I totally love the expression "loving hands at home" and I'd call my blog it if I didn't think it would attract all sorts of creepy google searches looking for a very different kind of loving home front action. (For non-sewing friends who read my blog, it's an ironic way of saying, "it looks home-made." )
Of course, if you are a sewer, saying something looks home-made is a bad thing, a very bad thing. The goal is to make something look as professional as possible. Still, I wonder about this. We don't try to make home cooking look like restaurant food, we value the irregular stitches of a home knit garment, handcraft revels in the individuality of its creator and is valued for it, so why is the ultimate accolade of home made clothes the comment, "I would never have guessed you made it."
I've been thinking about this because it seems to me that home sewing needs to forge its own identity and be valued for what it is without unfavourable comparisons to high end designer wear. I say this to myself mostly, mistakes in sewing bug me greatly - some clothes I can't wear because the mistakes bug me so much.
There has not been a great deal of journeying here of late - not for want of wishing but a busy fortnight has put paid to usual recreational activities. We've had a lot of friends come back from northern hemisphere winters to catch up with, and we got a very nasty tummy bug that laid us all low for a couple of days and made us grateful that we had 2 bathrooms.
I also took on what in hindsight has proven to be a very challenging project, made more challenging by sewing it piecemeal and never getting a good couple of hours free to sit down and whack it out. Deeply, deeply mourning the loss of Benjy's afternoon sleep.
The back view:
I picked up some Gore-tex for $4 a metre from Nicks, who got all of the Line 7 liquidation stock. I decided to sew one of the Burda parkas from last autumn, but wanted to put a hood in it. There'a no doubt the original design was much chic-er, but Auckland has a seriously high winter rainfall and that nice ruffled collar, adorable as it is, will not keep head dry in sheet rain.
Sometimes it's worth looking a little dorky to stay dry:
I chose this parka from Burda 01-2009-104, but substituting the hood from #126 and adding in a thermal mesh lining. Despite careful measuring of the existing neckline and the hood, I still could not ease the fabric into the space without a great deal of puckering. Gore-tex is too stiff and the weave is of course very tight to ensure it stays waterproof so easing is not something it wants to do. After stay stitching and clipping hard I managed to get it in, but I strongly suspect that the neckline on #104 has been lowered by an inch or so, making a longer seam line on the front.
Then I had all sorts of issues inserting the 4 way stretch lining into a fabric with no give whatsoever. Lots of unpicking first of all, then a big sigh, and thereafter a lot of hand basting.
Also challenging was working out how to insert a lining into an unlined jacket pattern. The lining part was easy - just trace off the facings and add seam allowances - I didn't even have to draft an ease pleat in the back because of the stretch lining - but how was I going to get access to the draw strings? How was I going to line the hood and turn the whole thing out through the sleeves? What to do about the drawstring hem and the elasticated wrist bands?
Added to all of this, about half way through I lost the instruction section of the magazine - not that that was a huge loss - they were more basic than usual. The instructions for the poacher's pockets left out the vital piece of information that the flap had to be attached to the pocket WRONG sides together and so there was a lot of head scratching going on there until I figured it out.
In the end the solutions to the construction process were quite simple. I added eyelets to thread the drawstrings from the waist casing though. I added the hood to the top of the facings and sewed the whole lot together in one continuous seam from one end of the zipper to the other. The sleeves I decided to do by catching the lining inside the hem and simply sewing the casing over the top of all layers.
The bottom hem casing was the only really tricky part but I threaded the elastic by reaching the casing through the hole in the sleeve.
Getting a good fit was another challenge. I never know what to do about bust alterations on loose styles like these. The front was still about an inch too small - but - there's so much room in the back I could easy borrow fabric from there to reach the front. The side seams would be off though, which I decided would bug me. I could cut the front piece at the waist, do an FBA and pivot out the dart to the waist and then slash the lower part to fit the new piece. Then I'd just use the waistband casing to pull it back in again - but then I decided it was already quite gathered and the bulky fabric would just take the whole look too far. So in the end I settled on darts, but they never sit that well, because of the loose back and the bulky fabric.
I am curious to know how other people resolve this dart dilemna - ignore, eliminate, shift or sew? If you have an thoughts, please share.
For my next project I was going to sew a full muslin for a jacket that I was then going to make up in suede in April for the Pattern Review lined jacket competition. I am very good at sewing long projects bit by bit (think 2 years hand piecing a quilt if you want the evidence) but frankly I'm worried. Sewing a suede jacket is a huge challenge, and if I had some decent time to do it I'd be up for it, but an hour's sewing at the end of day when I'm exhausted is just asking for trouble. Suede cannot be unpicked. There can be no errors. There's no way I have the mental energy for this kind of project.
Burda parka: 01-2009-104, hood #126
Gore-tex, $14, thermal mesh lining $6, washers,$3, thread,$3, elastic $3, tracing paper,$2, zipper and buttons $7 = $38.
To sew Gore-tex:
- microtex needle 70/10
- stay stitch then clip into corners and bends, fabric has no ease.
- moderate iron, use a clapper to flatten seams
- top stitch down anything that will "poof" up. Raglan sleeve seams, hood central seam etc.
- the fabric is naturally stiff - no need for interfacing
- fabric does not fray
- lining is recommended for comfort and protection of the gore-tex layer - usual linings are microfleece or mesh - anything quick to dry and breathable. However, in NZ purchased gore-tex clothing is more often than not left unlined.
- to seal the seams, Pack'n'Pedal in Albany sells seam sealant and waterproofing spray.They will do a credit card phone order and courier service.