Friday, October 27, 2006

American Beauty - Coat - Part XIII and Dress - Part I

I got a medallion done . . . . almost.

Here's the first small medallion. As you can see it's done, but not done. I need to remove small sections here and there and reshape a bit - they're a bit off. Not surprising, huh? It's not a big job and will take me about 30 minutes to fix. No, there are no weird pink smudges in the upper left, either - I put this on the ironing board to photograph and you can see some of that through the white.

At this point, it's just appliqueing all the medallions. I will post pictures of the corners and large oval when they're done. After that, it's just the quilting and putting in the lining. Shouldn't be too big of a deal (crossing fingers *and* toes!).

I've got the muslin for the dress cut and sewn together. I will post about the muslin after I try it on and see what fit and design changes will need to be made. I'll give you a sneak preview as to the reason I've dubbed it "The Ugly Step-Sister":

I'm not even going to explain this fabric. Suffice it to say that it is part of the reduce-reuse-recycle program.

Now, moving along and tearing your eyes away from the train wreck fabric, here's the dress pattern I have:

Here's the pattern I'd like the dress to look like:

I really wanted the Vogue Couturier, but when the bidding got up over $75.00 for the pattern, I had to get out of the game. I saved a picture of the pattern and found one with similar design lines to use as a base pattern to modify. I can copy that front, that's not the problem. The problem is the back! I have no idea what the back of this dress looked like. There might not be anything back there design wise, and I'm not sure where they've placed the zipper, either. I have a few ideas of what I might do with the back, but we'll talk about that later.

If any one has Vogue Couturier #191 (would have been published sometime between 1958 and 1960 or so) and would be kind enough to share what the back looks like, please let me know! If any one knows of any archives that might have a copy of this pattern and would be willing to let me know what the back looks like, let me know that too!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

American Beauty - Coat - Part XII

The applique process is underway!

Now I'm down to the lining of the coat, which involves appliques and quilting. The appliques are nice to do, they're portable and I don't mind the work. These appliques are freezer paper formed and handstitched. I've done many types of applique work for various projects: raw-edge, reverse appliques, machine applique and the handstitched applique. My favorite for classic, elegant designs is the handstitched style.

Here's the basic process I use for this type of applique. It may seem fussy, but for me it gives really nice results.

Step 1: I start with a design that doesn’t have too many tiny, tiny pieces. Simple and large enough is what I aim for when doing the artwork. I do all my own artwork and that takes care of any copyright issues that come up when using other people’s artwork. That said, this medallion is 5" by 7". Those curlicues are pretty small, but I’ll get to them later. I number the pieces in the order that they will be appliquéd, this rose has 8 pieces, I think. I also placed a letter on each piece indicating color or shade of color. Here I have L and D for light and dark red.

Step 2: I either cut apart the artwork (all drawn on freezer paper, it’s really great stuff) or I trace it off onto a new piece of freezer paper. For repetitive pieces I trace and just make new ones when the old ones get too cruddy. At this point, I add slash marks to indicate which edges are not turned under. Anything under another piece will not need to be turned in.

Step 3: Next I take the pieces and iron them on the fabric I wish to make the appliqué out of. Freezer paper is perfect – the shiny side will stick to fabric when ironed, and peels off easily when cool. It can also be reused several times before I need a new template – I think 5 or 6 times. I then cut them out with ¼” allowance all the way around.

Step 4: After cutting each piece out, it is individually formed to the correct shape. Inside corners are clipped, as are extreme inside curves. Outside curves are formed by running a line of basting stitches around the outside and gathering. I also use spray starch at this stage to keep the edges crisp. Once the pieces are all formed, the freezer paper is removed and saved for another use.

Step 5: The pieces are then placed on the background fabric and stitched invisibly in place, starting with piece 1, and continuing until all pieces are in place.

Now, those curlicues. Ugh. Just as with the trapunto, getting them fairly uniform and even proved to be a royal pain. I spent probably six hours working on them on the first medallion. They’re actually a bit too small to be appliquéd very well, but I’m too proud and stubborn to give up. The solution I came up with was to form them as described above, and when I am actually doing the stitching onto the background, I apply a template (made of freezer paper) to the top. With the template in place, I can gently reform the curve slightly as I stitch, pulling out or tucking under with my needle enough fabric to match the template. This ensures that I get a fairly uniform appearance to all the little knobs. You can see below the template on top and where I need to correct the curve a bit. Take a look at the scale – I’m only moving 1/16” to 1/32” of fabric, but it makes a big difference.

These medallions are located on the sleeves near the sleeve hem on the lining, and all this work might seem a bit fussy for an unnoticed location, but you should know by now, I’m a bit crazy. I'll try to post a picture of a finished medallion soon. I just need to finish up that stem/leaf piece pictured above.

Next up: cutting out the muslin for the dress. I’ve dubbed it the Ugly Step-Sister. Any guesses as to why?

Monday, October 23, 2006

American Beauty - Coat - Part XI

The outer shell is done!

Well, except for the buttonhole and the hem facing. Close enough. I had it on the dressform the other night when MIL came over and she said that it really makes a statement. Not sure what *kind* of statement, but a statement nonetheless. Anyway, I explained the deal with the button and she said with the collar, anything really detailed would get lost. For right now, I am going to go with a covered button made out of the velvet. I might cover it in beads/rhinestones later, but I'm not sure yet. The hem facing I really don't need to deal with until I put in the lining, plus I need to get it quilted and I'm just not inspired to do that right now.

