Fabrics!

embarking on an adventure for personal gain

A 100% linen for a jacket, scarlet batiste for underlining.

The 100% linen for the outer garment and the scarlet batiste for underlining.

I am using the last few days of my sewing studio in style: sewing my daughter a linen traveling suit for entry in Threads Magazine’s “Express Yourself in Linen” sewing contest.

It’s funny; I’d just “discovered” linen recently for my own sewing as I’d attempted a few projects from a fiber-dyed neutral brown.  I’d decided linen might feel cool and breezy but wrinkled unappealingly and made everything sacklike – fit only for for casual clothes my kids would summer in.  I then happened upon the Threads contest which featured this lovely article by Susan Khalje (I took an online handstitching class from Ms. Khalje – she is a fabulous teacher and a skilled couture artisan). The contest came just in time, because I’d loved the linen but had treated it clumsily.  Time to try again!

I’ve decided to make my daughter View A and C of the Burda 9671 pattern – a blazer accompanied by stovepipe-legged, zip fly slacks.  I’m going to alter it a bit to fit her long, slim build – but not too much, going for a loose, 20’s style travel costume (hopefully accompanied by a handknitted cloche).  My daughter is getting old enough to venture off in the world by herself – and also travels with her grandmother quite a bit – and she loves traveling by bus or train.  I’ll create an ensemble so she can do so in style!

First I measured my daughter – at 130 cm she is about a size 128 (US size 8).  Her waist at 20 1/2″ corresponds to an 86 cm, or 18 month size.  I decided instead to insert darts or pintucks into the shoulder of the 128 cm blazer, and go with a 128 cm pant, using a size 110 cm (or US 5) waistband and back yoke, with pleats and darts in the front and back of the larger leg pieces.  With the aid of the belt and careful hemming the garment should fit her for a while – the coat and slacks with a loose design around limb.

The last few days I’ve spent pretreating and pressing fabric, then tracing tracing tracing:

I do not cut patterns, I trace them - every time.

I do not cut patterns, I trace them - every time.

I lost track of the number of pieces I had to trace.  I sat at my glass-topped table and painstakingly ironed each pattern piece, traced it, refolded the original pattern, and at the end of the process slid them all back into the envelope in numerical order.  With the summer wind, the sounds of my neighbors, the accompaniment of my wee kitten, it was a pretty pleasant affair.

Next I cut the batiste: this is the fabric with the most large pieces to be cut, so I wanted to make sure my three yards was adequate.  As it turned out I had plenty left over.

The batiste is a joy to cut and work with - it doesnt shift, and feels smooth to the touch.

The batiste is a joy to cut and work with - it doesn't shift, and feels smooth to the touch.

For the pocket underlining and lining, I cut from a light grey cotton very similar to the batiste (a gift from my friend Shasta).  This way the vibrant red won’t show on the outside of the jacket, at the pocket seams (I will show you what I mean when I stitch the pocket.

Above you can see my pre-treated interfacing in the foreground, hanging off my ironing board.  I only recently discovered one must pre-treat interfacing for the best results.  This is easy: I simply washed the interfacing in lukewarm water, gently squeezed it, and hung it to dry.  I’m using a lightweight interfacing for the project to help result in as light a lined jacket as possible.

After cutting the pieces of batiste and interfacing, I moved onto the linen. Lightweight linen will shift easily; I found finding an individual grain line in the center of the yardage, folding and gently straightening, then looking down the lengthwise grain of the folded yardage to be an excellent way to get a good layout.

Finding the grain of a yarn-dyed or thread-dyed fabric is delightfully easy.

Finding the grain of a yarn-dyed or thread-dyed fabric is delightfully easy.

After cutting the linen and the Bemberg rayon lining (for the upper- and under-sleeve, the two side panels, and the front and back pieces) I carefully fused the interfacing to the collar pieces, pocket facings, front facing, back neckline facing, and slack waistband.  I then pinned together the linen and batiste.

The warm red of the batiste should show through this lightweight of a linen and warm the color up; when working with linen any underlining must be considered due to this effect.

The warm red of the batiste should show through this lightweight of a linen and warm the color up; when working with linen any underlining must be considered due to this effect.

By the end of all my cutting if you were to come in and muss my careful piles of pieces you’d be mussing a total of seventy-four pieces of fabric including the shell linen, red and grey underlinings and pocket underlinings, the interfacing, and the lining.  For those who don’t sew, most of these were cut on the fold, so it was much more like cutting thirty seven indivudual pieces.  Needless to say, even with a new rotary blade, my wrists hurt a bit after all this.

The next steps will be to attach the underlining and the linen, then to serge-finish the edges for ravelling.  Traditional tailoring techniques would have me baste each pair together, fold the piece around a magazine around the grainline (to represent the cylindrical nature of torso, arms, legs), and reposition the underlining accordingly, then hand-baste throughout the piece.  This time-intensive effort does not seem necessary given the lightness of the jacket; we shall see how the results reward us.

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