Hints from Frances

Costuming Hints from Frances

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Some Hints on Trains
by Frances Burns

To get a train that moves well the fabric needs support and weight. Often your fashion fabric is lacking in both. Here are a couple of the many ways to introduce support for your train.

One of the easiest is to flat line the fashion fabric with a batiste or broadcloth. If this does not give enough support I like to try a double flat lining with the fabric in the middle being a tulle, nylon net, or petticoat net. The one I pick depends on how the fabric moves with the flat lining.

Adding a hem facing also adds weight. If you have already flat lined the train, the hem can be sewn to the flat lining so it will not show thru to the fashion fabric. An advantage to adding a hem facing is that if you wear the train outside the facing, not the fashion fabric or lining, will get the brunt of the wear. Attaching a dust ruffle to the lining of the train or to the slip you wear it with, if the design allows, also cuts down on the wear the train receives.

Scalloped Ruffle
by Frances Burns

Making a scalloped ruffle is relatively quick and not too hard.

First cut and piece a strip of fabric on the straight of the grain about one and a half times the length of your finished ruffle length. You can add more length if you want, don't be afraid to experiment. I usually cut the fabric 1+ to 2 inches wide. Again don't be afraid to experiment with wider fabric.

Piece the fabric together in one long strip. Finish the edges (a rolled edge on a serger makes a nice finish).

Set your sewing machine to a narrow zig-zag with the length the you normally use for sewing a straight seam. Zig-zag over upholstery thread in a stair step pattern sewing to within 1/4 inch of the edge of the fabric trim.

If applying to a skirt, match the stair step pattern and sew the strip together. Divide the skirt and the strip into an equal number of sections and pin together.

Pull up the upholstery thread and gather the trim strip. Even out the gathers so that the upholstery thread lays in a straight line and sew down to the skirt. You can cover this center line with ribbon or other trim. Gather and sew down for other applications.

by Frances Burns

To insert a gore that you want to have always ruffle in or out!

To ruffle in: After the gore has been inserted, pull the gore toward the inside of the garment. Start sewing on the seam about an inch before the point of the gore. Take TWO stitches past the start of the gore, being careful not to catch the fabric of the gore in your seam.

To ruffle out: After the gore has been inserted, pull the gore toward the outside of the garment. Start sewing on the seam about an inch before the point of the gore. Take TWO stitches past the start of the gore, being careful to sew just barely into the fabric of the gore. From the outside you should not be able to notice this seam at all.

Underlining Darts
by Frances Burns

When underlining a garment--baste down the center of a dart before sewing it in. This will help control the fabric so the dart does not end at different points on the fashion fabric and the underlining fabric.

Sewing with Metallic Thread
by Frances Burns

When using metallic thread that insists on looping itself around the upper wire thread guide on your serger--place a flexible straw through the thread guide and put the thread through the straw.

It is amazing how much better the thread behaves. Serging with metallic thread was driving mecrazy before this solution came to me.

Quick Alteration for Rounded Shoulders
by Frances Burns

If your shoulder seams fall behind the point of your shoulder on a modern pattern you have rounded shoulders. If the shoulder seam is less than an inch off; there is a simple correction for this.

Measure the distance the seam is behind the point of your shoulder. On your pattern add this amount to the back shoulder seam at the armhole. Draw a line from this point to the original neck line. On the front subtract the amount you added at the shoulder seam, and draw a line from this point to the original neck line.

Mark the original shoulder seam on the back at the shoulder. This is still the center of the sleeve. If you need to adjust more than an inch you also need to adjust the cap of the sleeve, which is a more complicated adjustment.

Choosing A Pattern Size For A Woman's Garment
By Frances Burns

When choosing a pattern size from a major commercial company (Simplicity, McCall's, Butterick or Vogue) there are several things to remember.

Your pattern size is NOT the same size as a purchased garment.

A fit model is an idealized body shape and every one is different. Garment manufacture's change their fit model often, which is why you may wear garments in 4 or more sizes from different companies.

Pattern companies use a defined fit model. The model measurements correspond with those that are listed on the pattern or in the pattern catalog.

Each pattern company uses its own fit model. Simplicity seems to have a broader squarer shoulder. Butterick and Vogue appear to have a narrower shoulder and back. McCall's is somewhere in the middle. The subtle differences are why most people develop a preference for one company over another.

Solution: always compare your measurements to the pattern company measurements.

Pattern companies design to a B cup.

This is important because your neck, shoulder and armhole fit do not significantly change from an A to a DD cup, but if you go just by the fullest bust measurement, your pattern size can. By the way most women are wearing the wrong size bras. (See following article.)

Pattern companies distribute the fullness in a garment as if you are a B. If your full bust measurement is 36" and you are an A cup - the pattern you buy will be tight in the shoulders. An "A" cup needs less fullness in the front and more in the back than a B cup. If your full bust measurement is 36" but a D cup, the shoulders will be loose and sloppy. A "D" cup needs more fullness in the front and less in the back than a B cup. Adjusting for cup size is much easier than adjusting the shoulders, neck, armhole and sleeve.

Take your under bust measurement and add 7" - this gives you the bust measurement you would have, if you were a B cup. Pattern companies design for "B" cup. And alter the pattern for your cup size. Changing for cup size is relatively simple - you only change the front pattern pieces. Most books on fitting give detailed instructions on how to do this.

Solution: Buy your upper garment and dress patterns by what your bust measurement would be if you wore a B cup.

Your pattern size is different for you waist and your hips.

Changing waist sizing is easy. Don't worry about it when you are buying a pattern. It is much harder to change the hip sizing in a pant pattern than the waist size. To change waist sizing you just adjust the darts. Solution: For pants and skirts buy the pattern by your hip size.

FYI - I have never used a pattern that I have not altered in one way or another, if only for height.

How to Find the Bra Size You Should be Wearing
By Frances Burns

There are now tape measures that you can buy that include instructions just for measuring bra size if you don't like remembering formulas. Check your local fabric store.

For best results have someone else measure you.

With bra on but without shirt, and measuring parallel to the floor:

Measure Band size: Measure directly below bust and shoulder blades and add 5 inches. If you get an odd number (like 33) round up one (to 34).

Measure Cup Size: Measure around fullest part of bust. Compare bust measurement to band measurement. For each 1-inch difference you go up one-cup size. Examples:
1" difference = A cup
2" difference = B cup
5" difference = DD cup

Bra manufacturers also use fit models, but they affect the cup shape and position rather than the size.

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