Sunday, January 26, 2014

She hems and haws!


I had to show the piece de resistance first, didn't I? You probably were tempted to turn away from that hem title but look at that back neckline! Pretty cool, eh? I have run a folded strip of poly charmeuse all around the facing from hem, around the neck, and back down to the other hem facing. The charmeuse is sort of a tie dye look varying from navies, greens, to oranges and back, just the right tiny pop of color this dark coat needed. It's on the inside between  the lining and coat facing. I added my hanging loop chain and did a feather stitch on the pleat as well. I am going to make a label but that will go on the front facing, the better to impress when I whip open my coat!  {; )

So now lets get down and dirty with the hem situation. It took a LOOOOONG time, people. Bear with me as this was no simple hem. This pattern is basically a bathrobe with cool pockets so I really feel the additional touches of tailoring are going to hopefully take it out of that realm.
First I wanted to "pad" the hem. Nothing says homemade to me more than a pointy hem. Padding the hem will add a nice roll to the edge and add weight to the bottom so it will hang a bit better. I had enough howling wolf flannel to cut bias strips with a bit of piecing. I butted them up and pinked the top edge for no transferral. Where to place the strips? They extend on the bottom straight edge a quarter inch past the fold. when the hem is folded up the flannel is short enough to be well hidden. Did I say these were bias?

The bottom edge of the strip is catch stitched to the coat as well as connecting the abutting edges.


Once that was done the hem was folded up and basted on the edge with the silk thread again. In case you forgot the silk thread doesn't leave marks when steam pressed. Next I pressed just that edge on the wrong side on a thick towel with steam and a press cloth.

Check out that nice padded edge! Yahoo!

The top edge was bound, flipped over and stitched in the ditch with a bias strip of the same charmeuse edging the facing. There really is not all that lint on my coat. I had to do some adjusting so you could see the details.
The hem is now basted closer to the top about 3/4 of an inch from the edge. Are you counting how many passes I've made on this hem? I told you it wasn't a basic hem!

The bound edge is given a good steam press with oaktag under the seam to prevent showthrough, once again.


The top of the hem is flipped back and catchstitched to the coat. 


A completed, invisible, padded hem! Muy lindo, verdad?  These linty pictures are giving me the creeps as my coat fabric is so pretty in real life. I hope that comes through with the final photos. Thanks for bearing with me and my hem obsession. How many passes did you count? 
  1. Catchstitch flannel to coat
  2. Baste bottom edge
  3. Apply bias binding
  4. Ditch stitch bias binding
  5. Baste top of hem
  6. Catchstitch hem
I think that was all! So it was time consuming but I think it is worth the effort. The lining is sewn in and all that is left is sleeves and connect them to the lining. Almost there!.........Bunny





Sunday, January 19, 2014

Pockets, Butterick 5960

The pockets are the most challenging aspect of this rather simple design. As directed in the instructions, the final pocket will have three layers of wool coating. Naha, a bit too much, me thinks! I made the pocket facings out of a black poly satin with the satin side where my hands would feel it if I put them in. I am really glad I did this as it cut down much bulk, an issue that can affect the outcome at the very top point of the pocket installation. So, bulk dealt with!

Next issue was getting all these layers to lie flat and stay flat. The pocket bag was basted before sewing. Then the bag was basted to the garment side and front, both steps paying lots of attention to getting it flat. If I topstitched this pocket without it being perfectly flat it would permanently "pull" on the right side and look unsightly. Since I really sew in real time, sharing my efforts with my much appreciated followers, I can tell you that it took  a fair bit of unstitching and restitching on the pocket bag to get it to lie perfectly flat for topstitching. To digress, I have seen more than one blog lately where a garment is presented by its maker with no process description while it was being made.   When a commentor asks about an obvious  issue then and only then do you get the ," yeah, I really did have a hard time with that and I know it doesn't look right now, but I really didn't want you to know that I make mistakes or don't know how to do something. Oops, you caught me." I would just like for people to be real. I love the blogs, and I won't name you but know that I love you, when I see you struggle with tasks that ARE hard and I love watching you work them through. It is so inspirational. Sometimes you may decide you've made a wadder and will chuck it and other times you amazingly power through till you get it to your level of happiness and perfection with the project. I love watching this. It so empowers all of us to sew to know that this is something that to do well requires, persistence, practice, and more practice. It's not work. It is a joy to "power through". Thank you to all of you who blog your reality. You had me at your first sentence!

