Stalking my sewing-self in the nineties: what has changed? – Part 1

EN Summary: Those of us with longer sewing journeys can’t avoid the nostalgia when looking back at some of the sewing we used to do more than 20 years ago. Last week I decided to start a “new” project: a remake of a pant suit I made back in the late nineties and couldn’t help myself comparing my process from back then with the present. This article is part of a reflection about my sewing journey while I describe the making of the pant suit: where I came from & where I am now. Keep reading the full article.
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PT Sumário: Aqueles que como eu têm um percurso já longo na costura não conseguem evitar um sentimento de nostalgia ao recordar o que cosemos e como cosíamos há mais de 20 anos atrás. Na semana passada decidi começar um "novo" projeto: um "remake" de um fato que fiz nos anos 90. Não consegui evitar a comparação dos processos que seguia com o que faço atualmente. Este artigo é o primeiro de uma série onde faço uma reflexão do meu percurso ao mesmo tempo que acompanho o projeto em curso: donde vim e onde estou agora. Continuem a ler o artigo completo.

EN: I was very enthusiastic about sewing back in the nineties; in fact I consider it to be sort of my golden era because being able to sew my own clothes really empowered me in a time when my income was not enough to buy the clothes/shoes that I needed, much less the ones I wanted. Still I was able to wear beautiful clothes and it was all because I could make them. I was in my twenties, and had started to go to aerobic and step classes regularly so I was very thin, athletic and obsessed with the great top models and their fashions. I had a taste for power dressing, coordinating suits, and wearing the same color from head to toe. Back then there was a Burda magazine called Burda International, issued every trimester and it contained all I could wish for: the latest fashions from international designers and PATTERNS for some of the garments. I collected most of the Burda International magazines until they stopped being released. And I sewed A LOT of the patterns in these magazines. I still own my precious magazine collection and from time to time I feel like remaking some of the garments that made me really happy in my twenties. One of the suits that I wore the most was a black faux suede pant suit, very minimal, classy and elegant. I used to call it my “Black Panther” suit and when I finally got to watch the “Black Panther” movie a couple of weeks ago, I couldn’t help but longing for my totally worn out and long ago donated to charity faux suede suit. So that you know, I used to wear Burda size 38 tapered into a 36 at the waist back then. Now I feel happy if I am able to fit into size 40 without alterations. So I pulled out Burda International 3/1996 and traced both models 919 (jacket) and 911 (matching pants). I had the perfect fabric in my stash, soft black cotton velveteen with a small percentage of lycra (short dense pile surface and a smooth back, with some stretch) bought online from Tissus de Rève. The fabric from my first suit was black faux suede, a little stiffer, no stretch but the same in appearance. I thought it would be fun to compare my process in the present with what I used to do more than twenty years ago so I will be addressing a few key areas and divide this article in several posts; otherwise most of you will get bored :). 

TRACING BACK THEN: I used to trace the pattern directly from the pattern sheet and used it as is (cut out without seam/hem allowances); I would tailor tack all the markings including the stitching lines; if the piece was interfaced, I would cut the fabric leaving generous margins, interface it, pin the pattern on top and then thread trace it so the basting thread wouldn’t get glued to the fabric. The notches were marked with a few long running stitches crossing the margin into the inside of the thread-outlined fabric piece. It was very precise but a time consuming process. When I started blogging I still followed this procedure (I used to sew almost exclusively with Burda magazine patterns; check this old article here) but then I was introduced to the Big-4 patterns with its included seam/hem allowances and the game changed.

TRACING NOW: With Burda magazine patterns I trace out the outlines of the pattern and then add the seam/hem allowances on the paper before cutting out the pattern pieces – this process is optimal for the use of the rotary cutter/self-healing cutting mat (something I only found out about after I started interacting with other bloggers abroad), but I still like to use scissors from time to time (especially if they are extra-sharp and cut through fabric with no effort, like the KAI). I no longer thread-trace all the stitching lines but I still do it in some cases, like with dart legs, pleats or relevant reference lines (center front, bust lines, etc.). I have to make sure the pattern fits with minor adjustments before cutting it into fabric so, depending on my degree of confidence with the pattern, I might make a test garment (muslin) or at the very least carefully measure it, making sure it is within my fitting standards. Notches are marked with little scissor snips on the allowances instead of thread traced. Whenever I can I block fuse the pieces that need interfacing and then cut them out.

