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Last spring I spied an interesting Thakoon fabric on the Emma One Sock site. I had no idea how to use it, but I snapped up three yards. If you have never heard of Thakoon (you can read about him here and here), he is one of the up-and-coming fashion designers who has been supported by Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue magazine. I first learned of him from the fascinating movie, The September Issue.
I don't normally sew with florals, but I loved the whimsy of this fabric. Check it out!
The wood grain of the table and the gaps caused by the table leaves are visible through the fabric. That coin is a quarter.
When the fall Vogues came out, I briefly reviewed this Guy Laroche pattern. At the time, I thought it was interesting, but was unsure about the collar. I went ahead and ordered the pattern during a $3.29 sale, and it continued to marinate in the back of my mind. When it came time to choose an outfit to sew for the holidays, I decided I wanted to make the Laroche jacket using the Thakoon organza.
FBA and Other AlterationsFor some reason, this pattern is available only in sizes 4-18. I don't understand why they don't grade it to the usual 20 or 22. I usually start with a size 20, especially in a more fitted design, So I knew I would have additional alterations.
I cut out a size 18, and added 6" for the bust using the Y-Dart alteration from Fit for Real People (p. 146). I then swiveled out the dart using a technique that I think I read in an article by Kenneth King in Threads, except I can't find it in my Threads archive. It works like this: you trace the side seam, then swivel out the dart, causing the pattern piece below the bust to angle past the original side seam. You then chop off the part that angles out, returning the side seam to the original location. This seems a bit counter-intuitive, but I figured that the new grainline at the side seam was responsible for the fit.
I made a muslin from two of my daughter's former curtain panels and tried it on. It worked surprisingly well, though there was a bit of gaping at the neckline, at bust level, which I decided to ease out in the final garment. Voila, dart averted.
After the muslin, I needed many alterations:
- Widened the back 5/8" (for a 1-1/4" increase) using the Broad Back alteration, Method #3, in Fit for Real People, p. 118. The princess seam version of this alteration is illustrated on p. 119. Because this widened the shoulder seam, which I did not want, I shaved the 5/8" off the shoulder seam at the armscye, without affecting the added width to the back.
- Shortened the jacket 4".
- Shortened the sleeve 1".
- Omitted both "over" collars (that was 4 pattern pieces I could now ignore :) )
- Removed fullness from 3 back seams from the waist down (to remove unnecessary fullness from butt area).
- Omitted the fisheye darts in the front.
- Further tweaking of front princess seams - adding a 1/2" just under the arm to the left and right front, and then slashing the under sleeve at the corresponding position and spreading the pattern 1/2", tapered to nothing at the sleeve hem.
At this point I made muslin #2. I really didn't want to, but the alterations to the pattern were substantial and I didn't have enough of the Thakoon fabric to recut anything. Better safe than sorry! So, another curtain panel was sacrificed. This muslin looked great, so I was finally able to begin with the fashion fabric.
- Floral silk organza (designed by Thakoon) from Emma One Sock
- 3 small black snaps
- Felted flower (See how I made it here.)
After much consideration and testing, I decided to machine wash and dry two pieces of silk organza. (I was also pre-treating a solid black piece of silk organza that I was planning to use for facings. In the end, I did not use it.) I was surprised when I removed the two fabrics from the dryer and they had knotted into a ball. It took the highest heat on my iron, loads of steam, and a spray bottle of water to remove the stubborn wrinkles. Even so, I introduced distortion into the grain that caused me big headaches later. Lesson learned: next time serge the raw edges so they won't fray and tangle.
I would recommend cutting out each pattern piece as a single layer. This was easily accomplished with this asymmetric garment since there was a separate pattern for every piece I used, except the sleeve pieces.
It had been years since I sewed any silk organza, other than using it for sleeve heads and the like. I had forgotten about its unique characteristics. Organza, being crisp, is much easier to sew than its cousin, silk chiffon, but I had forgotten how unstable organza can be.
For example, after I cut the narrow long pattern pieces, such as the side fronts and side backs, and held them up, they "grew" at least 6 inches and became much narrower. I started to worry that the completed garment might not fit, despite my two muslins. So, I handled each cut piece very carefully. I would lay the pieces on the table, orient them right sides together as the seam would be sewn, pinned carefully, and then carefully hand basted, lifting the pieces off the table as little as possible. I then stitched on the machine, alongside the hand basting, which stabilized the seam. This worked very well. I serged the seam allowances. A purist would have used French seams, but I have seen serged seam allowances in high end RTW silk organza, and it was good enough for me. :)
Originally, I planned to draft entirely new facings for the fonts and hems, but because of the wobbliness of the fabric, I decided to use handkerchief hems, sewn by machine. Several more pattern pieces I didn't need to worry about. : ) However, this was only partially successful. The handkerchief hems worked well on the sleeves but it was a disaster on the primary hem. I ended up cutting off the handkerchief hem and sewing twill tape to the hem, turning it under and edgestitching. This worked better on the bias edge, so I also used it on the neckline. Even so, I'm not thrilled with some of these edges.
- Omitted all facings, and hemmed with handkerchief hems on the edges that were straight of grain or cross-grain, or twill tape on those that weren't.
- Omitted the main "shawl-like" collar, in addition to the over collars. This allows the very cool dart detailing on the top of the sleeve to show. I liked the little darts so much, even in the cotton voile test garment, that I put them on the outside. They would have shown through the translucent organza anyway. :)
- I had some gaping at the neckline, at bust level, that bothered me. I ended up taking tiny 1/8" outside tucks. I decided this would complement the outside tucks on the sleeves. Again, I wasn't completely thrilled with this solution, but it was better than the gaping.
Wow, I can't think of the last time a garment gave me such trouble. The pattern is good and I'd like to use it again, but I will be more careful if I use silk organza again. Problem is, I do want to use it again. ;)
Now that I've finished my "evening" holiday look, all that is left is my daytime holiday look. I plan to start this weekend on that. :)
Closeup of outside sleeve tucks
Time to Par-tay!
Closeup of felted flower. (Post on how I made it here.)
By the way, if anyone spies how Thakoon used this fabric, I'd love to see a pic!