Sunday, September 17, 2006

American Beauty - Coat - Part VIIIc

Part VIIIc?!?!?

Don't ask, I kind of feel like I'm stuck on this issue and can't post new stuff until I get it resolved and move forward. Which is what I'm doing with this post - resolving and moving on!

Thank you ladies who have put in some comments and suggestions! They are appreciated no matter how insignificant you may think they are. I get ideas and inspiration from all sources - talented people in sewing and art and those that are not either of those things.

Ok, so what did I decide? Well, I was thinking some of the same thing as Lynn - in order to make this work, I need to bring that lighter color somewhere else visible on the coat. The facings are that color, but as facings, you usually don't see them. I'm thinking a quilted band along the bottom, will have to do a faced hem, but that's appealing - quilted yoke and hem, and fur cuffs and collar. Seems fairly balanced. Vicki and Patsijean both suggested that yoke/coat seam needed something. I like the idea of a piping in the yoke/body seam, too, it needs a little something and is a bit dull at the moment. I could do an uncrushed velvet piping, that's darker - oooo - and put that between the yoke/coat and coat/hem band, too. Or . . . . I could do a entre-duex strap seam on those seams with little red beads, just like I'm going to do on the princess seams of the dress. Hmmmm . . . I've been wanting to put beads or something sparkly on the coat. Yes, now you know, I'm a bead, sequin and rhinestone magpie. I really do love prettily beaded things, not overdone, unless its a silly piece anyway (I've done those and will share another time!). Great, now I have to decide! I really like where this is headed now! I'm excited again and need to get back into the studio and off this computer. I can at least finish up the cuffs and get those on the coat and start work on the bottom bands.

Thanks again for the comments, this is why I started blogging - it helps so much to have opinions and other sets of eyes looking at what I've looked at too long. You get that tunnel vision and an outside perspective is really great!

I'll post an update in a few days. I have to substitute teach Algebra II and Chemistry tomorrow for a colleague who is going to a conference in Connecticut, I teach my own classes on Tuesday and am hiking Mt. Moosilauke on Wed. (new hiking boots, yeah!). Soooooooo . . . . I've got work to do!
American Beauty - Coat - Part VIIIb

Some things look better in the morning . . . .

So I slept on the whole dilemma. I was planning on working on it last night, but sat and watched TV with my husband instead. I've decided to go with Option A. I have put a lot of time and work into this already. For the most part, I am happy with the results. Appliquing the roses of the lining in two red tones, plus the sheer with the two tone roses, plus handmade roses in both reds will unify the whole thing. So, it's full speed ahead.

Let's back up a bit though. I didn't show you the crushing of the velvet. Very easy to do and if you don't like the result, you can always wash it in the washing machine and try it again. Threads March 2004, has excellent instructions for this process, but I'll put in my own details here.

Basically, you lay the velvet face up on the ironing board and gather a section with your fingers. This ends up being about 6 inches wide or so. The gathers don't have to be even, and actually that's the point. Then, with a hot iron (correct temp for the vevlet fibers!) and full steam, iron those gathers flat. This will flatten the nap on the top, but the fabric within the folds will remain uncrushed. Let fabric cool, and move on to another section. I crushed the whole 4+ yards and then cut out the pattern pieces.

I've got one cuff faced and ready to put on the sleeve, and will get the other one done today. I can then work on the facings and the fur collar. I tried on the coat yesterday and I think the collar will need some trimming off. It's a bit too big, but I knew that I wouldn't really know how it would look until this stage. I'll have to see about that button/closure, too.

Once the front facing/fur collar is done, it's on to the lining. Well, if I ever get the 10 yards of white silk that I ordered two weeks ago. I've enquired via emial, and it should be here this week. I need it not only for the coat lining, but for the dress!

Saturday, September 16, 2006

American Beauty - Coat - Part VIII

I am so bummed . . .

