Sunday, October 31, 2004

sewing this THING that is now folded in half with the seams trimmed to exactly half inch, and hopefully notched and recognizable as labelled can be done in several ways:

One: from the position it's in, not partly or wholly disassembled at the table, but only unpinned as sewing.

Two: methodically unpinned and repinned to be in an open unfolded position. At no time have you unpinned more than one seam before repinning in an unfolded position.

Three : Unpin and cord the outside body pieces before unpinning any of the inside body pieces. I will tackle this first.

Four: and I don't suggest this, unpinning wholly, so as to overlock before hand. Yes, I do this. Yes, even I get lost. (For the sake of overlocking in a single layer, I suggest you do this only after mastering method one. )

All the outside body pieces I have ever pin fit ( say 15,000 ) have yielded a flat puzzle piece, free of folds or darts. If this is not true for you, and you do not have a very unusual piece of furniture, I want to to recheck to see that the seam location you chose is as far to the outside of the arm or back roll as possible.

You want these pieces to be flat. Why ? When I say you can cord them easily, this should be true, that you can sew~feed cord onto the single layer, with skill of course, and not distort the good fit that you cut. Outside body pieces that get cord at this time are the outside back, arm front panel if present, the outside arm, and if present, the wing. If you have a separate panel that defines your deck front, do not cord this at this time.

Though this looks awkward in explanation, to keep the writing brief, I will now tell you how to open pin the double pin fitting ( option two ). You would procede to open pin the inside body pieces if you first corded the outside body pieces in option three.

Let me say this again: if you are doing option three, we are going to unpin and repin the remaining uncorded slipcover pieces. If you are following option two, you are going to do it the same way.

Notches are critical here, so if you see a need to add a few, or write in instructions or take notes now, do so. Unpin one line of pins only. You will see four layers now hanging free. Take the two closest to you ( facing you in their entirety ) and repin at the notches you have made. If you find none, make them now.

Once you have repinned the two layers closest to you, turn the pin fitting over to the side that has no pins showing. You will see two edges hanging free needing pins replaced, and having the same notches you just connected. Hint: you can use many straight pins or fewer safety pins. You should place them where they were before, at the seam allowance you decided on.

Once secure and still recognizable as a seam, you may move on to another line of pins. I don't see why you would not be able to do this in any order. The long straight seams are the easiest to recognize, and the tight or short seams the hardest to get at, and can be left for last for convenience sake.

At this point I am going to assume you are ready to hear option one, as the explanation for one is the same as the explanation for picking up where I have left off for two and three. It looks awkward and makes you jump around, but it makes the point that you need not have done the extra steps for two and three, one is the shortest route.

Option one: if you were sitting at the machine, cord prepared, ready to sew for several hours without distraction, you could unpin and cord all in one short sequence, avoiding some possible confusion and extra steps. Not to contradict myself, but if you tried two and three first you'd be guessing less at this point. You'd have a better visual picture in your mind of what the task is, and be ready to do it more efficiently.

Looking at a double on half folded pin fitting is difficult, if you are trying to see what to sew. You must eliminate the few things that you can sew without cord first, the tuck ins. I hope you have notched mid seam on all the tuck seams you have cut. At minimum you have inside arm and deck to join, perhaps inside back and deck, and then certainly the inside arm where it meets the inside back. Sewing wing, if present, at it's tuck in, is also appropriate at this time.

It is proper to insert in the explantion here that any uncorded seam can be started and stopped at any point and can be sewn in more than one segment. You need not sew from A to Z. You may sew, and may benefit from sewing, M to S, F to M and then leave S to Z and A to F open for now. Those letters are aribrary and not assigned meaning in any previous paragraphs. Just to say, sew what you can know now, leave the rest for later when it becomes more obvious.

I am going to leave off here for today, with you closing your inside seams where no cord is required, and leave you with the task of examining and memorizing the THING you are looking at.

Visual memory is a skill, and it needs to be developed and trusted.

