Saturday, September 18, 2010

Clean finishes and "Just one more seam...."

I'm working on another version of the vintage Simplicity 1577 dress. This time I'm making it sleeveless. I really should move on to a different pattern, but I adore the pocket treatment in this pattern.

Anyway, I'm sewing the dress in seersucker and have lined it fully in cotton. The raw edges of the seersucker are a mess, so I decided to do some seam finishing beyond pinking the edges over a trash can.

I used this tutorial from the Slapdash Sewist to clean finish the bodice. It is totally amazeballs. Seriously. I loved how nice and smooth the interior of the bodice was so then I did french seams on the sides. Which was a little bulky but will press out. Of course once I had done all that, I decided to do a french seam to attach the bodice to the skirt. Then came the agony and madness of french seams (which I always mentally calling "frenching" and end up giggling a little).

My friend Jan taught me how to do french seams several years ago when I decided to sew a costume kimono out of silk brocade. The fabric instantly started raveling and I was frustrated (and covered in bits of poly silk thread). Jan rescued me with the revelation of doing french seams to completely enclose the raw edges. She had worked in a fabric store at one point where her manager was very insistent on the matter of frenching (HAH) seams.

Anyway, I haven't owned pinking shears for maybe 10 years (which is tragic) so my seams have either been entirely unfinished and sloppy or carefully done french seams.

I know opinions are split on "clean finishing" techniques. Should the inside should be as beautiful as the outside? Are simpler finishing techniques like pinking the seams just as fine? It's good to have lots of information about techniques. I especially love bloggers who provide detailed tutorials with photographs. Thank you thank you! That said, in the end I'm going to go with what works for me and in some cases it's which technique will annoy me less.

The thing about french seams is that while I really love them in theory, in practice they often drive me crazy. Inevitably either on the longest seam or the fiddliest (sometimes on both!) I will mess up which sides are sewn together first. This leaves with me two options: 1) rip out the seam and redo so it's properly enclosed 2) say "fuck it", run a seam that is at the proper 5/8" and then pink along the raw fabric.

The likelihood of not starting my french seam correctly increases exponentially as the length of the sewing session increases. And yet, I keep on going "just one more seam and then I'll go to sleep. Just one more seam..." And that next seam will of course be botched and need to be redone.

The waist band seam on my dress is likely to be pinked in the morning. I also realized in my "just one more seam" enthusiasm I forgot a minor detail....a side zipper. Hopefully I can wriggle in and out of the dress without it.

Tomorrow I'll show some pictures of the dress on the form, and plan my next garment. I'm thinking of doing a skirt or dress with stripes as part of the design. Stripes forming chevrons, etc. Or I might be sensible and cut a dress with 3/4 length sleeves for the coming fall and winter of coldness.