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PT: Nos anos 90 já era uma grande aficionada da costura; de facto considero os anos 90 como a minha "época dourada" porque o facto de ser capaz de confecionar as minhas roupas numa altura em que comecei o meu percurso profissional ganhando pouco, deu-me a possibilidade de vestir bem à imagem do meu ideal. O salário mal chegava para as coisas que precisava, muito menos para as que ambicionava ter, e mesmo assim podia vestir roupas bonitas, tudo graças à minha capacidade de as fazer. Estava nos meus vinte anos, e na altura tinha começado a frequentar um ginásio (um dos pioneiros em Aveiro), praticando aeróbica e step regularmente. Era magra e atlética, as minhas musas eram as top models da altura e estava muito ligada ao que se usava e se via nas passerelas. Desenvolvi um gosto por um estilo cuidado, fatos coordenados, vestir de uma só cor ou com combinações fortes, como se usava na altura. Havia uma revista trimestral da Burda chamada Burda Internacional, que além de conter fotos impressionantes de roupas de designers famosos, vinha com moldes para confecionar algumas dessas peças, numa nota mas "glamour" do que o usual das revistas Burda. Colecionei a maioria dessas revistas até que pararam de ser publicadas no fim dos anos 90. E cosi MUITOS moldes dessas revistas. Ainda as considero como a jóia da minha coleção de revistas de costura e de tempos a tempos sinto vontade de fazer de novo algumas das peças que usei nos anos 90 e com as quais tive um passado que recordo com alegria. Um dos conjuntos que fiz e usei até não poder mais (dei-o há anos, já em mau estado) foi um fato jaqueta e calça que confecionei de imitação de camurça preta, muito minimalista e elegante. Costumava chamar-lhe o meu fato de "Pantera Negra" e há semanas, quando fui ver o filme "Black Panther" ao cinema, comecei a sentir uma vontade irresistível de voltar a usar esse fato. Na altura lembro-me que cortei o molde no tamanho 38, ajustando a cintura para o tamanho 36 e ainda me sobrava uma boa folga (ahhh, que saudades,...). Hoje dei-me por satisfeita se o tamanho 40 me servir sem grandes alterações. Saquei então a revista Burda Internacional 3/1996 e tracei os modelos 919 (jaqueta) e 911 (calças do conjunto). Tinha o tecido ideal já há algum tempo, um veludo de algodão negro com uma pequena percentagem de elastano, muito suave e com pelo curto, que comprei online na Tissus de Rève. O tecido original era imitação de camurça, um pouco mais rígido do que este, mas o aspeto era muito semelhante. Achei que seria interessante ir comparando o meu processo de costurar da altura com o presente, e assim vou focar-me em algumas áreas-chave e dividir esta reflexão em várias partes para não vos maçar muito :).

TRAÇADO DOS MOLDES HÁ 20 ANOS: Copiava o molde diretamente da folha de moldes e usava-o tal e qual (acrescentava margens generosas de costura e de bainha depois ao cortar no tecido, suficientes para qualquer ajuste). Alinhavava com pontos de empastar todas as linhas, incluindo as linhas de costura e depois substituia o empastado por pontos de alinhavar corridos, tudo ficava marcado com alinhavos. Se a peça ia ser entretelada, primeiro cortava-a com margens generosas, aplicava a entretela e depois alinhavava todas as marcações. Os pontos de aposição de montagem eram também marcados com pontos de alinhavar perpendiculares à margem de costura. Era um processo preciso mas que demorava muito tempo  e no início do blogue ainda o usava (podem ver um exemplo neste post antigo - clicar aqui). Depois descobri os moldes americanos com as margens incluídas e tudo mudou.