When you close those inside seams, I am suggesting you do so either from the front ( end nearest to the outside body pieces ) or from the centers of those seams toward either end. Center out for now is adequate, front to inside most~end is simply more effcient and will be used when your understanding increases.

Please know that all this torture is very profitable. In the shops which employ piece rate seamstresses assembling slipcovers, a chair can be completely sewn in two hours or less. The experience of the sewer can yield a quality cover using this procedure, it does not cut corners or result in poor product.

I have not said anything about where the cords GO, or where they stop ans start. I will generalize about this next time, but you need to have decided upon some aesthetic points prior to cutting, and your cord order, stop and start points will be a reflection of those seam location choices.

Friday, October 29, 2004

Shirley, speaking for myself... I'm just absorbing it all without comment. This is wonderful for reference. I don't have enough experience to comment, or even ask for clarification on specific points, though.

I'm enjoying it all enormously. Thank you so much for sharing this with us!

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Sewing from double on half is next. I haven't seen anyone post since I started this. If this is too much, let me know, I'll save it for a while.

Friday, October 22, 2004

Making certain you will recognize what you are trying to sew once you have removed any pins is crucial to your success.

Do not remove any pins yet, and when it is time to do so, know that you will not remove more than one line of pins at a time. That line of pins can be sewn, or you can open up the pin fitting so as not to be double, but it must be closed in some manner before removing another line of pins.

Working at the table, you may benefit from a pencil, small ruler, and smaller scissors.

Examine your pin fitting for any spots which need to be trimmed to 1/2" seam allowance, and do so, measure if you feel you need to. Use the pencil to mark any pin lines where you accidently cut away more seam allowance than you need to have. Use scissors ( long ones ) to smooth seam cut line, to give you a guide to sewing smoothly, if the seam is in fact long and straightish. End seams squarely, do not round off ( seam allowance should not taper ).

You will notch this pin fitting, at a depth of 1/4". These wil be cut into the seam allowance, not the " outty " notches you see on dress patterns. Your notches must be not more than 8" apart on straight seams, and should occur within the first three inches of any intersection. They may occur more frequently on curved areas, or complex intersections.

They must not be equal distances apart, they must vary in distance between them. Why ? Each point of allignment must be distinctive, if it were not, you will misallign. There is no chance you could misallign any part and wind up with an okay fit. In fact, you would not be able to complete the sewing if you misallign any one notch.

Similarly, notches cannot be so frequent that they become meaningless. You may use triple double or single notches in sets, this does not contradict previous sentence.

You may cut away areas of pinned excess that are intended as darts. Leave adequate seam for dart. You may notch between darts if they are far apart. You may mark with pencil ( as opposed to cutting away ) if you intend to fold over excess, or if you intend to dart and not cut .

This did not address fabric that ravels so much notches do not survive. Your seam allowances my not survive either if this is the case, and you would need to have noted that at the beginning, and made choices that would not have perhaps included using doulbe on half method.

We are not unpinning anything yet. Familiarize yourself with this pin fitting, write on it or pin notes as you need to. Later you can skip the notes, but if this is your first, you need to know what your puzzle pieces are: inside back, outside back, inside arm, outside arm, front arm panel, deck, side arm panel if there is one, wing, ect.
okay, you are ready to clean up your pin fitting, make it safe to take off the chair, and have all the seams be recognizeable.

All the areas of the chair should be covered with your fabric, except the skirt area.

You can trim seams down on the chair if you wish, I think there's advanatage in doing that. You really get your nose in there and notice how the chair is shaped. You may err and cut too closely yes, but you have already clipped ( pivot cut or slash ) closely, and you have to seal with that anyway, so I'd say the risk is worth the learning.

While trimming, inspect the pins for straight lines of seams. Reinsert those that would give a false impression to the intended cut direction of seam. Fill in pins where the joined area is too flimsy to withstand being removed from chair intact. Remove anchor pins.

