I am rather excited: I am sewing a pretty simple looking white summer top out of only two pieces, plus bias strips and I get to try three new things I never attempted before.
I am using bias strips, as already mentioned, haven’t used those in dressmaking before (I did use a few for quilt binding, so at least they’re not new-new to me).
I sewed my first French seams – which felt oddly scary before I tried them - what if a whole strip of fabric shows on the right side? What if I try to cut those bits and make holes? What if frayed bits and thread ends protrude? What if... Huh, yeah, funny: none of that happened.
I must say that that I only did a scant quarter inch of the seam with the wrong sides together, and then a very generous quarter inch with right sides together. The fabric is pretty thin so after pressing these seams look beautiful. I am very pleased with them!
And the best of all the new things: I am trying bias cut for the first time!
I was going to do two halves for both the front and the back and use centre seams - because fabrics cannot be made evenly woven anymore: the tension from warp and weft are slightly different from the manufacturing process so when you cut a whole front or back piece at a 45 degree bias then one half is going to behave differently than the other half.
Cutting two halves at symmetrical orientation and sew together with a centre seam is supposed to avoid this.
I didn’t bother in the end because the fabric piece wouldn’t have yielded four halves and I didn’t want to piece one of the halves. So I am trying full pieces to see how that goes. I will try the centre seam idea with a different fabric at some point later – just to compare.
It is going really well and I’m thoroughly enjoying how stretchy the fabric is when cut on the bias: you don’t need a zip or other opening, this slightly loose top is so stretchy that you can pull in on over your head and the fabric nor the cut is worse for, err, tear – I should say pulling. Oh well, not my best pun...
I haven't attached the bias strips yet to the armholes and the neckline. I cut them slightly wider because I was worried about the wavy pin tuck lines that are a feature of this fabric. I would have preferred cutting the strips from areas without tucks but didn’t manage. So I cut them wider but then ironed them folded double as instructed by the pattern.
I think I should be able to just trim them lying double to the width I need. If it doesn't work I can cut some more, I have fabric left. If these strips don’t work that I cut lengthwise along the pin tucks, then I can try cutting them “against” the grain – but I really want to avoid the bulkiness from those tucks. Perhaps I should try ripping out the tucks and working with fabric rendered flat?
I shall have a think about this.
I am so very happy about my learning experience from just this one little top that looks so deceptively simple. I was not planning on French seams when I started, they just seemed a good idea. It feels like such a fabulous thing to be able to add these seams as a sewing technique to my tool kit!
I also wondered if I should do inner facings against the armhole and neckline edges like I always do, but I didn’t fancy them turning inside out when you put the top on. They would also show up quite a bit because the fabric is so thin. Also, I should think about making a suitable slip to wear underneath this – it is that see-through. Something with thin straps and a very simple shape that drapes well around your body, that would do a good job. Not out of satin though, that would be too thick and satin is such a pain to sew.
But it’s the bias cut that’s the revelation: I had no idea how pleasant it feels to have a bias-cut garment hug you when you wear it. How nicely it skims over your curves. It is just such a lovely feeling to wear something this supple and slidey. If I didn't dislike satin so much I would want to do a black satin number, perhaps a slip or negligee (not to go with this, as a separate project) – maybe I can find a way of getting around the slipperiness to make satin a bit more easy to sew with? (There is a gelatine trick I could try)
I will definitely make more bias cut garments. They do take a lot more fabric (of which I have more than plenty!) and are a pain to cut out (getting that 45 degree angle right ain’t all that easy) but it makes for such beautiful garments that are a pleasure to wear!
The next one will have to be in a fabric with an exciting pattern. I almost used a plaid before I realised that this tartan is printed at a 45 degree angle so a bias-cut would have put the tartan back into right angles. I didn’t think it would look all that exciting when the original fabric would be fantastic cut on the grain.
I need to dive back into my fabric stash. I had quite a hard time finding this fabric to use but I’m pleased I went with this one: the pin tuck wavy lines come out great on the bias – it wouldn’t have looked as interesting at a straight grain.
It is so lovely to learn a new sewing technique! Such fun.