Skirt-a-long: hem, details, not finished

Hem: catch stitch on the hem which uses the selvedge edge of the fabric, blind stitch on the godets which do not. Great tutorial  showing the different stitches and how to start and end with your thread.

Sewing skirt details Ikea gabric
Sewing skirt details Ikea gabric

On the waistband I didn’t follow Inside Number 23’s tip to match the height of the band on both sides of the zipper. I just had too much going on trying to fit in the zipper and the lining and folding all the waist band pieces neatly. Lapped zipper hiding into the pocket:

Sewing skirt details Ikea gabric
I did give the base of the pocket reinforcement.

The inside:
Sewing skirt details Ikea gabric

The zipper hides the selvedge of both the lining and the fashion fabric in just one go.
I have not yet mastered how to fold in the ends of the waist band neatly while sewing. I attached the band to the skirt first, to allow for fitting, which is a different sequence than Inside Number 23 advised.

This band was too sturdy to work easily, what with the horse braid inside and this stiff canvas. I think this might be a good finish for my future sturdy skirts (which I wear a lot) though: just attach an extra piece on top to hide the edges.

The topstitching of the band didn’t work out so well, unfortunately. I love top stitching. But this one is wonky. Probably because of all the layers and mounting the bulk where the pockets meet the waist band.

Finished!

Put it on!

Sewing skirt: waist band front too wide.

What? waist band too big! how can it be? I fitted before inserting zipper.

back of waist band is 44 cm long, front of band is 47!

91 cm in total. should be 84+wearing ease. Or just 82 at the top.

Pattern pieces are 22 each, 88 in total, and that’s a tad too wide already.

sewn waist band front is 45,5 at the top; 47 at the base.
patternpiece waist band front is 23 (46) at the top; 24,7 (49,4) at the base.

The skirt pattern from which the waist band pattern piece is derived is 22 cm at the top (including a 1 cm dart); 22,8 at the base (including a 1 mm dart)
That’s 42 at the top; 45,4 at the bottom.

The pattern piece is incorrect.
It’s 46 at the top; 49,4 at the base and it should
be 42 at the top; 45,4 at the bottom. That’s 2 x 2 cm too wide. That’s a clue which pattern piece matching just has confirmed.
When making the waist band pattern piece from the skirt pattern and folding away the darts seam allowance was added at the sideseam. But it was already in the skirt pattern.

This is how it should fit:
Sewing skirt: waist band front too wide.

Sideseams are at their proper place, it’s solely the front band that’s too wide.

This is what I have to do to make it look like that:
Sewing skirt: waist band front too wide.

This is how much I need to take out…. that’s a whopping 7 cm.
Sewing skirt: waist band front too wide.

I’m going to see if I can fix it. This zipperside is where the solution has to be since the rest of the waist band is made too sturdy to amend:
Sewing skirt: waist band front too wide.

This is how much needs to go:
Sewing skirt, adjusting wide waist band

It’s doable but it will make the front a-symmetrical:
Sewing skirt, adjusting wide waist band

A-symmetrical but wearable.

Luckily it’s only the front of the waist band. The side seams are at their proper place. So hopefully the only awkwardness will be when I try to put both hands in my pockets and have to stand with a twisted torso. The fabric print will probably distract enough for people to notice the a-symmetry of the pockets. People do not pay attention to that sort of thing anyway.

Well fitting sleeves that allow for movement: angle of set in.

I cut the self drafted sleeves and put them into the bodice. Looks alright….ish. We’re only looking at the upper part: shoulders and sleeve cap. Shoulder seam length seems ok. (the neck line still has 2 cm seam allowance so … Continue reading

Self drafted pattern for a blouse, with close fitting arm hole and two sleeves, one of them oblong.

A few muslins further and now I’ve got one that works and that I’d actually call a pattern:

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sleeve sleeve cap fitting arm hole

I’ve been playing with sleeves a bit.
I’ve drafted and fitted on that I’m going to use. It’s on the left arm hole of this muslin. It has a biceps width of 35 cm and a sleeve cap matching the armhole exactly at 42,3 cm. It has little gussets at the sides.

On the right shoulder is an oblong sleeve. Just a straight piece of cloth, 42,3 cm in width and some 25 cm high. I wanted to learn how much arm movement it gives. I’ve been reading and rereading Ikatbag’s explanation of sleeves and I wanted to experience it.