The deck has not yet been addressed. The deck piece ( or pieces ) must have a smooth appearance where it covers the chair front ( if it DOES ). If you plan a deck height skirt, this does not apply.

Attempt to depress the edge of the chair deck ( deck is where cushion sits ). I say attempt, it may be a hard board, and not move at all. If it moves as if there's a spring, you must fashion some of the inside arm or the deck piece ( or a blend of both ) to dive into this crevice. You may add a strip if the inside arm lacks the excess to do this. It is much easier to ask the inside arm ( and it's new strip ) to fill this crevice than to ask the deck piece to do so.

If you can manage the inside arm to dive into and back out of the crevice to the deck, then there's no darting needed. If you ask the deck piece to do this, a dart will show at the crevice front.

Eyes moving toward the back of the deck, the seat can be sewn to the insdie arms and the inside back. They need not be if you hem them and have tight tuck in spaces. I suggest you DO join them if the tuck in space is loose, and if the area in the tuck is big.

Depress the deck at all it's edges where it meets the inside back and arm. Are there any areas you cannot cram excess into ? Take note. Otherwise, and I trust you to do this as best you can, leave a four or five inch border around the deck space. It can be more, less. You should have excess at the inside back ( at bottom ) and inside arm ( at bottom ) to join to this border. Pin so as to have sewing instructions for yourself. Maybe it won't be as smooth as the rest of the pin fitting. It's not seen.

There may or may not be a vertical tuck seam where arm joins inside back. If you waited to close this area untill now ( or even if you inadvertently closed it with pins and trimmed it ) stick hand in there to see if tuck space is available. If so, and you choose to use this area for additional tucking, leave the same border as we did on the deck ( or add it back in a strip if you cut it off ).

Mark for intended skirt length. Make marks with pencil at a uniform distance from floor to the body where it will attach. Note that the mark needs to be 1/2" shy of the intended finshed length, to allow a seam. Skirt can start no higher up than the deck, that's a constraint. Skirt should not start below an existing skirt ( there would be a bump ). Skirt should not start below the upholstered body of a nonskirted upholstered piece. Skirt finished length need not hit the floor, but hold the ruler there anyway to make the marks, then do the note and the math as needed. Slipcover skirts must all be the same length, not shorter in back as soom upholstered pieces are. If you intend no skirt, rub the upholstery line with chalk, and cut away excess, leave a full inch seam there.

Next post will be preparation to unpin. The pin fitted cover should lift off the chair safely now. Pull it off. If needed pins fall out, replace them properly, quickly.

Wednesday, October 20, 2004

time to anchor: get your bank pins out, or your very long T pins.

Anchoring is done to prevent slippage, to position on grain and pattern, and to keep the fabric in the parameters of the space that piece is intented to cover. You anchor deeply, and well away from the seam lines ( inside them ). The doubled sections are self aligned, they should be atop one another in a matching way. You will see this happening, even though they are mirror image wrong side out.

As with any pins in fitting, you want to bury the point if you can. In anchoring, you may need to push them in and then out again. At the very least, point the points that do emerge toward the deck of chair.

The arm sections and front panel can be anchored first, then the excess brushed back over itself so that you can see all the inside and outside back. These pieces are cut big, there should be excess to brush out of your way. Pull taut on grain, but smooth is still the object, so do not pull on bias.

Your middle body sections get anchored onto the chair next. You stuck in pins previously to designate half way points. I am now going to tell you you may not use exactly that spot for your middle body fold placements. Why ?

Pull your fabric from side to side ( widthwise, warpwise, fillwise, whatever terms you use ). Do a test with 27". If you get more stretch than you are comfortable with, or familiar with, or no stretch at all, you may substitute your judgement for where the center fold belongs.

