Thursday, July 11, 2019

Those Crazy Haslam Sleeves

Now for the hard part - the sleeves.  This is where I had the most questions.  The armscye gave me a bit of trouble, but that was an easy fix.  

My most pressing issue was the fact that the only image of the garment is not entirely clear on how those sleeves are put together.  There is the illustration and the line drawing of the back view.  Now, is the gathered portion a part of the lower hemmed edge, or is it inserted into a seam and completely drawn up?  I couldn't come up with a definitive answer, so I just went with what felt right.

For most of the dress, I cut my pieces using a 5/8" seam allowance.  However, for the sleeve, I gave myself a little extra room to play with where I could.  I also needed to contend with narrow seam allowances in a fabric that likes to fray.  For the almost dart like parts, I used this technique with the help of a couple of squares of silk organza.  I can't tell you how often this comes in handy, even in places you might not expect.

Once that corner was reinforced and clipped, the center portion of the sleeve was gathered up to fit the legs of the matching seamline.

That gives a lovely fullness at the lower sleeve.  I decided to draw up the fullness completely, and not incorporate any of the gathering into the actual hem.

That gives a very puffy look to the outside portion of the sleeve.

The insides, of course, are not as pretty.

The hem allowance would cover and protect a portion of the raw edges, but not the whole thing. 

My solution was to hand stitch a small rectangle with finished edges to the top of the raw edges.

And, of course, the other seams were finished with rayon seam binding.

And then for the most exciting part . . . seeing what they look like on the actual dress!

So far, I like it!

Sunday, July 7, 2019

The Saga of the Jelly Roll Rug

After a year or more of use, my knitted kitchen rugs started to look a little worse for wear.  They were also very lightweight and didn't like to stay put.  I cannot recall when I first came across a #jellyrollrug, but once I saw one, my mind wouldn't let go of the idea of replacing one with the other.

I started small, with the idea to replace the dog bowl rug.  An actual Jelly Roll was not used.  Instead, I gathered scraps of fabric that I thought would look nice together, purchased a few small cuts of quilting cotton, and ripped my 2.5" wide strips along the cross grain.  Cotton batting was cut into 2.25" wide strips.

I started at the ironing board and wrapped the batting in my cotton strips.  Eventually, this got old, and I decided that the ironing step was unnecessary.  I would just fold the layers together at the sewing machine.

For the first rug, I used my 42" wide strips laid side to side in an order that I found pleasing.

There was no need to join the ends of the fabric/batting tubes since the 42" minus the trimmed selvedge ends was going to be wide enough for my rug.  To finish the sides, I just used another strip of fabric and bound the edges.  It's not perfectly rectangular, but it certainly works, and I think it looks rather pretty!

Of course, once I made the first one, I wanted a larger version to replace the boring gray rug in the living room.  That was definitely going to need more than the 42" strips, so I needed to join at least some of the ends.

Once I came up with a color/print order, I joined the seams along the bias, trimming the excess off after I had a long chain of 2.5" wide fabric.

The next step was to wrap the fabric around more cotton batting until I had a big ball of fabric rope.

The idea for this rug was to make it into a half circle shape, or something similar; large enough to fit the coffee table, but rounded at one end to save on fabric.

Well, my sewing machine table is set against a wall, and once the rug began to grow, it was a struggle to manage.  There is a rippled portion, the rows are definitely not straight, and I had to trim more of the edges than I wanted to, making this much too small for the living room.  The only good thing was that it could replace the other knitted rug in the kitchen.

So, not an entirely successful project, but I think it has charm, and it does work in the space.

But I wasn't over the fact that I wanted a pretty rug to replace the boring gray one.  So a couple of weeks later, I was back at it, making a very large fabric rope ball for my next Jelly Roll Rug.

This time around, I decided to go for the original oblong shape.  And that's where things went really wrong.  I love my colors, and I love the idea, but fighting with an ever growing rug in a small space, with a wall to contend with, and the weigh of the rug dropping off the side of the table every chance it gots was not an easy thing.  I was determined to get through.

I was ironing everything flat at each turn, and checking that it was laying flat for the first bunch of rows, until the floor space in the sewing room could no longer accommodate the growing rug, nor could my standard ironing board.  I stuck it out, hoping that I could iron the thing into submission once I was finished.  But once I brought it downstairs to iron on the floor with some old towels laid down, I saw what a huge problem I had.  No amount of steam or starch or a combination of both was going to get this thing to lay flat.  So I had a hissy fit and ripped the whole thing apart.  And then I put the fabric ball away.