Just a rectangle sewn into arm hole:

sleeve sleeve cap fitting arm hole
sleeve sleeve cap fitting arm hole
sleeve sleeve cap fitting arm hole

sleeve sleeve cap fitting arm hole
Excellent movement! Nice flair…

One day I’d like to take this sleeve (cap) and play with it. See if I can eliminate the flair, reduce the bulk at the underarm but still keep most of that nice room for movement. But not today. (I did start. I sewed some lines into the sleeve, as it was still attached, and see how that influenced fit. And I started to read up on medieval smocks and skirtles. But really, I should sew a blouse now.)

This is the sleeve I’ve drafted. It sits nice. But in unwashed cotton it’s still a bit restrictive. I’m hoping it will be alright in the lighter fashion fabric. If not it’ll be a learning experience.
Muslin looks nice though. See how close to the body the arm hole is. It’s not uncomfortable at all!
And it gives better movement than any other sleeve I’ve made before, in any of my grey blouses.
sleeve sleeve cap fitting arm hole
sleeve sleeve cap fitting arm hole
sleeve sleeve cap fitting arm hole

Here’s the pattern of this sleeve cap, with the dark thread indicating the sleeve cap but without gusset flares at both ends:
sleeve sleeve cap fitting arm hole

I also drafted front panel facings; a collar and a collar stand and plackets for the sleeves.

Now I’m ready to transfer markings to fashion fabric I think…

This is the fabric:

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Wearing a skirt with pockets.

It worked! I now have a skirt with pockets.
Front:
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Back:
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In real life it’s more straight, I’m standing weird twice to take these pictures (and I may have cut the lower ends of the side seams a bit too flaring…)
Also: I did not press the skirt yet. I wanted to show it in all its natural behaviour.

Indeed, no extra wearing ease is needed when using the widest circumference in the method of Marina von Koening.
The darts work like magic. The fit of this dress is very good!

Look at how long those darts are in the back!
I cut the hem a bit round.
Pockets are neatly tucked away in the side seam.
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Excuse the laundry in the back…

The front (and more laundry). With short darts.
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Again the hem is cut a bit round. Next skirt I’ll cut the waist a bit round too.
In this one I thought I had to raise the back a bit because of the small of my back. You can see the difference between the front and the back panel.
In wearing I see this was not neccessary.

Pockets!
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The darts did all the shaping.
They are very short in the front, just 6 cm (2,3 inch). Because I have a belly.
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The darts is the back are very long! More than 20 cm. (8 inch!)
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Two darts I put in before putting bias band at the top. Then I found out I needed more. I just put in two more darts without altering the bias band. I’m practical. In a next skirt I’ll do all the darts first and then finish the waist band. I’ll even do a facing!

On the left -in above picture- you see the side seam coming in.
The front panel has less width than the back panel. Because I have buttocks.
But at the waist the front panel and the back panel have equal width.

When wearing the side seam is perfectly vertical.
Or perhaps not… but look at that fit!
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I thought the sideseam hung straight when I looked in the mirror. I may not stand straight in this picture. Or the seam might not be straight at all, after all it is weird to have the back panel wider than the front. Will check again.

goes to mirror

takes a picture

doesn’t alter it in any way, showing shamelessly the mess in “the wool room” and the ear muffles I wear most days and my handknit sweater.

And a straight side seam:
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I’m sure this mystery will be solved in the future.

Also: see how low those pockets are. I’m on a learning curve, I am.

I still have to finish the ending of the zipper. Really, I had no idea what I was doing when I put it in without a seam. Still don’t.
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Here are some other things I’ll do different next time:
– curve the waist band a bit
– no need to make the back higher
– a zipper without a seam needs a bit more planning than just slash & sew. Here are some good answers.. Ooh, here’s a good one too! With reenforcement in the back.
– make my own biasband. Found a lovely tutorial for people without a bias band maker tool.

I’ve already cut fabric for the next one. It includes a waist band facing. oooh, fancy
I found some nice tutorials how to put it in and get a nice finish at the top.
Tomorrow I’ll go to town to get a zipper (and bias band). And perhaps some more fabric for a next skirt? I dug through my stash today but there wasn’t really much fun fabric for a skirt. The good fabrics are all for dresses.
Really, I should just throw out all the fabric that will never make me happy… It would clear up at least 3 curver boxes.