My comfort zone is 1/2" over the 27". If it pulls out about that much, I use the center point pins to designate where my folds are placed. If twice that ( one inch over 27" ) , I'll place my fold short of the half way pin by 1/8 of an inch ( or more ). Let me use different words to say the same thing. I will fold my outside back in half wrong side out, and place that fold short of my marker pins (to mark the half way) by an 1/8" on the side I am pin fitting . Why ?

It makes the cover smaller, it pulls out the excess stretch. 1/8" short is actually 1/4" removed. You can tolerate more than 1/8", but you should experiment in increments, smallest first. This applies to all three middle body pieces, the inside and outside back, and the deck.

If I had no stretch, I may steam goods to get some. If I still got no stretch having done that, I may place the fold OVER the half way point by 1/8" inch. That would make it 1/4" larger. Why am I doing all this ?

When you pin fit using other methods, you are pulling out excess elasticity, or allowing extra for ease, always. You just didn't mentally decide, you are manipulating with your hands, and it happens. Double on half is double, and you are pulling against a fold, and can only do so somewhat more meekly.

I have put fold 1/2" short or 1/2" over, but you need experience to make this adjustment this severe. If adding for inelastic fabric, you have no way to remove it once done, except to trim away at seam allowance on the outside back vertical seam. Even then, it's not shaped as perfectly had you not left this excess. If you placed the fold short of the half way point, then it's too small if you then needed more outside back and inside back. Err with deliberation, use a small number to begin with for this slipcover. Make more severe adjustments in the next slipcovers.

Anchor all before the next steps. All should overlap liberally. The next steps are slashing cuts to enable pivoting of fabric where it must turn, and closing seams. You will need to consider how to best make fabric turn the corner, as you may only have one chance to slash this.

You will close your seams in a hop skip and jump manner with the long pins on straight aways, and the shorter pins on curves. The seams belong right on the hard corners, and where ever excess comes together naturally and with ease, and to your eye, with style. Do not brush excess that is on one half of the seam only on down the line of pins, leave it where it occurs. Pin for darting or to leave as ease later. Do pin as if to dart. You need not dart this, you are just designating it " taken care of and noted ".

I work my entire chair when I hop skip and jump. I go from OB to FAP to DE to IB and Wing in no set order. I close first what is self evident, I postpone deciding what needs further clipping to shape untill I have closed up all else. I allow fabric to lie with ease where anchored, while pulling seams as tight as still looks at ease.

If you slash wrong, replace piece. You won't see this untill you SEE it, on your chair. Trim away if you are certain of seam position and the excess is in your sight line. Trim if and when you are familiar with consistent seam allowance. We will talk about trimming seam allowances next time. Leave your tuck areas alone for now, we will discuss this next as well.

Friday, October 08, 2004

of course you can always simply come see this done at the 2005 really is easier than the written description makes it sound.
this is the fourth in the series: exclusion A : we aren't considering drop matches in this explanation.

once you have cut your allocated inside back and outside back cuts, lie them over the area and pin into it to hold it on the body site. Move on now to cut the arms.

A note about the deck, it is not covered with the inside back piece ( block cut ) as if extended. I will have you piece ( sew together ) the deck with scrap as the chance arrises. The wastefrom previous cuts go here.

We need to consider motif here. An all over pattern, non directional, not napped, or if being solid, will not be discussed specifically. I am going to tell you about pattern with direction and or nap, as that is harder and more specific.

Your inside arm will have a size ( width, arm front to inside back ) , measure to see IF the cut size including tuck (width, above ) that you will need is less than or more than half a width ( half of 54" ) of the cloth . Check the outside arm as well, though rarely can you cover an outside arm with half a width ( half of 54" ).

Yes, I used the word piece with two meanings, and the word width with two meanings in the previous paragraphs. Don't get stuck on this, visualize as you go.

Now, locate ( given your pattern motif, if one ) where you need to center a motif. Couple tricks here. You can never see both outside arms at once. If need be, they could get away with not being the same. We'll try and make them the same here. On the outside arm, the center for the motif can be just about anywhere you choose, including sharing it's picture with the skirt. Take some time and decide. And, then cut big blocks anyway so you still have even more choices.