TRAÇADO DOS MOLDES AGORA: Copio os moldes da Burda com as alterações que acho necessáias e acrescento as margens de costura e bainhas no molde de papel. Este processo é ótimo para usar o x-acto rotativo e a base própria de corte (algo que só descobri quando comecei a ler blogues estrangeiros), mas ainda gosto de usar tesouras, especialmente se forem de categoria profissional como as KAI. Já não alinhavo todas as linhas, mas ainda alinhavo as linhas de referência mais importantes (centros, punças, linha do busto, etc.). Tenho de ter o mínimo de segurança que os moldes servem antes de os cortar em tecido, por isso no mínimo meço os moldes cuidadosamente e se o molde for complicado ou subsitirem dúvidas, faço uma peça de teste com tecido barato.

My scissors from 20 years ago / As minhas tesouras de há vinte anos atrás

CUTTING GEAR BACK THEN: It was me and my basic set of shears/scissors: I had a pair of paper scissors used for cutting the patterns, a pair of long Fiskars shears for fabric, shorter scissors for snipping and small embroidery scissors. A couple of years later I bought a pair of pinking shears.

CUTTING GEAR NOW: I added a rotary cutter and a self-healing mat to my basic gear; later I also got a set of Gingher serrated dressmaking shears (great for silks and other slippery fabrics), a pair of Gingher knife edge tailor’s point scissors 5” and the Gingher 3.5” Stork Embroidery scissors (all gifted by a very good friend). My latest additions (all gifted) were a set of high quality KAI shears/scissors, also including their pinking shears. My collection has grown quite a bit since the nineties!
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EQUIPAMENTO DE CORTE HÁ 20 ANOS ATRÁS: Era eu e as minhas tesouras: tinha umas para papel que usava no corte dos moldes, Umas tesouras de talhar grandes da Fiskars para tecido, uma tesoura mais curta para golpear e uma tesoura de bordar. Uns anos mais tarde comprei a tesoura de cortar em ziguezague.

EQUIPAMENTO DE CORTE AGORA: Acrescentei x-actos rotativos e a base de corte ao meu equipamento básico; mais tarde recebi de presente de uma amiga um conjunto de tesouras de talhar serrilhadas (ótimas para tecidos escorregadios e sedas), a tesoura de costureira de 10cm e a de bordar em "ponta de cegonha", todas da Gingher. Recentemente, também oferecidas, recebi um conjunto de tesouras profissionais da KAI, incluíndo as de corte em ziguezague. A minha coleção expandiu-se bastante!

Some of my cutting gear in the present days / Algum do equipamento de corte que uso agora

SEWING EQUIPMENT BACK THEN: I used to own a mechanic Singer sewing machine (portable but really heavy when compared to today’s standards!). I bought it with one of my first wages and it served me really well back then. I only got my first serger/overlocker a few years later, a four-thread also from Singer. I also got an adjustable dressform sometime around 2000.

SEWING EQUIPMENT NOW: At some point I swapped my mechanic Singer with an electronic Huskystar C20, and later on I sold it to a friend and upgraded to my current electronic Pfaff Ambition Essential with IDT (Integrated even feed system). Last year I purchased a Singer 4423 Heavy Duty as a backup machine and have recently developed an interest for straight stitch industrial sewing machines so who knows what the future holds! My 4-thread Singer serger was also upgraded to a 5-thread Singer with covertitch capabilities (the 14T957DC). In 2016 I bought a dedicated 3-needle coverstitch (the Alfa 8706) and lastly my new Singer Heavy duty 4-thread serger, the 14HD854. My sewing room holds a total of 5 machines in the present (two sewing machines, two sergers and one covestitch). If I had the space I’d love to get an industrial blind-hemmer since they are not very expensive and the quality of their blind-stitch is quite spectacular. I would also like to get a professional level dressform.

EQUIPAMENTO DE COSTURA NA ALTURA: Tinha uma máquina de costura mecânica da Singer que comprei a prestações quando comecei a trabalhar (era portátil e elétrica mas muito pesada em relação às máquinas de hoje em dia). Teve muito uso e ainda funciona (dei-a a uma amiga). Mais tarde comprei uma corta-e-cose de 4 linhas também da Singer. Cerca do ano 2000 comprei um manequi ajustável de costura.