Doing this skirt, I learned some new words that will help me in the future:
“exposed zipper”, I do not seem to mind them.
“in seam pocket”, I love those! I like them invisible too, with different fabric on the inside, like a little inside giggle.

One more illustration of my learning curve: the first run at the hem I thought I’d be smart, I’d stretch the fabric because it had to go round. Logic.
The result:
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Not smart at all. I took out the seam and redid it, very gently and not pulling at all. Now the hem is straight. Albeit a bit flared at the side seams.

All in all a good practice skirt and I will wear it. It is in sturdy canvas and I enjoy that fabric very much when working here in the woods. Still have to fix the end of the zipper though.

Wearing a paper bag

Marina von Koenig has an excellent tutorial on her website Frabjous Couture about why regular skirts don’t fit the human form.

Hip and waist circumference do not tell where the protruding parts are. Resulting in skirt patterns that have to accommodate for people with big hips or round buttocks or a tummy. Fitting neither of those individuals very well.

Her solution is to determine the widest overall circumference and accomplish fit through darts. Individually determined darts. These virtual ladies have the same circumferences but very different body shapes:
pic by Marina von Koenig

So I went looking for a piece of carton to wrap around me:
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I have no carton in the cabin but what better to use than the sturdy paper bag my fabric from Dublin came in! Murphy Sheehy, a lovely shop.
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I cut open the bad and wrapped it around myself.
hm.
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I’m a big wider than I thought…. I had to look for additional carton.

Sorry Sisley.
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Here it is around me, a tube that indicates my widest circumference. I keep the top aligned with a piece of elastic that I tied around me. This is my natural waist and the line that any skirt will creep up to. So better make it the waist band of my skirt.
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I marked the circumference with pencil on the tube. This will be the width of the pattern pieces. Marina says no positive ease is needed with this method… I wonder.
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Now I am determining where my protruding parts are. With a pencil I mark areas where the carton cannot be folded inwards. My stomach, my hips and my buttocks all have these areas.
These are the areas where the skirt will not be altered in width. Above these areas there will be darts. The darts will end in the area.

I marked everything on the carton. Including CF, CB and Sideseams. Then I unrolled the tube and cut it at the sideseams.
I converted it to some pieces of fabric. I chose a slightly elastic fabric because I have to find out for myself that no wearing ease is needed with this method.

I cut the backpiece a little higher than the front piece. Because the small of my back grows really narrow, upwards, I’ll have some major darts there. Meaning the fabric has to travel further to reach my waist than it does at the front (hardly any darts needed there thanks to my tummy).

Then I cut some pockets. Because this whole idea of a skirt was started because I want a skirt with pockets.
Sew the pockets to the fabric. Then sew shut the sideseams, following the curves of the pockets. Then I’ll have a fabric tube and can start determining the darts.

Pockets are sewn to the front panel. The first run was with the good sides together. Then I flipped open the (half) pocket and run a seam along, for sturdyness and to make it lie flat inwards and not peek out.
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but first I’ll have to darn…
both pockets are sewn upside down to the front panel. Even though I looked and looked and then looked once more. Upside down picture:
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finished: Anemone Dress

Nothing to help me finish a dress than plans to make a skirt. I really planned to blog each day this week and make a simple skirt! I read the instructions, fondled my fabric. And then somehow spend my sewing time finishing the dress I’ve been avoiding for weeks.

Meet my Anemone Dress:
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It’s a sheat dress, using my sloper as a pattern. I transformed the bust darts into princess lines. Only at the front though. And only after I tried it on for fit.

This is stretchy cotton fabric so I thought I might get away with zero ease. I did. (I started out with cutting the dress with plenty of ease, basting it together to check the fit and eventually it turned out zero ease was fine)

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The fabric is a first for me: cotton with a bit of elastaan/elastine. I bought it by accident in the fabric shop in the next town over. I went there to support a small shop and to feel the fabric before I bought it. And to celebrate me with linen and make a dress as explained in the Craftsy Course The Couture Dress by Susan Khalje.

