the armscye, and so on. This is really not that hard to do, but I won't cover the "how to" in this post. (I googled and found a Burdastyle pictorial, Change darts to Princess seams, showing how to do this with a sloper, but the approach is the same for a garment.)
  • Convert the single mammoth dart to two or three smaller darts. This is also quite easy to do using slice and slide. (There might be a better term for this, but it is descriptive of how I do it.) For example, convert the large dart to one that goes to the side seam and another that goes to the armscye. Or maybe put two darts at the side seam, but one heads towards the hem, in what is called a French Dart, and the other ends higher up, maybe towards the waist. Note that angled darts create a more flattering line than a strictly horizontal dart.
  • Use some shaping when sewing and pressing the dart. This may not always work to your satisfaction, but is most successful when you are using a print or a textured fabric that will help camouflage the dart.

For this post I want to talk about the third approach. There are several aspects to sewing a dart, which is a big reason I sew my darts at the end of constructing a garment. I pin the darts right on my body. That is not always possible, for example if you are sewing for someone who is not geographically available, but it really works the best.

First, you must consider the length of the dart, and this relates to the shape of the bust. A full, rounded bust, like mine, requires a shorter dart. A less rounded bust (does anyone with an uber bust really have a cone shaped breast?) requires a longer dart. But never do you want to sew the dart all the way to the bust point, at the fullest part of the bust. It should end before that point. In my case, maybe 2 or more inches before. In the less busty, maybe an inch before.

Secondly, I don't sew the bust dart in a straight line, though it is always drafted with a straight line on the pattern. Again, if the breast has a more conical shape, this is fine. But for me, a gently concave (or is it convex?) curve works best. Again, if you can pin it on the body, it's easy to achieve the correct shape.

Next, and possibly most importantly, as you are sewing the dart, start from the legs and sew towards the point. However, as you near the point, approach it gently. Ease into it. Think of a beach where you can easily walk far into the water, rather than one that drops off sharply. It's almost impossible to accomplish this if you start sewing from the point.

Finally, press the finished dart flat (do not press all the way to the point or you will create a crease) and then press the garment opened flat, over a ham. This is an important step, so if you do not own a pressing ham, treat yourself and get one from Stitch Nerd (scroll down in the post). Note that her regular ham is on the smallish size. For the uber busty, you might want her larger sized ham.

Lay the garment opened flat, so that the dart drapes over the gently curved ham and the fullness of the dart is folded down, towards the hem. Cover with a press cloth, if needed, and press, with lots of steam. You want to squash that "point" flat and encourage it to be a curve. This works better in some fabrics than others; wool, for example, is very malleable.

Despite all of this, sometimes a dart just doesn't behave as well as you'd like. When this happens, it's best to take a philosophical approach. The garment will still fit better than anything you've purchased. ;)

By the way, thanks for all your feedback on my muslin post yesterday. I really do appreciate your perspectives and input! We are having a gloriously sunny day today, so at some point I will take photos of my latest project, which is not a wearable item.