A happy compromise

I have come to terms with my desire for couture construction, having a garment to wear within a reasonable amount of time (since I cannot commit full days to totally do a garment with hand sewing) and finishing that I will be happy to on and wear.

Exhibit A: the sleeve seams. I undid the bias binding on the sleeve seams, trimmed the bias silk down to 2.5 cm in width, and bound each allowance edge separately.

And because I disliked the way the seam allowances are visible at the hem of the bell sleeves, I chose to appliqué one of the larger flower motifs on the inside of the sleeve to cover the bottom part of the seam.

In the photo, the bottom sleeve is inside out; the top left sleeve is right side out, but you can see the wrong side peaking out with no seam allowance showing – just another flower. Yay!

I am much happier with this, and am contentedly constructing the rest of the garment along the same idea. Hopefully I’ll have a finished garment to show you by the end of the week.

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bespoke drapes: finished project

bespoke bedroom drapesWell, what do you think?  I was so dreading this project because of the sheer size of it and the amount of fabric and the stripes!  I have no idea how to make drapes!  But they turned out reasonably well, if I may say so myself.  I’m pleased with how they look, and I must confess that I really enjoyed putting these together.  All the hand sewing that went into this project was calming, and I looked forward to the times where I could just sit on the floor with the panels spread out over my lap and sew each step.  I so loved the hand sewing.  And why did I choose to sew these by hand instead of by machine?

Well, because I trust my pinning and hand sewing results more than I do fighting with 13 yards of heavy upholstery-weight fabric through a machine that wasn’t really made for industrial type sewing.  I can pin and hand stitch a long hem with the confidence that it will be perfectly straight.  I wasn’t convinced it would be successful with my Babylock Crafter’s Choice machine.  And I didn’t want to rip out and re-sew mistakes.

And I could sew invisibly along the hemline and heading without fighting with an automated blind stitch.  This project was a good reminder of what I like about sewing, and why I like it:  hand sewing is precise, clean, calming and, for me, a great stress relief.  I guess that’s why I used to spend so many hours smocking when my girls were little.  That quiet time sitting down with needle, thread and fabric was a haven at the end of such busy days.

I confess my main reason for making these myself was the savings on the labour costs, similar to why I made my own interlined roman blinds a while ago.  After these projects, I’ll not complain when I get crazy quotes, as I have a first-hand understanding of what exactly goes into making custom window coverings.

Well, for now, I guess it’s back to garment sewing for a while.  There’s no other home dec projects in my future.  Well, actually, there is one that’s percolating on the back burner in my mind.  Initially, the living room drapes were to be of this gorgeous linen/silk/cotton fabric (called “Epoque”) from French decor company Nobilis.  Unfortunately, the only importer in Canada doesn’t carry it anymore.  And therein lies the problem.  I can’t get it anymore if I don’t order 120 yards because it’s out of production.  Um.  Well, as gorgeous as it is, I will never need 120 yards of this fabric.  I wish I did, but I don’t.NOBILIS Fabric,EPOQUE,8989-94I have tried to source something similar, but cannot find anything in this particular sage green-orchid combination.  I’m thinking of trying to replicate it via hand printing on a similar plain background.

bespoke drapes: pleat details

hand sewn pinch pleatsOnce the pleats were marked and stitched by machine into place, I pinched them into two pleats and tacked them at the bottom of the heading.pinch pleats insideThis is the inside of the heading.  Once the lining was stitched to the bottoms and sides of the panels, the heading is folded over and catch stitched or herringboned into place.  I didn’t use any buckram or other stiffening in the heading because this fabric has a coating of some sort that makes it extraordinarily stiff.

I enjoyed all this hand stitching.  It was so relaxing sitting in my room, listening to music, hand sewing yards and yards of fabric.  Some of you love to knit.  I like to stitch.

bespoke drapes: French pinch pleats

draperyThis was the hardest part so far of this project.  Of course I made it REALLY hard by choosing striped fabric.  And stripes/patterns are not always my friends.  I’ve wadded more projects over mismatched patterns or poor pattern placement than for any other reason.

Now, if I were a professional drapemaker and knew what I was doing, I would have measured, marked, stitched and these would have been done by now.  But I’m not a professional.  So I measured, calculated, clipped them into place, tried it out over the width of the window, took it out and repeated the process until I was ready to kill someone.  Eventually it all came together in a way that I thought was pleasing.  (Maybe I just got sick of it and gave up.  We’ll see what the final product looks like before I hand in my verdict on that).  There is a repeat to the stripes – a 4 inch repeat – but I just couldn’t make it work.  So I threw it out the window and did as best I could by eyeballing it and approximation to within a couple of millimetres.

