|The best way to finish a project|
Since my aesthetic/style leans toward a classic/vintage vibe, I chose a couple of tried 'n' true patterns from Gretchen Hirsch's first book, Gertie's New Book for Better Sewing -- the Portrait Blouse, and the High-Waisted Pencil Skirt, both of which I have made before (once for the skirt, three versions of the blouse) -- and, because I had the time and the inclination, I opted to use older/couture techniques whenever possible.
I made the skirt first, but with a couple of tweaks. Instead of the unfaced vent of the original, I used a small portion of the fabric remnants to cut an 8-inch radius quarter-circle to use as a godet to allow for walking room. It also gives the side profile of the skirt a flattering flip. I may make another version with a centre front seam and godets in all the seams. Not a lot of construction photos, alas.
|Tailor's tacks marking the darts|
|Basting the darts|
What I don't have any photos of, is the waist of the skirt. Instead of doing a stiff waistband that would be binding and potentially uncomfortable (and harder to alter), I simply cut a strip of the fabric, sewed it to the waist, and wrapped it around the seam allowances of the waist seam, stitching "in the ditch" from the right side to secure it invisibly. (I learned this technique from my mother's copy of The Bishop Method of Clothing Construction.) The waist is fastened with a single hook and eye above the lapped zipper. The hem was hand stitched.
Once I had laid out and cut the pieces of the blouse (aside from the full bust adjustment, I lengthened the body pieces to ensure that I could tuck it in and added width to ensure that it wouldn't ride up over my hips), I realized that the fabric was prone to fraying, so instead of my usual zigzag finish, I would have to use enclosed edge methods. I started by using a sew-in interfacing, attached right sides together to the blouse facing. I then clipped the seams, turned the pieces wrong sides together, and under-stitched the seam allowances by hand, using a prick stitch (a teeny-tiny backstitch), which is virtually invisible on the outside. Diagonal basting held the pieces together while I prepared the neckline of the body.
|Detail of hand under-stitching and wrong side of hand top stitching of facing edge|
|Front top stitching detail|
|Diagonal basting of facing layers|
|Original hand basting of darts|
|Dark stitching is original basting, Longest white stitching line is |
the final dart line
Once I had the dart placement resolved, I sewed the shoulder seams as French seams, and pressed them toward the back of the garment before attaching the facing. The seams were then graded, clipped, pressed, and hand under-stitched.
|Stay stitching and hand basting on neckline|
|Sewing the pieces together permanently|
|Can you see it? Hand understitching of the facing seams|
The final stage was hemming the cut-on cap sleeves and the bottom. Because the fabric was rather slithery and I was dealing with narrow hems (5/8-inch allowance), pressing the hem up on the ironing board was a nightmare. So I resorted to another DIY method. I turned up the edge over the end of my tape measure, pinned the crap out of everything, and hand basted close to the fold line. I then tucked the raw edge under against the first row of basting, pinned, and hand basted the top of the hem. The double row of basting (both edges of the hem) was shown in the first sewing book I ever owned (and still do), a gift from my parents when I was seven or eight: I think it was called The Complete Guide to Home Sewing, or something like that (I will correct the title when I find where it has ended up). I skipped the second row of basting on the curved edges of the armholes. To reinforce the arm openings, I finished with a tiny bar tack at the bottom of each one.
|Pinning and two rows of basting on the hem|
|Can you see the reinforcement?|
Also overcasting down the edges
of the armhole hem
|Front view on my dirty deck :(|
|And the rear view. Obviously the skirt |
needs another pressing