Here's the last step in putting the outside shell together - putting on the facing which has the "fur" collar attached. Most of the facing I could stitch on the machine, but as I found out with the cuffs, I need to do some handstitching to finish joining the two fabrics. With the machine I just can't get close enough to the base of the last fur row, nor can I get it perfectly even. I don't mind the handstitching - it wasn't that much and I have so much more control over what I'm working on. A lot of my students shudder at the thought of hand basting or stitching, but I've learned the hard way that a stitch in time really does save nine. Thus the handstitching, yes, after I tried it via machine. The pictures below, in order: first, the two edges that need to be joined around the back neck of the collar; second, fell stitching the two pieces together; third, collar done!

Now I need to seriously get to work on the lining. I had planned on doing some rose medallion appliques. I'm still doing them, but I might have to eliminate the large one from center back - I forgot that there was a pleat center back for wearing ease. I could eliminate it, but my intuition is telling me not to, but I really want to do that medallion. Not sure yet. At the moment, I've got the small medallions on the sleeves and the corner ones that go near the fronts in the corner between the hem and facing.

Tomorrow I'll give some details on how I'm doing the appliques.

Monday, October 09, 2006

American Beauty - Coat - Part X

I think it should be Part X . . . .

Starting to lose track. Anyway. Guess what? I have had time to sew and I have made progress. Real progress!

For starters, I finally got the bottom band on the coat, and it looks great. Thanks to all who suggested it needed more of the dupionni in another spot! The sides seams were a bit wonky, as I had suspected. I took them out and angled them a bit more and that solved that problem.

The strap seams are now both completed, except that yesterday, wouldn't you know it, I found a problem. I had stitched the band between the yoke and body on wrong side up. There's only one seam in that piece of bias, and you'd have to pick at the little beads and really look to see, but there were the seam allowances. Ugh. Yep, you should know by now what I did. That thing came off, was turned correctly and restitched. I figured it out when I went to put the backing piece of bias on the bottom strap seam and wondered if I had done the top one right. Of course not.

I also got the cuffs finished and on! They look great - they're a bit weighty, so once I get the lining in place and everything tacked down right, I think it might need some little hand tacks of some sort to keep them in place. Not something I'm going to worry about right now.

Ok, I hear you - get to the pictures of the whole thing already. Here they are in order: front, back, side angle and close up of the cuff.

What's next? Well, when I'm home, I need to quilt the other facing, put the fur on it and get it attached to the coat. During my commute, I need to work on the appliques for the lining. Once the appliques are done, the lining gets quilted and put in the coat. I still need to do something about that button . . . .

Monday, October 02, 2006

American Beauty - Coat - Part IX

Here's the promised update!

There's still quite a bit to be done on the outer shell of the coat. There are lots of small jobs before I can do the big jobs, which in turn affect one another. So, it's quite a laundry list. As long as I do a little bit each day, it will get done.

I have done the strap seam between the yoke and body and it looks good, so let's get to the pics and details.

Strap seams aren't hard to do - just a little time consuming. For the style of seam I am using, the entre-deux, there is a little more prep and handstitching. First, all seam allowances are finished with a strip of bias. In this case, I used the red silk. At the left, you can see the strip sewn on and turned back to the inside, and pinned, ready for to be catchstitched to the underlining. The underlining is white cotton, for less show through for the white lining and for support for the crushed velvet. The crushed velvet seems thinner and just needs the extra support.

Once the edges are finished with the bias strips, the two edges are abutted and basted together loosely. The beads are put on next, using Silamide thread. My bead shop was low on Silamide, Donna told me that she's got a lot on back order but the company is still suffering from Hurricane Katrina. She did have the red I needed! I am using size 8/0 seed beads for this project - red with a silver lining. I tried out about 8 or so different bead shapes and color combos with some swatches and I liked these the best. They are a little bigger than what I usually use in my projects, which is the 11/0 size. The beads are the main link between the two pieces, so getting the right color and size is important. In the picture on the left, you can see the pins marking where the beads will go, 1/2" apart. Two passes of the silamide through each bead, and it's on to the next one, all the way across the seam.

In the third picture, you can just detect the basting thread still in place between the beads.

Once all the beads are in place, the basting comes out - it can stay in or come out after the next step - but I like to remove it at this point. Next, a bias strip is placed on the inside, behind the beads, and attached with a row of running stitches at the top and bottom of the strip. I'm part way across on the bottom row of running stitches - you can see the back of the trapunto here. You can place a contrasting colored strip in there for a really neat effect, but I chose not to on this project.

Now, for the finished product! I will give you a full length shot once I get the bottom band in place, but here's some details from the back yoke.

The bottom band is almost ready to be basted to the body of the coat. I have to take out some of the bias that finished the seam and fix it. The curve at the top of the band does not match the curve on the bottom of the coat and is causing some grief. I want to make sure it matches exactly, as if it doesn't, it will be a bit wonky and won't hang straight. I will get the basting done and try to get a section of beadwork done. Not sure, though - I've got two doctors apointments, a portrait appointment and ladies ensemble pratice today. There's always tomorrow! No wait, I teach tomorrow!