Sunday, 22 March 2015

Sewing terminology - nationality and age? Or just age?

I seem to be having problems with sewing terminology. Or maybe it's memory retention problems.

Sometimes, it's easy, doesn't matter. Who cares if we call a test garment just that, or a muslin or a toile?

I spoke on an earlier post of the use of the term 'jetted' for pockets; more books have double welt these days. No problem (except when I tried to look up 'jetted' in modern sewing books but more on that later)

It becomes more awkward if we don't realise that rayon and viscose are the same thing (I believe - but please correct me if I'm wrong!). I think I've found a source for some of the rayon bemberg lining often recommended

I wanted to find silk charmeuse as it's mentioned so many times. I found it in Goldhawk Road under a different name (wish I could remember what it was!).

Many of the brands mentioned aren't available here. I imagine that there are often alternatives; we don't have Pellon but do have Vilene. There are some items that I haven't been able to get and shipping and import duty from the US is prohibitive. I recently bought the Fabulous Fit system, on sale, paid almost as much again for postage and still had to pay almost the same again for import duty! That nearly tripled the initial cost. I couldn't get it here. I won't buy fabric from the US because of costs. Some sites sell reasonably and with no or limited postage costs and I'm happy to buy these small notions. However, recently I wanted a buttonhole marker, which I eventually bought from within the UK at £11.99, paying around £3 postage; I could have bought the same item slightly cheaper from the States but the postage was £17! No import duty at this level.

Tacking and basting are the same thing, though we also baste food.

Slightly more awkward with both cooking and sewing is the unit used. They are not directly interchangeable. Recipe books always say stick to one or the other but don't mix. The standard ⅝" allowance on patterns is usually given as 1.5cm equivalent - but an exact conversion would put it more like 1.6 cm. So if I sew a big 4 pattern using a 1.5 cm seam allowance rather than a 1.6 - might not seem like much but if there are several panels, say an 8 for skirt, this can add up. I tend to stick to the ⅝" measurement - unless of course it's a pattern with original measurements in cms; my machine is actually easier to use at ⅝". I know that some US sewers have run into trouble with European sizes. A US sewer with a bust measurement of 36" doesn't want to use 90cm or it would be too small (90cm equates to just under 35½") The problem is that I see posts using  a 2.5 cm to 1 inch conversion; the conversion is more like 2.54 cm to 1 inch.

However, it's not usually a problem with commercial patterns. Choose your size and you're fine.

I saw a post on PR recently where someone said serger and overlocker were not completely interchangeable. That 5 thread machines were sergers but 4 or less overlockers. Any truth to that? This doesn't affect my use of these machines, though. I can't do a coverstitch, though - although I have an old 5 thread overlocker, it was pre-coverstitch days.

No problem with any of these if you know!

That's not even why I started this post, though. Although I attend classes which teach in metric, I'm of an age where I really still think in imperial. This country uses many interchangeably. My car takes litres of fuel, but my fuel consumption is measured in mpg etc. I can still adapt. I'm trying to do this post entirely from my tablet. Not sure how it will go!

No, my reason for writing this post is that I misunderstood some terminology. I think there may be slight differences in what I'm told by tutors and what I see in books. Both of my tutors are from an industrial background, one making garments for a famous designer, the other being more factory based, I think. (They both use the term jetted).

I've made a pair of jeans and I now realise that I totally mixed up the name of the seams I used.

I wanted to make a running fell stitched seam. I think that's my tutor's terminology (I'm not completely sure as I keep forgetting to write down - that's what I mean about memory malfunction!)  Looks the same from back and front, two rows of identical parallel stitching.

My attempt was rather wonky
Sew seam together at 1.5 cm/⅝ "on the right side of the fabric ie wrong sides facing. Trim the back seam allowance to 0.5 cm. Wrap the uncut seam allowance around and under the trimmed side and pin in place. Edgestitch along the folded pinned (I'd need to tack too) edge through all layers and press. On the right side there are two layers of parallel stitching.

I know this is a domestic version rather than an industrial version seam. I thought my tutor called it a running fell seam and thought it possible it could also be a flat fell seam. I wondered so I looked up some references

Alison Smith 'Dressmaking': "Run and fell seam also known as a flat fell seam, is very strong. It is made on the right side of a garment and is used on the inside leg seam of jeans, and on men's tailored shirts." Her instructions for making it appear to equate to my tutor's.

Wikipedia:  "Felled seam, or flat-fell seam, is a seam made by placing one edge inside a folded edge of fabric, then stitching the fold down. It includes a topstitched finish. It is useful for keeping seam allowances flat and covering edges.
The flat-felled seam is the type of seam used in making denim jeans, although it appears inside-out to reduce stitching. It is also used in traditional tipi construction.
There are flat-felled seams and lap-felled seams."

Coletterie: "a felling foot is also known as a lap seam foot."

I looked up the lap seam, too, and found a good comparison between the two from Wendy Gardiner on She has good diagrams.

This is my run and fell/ flat fell practice sample.
Not too bad for a first go. I did intend to use these seams in the jeans I made for DH, down the inseam, but ran out of time. I was advised against using them for the yoke/jean junction and crotch. So it was only for two seams. Perhaps I should have taken the time but DH was so unconcerned and I knew the jeans really needed modification to fit well.  I did this entirely by hand and pinned but didn't tack. It was actually pretty quick. Taking more time would have improved the outcome.

I also know there is a presser foot that can help. Is it worth getting that if there are more jeans on my horizon? I know that any new technique or foot needs practice.

In the jeans class, our tutor had us make a seam, usual right sides together, overlock edges (could do before seaming) then fold both seam allowances to one side and topstitch. This is quite bulky, even on the calico we used.

In Thursday class, my tutor showed me a preferable method:seam made, right sides together, one side trimmed, other side overlocked (could do this one side before seaming) and folded over but not back under trimmed seam allowance and topstitched. Much less bulky. And uses less thread as only one side overlocked. My sample from class wasn't overlocked and is practically invisible and very flat.

Mock fell right side

Mock fell wrong side (overlapping side is still raw - to be overlocked and stitched from right side.)

What is the name for this? I called it a mock fell seam, perhaps based on nothing

My final version in the real jeans had the raw edge above overlocked and two rows of top stitching on the right side held it down beautifully. I can't show this as the jeans are not available just now.

On PR I found both variations referred to as mock or fake felled seams or the more modern faux fell seam. I rather like the term.

I have lots of books but unfortunately very few of them give name variations. I still find them very useful. The advantage of the Internet though is that I can search on any term. And then I prefer to read it in a book! Craftsy and YouTube videos are very useful but I can't watch them on my tablet, in bed, my favoured place, as my broadband connection there is too poor. I have to watch them on my PC which makes them less accessible. All are great ways of improving my knowledge so I can practice the skills needed to produce high quality garments - alongside my face to face tutors of course!

It was a lot more difficult producing this post on my tablet than on my PC (I used to have a laptop - that was great) but on the positive side, I can do it anywhere.

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