I got the coat body together with the yoke last night. After I crushed the velvet, of course. The sewing was fine. The color is not. The yoke and the body don't match in color. The yoke is a strawberry red and the body is more of a true lipstick red. I knew they wouldn't be exact - nothing is, but I didn't count on the wash pulling so much of the dye out of the silk. I don't know what I was thinking in going ahead and making the yoke. I probably have enough velvet to redo the yoke in velvet, but just enough - I bought all the rest of the velvet on the hanger, so there isn't any more. I won't have enough to do the facings for the body or the cuffs, either. If I buy more dupionni, I can't wash it, but then I'll have the bleeding dye issue all over again.

Right now, I really don't even want to think about it. I have an entry deadline, Oct. 1, for a show I was hoping to put the coat in. I could put in Little Red Empress in stead. Now I'm stalled a bit. I know I can make the deadline - I only need the standard pictures - front, back, and detail. The lining doesn't have to be done. But the colors not matching . . . . that's a problem. No matter how well stitched, no matter how many couture details, if the colors don't match or at least coordinate it's not going to fly. I've spent a lot of time and money on this and I'm not happy with the result. Here's another nasty twist - the sheer fabric with the flocked roses - remember that? The roses are two different colors - yes, would you believe it, the red of the yoke and the red of the body. They are the strawberry red, with darker red edges - you do have to take a good look at them, though.

Rant over. Now for the reality. I need to do something. Realistic ideas:

Option A: Leave it. Don't dwell on it. Pretend like it's ok for the coat fabrics not to match. Maybe if I do the appliques on the lining in both colors it will tie the whole mess together. Maybe the American Quilt Society National Show judges won't notice, either. Coordinating reds, not anal retentively matched reds. Right. . . .

Option B: Make yoke out of uncrushed velvet. Requilt everything, including trapunto rose. Make facings out of white dupionni with white fur. Problem is - velvet shows holes. No restitching allowed. Ummmmm, I don't think so, at least not after the experience with the first trapunto.

Option C: Make yoke out of white dupionni, no color matching required, but risk looking like a candy cane or barber pole, or worse, Santa Claus. This might work if I redid the fur in white. Since the fur for the cuffs is made and one cuff is ready for stitching on, this isn't a really attractive option.

Here are the pics, as bad as it is. I can't account for your computer monitor, but I did take this stuff out in the sunlight after taking the pictures, and it really doesn't matter what kind of light it's in. The top one is the closest to reality. I stuck a cuff up around the neck to get a feel for how the collar will look. The second one was taken with flash, and is a bit washed out, but shows the crushed velvet, nicely.

If any one wants to vote on the options, or has any ideas, let me know. Off to percolate - this is off my chest, and acutally Option A is looking pretty good . . . .

Monday, September 11, 2006

American Beauty - Coat - Part VII

Drip, Drip, Drip . . . .

I'm still percolating over the front button, so I've decided to list what I can do and why it might or might not work.

Hook and eye: Just boring, and an easy way out.

Grommet and Toggle: Too casual for this coat.

Vintage Button and Buttonhole: Might work, finding a unique large button to go with the fabric might be tricky. Handpainted ones are nice, but are too "shabby chic" for my tastes. Living in the boontoolies doesn't help in locating these gems either. I've done several rounds through the net's greatest flea market, but nothing's quite right.

Rhinestone Button and Buttonhole: I'd probably have to get this off the net, again, hoping to get a match.

Covered Button and Buttonhole: Easy, but too obvious of a solution.

Red velvet ribbons that tie in a large bow: Would make it look like a really fancy housecoat. The matching of the reds would be a trick, too.

Polymer Clay Button and Butttonhole: Might end up too homemade looking, these are great for the right outfit - this isn't it. I've made some really nice ones before, though.

Large covered snap, with Handmade fabric rose positioned over the snap on the outside: This does have some appeal, but not sure how it would look with the fur collar. I don't want the fur and flower to fight. Nothing would come out smelling like a rose.

Still thinking, but the rhinestone button has appeal because this is a fancy coat, and I wouldn't mind shelling out $25.00 or so for one really nice button. The flower has appeal because it ties in with the whole theme of the garment, and there will be some on the dress, somewhere. I guess I really do want to make the button, by next week the components should be done and I should be able to see what the coat really needs.

Now for the good news and bad news.

The good news: I got the second cuff done this morning!