Once the pocket bag was flat and happy it was time to topstitch. I decided to do some samples and started first with regular sewing thread. Then I would try the topstitching threads. I never got that far as I knew immediately when I saw the right combo of thread and stitch that I need go no further.

On the bottom sample I used a 3.5 stitch length and my Pfaff stitch #4. That's the obvious winner. It just doubles over itself as it sews giving a nice thick effect. I'll have to remember this for when I do jeans. The middle stitch is your classic "triple" stitch or "stretch" stitch. If you look close you can see that one stitch is nice and thick and the other is regular, looking very uneven. The top stitch was a plain stitch at 3.5. Certain things in sewing always pay off. One is muslins. The other is samples.


Once the pocket is topstitched a machine zigzag is suggested at the top and bottom of the opening. It could easily be misconstrued and sewn all the way through all layers making the pocket not functional. It says "all thicknesses". I am going to do this by hand with an arrowhead stitch, fingers crossed. This is just something to be aware of if you attempt this pattern.

This weekend we have a houseful of company that we are totally enjoying. While they were skiing today, Grandma opted out to catch up on a LOT of things and did manage to get one pocket complete. Tomorrow our precious guests will depart and it will be a day at the machine. Heaven, I'm in heaven...........Bunny

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Dibs and Dabs on B 5960

If you are thinking of making this coat and so far I would recommend this pattern, you may want to book mark these posts as I have done much that is not in the pattern instructions. Let's talk about stays first.

A stay is something that helps  hold a garment's intrinsic shape. It doesn't shape the garment, just helps it keep it's shape. Stays can go all sorts of places. There are waistline stays, pockets stays, all sorts of stays. Stays don't move, are flat and "stay" in one place. For our purposes here the stay will have a several functions. First, it will maintain the shape of a very heavy garment. Whew, I didn't know how heavy till I started connecting the pieces yesterday. This WILL be warm. To maintain that shape it is critical the stay is on grain with the garment. This is no time to cut a partly crooked piece from a scrap. Since there is no more howling wolf fabric I used a perfectly sized well washed piece of heavy navy blue flannel. I took the back piece from the pattern, laid it on grain just like the fashion fabric. This piece extended about 5 inches below the armscye. Cut!


Then I took my crotch curve and shaped the back of the stay at the bottom edge as you see above. 

Next, that edge was cut with pinking shears to help eliminate any transfer of the edge to the fashion fabric while pressing. 
Done! If you are one of my astute followers you have noticed that the pins on side are inserted differently from the other side. I will be sewing the stay on with a half inch SA starting at the center back neckline. As I detest sewing "on the left" I inserted the pins so those big yellow heads aren't in the way when I flip over the piece to sew the other side from the CB neck down. The bottom edge hangs free. 

Cashmere does not like much ironing so I am ironing my seams only at this point. that will change as I go along. I am trying to fuss as little as possible with this fabric. So that center back ridge will press out. 

Stays will also be put into the side front pieces. The second reason to use a stay here is to "fill in" my hollow upper chest. I learned that trick many years ago. In a more tailored jacket I would do the flannel stay and attach a "chest piece" of hair canvas. But this is a bathrobe type coat, not a trim blazer, so the hair canvas is left out. 

The third reason for the stay in this construction is to add a bit of good old fashioned warmth to the mix here. I've done this combo before, coating+Kasha+flannel interlining. It makes a very warm coat, even in my challenging climate. 

This project has had VERY little actual machine sewing but there has been much handwork. I wanted to make sure the upper collar favored the under collar so rolled it to the under collar, pressed it, basted it in place with silk thread and pressed it again on a thick terry towel.  It's looking good. 


Another bit of handwork I did that's not mentioned in the pattern involves the outer pocket. I basted the pocket opening shut. This is important to get the pocket bag to set right for topstitching. Ignore the lumps. There are lots of bigheaded pins underneath.