As I was chattering about that it was made clear that that was an old fashioned approach, using an interlining ánd a lining. Why not use a modern fabric that behaves all by itself? It’s so much easier! Here, like this one. Which colour do you like?
A zipper to go with that. Thread in the right colour. Some bias band. There you go, have fun.

I fell into that trap. The one where you doubt yourself and your plans. Where you rely on the expert. Only to come home and find you’re left with more answers. Like:

Q: How to finish the seam allowance if there’s no interlining to stitch it to? (And no serger or locking machine or zig zag on my sewing machine or even pinking shears)

Q: What kind of stitch does stretchy fabric require?

Now, a month later, I am very pleased with the dress I finished today. But I had to steer my head in a whole other direction to work with this fabric. I wanted to focus on the shape but instead had to focus on the material. For this I studied online and asked my sewist friends questions. But I’m still a bit annoyed that I let myself be taken from the intentioned path.

A: The seam allowance I folded under and stitched. Pressed open and left them as be. Some parts I gave a whip stitch finish.

A: for the side seams: just a straight stitch. Make sure you don’t stretch the fabric while sewing, let the machine transport the fabric. Having an old fashioned treadle machine was an advantage: it already has the small hole in the footer nowadays used for silks. My machine won’t “eat” the fabric and will not pull it down into the underbelly of the machine.
For seams that need to remain stretchy: the catch stich.

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from the book Couture Sewing Techniques by Claire B Shaeffer, one of the best books out there. She not only shows how, she explains why. Which helped me to couple this stitch to this fabric.

I finished a lot of details by hand. The edges, the armholes, the hem, the splits. It’s ok. Handstitching is not that much of a job, it doesn’t take that long. 45 minutes for the hem. Take it outside, sit in the shade, enjoy a little calm.

Front panel folded down and stitched in place at the sides. Inside:
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Right side:
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The hem and neckline I folded under and sewed with the catch stitch, leaving small pricks of thread visible in the fabric, from the outside right side. With the wild print it’s ok.

Hem, catch stitch, from the inside and from the right side:
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neckline at the back:
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The inside of the dress is not very neat but the outside looks good and it wears well. That’s all I ask at the moment. Other people might find sheer glee at knowing their dress looks at good on the inside as it does on the outside but I am not there yet. I might never get there.
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Now let’s talk about the shape of things.
First of all, on the cloths hanger the dress doesn’t look very good. It’s crooked. You can see how one shoulder is not the mirror image of the other one:
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But on me it sits well:
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(if you would kindly ignore the fold in my waist and just concentrate on the shoulder and neckline)
That’s a difference between Ready To Wear (RTW) and hand tailored dresses, writes Claire B. Shaeffer. RTW looks good in the shop, tailored clothes look good on a person.

OK, now I am ready to talk about that fold of fabric in my side. It is there because when I stand up straight I stand up crooked. Yes. I am standing straight in all these pictures. I am a twisted kind of person, I curve naturally. I really thought and felt as if I was standing straight up.

This is me standing straight:
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SWOING! Would you believe it?! My one hip is higher, my one leg gets less weight, my shoulder compensates my being lifted. I should be called “Mrs. S”
(I wonder if this has to do with the knee surgery I had as a teen, for years I didn’t put weight on my left leg and still have to correct myself often and distribute weight to it. How very annoying! This way, I might grow into a twisted old lady.)
Without a mirror or these pictures I would not believed I was in fact standing not straight.

In the sloper there is a correction for the folds of extra fabric this creates. It’s both in the back and in the side:

I did not apply it in this dress because it has long princess lines and no horizontal cut at the waist where I could take out the extra fabric. I did baste in the side “thingy to take out the extra fabric” but it showed in the fabric print and just wasn’t nice. So that’s how I ended up with a dress with folds. It’s ok, I move a lot in dresses and it won’t notice much. But in a next dress I will certainly make a cut at the waist and take out some fabric. In the back at the very least.

From the side the extra fabric at the back shows very well:
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That hem looks good though!

A look at the front curviness from the side. The princess lines take care of that 32G beautifully:
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With room to breathe. I like breathing. And is that side seam acceptably straight?

