Recently, I was inspired by a sweater I spotted in a high-end ladies clothing store and digitized the flowers, testing, tweaking and finalizing the designs. Then, I started the embroidery on the collar. I loved it! It’s everything I had hoped and envisioned. Frankly, I was excited about wearing it.
But first, I had to finish the jacket – you know, sew it together, the part where I’m not such an expert and I had to do it in one evening.
The jacket front and back, pockets, back and front yokes were pieced and draped on the dress form and had been for a week…waiting so patiently for sleeves, collar and facing. It was time. I had no choice but to sew the upper collar to the lower collar and attach it to the jacket, piece the facing and add it to the jacket. The pattern was adorable but slightly lacking in detailed instructions. No worries, I’ve made tons of garments. Hmm, but actually, it’s been a really LONG time since I tackled a garment like this. I’ve been embellishing blanks and the occasional from-scratch simple frock but a collar with facing? It’s been quite a while. In fact, I rarely WEAR clothes like that in my rather casual Texas lifestyle.
On top of the unfamiliarity of the required steps to attach the collar, I recently moved my sewing room to the first floor of my home. My sewing reference library is not as accessible as it once was, meaning, I really don’t know where the heck the information is that I needed to complete this project. And my own closet did not have one decent, similar example for me to examine. And it’s getting late, like 8:00 PM and the shoot is tomorrow, at 8:30 AM, model coming at 9:00 and the cash register starts to tick at 9:00. It has to be complete and beautiful in about 14 hours, during which I should try to catch at least 6 hours of sleep. Hopefully.
I was working with wool, a thick, luxurious cloth. The key words here are thick and luxurious. I chose it because it was luxurious. I hated it because it was thick. The seam allowances at the neckline would be cumbersome. I remembered the term, ‘grading.’ Great, that’ll do it, I’ll just grade the seam allowances and everything will lie flat. Fair enough. Of course, once you ‘grade’, it’s gone. No redos allowed – nothing more final than cutting, wouldn’t you agree? But it did lie flat after pressing with a lot of steam. But oh yeah, what about the roll of the collar? Hmm, the pattern doesn’t mention anything about that. But they also don’t have thick wool as a recommended fabric, just quilting cotton. Hmm, wonder why.
Of course, by this time, I’ve had the garment on and off my figure about a dozen times (because my one dress form lives in the office, not my home). And I’m trying to roll the collar on my figure (now I know why they don’t make the contestants sew for themselves on Project Runway) but I know I’ll burn myself if I try to press it while I’m wearing it but I am tempted. So it’s off, on, pin, off, press, on, pin again, off, wipe the sweat off my neck, on, pin, off and press. It’s gorgeous – from the front.
From the back…not so much. The under collar is peeking out beyond the upper collar. Of course, for the photo shoot, it won’t matter because we know the magic of double-stick tape. But I know it’s wrong and it’ll bug me every time I wear it.
I collapse into bed around midnight and set the alarm for 5:45. I still have to add buttonholes (oh joy) and buttons. I didn’t want to tackle that exhausted. In the wee hours of the morn, I attempt to cover buttons with the wool fabric. I have tons of buttons but the fabric-covered shank buttons will be the perfect finishing touch. I’m a little stubborn when it comes to the finishes – it really has to be perfect. But the wool is too thick for the flimsy, do-it-yourself button blanks. And I really need a hammer to force the metal back onto the button. I can’t find a hammer – ANYWHERE! And I’m getting older, my hands hurt! I keep thinking about the photography studio and all the tools and muscle that are there. They’ve bailed me out before; I’ll count on them to do it again.
Frustrated, I mock up a button so I can measure how large the buttonhole needs to be. I make the buttonholes – not perfect but good enough – and head to the studio.
The absolute highest complement we receive here at Designs is when the photography studio gushes over an embroidered project. They have high standards and are used to seeing beautiful things – and people – everyday. They loved the jacket. I was thrilled. Sheepishly, I said, “Well, I need a little help on the buttons.” Steve Woods, the head photographer and dear friend, jumped right in. He had a hammer. But ha, it wouldn’t work for him either. Eventually we succumbed to hot glue and told the model to be very gentle on the buttons.
Later that evening, I researched a solution to my problem and stumbled upon the term: turn of cloth. Duh. The under collar must be cut a bit smaller than the upper collar to accommodate for turn of cloth. Really, I should have known better, for heaven’s sake, I learned about turn of cloth ages ago. That’s what I get for focusing on the fun part – the embroidery!
How about you? Have you had a similar experience? Tackled something that you thought was going to be easy but instead was humbled by the challenge? I’d love to hear about it! This week we’re giving away Machine Embroidery with Confidence by Nancy Zieman.
Last week we wanted to know what your favorite embroidery blanks are. The winner of Contemporary Machine-Embroidered Fashions is…Mitzi Barker!
“I enjoy creating very personalized t-shirts, working from 50/50 blank shirts – your tip on decreasing the density of the design solves a problem for me! Thank you for the great ideas, tips, and inspiration I get from your newsletters, magazine and blog.”
Didn’t win the giveaway? We have something else for you this week. We’re excited to announce we now have a Facebook page! Head on over to Facebook, become a fan of our page and get a coupon code for $5.00 off any purchase from our website, www.dzgns.com.