The bad news: I went to start the quilting on the front yokes/undercollar and took a good look at the back yoke with the trapunto and nearly fell over. Some of the boxes aren't perfectly square and worst, the motif is not lined up perfectly with the background. The x's that are formed by the lines of the quilted background should be lined up exactly in the center of the motif and then build around it. Nope, it was about 1/4" to 3/8" off. I am still working on requilting about three quarters of the back yoke. Ugh. I only have a little to go, and I think I can finish it before making dinner and going to music practice.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

American Beauty - Coat - Part VI

Eureka! Eureka!

No, I did not run naked through the streets shouting this like Archimedes in ancient Alexandria. This is exactly what Archimedes did when he discovered the prinicple of water displacement while in the bath. Can you tell I'm back in teaching mode?Ok, done with the arcane fact of the day and moving on.

I did however, have great success with the putting the fur on the cuffs! I am thrilled and when something works and looks great, it's even better. I've been working on how to get the yarn that makes up the fur portion on properly. It's wound around a core, stitched down and the major problem was that the core needed to be removed. After many unsuccessful attempts with all sorts of things, I finally got it right. The main problem was that I was removing the core before stitching, which left me with a lot of loops, which stitched unevenly. There would be 3/4" of yarn on one side and 1/4" on the other and stuff like that. Not good enough. I need even pile that won't have to be trimmed out evenly. It finally struck me that if I left the core in, stitched down the middle, clipped the loops to make the pile, and then removed the core, it would be easier. The core is perforated by the stitching and just pulls out! DUH!!!!!!

So, here's the pictures of the process . . . .

First thing, each row of yarn has a tulle ruffle base. I found that it was easier to stitch all the tulle ruffles on first and then stitch all the yarn units on afterward. Reason being is that I used a marking pencil to make the lines for the ruffles, if I stitch both the tulle and yarn on at the same time, I can't see the lines and get everything lined up right. I can see through the tulle and make sure it's stitched on straight. Pinning the yarn units on top of that row of stitching is much easier, as I can turn it over and make sure the pins are right through the seam line. The cuff below has a few rows of yarn, but the remainder are just tulle at this point.

Above is the close up of the tulle ruffle - each one is 1 1/4" wide, cut with the pinking rotary cutter. Below is the stabilizer I decided on - it is a tear away, but also a rinse away. Most rinse aways are too floppy for this project, but the tear away version is more paper like. I can always dunk the whole piece in water to get out the remaining stabilizer, but so far haven't had to.

Above the stabilizer core strip is being wrapped with yarn. Each strip is 15 1/2" by 1" wide. I only need 10 per cuff, but I haven't predicted how many I'll need for the collar. At least twice as many, if not more. Below is a finished yarn unit. After the core is wrapped, the whole unit is sent through the machine to stitch all the yarn down and keep it from shifting.

Once the units are stitched on top of the ruffles, then the yarn is clipped along the edges of the stabilizer, producing the pile of the fur. The bottom picture shows the stabilizer still in the fur, which I simply pull out and throw away. You can also see the placement lines for the ruffles - this pic was taken before I placed the rest of the ruffles, still in the "developing the process" stage.

BTW, this stuff, like a real animal, sheds. Tremendously. It will probaby take months to get the red shreddy stuff out of the studio.

Finally, one cuff is done.

Hopefully by the end of the weekend, I will have the other cuff done, and can move on to the fur collar.

Meanwhile, I'm still percolating about the button for the front of the coat. It needs to be no smaller than 1", but could be up to 2". I can do a plain covered one or a vintage one, but I feel I need something a little more unique and probably handmade. I just need one for the front. Any ideas?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

American Beauty - Coat - Part V

Two Days Later . . . .

I finally finished the trapunto rose medallion. It looks good, and I'm finally happy with it. I know, I know, two days for a 5 1/2" x 4 1/2" medallion?!? Yes, two days. That's all I sewed on, with the exception of hemming a brown polar fleece sweatshirt for a very petite, very eldery lady in my church. That took 30 minutes tops, taking longer to get set up, find the right thread and set up the machine properly for fleece. Back to the medallion . . .