The picture ( motif ) on my inside arms, if that picture is small, is high and forward. The picture may be big, and the arm big, giving you other choices. The picture may be big, and the arm small. In that case, a secondary ( small ) picture may be better, if available.

This is just to describe the handling of the cuts and the cutting of them. Say I needed the full width for both inside and outside arms. Say my repeat is 24". Say my draping the cloth from deck to skirt line takes two repeats with cloth to spare to enable a nice big block cut. If I had one chair, and two arms, and needed two repeats per arm, I'd need four repeats. That's four repeats having cut off ( wasted ) any half cut off picttures. Four repeats, complete and not having any tails from the last reapeat.

You'd count off four complete repeats, clip, turn the fabric back on itself evenly like before, form that fold, and whack off all four repeats in one cut. Then trim away the tails of any repeat that was on the beggining of the cut. You have a sheet of four complete repeats ( assume the center is the picture for picture framing).

It needs to be folded in half same selvage to same selvage and cut in two, with the fold back on itself and slitting method. Cut four repeat sheet in half to yeild two pieces, two repeats each, full width. One two repeat sheet may do either two inside arms and two outside arms or one inside arm and one outside arm each. The simplest universal procedure is to assume the best use is to have each piece be one inside arm and one outside arm. I'll explain.

You have two cut pieces, two repeats long. Hold them both right sides together and rightside up with the raw edges together at top . If you have done this, the motifs will fall on top of one another ( note exclusion A at top paragraph ). They should be the same length and width, and should be willing ( right sides ) to adhere to one another a bit. Drape the bottom cut edge over the inside arm. Either arm, bottom cut edge, the motif should be going in the proper direction. Yes, it's 48 by 54 and a little awkward. Center the pattern ( yes it's inside out ) as you wish. Drape enough into the deck for tuck and over the arm roll for excess on your cut. If your pattern on the remaining fabric ( now draping upside down over to the outside arm ) will not be harmed by whacking this off now, do so. If the previous was true, you should be able to turn the remaining cloth ( for outside arm ) upright ( turn clockwise half an hour ) and have sufficient covererage for the outside arm, and have the picture fall within the frame.

This sounds very tedious. The explanation is, the action is not. The entire action is streamlined and can take place inside of several minutes. Luckily, you need not sit thru many tedious explanations to get an inside or outside arm under circumstances different per larger repeat or narrower arm. Once you get this, with a normal size chair and a 24" repeat, the modifications will come to you. Exclusion A is for me, a reason to cut in a single layer only. A drop match will not place your pictures where you want them, using this procedure. For me, I'd do single on half. You may prefer to shop pattern and take more time to arrange these drop match pictures and then cut double on half.

These four posts have been long and tedious and so far you only have four areas block cut. I have told you the major cutting strategies that are peculiar to cutting fast standing up with no table.

The block cuts remaining, the arm front, the wings if any, the deck may be had from scraps from the previous cutting of blocks or may need to be taken from bolt. No special peculiar ways to do this are needed, it's fussy and a personal choice.

Finish allotting your block cuts to all areas of the body, save for skirts. The next task will be anchoring. Double check that you have pinned for the sake of saving the information, the block to the area that it is to cover.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Once you have placed your pins ( four of them ) for your half way points, and deturmined where seams are likely to go, it's time to cut and anchor block cuts. Assume this is a chair. Assume we are NOT railroading. Assume you have plain weave cotton, the proper weight.

This is my procedure. I learned from tall men with strength. I am not petite, so this works for me as well. Hope you can do it.

Taking off the longest cuts first: hold the bolt cut end , four yards pulled off ( but not cut ) up to the outside back. It does not matter if it's a print or solid, or if it's rolled on the bolt upside down. Hold it up there, from top back to skirt length, add six inches or so, and clip the selvage. That's a mark to refer back to.