I consider those folds the only thing “wrong” with this dress. There’s so much “Right” with this dress! In the back, at the top, the dress clings to my skin beautifully. No gap. Further down it follows the curve of my back. At the front there is no “side boob fabric” gaping. The skirt flares inward a bit below the hip, creating a flattering shape for my body type. The hem is fairly straight. All the things I wrote about in previous dresses are not problems here.
Yes, very pleased.

Another more twisted thing I noticed: I carry my right shoulder in front of my hip. My left is at the side. I twist my upper body to the left. You can see on pictures that my one hand is more turned inward than the other. Had I be wearing rings today you would have seen one on one hand but not on the other. Because again, I am standing straight:
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I’ll leave it for now I guess. If I learn to adjust my posture permanently I might have to make new slopers…

(still, I guess I better learn to get a better posture before I grow old and crooked and set in my ways. But for the time being I want to wear my handmade, adjusting for crookedness, dresses. They already make me sit up straight and breathe better. The twisted posture thing I’ll tackle when I enter the final third of my life, at age 80.)
(what? I’m growing to be a 120 years, don’t you?)

Sewing: a basting kind a gal

Today I discovered I am fond of basting a garment!
With the sewing machine set on 2mm or 3mm stitching I just whip up the garment (no seam treatment, just baste together the defining seams: side seams, bustdarts) and try it on.
Ideal for trying out the fit!

With the wide stitches I can take the seams apart fast after I’m done pinning the adjustments.
Or, as I did with the Wriggle Dress -my second dress ever- today: baste together and try it on and pin the adjustments and take the basting apart and baste it again and try it on again and pin some more adjustments and take the basting apart and baste it again and try it on again. I am a beginner.

It was especially the darts that needed the most repinning and when I found them to be good I pressed them, while they were still basted. Then I took all the basting out and resewed the seams in the apropriate, smaller stitch. Easy peasy since the baste line was still visible.
(I do stitch slow and with ridiculous attention so YMMV (Your Milage May Vary))

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One dart, ready to be sewed. These are diamond shaped darts. They are to be sewed starting in the middle towards a point, reducing stitch width as you approach the end of the fabric. Try “falling off” the fabric gradually, in a very small stitch width. This reduces puckering. Then you turn your dress around and do the other point of the dart in the same way.

I plan to do this basting thing with a few more dresses that I am trying out, I love it! No toile needed.
Of course, the fashion fabric must allow for all this basting and taking apart. Probably shouldn’t do this with satin, silk or high end linen… and should work from too wide to a good fit. Not from too tight to more ease, that basting line might remain visible.

And: there should be a nice cup or holder to collect the threads while you work.
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this is mine, it belonged to my grandmother who was a great seamstress (I didn’t know untill after she passed) and she and I both love birds.

Oh! Last tip to myself: use a contrasting colour thread for basting! This makes it easier to unpick. And it won’t tempt me to leave it in because “it’s already the right line”. 2 or 3mm stitches is not a good width for many fabrics, it will stretch and tear in the seams. Take it out. Yes, use contrasting thread. Good tip. You know you.

study: a gala dress my mum made

as I still await the arrival of the two patterns I studie clothes I own. I have one handmade dress, my mum made it for me exactly 20 years ago. (ok, 19 years and 50 weeks ago)

It still fits!
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It has prinsess lines, flaring skirt. It is made of silk (real silk, very flowing) and lined with synthetic shiny fabric, alsof very light and flowing)

You see some characteristics my body has: broad shoulders but not a big frame. A big bust (in relation to that frame) and neither a small waist nor big hips. I am a goblet. Or a reverted triangle.

V shaped necklines, 3/4 sleeves and garments that hug the hips and flare out at knee length look good on me. A wriggle dress will look smashing, as long as it suggests a waist rather than enforces it. (girl likes to breath)

There are a few issues with fit with this dress. The neck line gapes…
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and so does the side bust.

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It could do with a tuck but I do not yet know how to do this. I have read up on altering horizontal and vertical bust darts but with princess lines I take it the lines have to be unpicked. This dress is fully lined so that would mean unpicking the whole dress. Also, I may not want to because of sentimental value.

The gaping in the back might have been less 20 years ago, I am 41 now and my posture may have changed.

I love looking at the details. I start to see more and more things, the more I read about sewing.