This thing was a real bear to work on. More than once I thought to myself, "You are absolutely crazy, what were you thinking? Why don't you just diamond quilt it like the rest of the pieces?" By now, you might have a slight inkling that I am prone to do some strange things. In the realm of sewing, I can be fearless (or nuts, depending on how you look at it), I will try anything and am willing to cut any fabric, regardless of how expensive. I'm the person who went shopping for my wedding gown lace and forgot the pattern bag for the amount of yardage, had the person lay out a length of lace, mentally placed each piece and came up with needing 1 1/4 yards. It was plenty, and should have been at $135.00 per yard! Definitely the most expensive fabric I've ever bought and sewn.

So here's the medallion in stages. It's machine trapuntoed, not hand tranpuntoed. Meaning that instead of traditionally putting on a back, stitching around the design, cutting a hole in the backing and stuffing the resulting design, I did something else, but common in the quilting world. Basically, you layer your top and some very thick batting, and machine stitch around the design with water soluble thread in the top of the machine and regular in the bobbin. Then you carefully cut out the excess batting, layer your regular batting and back under the top fabric and restitch the whole thing and then quilt around it. After that, you spray the whole thing with water and the water soluble thread magically disappears and you're done. Uh-huh. Yeah right. It's not that easy or simple, especially in a small scale, complicated design. Now, did I think about this when I drafted this stuff? Yes, but, sometimes you have to have a certain design and you just deal with the consequences knowing there will be bumps in the road (or slubs in the silk).

Here's the first stitching. I traced the design on with white dressmaker's pencil and stitched. Big, big, big mistake! It looks like a 5 year old stitched it. What was I thinking? From previous experience, I should have known better. This stuff rubs off very easily and you can't get too far without losing your design. Furthermore, my machine decided it did not like the water soluble thread, no matter what dials I turned and things I adjusted. I don't why, it's stitched that stuff before. Ugh. There is no way I'm keeping this.

With my head on straight, I resorted to a few tricks. Tricks that will cost me a little time later, but will give me the right result. First up, I switched that nasty thread to the bobbin. Most icky threads will run a lot better if bobbin wound and a plain old thread is run through the top. Why didn't I think of this earlier? Well, because the water soluble thread will now be on the bottom, making it more difficult to remove and I will have to pick out the regular thread on the top. (Yes, I did so.) Second, I traced off the design onto tissue paper. Now, I could have used a tear away or water soluble stabilizer, but I am out of both due to another large project, the Burgundy Fall Coat. The down side of tissue paper is that, you guessed it, it will have to be picked out, bit by nasty bit of the final product. Again, a small price to pay for getting the right result. Once that all was done, I had a few corrections to make. Some of the little curlicues weren't even, the right side of the oval was lopsided, etc. The rose itself actually turned out right on the first go around.

I finally trimmed out the thick batting from the back - you can see the medallion from the back with the batting trimmed away at the right.

As if all that wasn't insulting enough, I still had to diamond quilt the whole thing - inside the medallion and out. The first go around was pretty bad, with distorted diamonds. So I picked out the yucky parts and proceeded very carefully, one or two lines at a time, meticulously measuring each line to make sure it was 3/4" away from it's neighbors. It took about 2 hours to complete just the area in and surrounding the oval. For every stop and start, I also had to pull the threads through and tie them off. In quilting with a regular back (not tulle), I would have had to bury the threads too, but in this case with a lining, I just had to tie.

Final pictures! The top one is a scale picture, my brother, the archeologist, would be proud of. He's always bugging me that he can't tell the scale of things in my pictures. I've included the ruler for him and for you. Next is the back yoke by itself, and the last is where it will be placed on the back of the coat on the dressform for a visual reference.

Today I get to go to Joann's and pick up the fur supplies, and I think I'll finish a black vintage dress I started earlier this week before the trapunto took over my life. Then maybe I'll do some easy diamond quilting on other pieces of the coat before tackling the fur on Monday. Whew.

Last, but not least, guess who I saw in my front yard? Mr. Fox. Yes, I really live in the Boontoolies. He came up and was sniffing around while I working on the trapunto one afternoon, and this is the best picture I snapped in haste. The windows were open, and the screens played havoc with the camera, and I wanted to be really quiet. He's about 15-20 feet away from the house.