Once I was happy with the pleat placement, I folded the fabric and stitched the pleats by machine through all thicknesses, the full depth of the heading (3 inches).  Here’s what it looks like from the inside.headingThe pleats are then flattened down the centres and pinched into smaller pleats, hence the term “pinch pleats”.  Usually there’s three little pleats per pleat, but this fabric is thick, and I didn’t order enough fabric for a 2 1/2 times the width fullness.  So mine only have two little pleats.  But I like them.  They look pretty custom, no?  How many sets of drapes have you seen with little pinch pleats like this?

pinch pleatsTomorrow, the last of the hand sewing.  Well, tacking, actually.

bespoke drapes: attaching the lining

joinsThe lining was measured, cut and joined to match the drapery fabric.  Now I’m using long basting stitches to attach the lining to drape itself.

The next leg of the project is attaching the lining to the drapery along the hemline, return (sides) and overlap (centre front) of each drape.hemlineThe lining has been cut to match the hemmed drape, and the bottom turned up twice and machine stitched.  Now the lining will be slip stitched along each side and the bottom hem.

bespoke drapes: hemming

drapery hemThis is all I’ve done today, what with summer activities and the time involved for this project. I’m using a catch stitch – or, in drapery language, a herringbone stitch – for the hems. And I’m very thankful for my leather thimble, without which my finger would be shredded.

Baby Blue and Navy Blue

Vogue 2396It’s done and on its way to Alberta.  I couldn’t be more pleased with this outfit – simple, chic and I’m so happy with the way it came together.  The ice-blue sheath is Vogue 2396.  Here it is without the lace shirt.Vogue 2396 sheath dressI pre-washed the linen when it was purchased about 12 months ago (longer, maybe?).  I had originally intended to simply underline it with silk organza, but it was a little on the show-all-possible-undergarment-lines semi-opaque, so I also lined with bemberg.  Vogue 2396 interiorI added a small kick pleat at the CB, since my DF isn’t a fan of hemline slits.  This is such a lovely simple design that it will be wearable for many occasions.  I faced the armholes and neckline with a self-drafted facing instead of taking the lining to the edges as per Vogue’s instructions.  I think this finishes up the edges in a much nicer way, and the support afforded by the self-fabric keeps everything in shape properly during wear.  Isn’t that icy blue such a pretty summery colour?Vogue 2396 facingAnd now the nitty gritty of the lace top.  I folded the lace in half, matching the scalloped selvedges, laid the front of the dress pattern over top to get an idea of the neckline shape, took a massively deep breath, and slashed from the centre front out to the shoulders.  I’m sorry I don’t have pics of this process, but it was pretty simple, and I’m hoping I’ll write well enough for you to follow along.  Then I put the lace “top” on over the dress as it was on Ms. Vintage, adjusted the shoulders so that the hem hung horizontally, pinned it to the shoulders of the dress, and carefully trimmed away the excess to match the dress’s neckline.  Then I tried using my silk ribbon to bind the neck edge.  I’ve not pictures of that either, and for good reason.  It was an atrocious ugly mess.  Of course, I can hear some of you more experienced sewistas muttering, because silk ribbon is not bias, and therefore will not shape smoothly.  Yup.  Stitch and learn.

So I tripped down to the fashion district last Friday and matched the lace with silk chiffon (since French navy silk organza is NOT to be had anywhere in this town and I’ve not tried dyeing anything and didn’t want this to be the start of a foray into that art form).  I cut long 1″ wide pieces of bias and made a couple of yards of narrow bias binding.  Not the most fun job in the world with chiffon, but it worked.lace shirt chiffon edgingThen I carefully trimmed away all but 1/8″ of the uglified silk ribbon neck edging and stitched the chiffon binding around the neckline by hand.  I didn’t trust my machine.  Once the neckline was all finished, I put it on Ms. Vintage again and started draping the side seams.  I ended up trimming 2″ off the front and backs at the sides, tapering to a short sleeved kimono shape.  Then I bound each long edge, back hem to front hem, and fell-stitched 8 inches of the edges together from the hem up to create the shape of the shirt.lace shirt sleevesThe bias binding is not uniform in width, but it’s complementary to the variation of widths in the design of the lace.  I think so, anyways.  It’s a pull-over style, and I’m hoping it will get worn with a myriad of other outfits. When my DF picked up the dress she was wearing a backless spaghetti strap black maxi dress. She tried on the lace shirt and it looked amazing with the dress she was already wearing. And here’s a final shot of the back.  This was a fun project.  I love working with linen and these sorts of garments are what make my sewing heart leap with giddy joy.  Next up:  boring snoring cake for DD1 and another go at the Vogue 1039 skinnies pattern.  *yawn*Lace shirt back