Next fold the yardage in half to see how wide half is ( and to see if half covers the back with some to spare. ) If half works, check to see if the motif falls where you want it. If you need the whole cut to use motif properly, fine. If you need more inches on the cut to move motif to a better location, fine. Time to whack a cut.

At the clip in selvage ( or further down if you need more for motif ) fold goods over onto itself on bolt, selvages meeting at the top. Smooth and flat, with a fold, this usually means right side in, but that's not consequential. Once smooth grasp the fold top with left hand, insert good sharp sheers into the fold with right. I am a righty, leftys figure what you need to. My bolt is on my left, on the floor, several feet away from the hank I am whacking off.

Slide the shears, 1/2 open, fabric touching about the back of center of the blade, while pulling upward with left hand. Using my right leg I am supporting the fold so I can see it all, and so that it remains straight. At 5'3" I can do it without repositioning. I am tall enough. It's all one motion. If not, assume scissors need to be upgraded, not that you are too short ( unless you are in fact much shorter ). I can do this with 54" goods at 5'3" tall. Some of it is on the floor at first, granted.

Okay: if the cut you have removed can be split lengthwise and fit ( halves ) the inside back and outside back, great. If the cut is only wide enough on half to barely cover the back, noting what I have said about the purpose of excess size of cuts, decide if you want to use the whole thing.

Spilt and dedicate to inside back as well, or cut another cut for inside back using same procedure.

Note: I use a concept I call picture framing. That simply means to me that I choose where on the body part my best center occurs. Happens that ( not coincidentally ) my motifs ride high on my inside back and outside back. That means the halves of my one cut when split to be used on both inside and outside back are most often situated the same, automatically. Note if a half drop, use the lower framed motif on the back if need be.

Practice this much ( or do it mentally ). Tell me what's uncomfortable about it.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Hi Shirley

I also did not know you were waiting for a response. Sorry, here we were just waiting for the next lesson.
I really need to speed up my slipcovering skills. I can tell I am getting a little bit faster. I know I measure and refit way too many times. I am currently using Karen's method and I always have the piece of furniture in front of me. I would really love to not have to bring the furniture home and I am just not ready to sew in customers home yet. So please proceed I will be waiting for the next lesson.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Sounds good to me - I'm gonna print it all out when you're done.
oh yeah, report back, right here. Tell me what I left out of the explanation too.
So, so sorry, Shirley - I didn't realize you were waiting for a response. Here I'VE been, wondering why you hadn't started...

Yes, I am an idiot. Please, please proceed.

Monday, October 04, 2004

okay, no takers, but we will procede like we are useful.

The next step is to visualize where you'd predict or like the seams to be. The seams must be placed where you want the cords to appear. Seams must also join areas where grain direction or pattern direction would ideally change.

Additionally, seams protect areas of stress or shaping that would tear if only one piece of fabric was asked to make severe turns. Seams shape, seams atract attention, seams hold zippers.

Seams ( cords ) create a new sillohuette ( sp?? ) . Seams need not, and in many cases cannot, fall where the upholsterer placed the cords or joins. We have no nails, no glue. Simple gravity and tension are at work, we manipulate but not force.

The first cuts of fabric ( all body parts ) must then have a margin of error allowed for adjusting the placement. I like cuts three inches over my hoped for seam placement, so that I may change the plan as I see a better answer ( or a neccessary answer even if I don't like it ).

How does a beginer answer this question for the first time ( where seams go ? ). Look at existing slipcovers. Magazines yes, but in the home in use as well.

Second suggestion, place your hands on the furniture as you look at it. Interlace your fingers and form right angles with fingers. Hold hands so that the fingers and palms form north south east west positions. Find corners on the rounded surfaces of the furniture. Some corners are obvious, and probably needed seam location. There may be more seams needed, on these more rounded surfaces. Hard corners are required seams: rounded corners are possible seams. A seam may be a choice, or perhaps a more practical answer than making one piece of fabric bend around a corner.