Saturday, 24 March 2012

Tova Sew-a-long Part 4. Sewing Placket and Inset

The first sewing section!  Jenny's instructions are clear and her photographs are helpful so refer to them at all stages of construction.   Jenny also gives advice on altering the bust size of the Tova here. I am doing is going into greater detail on the trickier bits.  The seam gauge that she shows in her pattern pictures is very helpful throughout.  I used a walking foot on my machine for both Tovas.  The benefit of this is it pulls both the top and bottom fabric layers through evenly.  You could use a standard presser foot too.  My walking foot is at the top and presser foot below.
 The same feet but from a bird's eye view.
1. Sew Placket to Inset
You can see my pieces ready below for my voile version.   The plackets are the strips, the insets are the wider L shaped sections.   My voile insets are double thickness and basted together at the edges and treated as one layer.  Using a double layer in this way to compensate for the lightness and transparency of the main fabric is called interlining.  My Lotta Echo version below has a single inset on each side. The thing to watch for here to make sure you stitch the right side of the placket to the wrong side of the inset- it is a little counter intuitive, you will want to do it the other way round.
You can see on the Lotta Echo version below how the triangle notches help to match up the plackets and the insets. The placket edges have been top stitched. 
You can see the fussy cutting on the voile version so both sides of the inset match up.
At the bottom of the inset where the two plackets cross over, Jenny suggests you pin these together.  I chose to machine stitch them within the 3/8" seam allowance, about 1/4" is fine.  It keeps everything secure and gives less to worry about for the next stage.
2. Sew Inset to Front
You will need a contrasting thread in your machine to sew your gathers.  It needs to be good and strong as we will be pulling on it.  Your stitch length needs to be at the longest setting.  Take your Tova front piece: the side on which you sew is the side you will pull on,  I had the wrong side facing me.   Starting at the notch near the corner where the inset will be sewn, secure your first stitch by sewing forwards/backwards and forwards and sew to the notch in the other corner 1/8" from the fabric edge- do not secure at this end and leave the thread ends long- e.g. 6" Then starting at the same notch as before, fabric the same side facing as before, sew a second line just the same, Jenny suggest 1/4" but it can be more (see below).  Leave the thread ends long.  Trim the thread ends at the secured edge so they don't get in the way
Jenny suggests very close gather lines 1/8 and 1/4.  I tried this and I tried wider- 1/8 and 1/2"- the latter was easier for me because when you sew the seam you will be stitching between the gathers as you can see below (this is from a sleeve cuff).    I did 1/8 and 1/4 for the Lotta Tova but the wider options for all the other gathering sections on both Tovas.  You chose what you prefer.
 Before you pull the gathering threads, you will need to secure the corners of the front piece.  Jenny's drawing shows where the reinforcement stitching will go.  I used a ruler and pencil to mark the line just inside 3/8" from fabric edge and where it would start and finish on each side.  It will be inside of your tailor's tack which marked the drill hole or dot with circle around from the paper pattern piece.  Change back to your usual thread, set you stitch length very short-1-1.5 on my machine and sew.  I then sew again, just inside or even on top of this line to make it extra secure.  Take care not to trap the gathering threads.  Repeat for other corner.  
Clip the corners- this means with sharp small scissors cut from outer cover to the corner just before your stitches.  I place a pin here to make sure I don't cut the stitches.  Remove pin once cut.
You can follow Jenny's direcitons and start pinning inset to front starting at shoulder.  If you are newer to dress making you might find it easier to start your pinning in the centre fof your front piece and the inset.  Pin at the notches- your pins need to be at right angles to your stitches.  .  Pull your gathering threads so that the inset is the same width as the front between the notches- you can wrap the ends around a pin to check and make a knot when you are happy with this.  Spread your gathers evenly.  I do this firstly with my fingers and then with a pin, stoking the fabric back and forth between the gathering lines.
You can then pin the side pieces, matching any notches,- it will be tight where the reinforced corners have been clipped. and you will need a lot of pins. 
Follow Jenny's directions and start at the right shoulder, stitch length normal- 2.2-2.5 is my normal, the first straight section down the sides is easy, slow down as you get to the first corner and I change my stitch length to shorter here 1.5 as it needs to be secure as we come to the clipped corner.  You should have a tailor's tack or mark to aim for, at this point do as Jenny says, stop, needle down, lift the foot and pivot- turn your fabric.  Check you are stitching through 2 layers and no extra fabric is trapped before you put the foot down again.   You should be stitching to the inside of the reinforcement stitches.  You can just see mine in the centre of the machine foot below and my needle is to the left of them.  Stitch about 1" with small stitches and change back to your usual stitch to sew along the gathered section of the inset- the gathers should be on top.   If your gathering threads were 1/8" and 1/4" apart you will be stitching below them with your 3/8" seam.  If your gathering threads were 1/8" and 1/2" apart you will be stitching below them with your 3/8" seam.  I stopped and checked my gathers several times as I stitched this seam between the notches.  When you have reached the notch at the end of the gathers, reduce your stitch size , go slow and stitch to the tailor's tack as before, check for trapped fabric, pivot and stitch along the secured corner.  change your stitch size back to normal and stitch seam to the top left shoulder.
This is a very tricky section.  Go slow and be prepared to unpick the odd section where you have trapped extra fabric.  my first took me two attempts.  Once you are happy with it you can remove the gathers, tailor's tacks and press well.   Follow Jenny's instructions, press seam towards the inset and finish the seam edge with a serger/overlocker ( I turned the knife off on my overlocker as the seam is already narrow) or you can use zig zag or overcast (depending your machine options) on medium weight fabric or 3 step zig zag on lightweight fabrics like voile/lawn to neaten the seam.   If you have no zip zag you could overcast by hand or use pinking shears. There is a discussion thread here on finishing Tova edges without a serger here.  Sew slowly as you finish the edge and watch out again for trapped fabric.  Press again and top stitch all round the inset, I did a extra securing line of stitches where the placket overlaps.  This is my Lotta Echo inset and placket finished.
And here is my voile version.
 This is the inside of echo with overlocked/serged seams pressed up and top stitched.
 And this is the voile version with a close up on the tricky corner.
The next sew-a-long post will be mid week with shoulders, side seams and hem- nice and easy.  You can find the links to all the post so far here and add any pictures to the Wiksten Flickr group here.
Any questions will be answered in the comments thread below, please add your ideas if you can help.
sib blog

