Friday, June 5, 2009

Purple Dress Sewing

I've been ignoring my blog because I was hoping to report glaring successes. Since I can't report glowing successes, I think I'll settle for recording.

Here's a bit of something I wrote at the beginning of June regarding the purple dress I was in the process of mmaking:

I spent most of the last few weeks reading up on technique. What intrigued me most were those who spoke about basting: basting an underlining to the garment, basting a dart, basting a seam....basting and more basting. Unanimously, these basters reported much improved garments because they took the time to hand or machine baste.

Updated Today: I have to say that in the last month, I have basted quite a bit. Not only has my technique improved, but the look of the finished garment as well. Basting is now a top priority in my construction.

In the photo you can see where I basted the white underlining to the fashion fabric.

In my research, I find that hand-sewing is also high priority for those who produce lovely garments. Some go so far as to hand-sew whole garments, as do couture houses. My skills need improvement and/or education before I consider such an option, however, I have noted the need to hand-sew during the construction of a garment.

Updated Today: I am using hand-sewing more and more. I find that I can make fairly even small stitches, which makes me wonder if I'll attempt to hand-sew a whole garment. I feel that I have more control over the fabric, seams, piecing than when I use the machine. I find I enjoy the time I spend quietly hand-stitching.

My purples dress (for which I was fitting my first FBA a few weeks ago) is seeing me use both of the above techniques rather extensively.

Updated Today: Ah. The purple dress. An utter and complete failure!

Well, maybe not utterly because I learned.

First, I learned about underlining:

I basted the bodice underlining to the fashion fabric. I love the technique. It has stabilized a very weak rayon to the point that it's hand feels the stability I was hoping for. The white underlining also brings out the color in the fashion fabric - making vibrant the brilliant, bold red, dark purple, yellows and bits of white within the pattern. The underlining also seems to prevent many of the wrinkles the fashion fabric was prone to when standing alone.

And I learned a bit about making darts in underlining: unfortunately, I later read that it is unnecessary to sew a dart in the underlining - thereby reducing bulk. (Note to self: I do hope I saved the techinque for future reference!) Here's record of my purple dress attempt:

hand-basted the darts and handled the underling and fashion fabric as if they were a solid piece. I basted a center line, then basted the dart closed.

Update Today: The darts came out very well. I had made several muslins and adjusted the darts until I was satisfied with the angle and placement. Not bad at all for a first FBA.

This dress has neck and armhole binding. I followed the pattern directions when making the neck binding. I edge stitched one side with a three-part zigzag, which after attaching the binding, looked horrible, even if it is on the inside of the garment. So I decided to try hand stitching the armholes and this looks so much neater without the raw edges. It is also much nicer on the outside of the garment as I was better able to control the bias binding. Since this technique worked so well, I re-did the neck binding.

Here is the re-stitched neckline:

Update Today: That is as far as I recorded my purple dress' journey. After that, it went downhill....I had such a difficult time with the waist sash....the FBA made the bodice wider than the original pattern. I adjusted the bodice by adding waist darts - which came out fairly well for a first attempt. While I was aiming for perfectly vertical, I missed the mark, yet they look presentable:
But I could not get the side seams to line up no matter how much I measured and ripped stitches and re-sewed. I tried gathering the skirt, darting the skirt, gathering the bodice...

Narrowing the bodice via the darts, also made the dress impossible to slip over my head. I decided to add a side-zipper. But first, I need those side seams to match up!

I put this dress aside for now. I was getting discouraged and needed to sew something with positive results.

I would like to revisit this dress at some point as I think I'd love to wear this particular dress, even if just for an "at home" day.