Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Silks and Sheers Class at Centre Front Studio

I attended two 3 hour classes with Rory at Centre Front Studio, looking at choosing, cutting  and sewing silks and sheers.

First Session

In the first class, we got a number of samples and learned about fabric types. I have a useful set of notes and samples for the future. It's nice to feel and discuss samples. I have the Fabric for Fashion Swatch book which has that advantage too.

Then we cut out the pieces for French knickers. We used the technique of having the fabric sandwiched between two layers of paper and the pattern on top. I had read about it but realised that I hadn’t fully understood. I now understand that I am someone who learns best after seeing something demonstrated - then I like to read about it. We had to cut out singly, of course, so I ended up with a lot of ‘ghost’ paper patterns!
Patterns and Ghost Patterns

I was using floral vintage silk. I had to cut on the straight of grain as there was insufficient fabric to allow a bias cut. I didn’t have too much trouble cutting though would have preferred to use my rotary cutter. That wasn’t possible as there were six of us so space was limited.

After that, we sewed French seams. I had never actually done this other than for a sample in class. I can certainly see them being useful in the future. We used a microtex needle. I was able to get my knickers sewn together but I didn’t have time in class to sew the hems or create the waist treatment. I started doing a baby hem on the legs but really I didn't like that as my stitching was a bit wavy - I realise I rely a lot on guides to keep my stitching straight. My hem isn’t great and too chunky - not a baby hem at all! I didn’t get a chance to do any homework, to finish the knickers, which remain unfinished as I write. I don’t have much intention to finish tbh as they are not my size or that of any of my girls. Too small for me and too big for them and I don't wear them anyway. I will use as a practice piece for hems.
Wavy turned and trimmed hem on left but no final row of stitching; right hasn't been turned stitched or trimmed as yet.
Second session. More samples of silk and sheer fabrics.

This time, Rory had cut out the pieces for a camisole. We were using polyester georgette - as I will be doing for Joanne’s shorts as soon as I get back to garment sewing.

The first step was to sew and turn the rouleau straps for the camisole. I found keeping the same width, and avoiding stretching the bias strips, rather tricky but did manage to produce acceptable and matching straps in the end. We used a kirby grip to turn the loops as Rory finds them much better than proper loop turners. I think I agree! I do have a loop turner but haven’t found it useful.
The straps look better in real life!
Then we sewed ‘couture darts’ on the front of the camisole - that is, darts using the bobbin thread. I had read about this but quite simply didn’t understand the explanation. Now, having had it demonstrated and having sewn two myself I am fine with them. If you only have two darts to sew and the fabric is fine, I think I’d use these darts. However, if there were multiple darts, probably not as you have to rethread the machine for each dart. Importantly, you start sewing the dart at the tip - there are no ends. Rory detests darts with knotted tips! You can back stitch to properly secure at the wide part of the dart which will be in the seam allowance.
Tip of the dart is smooth with no ends or finishing
I quote from ‘The Dressmaker’s Handbook of Couture sewing Techniques’ by Lynda Maynard - a great book. She says that this is a wonderful method for sewing a dart which works well on all fabrics and is essential when working with sheers. ‘There are no unsightly thread ends at the tip of the dart… just a clean , graceful finish.’

Then we French seamed back to front. This time, I used my rotary cutter to cut off the frayed threads at the edges after I sewed the first seam. That made it much easier and I didn’t get bits of thread sticking out.

Okay - it couldn’t last. I tried and tried to get an acceptable rolled picot hem but failed. I had it demonstrated. I was using the rolled hem foot and a suitable stitch for the picot edge. Considering I haven't got to grips with using this foot with a straight stitch, on a straight piece of easy fabric, it was no wonder I struggled!! I also tried a rolled hem on the overlocker but wasn’t happy with the results. I should say, these were all sample pieces - I haven’t yet tackled the actual hem and neckline treatment on the camisole. One of the other ladies finished her camisole - she used a pin hem, bias binding on the side and back necks and lace on the front and I think I’ll do the same.

I can finish the camisole in sewing bee but again, it won’t fit me or the girls, so I think I’d prefer to get on with some other sewing. However, I will practice these techniques occasionally! One day, I might manage. As I don’t have another project that I can just pick up and take to sewing bee tomorrow, I might possibly take this.

I am using difficult fabrics in the near future

I have already cut out the two layers of georgette for Joanne’s lace edged shorts - the shorts are self lined and bagged and lace inserted in the hem. I’ve made these before but not I realise for 2 years so I will have to remind myself of the steps and take it slowly. As the shorts are double layered, I didn’t worry too much about finishing the seam edges last time but will have to think about that. I’d like to finish for her birthday in one month's time
I have more sandwashed silk to make Helen another dress like her red one, in green this time. Some of the techniques are tricky, and again I’ll need to take it slowly. I haven’t started that yet. That’s for her birthday in November.

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