Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Not A Work Of Art

My first appointment yesterday was the optometrist. As I suspected, my eyes have changed, especially my reading prescription which I use all the time in the studio. I've been wearing glasses since I was eighteen and full time since my early forties. I'm so thankful to live in a time when glasses are available. I'm frustrated enough not being able to see as well as I'd like. Imagine no glasses.

When I get back from Calgary, I'll spend some time on Zenni picking out new frames and checking to see if any favourites are still available. My friend Sharon told me about this site years ago. It's wonderful. I can get dozens of glasses for the price of one pair at the optometrist and I'm a dozens of glasses kind of girl. I like having different frames to go with different outfits and if I have to wear glasses, I may as well have fun.

It was the middle of the afternoon before I made it to the studio. The dress is finished except for the buttons. The purple turquoise polymer clay ones bottom left above look fabulous and they're too big. The fuchsia ones top left are equally fabulous except I only have four and bought them from Marcy Tilton a year ago. I've emailed on the off chance that more are available but since they're vintage buttons from Paris, not likely. The metal ones are good, just not as much fun. I'll spend a bit more time this morning looking through my stash to see if there are any other options including a mix of buttons.

Since there's no more available, I've been conserving both the plaid fabric and the twist thread. The hem band is doubled and sewn like a cuff or a collar. I didn't follow the instructions for this or any other part of the garment. I did it the way that worked for me. For the hem band, I sewed the two pieces right sides together with the main garment sandwiched in the middle and then folded the band and band lining down, matched up the bottom edge, serged on the selvage of the plaid, turned the seam to the wrong side, and top stitched it in place. It makes a fun trim.

To sew the hem band on, the side seams need to be finished - sort of. I sewed them from just above the waist to the bottom and left the top portion open. This allowed me easy access to stitch and serge finish the shoulder seam before finishing the side and underarm seam. It was neater.

Neat is really important to me. The inside of some people's garments are a work of art and I've tried that and it's not me. What is me is clean, well pressed, nicely finished, neat, organized, and efficient. If I'm making something like an unlined jacket, I'll play with different seam finishes and often I'll have fun with the serging by using a contrasting thread but that's about it. I'm more concerned with aspects other than pretty and I don't expect anyone to climb inside my dress - especially while I'm wearing it - and check out the seams.

Here's an example. The sleeve hem is finished with a bias strip of the plaid that's wrapped from the front around to the back over the seam allowance and then held in place with black stitching in the seam line and top stitching 1/8" away. You can't see the seam allowance and even so, I serged it because the serger produces an evenly cut seam and a firm one for the binding to wrap around which results in a neat, clean, even finish. For me, that's worth serging for.

I wanted sleeves and tried as many different options as I could. There wasn't enough of the plaid. I optioned lace, knit, and lace over black and even tried...

... the sleeve cap in the plaid but this look is SO NOT ME. I ended up with...

... the plain black sleeve with the bias trim at the hem in a three quarter length. It works. It's me. On both sleeves, there is a tiny pucker at the front where the yoke seam intersects with the sleeve. It's because of the faux seer sucker. It's really hard to sew seer sucker pucker-less.

The pattern instructions call for a lined yoke in the back and not in the front. I'm not sure why but I was concerned about the balance of weight at the shoulder seam. I didn't want the garment pulling backward so I lined the front yoke as well. In the diagram above, the yoke and yoke lining are sewn right sides together with the back of the garment sandwiched between. The yoke lining is folded up and hand stitched in place to the shoulder seam. I didn't do that.

I sewed the front and back yokes and yoke linings as described and then matched and serged the shoulder edges on the front and back sections and then stitched them together with a 5/8" seam that was pressed open. As I said, not a work of art but neat and efficient and - IMHO - interesting.

In the picture above, you can just see a bit of the front princess seam with some bright blue thread. That's the bobbin thread used to mark the finished 1/4" width on the flange. I stitched the flange to the garment measuring from the outside folded edge of the bias strip and then re-stitched over the same line to form the seam. I could have used black thread but it would have been harder to see. I could pick out this line of blue but why? It would be difficult to do and the blue is neat, can't be seen from the front, and adds interest. That works for me, and in the end, our garments are about us.

How about you? How do you finish the inside of your garments?

I'm having breakfast with my son this morning to hear all about his trip and coffee this afternoon with an artist whose studio used to be across the hall from mine when we were both downtown. He has also moved back to his home studio. The "boys" are coming for dinner. I'm packing for my trip. And somewhere in the middle of all that I'll make buttonholes, sew on the buttons, and get some pictures. Hopefully they'll be posted tomorrow.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - glasses


  1. Your dress looks amazing! I can't wait to see it with the buttons - you'll make a fun and terrific choice I'm sure. I'm with you about serging...While I can finish seams other ways, I'm after neat and functional. I want to WEAR the garment...not fuss around binding seam allowances. Although I very much admire the sewists who do that.
    Well, I have my parents visiting for a bit, so I have the lovely gift of laundry happening, dog walking happening and meals happening that I don't need to be a part of. Yay! It's an awesome gift and I'm going to work away in my sewing room with the time that I now have...see what I can get done.
    Enjoy your time with your family, see you Saturday.

    1. Thank you. I found some buttons similar to but not quite as wonderful as the one's from Marcy. They'll be fun though.

      Like you, I admire those beautiful finishes but life's too short for me for that.

      Enjoy the gift of time and space. How lovely.

      I was at Fabricland today, bought buttons, didn't even look at the bargain center. I'm saving my time and pennies for our shopping adventures.

  2. Re: finishing the insides--it all depends on what it is. (How's that for a noncommittal answer?) I don't have a serger, so I can't fall back on that option.

    Re: Marcy's pattern, I'm with you on removing that extra cap sleeve for the long-sleeved version of the dress. Looking forward to your reveal!.

    1. It does depend on what it is. I definitely invest more energy on something that will get seen even if it's only when you take the garment off and on.

      Just finished the button holes. I'm waiting for the Fray Check to dry and then I can cut the openings and sew on the buttons - ten. LOTS of button sewing.

  3. I too am a depends person. It depends on fabric (does it ravel?), it depends on if the seam may be seen, or what I have invested into the garment (time, money, or just pride). Some garments just get lots of extra attention and I want the seams to look as good inside and out.
    I love your dress and agree that the extra cap piece is too much. Glad you found buttons you like for the dress. Burda pattern magazine has a similar blouse pattern with the extra cap piece that I want to make without the cap. I will be doing a muslin sometime in September for some more blouses.

    1. LOL - well... I guess I was a depends person too since if it can be seen, I make it pretty.

      Pictures of the finished dress tomorrow.

  4. It's always interesting to see how vintage pieces are finished on the inside. I don't have a big vintage collection, but I have noticed that some 50-60 year old everyday dresses seem to have held up quite well with unfinished seam allowances, minimal facings and little or no interfacing. I'm not going that far, but it does make me think that, for me, completing a neat piece that wears well and looks the way I want it to is more important than some amazing standard of finish on the inside.

    1. Exactly and... I think our laundering processes require a bit more than nothing although that's another subject.


Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.