Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hong Kong or Bound Seams

Good quality metallic fabrics have a quality like peau de soie that is as light as a feather. Their wrinkles are part of their elegance. They both crunch and dance in the light. They are perfectly suited for making a gown.

They do not slip and slide. They are not difficult to sew. You do want to carefully finish all edges. The metallic fibers can shred, poke and itch if left loose.

In her "Fabric Sewing Guide", Claire Shaeffer recommends binding the edges of all pieces with a tricot seam binding. I can understand the logic, the stretch in the tricot makes it easy to keep the binding smooth. Traditionally, Hong Kong seams are made using a 1" bias strip of matching lining fabric. (More on making a continuous bias strip later.)

At Fine Fabrics we carry dressmaker quality rayon seam binding by Mokuba. It doesn't stretch, but it is soft so it does not change the quality of the fabric. It worked just fine for the task of binding the seams for my gown and will work just as well for binding the seam, facing and hem edges of any woven fabric.

I followed Claire Shaeffer's advice and bound all the seams on this gown before constructing. The gown is is also lined with silk charmeuse. Bound seams are my favorite finish. They are clean, elegant, tailored. They are one of those details that give a couture touch and make you smile when putting on the garment.

Bound seams take a little extra time. With seams that are pressed open you are stitching each seam 5 times, but the time is meditative: Sew the seam..... seam the binding to the seam edge..... press the binding out..... press the seam rolled over..... sew the binding in place.... repeat on the other side.....

With a bit more specificity a bound seam is made as follows:

Meet edge of seam binding to unfinished edge of seam, right sides together. Stitch as close to the edge as you can. I use an edge stitch foot, number 5 for my Bernina Sewing Machine, with needle set to the far left and tab running along fabric and binding edge to hold a perfectly straight line, while creating a very small seam. Press seam binding out, then roll around and under seam edge. Stitch again just inside the seam ditch. If the fabric is particularly at risk of shredding, I might use a zig zag stitch, which I did with the metallic fabric in this gown and I might also do with matka or tweed.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

SWAP at Artisans' Square

At Artisans' Square I learned of "SWAP". It does not mean we are now bartering. The acronym stands for "Sewing with a Plan". It is a sewing concept developed by Timmel's Fabrics in Canada. It is great for motivating the sewing of projects that work into your wardrobe. For an impulsive, creative project fashion sewer like myself that is a very novel and useful way to learn to approach fashion sewing. The result of impulsive creativity, although fun, can be a closet loaded with interesting fashionable pieces, yet each morning it is difficult to decide what to wear. I decided to give SWAP a try.

Artisans' Square is currently running an international SWAP, with the blessing of Timmel's Fabrics, that challenges all between now and April 2009, to make a coordinating wardrobe. 6 tops, 4 bottoms, 1 jacket. All tops must work with all bottoms.

There are all sorts of discussions at Artisans' Square as to how best to approach your SWAP. I decided to start with choosing a group of fabrics that are both inspiring, will work for my wardrobe plan, lifestyle and personality.
Next step was to choose the specific patterns or designs I wished to make from each of the fabrics.

I created the storyboard at the top of this blog entry in Photoshop by:

1) Creating a storyboard file.
2) Scanning into Adobe Photoshop a very high resolution image of the line drawings on the back of each pattern I chose. Converting these to line drawing transparencies by selecting the background color range, then deleting. Then copying and pasting the line drawing to a layer in my storyboard file.
3) Copying and pasting the image from of each fabric I planned to use as a layer just beneath the line drawing in the storyboard file.
4) Using the magnetic wand tool to select the outline of the line drawing, selecting its inverse, clicking on the fabric layer, then deleting.
5) Linking the 2-layers together.

I do have a few extra pieces in my storyboard, but there is every reason to leave yourself open to decision making along the way.

It is now time to get sewing......

Thursday, November 6, 2008

49th Annual NOGI Awards Gala Gown

AUAS NOGI gala gownFor 3-years Martha and I have gotten together for our portrait in the gowns we have made for The Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences Annual NOGI Awards Gala. Every year it seems that we both are finishing the gowns in our hotel rooms as we rush to get ready for the event.

Inspired by Martha's Valentino red gown she wore to the event last year, I went all out this year and made a GOWN!

I toyed with the idea of "embracing my belly", like a Ruben's portrait or pregnant child with crop top and skirt rolled below, but opted for conformity. It took 4 muslin drafts to get the pleats to lay and the fabric to bulge in just the right manner to hide, instead of accent my round middle.

The Armani gold silk with metal turned out to be a perfect choice for the task. Not only did it conform to the shape for which I was aiming; it also traveled incredibly well. I was able to roll it up to fit in my carry on, then tug the fabric back into place.

Every client and friend who entered Fine Fabrics was surveyed as to best color choice for accent lining and lace: Sophisticated gold lining gray Solstiss lace vs. lively watermelon lining Solstiss gold lace. The unanimous choice was the latter.

I balanced the activity of the right side, with lace overlays dripping down the left side and sublime back. I'll post details of this later.