Showing posts with label Basting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Basting. Show all posts

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

You say pants but I say trousers

A few months ago The Much Belovéd arrived home with two new pairs of trousers both of them of the long unfinished hem variety.
"Would you be able to shorten these for me please?" he asked.
"Yes of course darling.  I would be delighted to help you with that."  I replied knowing full well that I have never pinned or hemmed expensive wool trousers before in my life.  The last time TMB got a tailor to do this for him I was less than complimentary about the outcome so let us just say that failure, on this occasion, would not be an option.

I have restitched the hems of my own trousers on the odd occasion when then have needed repair but I have never tackled the whole job from scratch and I knew I was going to need to top notch guidance on exactly what to do.

I turned to my copy of Roberto Cabrera and Patricia Flaherty Meyers, 'Classic Tailoring Techniques: A Construction Guide for Women's Wear', (New York 1984).  This may seem an odd choice as I was altering gent's trousers but at the time I wanted to buy Cabrera's book the Menswear version was rather hard and or expensive to track down.  It was republished towards the middle of last year so I now have a copy of both.  The instructions are concise but clear and equally applicable to trousers worn by men or women.

I had TMB try the trousers on with a pair of shoes and pinned up the legs so that the hem reached roughy the middle of the back of his shoe and broke gently on the instep at the front.  Cabrera and I both agree that this is the right length for trousers some modern retailers disagree and favour the concertina look!  I got him to walk around a bit, look in the mirror and try sitting down to get his approval on the length before he took the trousers off again.

The next step was to mark the fold of the hem on the right side using chalk.  Wow! Chalk really works much better on wool flannel than it does on cotton poplin.  The amount left was obviously far too much to turn under as a hem I would have to cut some of the fabric away.

So I chalked another line about two inches below...

Took a deep breath and chopped.  I was VERY nervous about cutting into these but needs must.  I didn't really like the way that my nice clean cut edge began to fray so quickly.  Maybe I should have used the pinking shears but I hadn't so there you go.  I used the scraps to trial a machine zigzag to finish the raw edge but I didn't like the outcome.

I opted instead for something decidedly more old school.  Over casting the edge by hand.  This is a technique I had seen in an online reproduction of a very old leaflet on seam finishes.  It took a bit of time but it sewing by hand without a deadline is very therapeutic, especially when the daylight is good.

I turned the trouser leg inside out and pinned the hem back up along the chalked fold line.

And then tacked the the hem up keeping the stitches about an inch down from the top of the hem.  A really great tip is to insert a piece of cardboard into the trouser leg to stop yourself from tacking one side of the leg right through to the other.  I used part of a cereal box.

Then I turned the trousers right side out again and steam pressed the hem flat - nice!

Then I stitched the hems by hand trying to keep my stitches small enough to be invisible and loose enough not to pucker.  The result was perhaps not the work of a master tailor but I was satisfied and even better than that so was the prospective wearer.  On balance I really enjoyed the challenge.  Working with wool was a nice change and I am sore tempted to set to and sew myself a pair of tailored trousers sometime during 2016.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

It's curtains… for the sewing room

I moved house twice in 2013.  I have been lucky in that both of the dwellings allow for a designated sewing room.  Some of you will remember the first one from the blog entry last Summer.  The second has seen more service as a spare bedroom than for sewing.  I think this is because it is equipped with a futon rather than a decent cutting table.  It does however have a fantastic 1930s sideboard in which to store fabric, haberdashery and patterns and the room has enough floorspace for the Singer 201K in its cabinet.

The previous owners left behind a black-out roller blind and an empty curtain track so I thought I would have a go at curtains.

I was inspired, in part by one of my Christmas presents [am I really blogging about Christmas presents in April?] Sewing Machine Basics by Jane Bolsover...

… which contains instructions on how to make sheer curtains…

...and partly by a pair of poly chiffon curtains that came from one of The Much Belovéd's previous residences.  The curtains would not typically be my first choice of fabric but they were unlikely to be used again elsewhere, sheer and would therefore work well with the existing blind, free and available and therefore of no consequence should I happen to ruin them.

I laid a curtain out on the floor which was the only place big enough to do so.  The top of the curtain was finished with a tab top and the bottom partially finished with an overlocker.  I suppose the idea was to hem them yourself to the required length.  I rather suspect that this pair of curtains may have been supplied with their own packed of fusible webbing for just that purpose.

The tab top wasn't going to be much use to me because the type of curtain track I had inherited so the first thing to do was to get rid of it.  I set about it with my sharp shears.  The nasty plasticky label also disappeared along with the top hem.  Imagine putting a great heavy label like that on an item made of transparent fabric!

This operation left me with a long piece of cloth, hemmed on two sides, overlocked across the bottom width, with raw across the top.  Each curtain was more or less the width of my window and, from what I had read, using both would give me a nice fullness when gathered over the window.

The next step was to turn my attention to that overlocked bottom edge.  I decided to look upon that partial finishing as a gift on this slippery sliding shifting fabric and use it to help me produce my hem.
I began by turning up 1½ inches.  I turn the folded edge up again so that the line of overlocking was enclosed by my first fold.  This gave the bottom hem a triple thickness and a nice bit of heft which should help with the hang of the finished curtains.   I felt the need to use a great many pins to hold this turning in place.  The fabric handled something like a cross between a crisp packet and a bin liner.

The instructions in the book are to pin and then hand baste (tack) every bit of sewing you do.  I am sure that this approach produces fantastically neat results… … eventually.  A big apology to the purists but I just couldn't face that kind of investment of time in a piece of second hand polyester.  I managed to produce a decent hem using plenty of pins and the 1936 Singer 99K hand crank.  The machine handled a fabric which would not be invented until five years after it was built pretty well I thought.  I was sure to use a light tension to avoid puckering though.  I used a cool iron to press the hem because I was terrified the fabric might melt.  It just about holds a crease but not for very long.  More on how things went at the other end of the curtain next time!

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Baby Fence Rail Pt VI

A couple of weekends ago I finally got to the shops to buy some wadding (batting) so that I can finish the Baby Fence Rail quilt.  That was the easy part.  I still needed to choose a backing fabric (remember the green stuff I bought for the purpose and then turned into a shirt?).  After trolling the streets of London for an hour or two I settled on some cassis-coloured (that's pale purple to you and I) cotton sateen lining fabric.  Surprisingly the colour combination works.

Having bought the missing ingredients I discovered new enthusiasm for this quilt.  So I wasted no time and gave the wadding a bath!  This is supposed to remove excess cotton oil which could mark the quilt and to preshrink the wadding.  Some people do and some people don't.  I guess I am just one of those guys who do.

With the wadding and backing fabric washed, preshrunk and dried I layered the quilt sandwich in the usual way.  Pausing only to spend a few minutes deliberating over the right/wrong side of the cotton sateen.  I decided to put the shiny side out.  I thought that this would feel nicest if anyone should try sleeping under the quilt.

When I sandwiched the Log Cabin quilt one of my readers was rather alarmed by how few pins I used in my basting and I solemnly swore to use more on my next project.  I even bought some fancy curved safety pins.  I basted at approximately four inches or less and here is a photograph to prove it.  I must confess that the whole thing feels a lot firmer and I am hoping it will make the quilting process easier.

Now for the really big news.  In an exclusive announcement made this evening our spokesman can confirm that this quilt will be quilted OUT of THE DITCH!!

I have started to mark the quilt top with inch wide masking tape.  I am going to quilt the centre of the quilt with a diagonal cross hatched grid.  Tomorrow, with a fair wind, I may get the Singer 401G out and lay down that first row of quilting...