EQUIPAMENTO DE COSTURA AGORA: Já quando tinha o blogue troquei a Singer mecânica por uma Huskystar C20 eletrónica, que anos mais tarde vendi a uma colega. Comprei então a minha máquina de agora, a Pfaff Ambition Essential com IDT (uma máquina electrónica com duplo-arrasto). No ano passado comprei uma máquina para servir de supelente, a Singer Heavy Duty 4423 e recentemente ando a namorar uma máquina industrial de ponto reto, por isso quem sabe o que me aguarda no futuro! Troquei a minha primeira corta-e-cose por uma de 5 fios com capacidade de ponto de recubrimento (a 14T957DC). Em 2016 comprei uma recubridora dedicada de 3 agulhas, a Alfa8706) e a minha última aquisição foi uma corta-e-cose de 4 linhas, a Singer Heavy Duty 14HD854. Há cinco máquinas a operar na minha sala de costura neste momento: duas de coser, duas corta-e-cose e uma recubridora. Se tivesse espaço gostava de comprar uma máquina industrial de coser bainhas invisíveis, pois não são muito caras e a qualidade das bainhas é excecional. Também gostava muito de comprar um manqueim de costura profissional.

My first sewing machine / A minha primeira máquina de costura
My first electronic sewing machine / A minha primeira máquina eletrónica
My current electronic sewing machine / a minha máquina eletrónica agora
My 5-thread serger / a minha corta-e-cose de 5 linhas
The new coverstitch machine / A máquina nova de recubrimento
My backup sewing machine / A minha máquina de costura supelente
My heavy-duty 4-thread serger / a corta-e-cose Heavy Duty de 4 linhas


To be continued,... / Continua,...

Comments

Anonymous said…
Thank you very much for this article. It interests me greatly as I too sewed earlier, however never with your skill and knowledge. Now I am having lessons and hope to sew better. So I appreciate learning from you and enjoy seeing and reading about your sewing. Lynda in Toronto, Canada
Tany said…
Thank you for your lovely comment, Lynda! Big hug all the way from Portugal!
this is so interesting - and I think the older designer patterns are so nice. Can't wait to see the finished suit.
Tany said…
Thank you, Beth! Hopefully I'll be able to finish it next weekend.
Faye Lewis said…
When I first started reading your blog I was amazed to see your thread tracing of seams and pattern markings. I thought it was such a professional way to do things and wanted to learn more about it. You were then and still are a wonderful sewing inspiration for me!
Vicki said…
Thanks for sharing how you have changed in your sewing methods. The Internet will do that to you :) Love all your old posts but now I don't fee so bad about not being so precise as you.
Tany said…
Thank you both, Vicki and Faye, I feel you have been along my side since the beginning of my blogging journey :)). I'd just like to add that I don't feel like I have lost in precision by the fact of not thread tracing the stitching lines anymore... My old approach has advantages if you know up-front you'll have to adjust the pattern heavily, like taking in our out some seams, altering dart placement, etc. If you are sure that your garment will need just a few minor tweaks if any (either by carefully measuring the pattern and understanding your preferable ease - something you'll gain by experience sewing for yourself for many years - or by sewing a test garment first), I am not losing precision if I am capable of stitching a seam at a given accurate distance from the edge; I'm just taking a more time efficient approach to achieve the same result. I am still a precision freak and these more time efficient techniques are clever ways of achieving a precise result, if you care to spend the necessary time prepping your work ahead. That's basically what changed with my process: I invest a lot more time in prep work and the actual sewing goes more smoothly and fast, without having to remove the basting thread often caught in the machine stitches.
Bunny said…
Tany, this is a wonderful series and I am excited for the future posts. It is important for sewists to understand that our craft, to be good at it, is quite evolutionary. Equipment, access to knowledge, and experience (trial and error?) all contribute. I have often witnessed the frustration of new sewists who are ready to give up the entire experience as those first garments just aren't coming out as desired. We all have been beginners and like any life experience, the more we do it, the better we get at it. Your journey, blogged about here, is witness to that. This is a great service to our newer sewists as well as those who have been at it longer yet need to stretch their sewing wings. Thank you.
Tany said…
Bunny Thank you so much, Bunny! Writing this series was a true labor of love and going back and remember my work from many years ago was a very enjoyable experience too :)))

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