Friday, March 2, 2007

The Homestretch

It was with a sense of relief that I finished beading the last butterfly. It had taken me roughly eight and one-half months to complete them all. The beads added a new dimension to the knit fabric. The facets of the bugle beads caught the light and sparkled each time the jacket moved. The sequins reflected light and added more sparkle. I was very pleased with the overall effect, but, as I stated before, the sheer number of beads added a surprising amount of extra weight to the jacket. Because the back of the jacket had the most butterflies (and therefore most of the weight), I had to find an additional way to prevent the back from stretching. I solved the problem via the lining.
Vogue pattern 2218 calls for a lining. I chose to use blue silk and a piece of the same color turquoise ultra suede. After I cut all of the pattern pieces out for the lining I set the back piece to one side. I then drew a shallow arc midway up onto the pattern with a french curve, used the altered pattern piece to cut an additional upper back piece from the ultra suede. and joined the lower blue silk back piece to the upper ultra suede piece. For flash of color, I used a brightly colored fabric the delineate the border between the silk and ultra suede via a seaming technique known as the"Hong Kong Finish".
At about this same time, I purchased a Husqvarna Designer SE sewing matching with embroidery unit. My nine year old son, Kenny, insisted that I embroidery some butterflies onto the lining.
Off we went for "an adventure". Kenny had a wonderful time at our local sewing and notions store. He carefully studied the displays of the various embroidery companies, finally settling on three disks that had butterflies which he deemed were "the perfect ones". Once back home, Kenny and I spend the afternoon templating the patterns and mapping out the colors were wanted to use in each butterfly. We then cut out the templates and pinned then onto the lining. This allowed me to check both the placement and the orientation of each butterfly. We used a computer software program to modify the colors of the butterflies so that they blended together.
Embroidering the ultra suede yoke was a challenge. Embroidery machines tends to fill in colors with densely placed stitches. On fabric, this is not much of a problem. But on ultra suede, densely places stitches can literally "punch" out the design and leave a butterfly shaped hole where the design should be. I solved this problem by embroidering the design onto water soluble stabilizer, dissolving the stabilizer, the using the sewing machine to applique the design into the desired position. Once all the butterflies were embroidered in place, I used a built in "fancy stitch" to create free form trails of a butterfly's flight path. I then added a handmade label and basted the lining into place. The jacket was nearly done.

Ultimately, I embroidered seven butterflies onto the lining in colors which matched the colors found in the fabric I used for the Hong Kong Finish. I was in the homestretch. All that was left was the addition of my buttons and hemming the sleeves and lower edge of the jacket.

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