Next in the process is finish up the pockets and topstitch. They are a unique construction. That shouldn't take too long. Then it will be on to installing the sleeves. Now For some thank yous!

 
Check out this fabulous print that I won from Rhonda Buss! Her blog, Rhonda's Creative Life is fabulous. Rhonda loves to draft patterns and every week shares her latest designs with her followers. Stop by and check out her mad skills.  But if you have already been following Rhonda you will  know that besides her gifted design abilities she is one of the most generous people you could find. Her recent pillowcase project will blow you away. Week after week, day after day, she shared photos of the hundreds of pillowcases she collected, all hand sewn, and donated. There's lots about it on her blog. Recently she shared a giveaway for some of her Valentino prints and this lucky blogger was thrilled to have her name drawn. Thanks, Rhonda! 
I am not a machine embroiderer. Bless those who are, but it is just not my thing, at least at this time. But somehow I clicked on the Sew News site to check out something to do with machine embroidery. It seems they were running a 12 days of Christmas giveaway. Got my name picked for that one too, Day 3! I won two sets of fabric paint markers. They have brush tips and are permanent on fabric. I am looking forward to playing with them and my mind is twirling over what I could do. Thank you, Sew News!

I did go out and buy a few lottery tickets at this time but, alas, no such luck!

And last but not least, a peak at my next project:

Woohoo!....Bunny

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Catstitching and Marks , B5960

I continue to take this really simple coat pattern and work on adding more structure to it. So far you've seen me underline the center front panels with flannel and hair canvas.
This pattern piece, the center front will be folded in half, part going on the outside, part going on the inside of the garment as facing. That fold will be pressed in at the edge of the flannel you see above. I have visions of this interlining getting twisted up and shifting inside the sewn shut fold some time later on up the road when I send it to be cleaned. I chose to catchstitch the edge of the flannel interlining along that fold. This really adds nothing to  shape but is integral to keeping the interlining in place. I used extra fine black thread and a thin needle and did the catch stitch along the edge. See that little stitch on the needle? The pad of my ring finger is under there. The wool fabric is rolled over that finger pad with each stitch and therefore giving some curve and slack to the thread. I didn't want anything to dimple so the tension of the stitch is looser than normal. Rolling the wool over the ring finger pad with each stitch helps.

Here are my pressing tools! I made this little tailor's dauber years ago. I use it to dip in water, rub it across the well of the seam and then press. But today I will use my angled paintbrush. Any small paint brush will do.
My seam is on a seam roll to prevent impressions telegraphing to the right side. I dip the little paint brush in water and run it down about 4 inches of seam. Then I iron the seam open with the point only of the iron, lifting the back end of the iron as I go along. I am only using the point here. Once the seam is pressed till the moisture visually disappears, I let it sit till dry. It does take time but this gives a good sharp open seam on bulky fabrics. Once the entire seam is done all is flipped over and the seam is ironed with the point again, a press cloth and some steam, but not much.


Please forgive the harsh linty looking photos. You have to alter the photo with black fabric or the details can't be seen. In real life, this fabric is lovely and glows.
Another thing I do when using wools like this is to be aware of bulk and reduce it when possible. Before I sew any seams I clip them back to reduce bulk.


The marking on this garment was done with silk thread using tailor tacks and basting.


It's really critical to get the lines right for the pockets. What appears to be just topstitching on the outside of the coat is quite necessary structure. First they were marked on the wrong side with waxed marking paper and a serrated wheel. This stuff is hard to remove so must be done on the wrong side. But I needed to see these lines on the right side.
On the wrong side I used silk thread and a basting stitch to follow the waxed line I just drew. This will show on the right side when I am ready for topstitching. Do you see my masking tape with the "W" on it  to let me know this is the wrong side? I'd be in a world of crappo if I didn't do that!

