(Sorry that this post is later than usual. I had other things I had to get done over the weekend and I didn't get this post written up Sunday night, as I usually do. I do work full time, so I had to squeeze in the writing of this post around work on Monday.)
- Rules for Challenge 6
- A Challenging Challenge
- Dyeing the Fabric
- Taming the Fabric
- Choosing a Pattern
- Alterations and Modifications
- More Pictures
Using the fabric we have selected for you, challenge yourself by making a unique garment and working with a material you may not have used before to create one well-made garment. You can use a pattern of your choice to construct your garment.
You will be judged on creativity, functionality, craftsmanship, and fit.
FabricMart sent each contestant the same fabric. Two panels of a polyester chiffon striped panel print. I hung it from my front porch so you could see the whole thing.
This challenge was definitely my most challenging challenge. I am not afraid of sewing polyester chiffon (and, in fact, I used it last week on the first version of the vintage dress), and I love stripes, as a rule. But the colors in this fabric are just not my colors and this is not a fabric that I would buy for myself. It would look completely out of place in my closet.
What I really wanted to do was to dye the yardage. I took a piece of the fabric, some Kelly Green iDye, and a stainless steel cooking pot to see what would happen.
Wow, iDye is an interesting product - this was my first experience with dyeing polyester. You dissolve the two "flavor" packets in water, toss in the fabric, and cook for 30-60 minutes. The instructions say to stir often, but they don't say to stir constantly.
I learned some interesting things:
- The fabric turned solid green almost immediately. (A very pretty solid green, I might add.)
- I found that I *had* to stir constantly. If I stopped stirring for a few seconds, it was like cooking tomato sauce. Huge bubbles would erupts, sending jets of hot dye all over the stove, on my floor, and narrowly missing me.
- It produces an acrid odor that smells quite toxic. I guess it takes heavy chemicals to dye polyester.
- Even though I turned the heat down to the lowest setting, dangerous bubbles continued to erupt.
- I decided that cooking it for 10 minutes was enough. (I didn't want to keep dodging jets of hot dye or stirring constantly for another 20 minutes.)
- Ten minutes *was* enough. The fabric was colorfast, even when I washed it in the washing machine.
Once the fabric was dyed, I liked it much better. I even liked the hand of the fabric better. I was sorely tempted to dye the entire yardage, but I was pretty sure that the judges wanted us to use the panel print, so I resisted. (But it was not easy for me.)
I had chosen the kelly green dye because I thought it might complement the striped fabric, and it did. I decided to use the dyed fabric as an accent.
To tame the polyester chiffon, a notoriously wiggly and uncooperative fabric, I used a Palmer Pletsch product called Perfect Sew.
Perfect Sew is some great stuff! The instructions tell you to lay the fabric down and to spread the product over it. I did *not* want to do this. This liquid is gelatinous and I did not want to get it on my cutting table. Instead, I put the fabric into a bowl, squirted the Perfect Sew on, and "tossed" the fabric like it was a salad until it was evenly coated. I squirted on additional Perfect Sew as needed. My hands became very sticky, so I am glad I did not get this on my cutting table.
By "tossing" the fabric, I got very good coverage with the gel. I then hung the yardage over the shower curtain rod to dry. I smoothed it as much as possible as it hung from the rod. Once it dries, it has a "crisp" hand to it. It is very much like sewing on organza, rather than chiffon. Organza is not an "easy" fabric to sew either, but it is much more manageable than a squiggly chiffon.
See how rigid it is?
Nice and crisp.
Once you have completed the garment, you wash it and it returns to it's previous soft state. The instructions say to machine wash, but I washed it in the sink with warm water, changing the water a couple of times, and swishing it thoroughly. I then laid it in a towel, and rolled it up to remove the excess water. I then hung the top on a hangar, again from the shower rod, to dry. It dried very quickly and required only a light pressing to remove some wrinkles.
I highly recommend Perfect Sew, though you can't use it on garments that can't be dipped in water, such as on a lining for a tailored wool jacket.
I did not want to make another dress. I rarely wear dresses, and I've made three dresses in the last three challenges, so I decided to make a top. Inspired by some RTW tops, I decided to use the stripe horizontally and to use the solid green as contrasting front bands.
After a lot of dithering, I settled on a Sandra Betzina pattern. This pattern includes a top and a skirt, and I had made the skirt last January. I liked the top, but hadn't gotten around to making it. And then, at Pattern Review weekend last April, Sandra Betzina wore a top made from this pattern and I quite liked it on her. After PR weekend, a sewing friend made the top and it looked great on her.
Both of these women are "normal" busted, I might add.
(A little foreshadowing here.)
I decided to use the stripes in the panel print on the horizontal. This meant that I would have to match the stripe at center front and at the side seams. Matching this stripe is a bit challenging, as it morphs as it travels across the panel. Some stripes change width, and meander, or even just "pop" to a new location.
This top has a very interesting sleeve design, as you can see in the following picture.
The side seams are sewn, all the way up to the top point. That "petal" shape of the pattern becomes fabric that bunches up under the arm, gracefully, one hopes. The top part of the petal, where the scissors are positioned, is left as an unsewn slit and becomes the sleeve opening.
So cool, in theory, but so awful on me.
In my case, the fabric bunching up under the arm made my boobular area look completely out of control. The slit for my upper arm was just big enough for my arm with no extra ease, making it look like a pasta machine was extruding my arm.
So I had to make some changes. I unsewed the side seam beginning above the bust and I left the rest of it unsewn. This created the "flutter" sleeve. I trimmed it up a bit and then hemmed it, using teeny tiny hems. I left the original slit in place, and hemmed that with teeny tiny hems.
The resulting sleeves are much better for a busty person with fuller upper arms.
I used my normal Sandra Betzina pattern size - a C. I made the following modifications:
- A 1" vertical only FBA, so there are side seam darts.
- I omitted the waist darts.
- I added the shirt tail hem to front and back, copying the one from the Grainline Archer.
- I omitted the front facings and the back neck facing.
- I finished the neckline with a bias band.
- I finished the front with narrow bands, cut from the dyed chiffon.
- I modified the sleeves (as described in the previous section).
Except for the issues that surfaced with the sleeves, the construction was pretty straightforward. There were a lot of teeny tiny hems to sew. I showed the technique in my post for challenge #5, but here are a couple new pictures.