26 comments:

  1. I really didn´t understand this drillhole/corner thing. I think the language difference (I am german) was my Problem. I made it somehow and will put a picture of my Tova in Flickr soon.
    Thank you so much for doing this sewalong.

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    1. If you look at the picure where I clip the corner with the scissors and the pin, you can see a tailor's take in the corner/drill hole. Drill hole is an odd word! It is a black dot . with a circle around it on the paper pattern!

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  2. Oh Kerry, thank you so much for this picture tutorial. It makes my life so much easier. I am a visual person, rather than getting it from reading. Really should get the fabric washed now, so I can start!!!

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  3. I have gone ahead with my Tova too, will post a pic soon. I should have waited as your suggestion on gathering threads would likely have been easier. Now that I have one done I want to do more!

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  4. Kerry - both of these versions are so lovely, but I must admit that I'm feeling very envious of the voile! it's absolutely gorgeous. And the way you have fussy cut - it's just stunning!

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  5. Another great post K - thanks so much! I've got my pattern & just waiting for the fabric to arrive......

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  6. Thanks so much Kerry - I feel ready to tackle the placket today now :) Loving both your versions btw x

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  7. Do you think it's possible to make the opening and placket longer and add buttons? I love this top but as I'll be breast feeding for the next few months it isn't that practical!

