Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The First Cut is the Deepest

Contrary to what I believed, the Earth did not open up at my feet and swallow me, nor did the yarn immediately run and destroy weeks of knitting when I made the first cut. It turns out that the process of blocking the knit had stabilized fabric and it behaved same as any yardage I had purchased from the fabric center.
Because I intended to add beads to the knit after it was constructed, I had to add extra stabilizer to help hold the weight of the beads. It is quite surprising how heavy beads become when sewn on and the weight can distort the fabric. I solved this dilemma by fusing black iron-on stabilizer to the back of the knit pieces. Once it was fused, I used black thread and "stitched in the ditch" at two inch intervals with the grain of the knit. I then serged around the outline of each piece, carefully following contrast thread. The serger cut away the excess fabric as I serged and tied the stabilizer to the knit piece. That completed, I sewed the individual pieces together and pressed the seams flat.

In the photo of the right sleeve above, you can see the black stabilizer, the "stitches in the ditch", the serged edges, and the pressed seams.
At this point, I was ready to begin construction of the ultra suede bands. I chose to combine both the black and the turquoise ultra suede into the same band. Ultra suede is wonderful to work with because it is fairly forgiving. Unlike true leather, if you make a mistake with the sewing machine, you can simply pull out the stitching, brush it up and start over. With leather, the holes the sewing needle made will be present permanently. The best advise when working with leather is to get it right the first time.

Ultra suede has a nap so it was important to determine the direction of the nap and cut all of the pieces in the same direction relative to the nap.

The sewing pattern called for both neck and front bands. The bands had a front side and back side so the button holes needed to be set in place before the band was completed. It is also important to plan exactly where the buttons are to be placed on the band before making any cuts. Finally, when placing a buttonhole, remember that a button will sit at the top of the buttonhole when it is buttoned. The wrong placement of the button and band can skew the entire neckline.

I next pinned the bands onto the knit part of the jacket so that I could check how it lined up on the jacket. I also wanted to see how the buttons looked now that I could see the actual jacket. I liked the effect of the turquoise center band but immediately saw that my original choice of buttons (small, shiny and solid black) was not the effect that I wanted. I decided to shop for different buttons before I completed the band. Eventually, I found a set of blue and black oval buttons with a beige stripe. They were exactly the look I wanted so I bought them and was back in business.
At this stage I also tried on the jacket and marked the length of the sleeves and the length of the jacket. You can see the pins in the sleeves and on the bands marking the proper lengths.

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