Sunday, May 5, 2019

That Thing About Life and Lemons...

All the pleated pieces awaiting final assembly
The wet pleating process is awesome.  The skirt & sleeves dried exactly perfect.  They’re crispy & they change color in light like the original designer described the real dress.  My original bodice was awful. Patterning for smocking is very different from patterning to get a tailored fit, so the yoke looked stupid & broke up the line of the dress.  I fussed with the original pieces & it looked horrible no matter what I did to it, so I revised the design, got out some draping fabric & spent a couple hours draping & basting on myself in a mirror trying to get the fit & look I needed.  Draping is something you do on someone else or on a dressform that matches the measurements & shape exactly, so doing it on yourself is difficult & frustrating. It takes a certain level of skill & a special level of crazy.  I finally got what I wanted, cut it out, made it up in the real fabric, wet it & pleated it.
While it was drying I started working with the wig & headpiece.  After trying to force the whole thing to sit properly on my head with all the extra weight of my own hair, I realized there was no way with the tight fit of the dress I would be able to dress myself.  I can’t even hope to get the wig on myself once I’m in in the dress (it’s nearly impossible NOT in the dress). Also, I can’t drive in the wig assembly so I’d have to get dressed and have my hair fixed after I got to work.  There’s no way I’ll be able to wear it at work tomorrow.  I need a dresser with mad wig skilz and at least an hour of help to get me into my clothes.  So at 3PM I did a hard stop.  How do you blog crushing disappointment?   There is no way I can make this work alone, even though I had enough time to finish the dress.  Sometimes, life just sucks that way.  I’ve put a little over 8 hours into the dress. It needs ~3 more to finish. But not tonight. Tonight I just need to rage at the universe for tasks that take 2 people.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Peacock Dress at Last!

Some wins & some fails but definite progress. I got all of the dress cutting done just in time to leave for an event, because it took me a while to think through the patterning & experiment with the smocking machine. The smocking did not go well.  I tried multiple times to smock fabric for the cuffs but every time I got to about the halfway point a needle would slip & they whole piece would go wonky.  The taffeta is not forgiving; one try & it goes to trash because there are holes from the needles & pinch marks from the feed gears. It takes time to rethread all those needles.  I have plenty of fabric but I don’t have time to fuss with it.  I cut out the whole dress as if I wasn’t going to smock anything & if I have time tomorrow I can try again & substitute the bits if they work.
Smocking the cuffs

Sleeve pleats drying

I bet you’ve never seen anyone pleat a dress this way. The taffeta has some sizing in it, so it’s holding the pleats nicely.  I wasn’t sure how it would look but the swatch test came out well.  I put a plastic dropcloth over the dressform wearing the hoops.  The skirt was mostly assembled, then soaked in cold water & wrung out carefully so that there are lots of vertical wrinkles.  It's draped over the hoops dripping out in the garage. Voila! Fortuny pleating. I won’t know what it really looks like until it dries overnight. The sleeves are also pleated & laid out flat to dry. Now it’s nearly midnight & I have one more day to pull this project together.

Amidala's Coat, Part 3 & Done

Hello Saturday 😊

The coat is finished and the deadline clock is ticking.  I’m starting to think I should call this the cooking-while-sewing blog.  I’ve just finished getting the potluck stuff for today’s Cinco de Mayo gather all done & cleaned up, and all the things I need to take across town is loaded in the car. Now I have only a few hours left for working & tomorrow will be last minute insanity. (Yes, I know, I’m taking time blogging too, but I promised!)

Final time on the coat: 19.25 hours.  I had to check the numbers twice because that is way over what I expected. I opted to use the trim (that had to be put on anyway) to finish the edges & that took a lot more time than doing it fully lined. I serged the inside edge of the canvas to the coat hems & stitched them down flat. That made the edges very stiff.  Not lining also added way too much bulk at some seams, especially around the armholes where there ended up being 6 layers of the wool on a clipped curve because of the facings. Due to the amount of handling to get all the trim on, most of the edges stretched some as well.  This is a jacquard upholstery fabric and so the weave is not as stable as something plain-wove. I didn’t take the extra time to stabilize all the edges because I was trying to get this done fast.  Lastly, not lining it makes it look cheap. Some decisions you just regret in the end.  When you’re putting together something new that didn’t come with instructions, there is a lot of debugging (how do the pieces go together, what order to assemble in, getting the scale of details right).  The second one you rarely make has the benefit of all the knowledge you absorbed on the first one.  I have friends who do a complete mockup first to learn how to put something together & fix any fit issues. If I didn’t have to go to work every day, I might do that too.  

Things I’d do differently: Line it.  Use something lightweight for the trim. Use a slightly lighter weight & finer wool so it would felt on the prewash and so the finished garment isn’t so heavy. Skip the serger entirely & pink the seams.

Things that really worked: Using good wool fabric instead of velvet. I can’t guess how much added time there would have been using a pile fabric with a loose-wove backing. It would have been much bulkier and the shortcuts I took would have failed miserably.