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  8. I really would not like to say as that is quilt a big alteration. I found my Tova was a good fit but it is not generous over the bust but taking the placket down further- really don't know. Any ideas anyone?

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    1. Thanks for the reply and the email, much appreciated, I'm not that experienced at sewing clothes, I'm more of a quilter, but I think I'll have a play around with it now you've given me some ideas!

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    2. Maybe you could swing out the side seams a bit to make the whole shirt more tent-like and nurse from below? I always lifted my shirt and nursed my kids from up under the shirt.

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    3. I like Miranda's suggestion- I always fed under my shirt and my daughter liked hiding underneath too

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  9. I've just spent the evening working on this, that corner is a pig! Mine is now nicely rounded rather than square but it will have to do! Thanks so much for all your tips, they really helped.

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  10. This blog has been so helpful. I love the tip about basting inside and outside of the seam line. I think that will work so much better.

    I have been struggling with adjusting the pattern so I can lift my arms freely (to lift a baby, ride a bike, drive a car, etc.). I think the real problem is that I am bigger than the biggest size, but I have managed to improve the fit of XL with a combination of the following adjustments. I thought other people might find them useful if the arms are too constricting. And if anyone has other suggestions, I'd love to hear it.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/7573004@N06/4858521255/

    http://www.afashionablestitch.com/2010/sewing/how-to-fit-my-body-pt-i/

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  11. Thanks Kerry, with your detailed explanations and photos the placket proved quite doable.

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  12. I'm feeling slightly nervous now! My fabric (some lovely olive/grey cambric) arrived this morning so I am keen to get on, but must pre-wash first. The placket sounds like a bit of a scary moment, but I am thinking that all this lovely detail is going to help. Thanks Kerry!

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  13. Thanks so much for making these posts, Kerry! So helpful for a beginner like me! Question on using a walking foot - mine says that it can't be used in reverse. Is there any way to secure stitches at the beginning and end (I will be using french seams for sides and shoulders)? Thanks for any help you can provide!

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    1. Hi Ritisha, keep your threads long at the beginning and end of your seam and then tie them in a knot and trim to secure the ends. These points will be secured with the armhole seam and the hem so that knotting will be fine!

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  14. Kerry I am FINALLY going to give the Tova a try and have just purchased my fabric today. Better late than never! Thanks so much for these extra instructions as I think they are going to be invaluable to me as I've only ever sewn one garment- a simple dress for my daughter. I'm nervous as can be but am going to make a test run on some cheap fabric and go from there!
    xo

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  15. Thank you for these sewing instructions, I am now feeling confident to start making a Tova. The pattern is cut and the fabric is drying so tomorrow I can start cutting.

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  16. Thanks so much for the visuals! I think I am beginning to understand this step better, but my corners keep ending up round instead of squared. Any advice on how to make the corners more squared? Thanks!!

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    1. It is tricky, even for experienced sewers. You need to sew to the corners and snip right next to the reinforced stitching to allow the fabric to produce a corner. Precision is the key

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    2. Thank you for the quick response! I am giving it another try now!

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  17. So thankful to come across your tutorial. I know I'm late to the Wiksten Tova party but it's such a beautiful top and I've been struggling with the first steps. This totally helped me to push through today and I'm crazy grateful. Thank you!

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    1. I am glad to have helped you out Katrina, it's such a lovely pattern. x

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    2. Me too! I have long pondered this pattern, but I rarely sew for myself and needed a nudge. Nudge accomplished last weekend, when I spotted two Tovas in one afternoon. I finally took the plunge to cut some voile today. I ironed interfacing to the three suggested pieces. Then, I paused long enough to feel uncertain, checked Master Google for a sew-along...and here you are! I am late to this party but thankful to have found it! Thank you for the detailed help!

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I love reading every single comment, so thank you for taking the time out to leave your thoughts. I always try to reply if I can find your email on your profile! Questions will be answered in the comments so others can read them too.