A few days ago I was still glaring at the discarded rope when a thought crossed my mind.  People without an extra sewing room use the dining room table as a temporary sewing table all the time; in fact, I used to do the same thing.  I am so very grateful to have a dedicated space, but in this case, I though the extra room just might save this project.  So I cleared everything off, brought the sewing machine down, and pulled out a bunch of books to give myself a semi flat working space.  Best of all, no wall to fight directly behind the machine!

I also put a towel down and brought the iron downstairs to check my progress.  The corners were cupping slightly, but I was able to iron them flat along the way.

That is not to say it wasn't a lot of working fighting this monster as she grew larger and larger.  The finished measurements are 67" x 40".  I am not sure how many 42" strips are in this rug, but I think there are considerably more than 40 of them (the standard Jelly Roll number, I believe).

Everything was going fairly well until the last few yards of fabric rope.  Then the machine started acting up.  Grrrrr.  I suspect that my needle had enough and perhaps bent slightly.  Well, I got myself a new one and started again, only to have it break as I was pushing the end under.  I suppose I may have been stitching too fast for the added thickness.  Well, a third needle was employed to get through the last few inches of the project.

I gave her a final press, pulled the towel out, and weighted her down with books for a few hours.

Miraculously, I have a usable rug!  There is a little bit of waviness at the center, but overall, I am calling this a win.

And, most importantly, the gray rug is gone!  You can also see a bit of the hand braided and hand sewn rag rug I made a year ago in the background.  I am still convinced that hand sewing on a flat surface is the only real way to keep a larger sized rug completely flat, but I am very happy that this project turned out as well as it did in the end!

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Buttons, Buttons, and more Buttons

About those buttons . . .

Buttonholes just didn't seem right for this project.  So not only did I need to cover a whole lot of buttons, I also needed rouleau loops.  This gave me a chance to use up some of the oddly shaped scraps leftover from cutting out my dress.

And Shams bobby pin turning method is the only one that doesn't make me want to tear my hair out!

Once that was accomplished, I needed to cover my buttons.

My preferred covered button kit is one that has teeth on the upper portion of the mold that grabs the fabric and a bottom portion that snaps into place.  I have never had an issue with that type of covered button kit.  But the only option available in the size I wanted was the other kind where the back gets pressed into place.  I have had numerous buttons pop off, often as I am putting a garment on.  Granted, they are usually the smaller sized buttons, but I don't like the thought of my button top falling off, never to be found again.  Also, to add insult to injury, I have been scratched by the remaining piece that is stitched into place since the inside of that piece has rough edged metal were the shank is inserted.

What I have discovered is that the real trick to making these covered button forms work is glue!  I know, I hate using glue on fabric and avoid it at all costs, but in this case, it really is necessary.  Wrap the upper portion of the button in your fabric, place it in the mold, push the excess fabric toward the center and drop a bit of glue in the center.  Then put the back piece into the mold and push it into place using the stopper (I like to use an old thread spool to help keep enough pressure to get that back piece all the way into the button form).  Pop the covered button out of the mold and let it sit for a bit until the glue dries.

Now that I had my buttons, I used my new-to-me simflex sewing gauge to evenly space my button and rouleau loops.

You can apply the bias loops to the garment in a long serpentine manner, which I often see done.

I choose to apply individual piece for a couple of reasons.  Number one, I hate turning the bias strips right side out, and the smaller the length, the easier that step tends to be.  Second, it saves fabric if I can use small little scraps for individual loops instead of worrying about finding a bias piece of fabric long enough for my entire opening.  Third, I think this makes it easier to make sure they are all uniform in size.

And then I needed to figure out some kind of placket.  Again, no instructions included with the Haslam System of Dresscutting; this usually doesn't present much of a problem, but it does make me put on my thinking cap.  And when I want to be sure something is going to work, I pull out some fabric scraps and try it out.  Better to mess up with scraps than have to pick something apart in my good fabric!

For the back shield piece, I cut straight of grain pieces of fabric.

Those pieces were applied to the center back opening edges.

The raw edges were encased and then turned under.

I also edge stitched like any other facing.  This keeps the facing from peeking out, but also secures those loops with an extra line of stitching.

Which gives me a finished opening.  For the button side of the opening, that facing was cut wider and it extends past the seamline to create a shield.

And now all that is left for the center back opening is to stitch a whole lot of buttons into place!