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The princess line in the back runs all the way up to the shoulder seam.(but it isn’t centered)
The lining in the armhole is attached to the silk with minute little hand stitches.The lining doesn’t run to the very edge of the arm hole, it stops just short and it doesn’t peak out.

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there’s a zipper that is hidden, the silk has little overlaps to hide it.
A row of vertical little hand stitches runs next to the zipper, on both sides.

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I don’t know why those stitches are there. Perhaps to keep the silk lay flat over the zipper? No flaring upwards? I take it on the inside it keeps the pieces neat.
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from the inside it now shows me that the little stitches keep the lining nicely in place against the outer fabric. And out of the way when working that zipper, you wouldn’t want it to be caught in the zipper teeth.

Also in this picture you can see how the front neck was done. The lining and silk were sewed right in the ditch with the right sides facing. The piece was turned right side out and the seam was pressed.
I can see that the result is not as tidy as it was in the armhole, here the lining is visible from the outside. I do not know yet if this has to do with pressing, with bulk of the seam allowance in that part or with the used technique. I have read about other techniques but they take more time. This is a “good enough” fast technique.

It is fun to see some of my mothers thinking in this dress. She must have ran out of time or out of fun or it had to be finished sóón. She whipped open her bag of sewing skills and chose whatever got the job done.

This is what I love in all handmades, to see something personal of the creator come through. This is also why I do not care for perfect projects. (I aim for near perfection. Showing you my only sewing experiences in all their frumpiness (the skirt and the shirt) really put a dent in my self image.)

next: reinforcements
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The front of the neck is reinforced with white fusible ….eh… interfacing! that’s it!

  • interfacing reinforces parts of a pattern piece that need it. (front neck line, arm hole)
  • underlining reinforces a whole pattern piece. Basically you sew two pieces of cloth together and treat them as one. Good for shear fabrics (white linen, chiffon, organza) or very light fabrics (chiffon, silk).
  • interlining is the same as underlining but has the purpose of adding an extra layer for warmth.
  • lining is an extra layer between the outer fabric and the body. It serves ease of putting on and ease of wearing. It reduces sweat getting to the outer fabric (handy for linen as it will wrinkle when confronted with body moisture) or for warmth. Or for the sheer fun of it (” Care for a bright bold pattern inside your very mature jacket, sir?”). Lining hides the seams (and protects them somewhat I think).
  • a slip is a separated piece of undergarment, a little dress, to be worn under a dress. It has the same functions as lining.

In my dress the interfacing is fused to the lining. Very clever as it would have shown up miserably were it to be fused to the silk outer fabric.

The ‘ragged’ seam you see in the right side of the white interface is where the seam is that is pressed and that shows a little bit on the outside in the picture above this one. It has little cuts in it to allow it to follow the curve. Perhaps if it was trimmed smaller, the excess fabric cut away, it would have been pressed more out of sight.

But this would probably demand more measures to prevent that seam from fraying. No wait, fused interface won’t fray and neither will the lining it is fused to. It may be more difficult to press in its proper shape, a seam with a short seam allowance. This then would benefit from a small row of stitches that keeps it into place. But those stitches would be visible from the outside, as they would be through the silk, and that is not desirable on this dress.

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Inside I found three different kind of seams. One was pressed open, one was pressed to the side and one was pressed open and its sides handsewed. To prevent fraying I think. It also has little cuts, to allow for movement (?). I’ve seen this kind of seams online on a couture dress:

Marina von Koenig explains in a wonderful article over at Burdastyle.com

Here are two curves sewn together and the round cuts are for allowing that shape. The article also adresses working with linen and using both an interlining and a lining to get excellent results.

This is the kind of level I want to be at, intellectually. These are the sort of things I want to know, want to be able to do. Marina von Koenig has some wonderful reviews of dresses she made online.

Sparring partner in this yellow white dress was Susan Khalje who really knows a lot!

Years ago she wrote a wonderful book about using linen and cotton. It focuses on the fabric, not on patterns. It is no longer in print but it’s one I’d love to have. I’m thinking about buying the ebook even though I prefer paper books….

if only I lived in the USA…I’d take her class!

UPDATE: I purchased the ebook Linen and Cotton  by Susan Khalje with the publisher of Threadsmagazine. It was on sale and only cost $12,79.