I also got my stays in the coat and will show you how I did that tomorrow.  In the meantime here's a pic from the other day. We watched these beauties pick there way  across the river on the ice. We are so fortunate to be surrounded by so much wildlife....Bunny


Thursday, January 2, 2014

Interfacing Butterick 5960

A couple of days ago I began interfacing my coat according to directions. I owned the proper amount of hair canvas and thank heavens, as it is quite an expensive product. My philosophy is to  put into the structure parts that are equal to the quality of the fashion fabric so with my cashmere, hair canvas was a necessity. I cut and got ready to hand baste the product to the collar/facing section which goes around the neck and full length the front of the coat. 

Then I read Katherine Tilton's tip, "baste lightweight wool batting...". I didn't have wool batting and think that should have been spec'd in the fabric requirements if that is what the proper execution of this pattern needs. What to do?

 Here is the section with the hair canvas ready to baste. All along I had been thinking of putting a stay in the top of the garment, front and back, to help maintain and fill out the fabric. I even thought that I would use some flannel to do that so I'm am not that off base. I just needed to change my plan a bit.
Enter the Howling Wolves heavy cotton well washed flannel! I placed my interfacing on top and proceeded to cut. The brushed side of the flannel will be placed against the wrong side of the wool, in other words, wolves against wool on the inside. In the pic above you can see where I connected the hair canvas with a butted zigzag stitch to utilize what I had of this in my stash. I made sure grains matched  and cut. 

Once the interfacing was sewn to the wrong side of the flannel, one inch from the edge, it was trimmed back leaving an eighht of an inch SA. I don't want the interfacing caught in the seam allowance with the flannel, just too much bulk.

Here you can see the section placed on the  collar/facing section,  right side of flannel to wrong side of cashmere. 

Then I basted it all down and around with silk thread.  Now it is ready to proceed to construction. I am going to take more flannel, no hair canvas, and do a stay in the side front as well as across the upper back. Needless to say this addition of the flannel will also contribute to the warmth of the coat without adding much bulk.
Once all was placed and hand basted I replaced the pattern piece and trued up the edges. I do this often as I sew a project. It is amazing how inequities show up. And we wonder why things don't fit just right and have little ripples!
This edge was trimmed up for accuracy.  Now we can start actual construction! More to come!

 Yes, we are one of those blogs where you won't see the fab fashion shots although I will give photoing myself my best effort. Like Caroline and Barb, I am passionate about sewing, not so passionate about my fashion shoots. I hope you have had a chance to read their great blogs regarding this subject with which I wholeheartedly agree. Click on their names above to link to the posts. I do promise to always try my best to provide detailed photos of what's happening in my sewing world and hope you all continue to enjoy them. I love to share my passion with all who will gift me with their time and attention.
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Is this a bad photo above? Not quite. It's here to make a point. I have a couple of chotchkes and a few inspirational patterns on the shelf over my cutting table. This stuff changes slightly but never walks off the shelf by itself. But then, 3 days ago.....

I HAD A CRYOSEISM! Lest you think that is something pulled from the likes of Fifty Shades here's what happened:

I was in my yard crossing the field to feed my chickens at about 7:30 in the AM. It was brutally cold and I watched the thermometer drop from 11º to -8º in an hour and half.  There was no wind but I was freezing and wheezing as my very bundled up old bod made it's way across the field to the chicken barn. Halfway there I hear some branches snapping which always indicates some critter is around. Now that can range from a little red squirrel to a coyote or bear so I immediately stopped and looked around. This is not unusual. As I looked around, suddenly I heard the most incredible noise, an extremely loud "crack" sound. It was sharp and shook the ground. I was convinced some giant old tree was snapped across its middle in my side yard from where it seemed to emanate. Think of a pistol shot times 100. I know it's cold. Did my roof collapse on the back side? WTF? I after my adrenalin stopped its initial release I proceeded to feed my chickies while still on full alert. I knew something happened but not what.

Next day on our local weather there was discussion about cryoseisms, what they were, etc. Never heard of them. After researching and hearing this I knew that was exactly what happened. Back to the shelf picture...





I hadn't been in my studio in several days but when I went in yesterday to get back to work on my coat, this pattern and little dress form had fallen off the wall from our frost quake, aka, cryoseism. There are no poltergiests so I know that was it. Here's a little more info on cryoseisms:
Toronto cryoseisms

Wikipedia

Have you ever had a cryoseism?!!!....Bunny