Monday, October 8, 2007

Donna Karan Cape - Day 3

The back of the cape is completed:

This morning I worked on the back of the cape, as it is the only bit that can be done without making a decision about the armhole openings in the front. I think I'm doing a bit of overkill on this project, considering it was an impulsive pattern purchase. Apart from the color, the fabric is only so-so. Fabricville $24.99/m on sale for half price last week.

I pressed the darts, basted the organza in place, and after much-much-much experimenting with needle size, tension and presser foot pressure, finally got my machine to stitch reasonably well through the 2 thick interlined pieces of fabric. I'm still not happy with how my machine is sewing, even after a tune-up last week. It is possible, I suppose that it is my problem and not a technical one. There's a lot I don't know about both organza and sewing heavy fabric.

Photo shows the back seam edges, ready to be joined. That seam is now sewn, pressed and awaits a binding of some sort. I did not topstitch, as I need to be sure it will look right, and will have to experiment further, perhaps with some heavier thread.

Part of the Grosgrain decision is made:
I received a helpful email from Susan in my sewing group, enlightening me about the difference between grosgrain and Petersham.

"There are 2 types of Grosgrain ribbon. The one that you can buy in Saint John has a straight edge and I expect that the one you need has the little picots and will shape around curves (also called Petersham). "

Of course, Petersham is what I need, and of course, it is not available locally. Nonetheless I have decided to trust the designer's design, and use this trim down the front edges, collar and pocket flaps. (The pattern instructions refer to it as "grosgrain." I am so pleased to know there is more than one version of this.) I had seen grosgrain in a multitude of colors at The Sewing Place website, and sure enough, it specifically explains that it is Petersham. Hopefully the color I ordered will work. Waiting for this to arrive will give me a good reason not to become obsessed about getting this garment finished, and to tackle a couple of other in-progress items.

Armholes still on hold:
Having decided on the grosgrain trim, and on not having raw edges anywhere, still leaves the arm openings undecided. I quote the dilemma from an (edited) post I made to the Stitcher's forum a few days ago.

"The part that confuses me is the arm openings in the front.

Grosgrain ribbon is stitched along left and right sides of the slash line on the right side of the front fashion fabric. (edges of ribbon line up with slash line). The FF is then

A separate elongated oval piece of FF, called the "applique" piece is laid on top and a narrow rectangle
is stitched along the edges of the slit and across the 2 ends through the ribbon and the front. The applique piece is then slashed down the middle of this narrow rectangle. The (raw) outer edges of the oval are then stitched down. There are no instructions to finish the slash edges in any way.

So we have, from the underneath up: front FF, slashed with raw edge; grosgrain on top of each side of slash; applique FF on top with raw edges slashed and unfinished outside edges of the oval stitched down.

In the pattern photo the grosgrain is clearly visible in the arm opening. I am at a loss to fathom how it becomes visible from underneath the applique piece.
There is a traditionally constructed welt pocket elsewhere on the cape. I wondered why the arm openings were not similarly designed....but then, I'm not the famous designer, am I. It seems to me if the applique were turned to the wrong side before stitching it down, the opening would be finished (similar to the welt for the
pocket and the grosgrain would be visible. This is what the photo looks like, but the technical drawings show the applique on the right side.

I usually get into trouble when I try to change pattern instructions that I think are inadequate, so I am trying to be more careful to do as I am told in the hopes of getting a better and/or easier result."

I already tried a sample flipping the applique piece to the back, as in a welt, but my FF is too heavy for that.. It would work, I think, using a lighter weight fabric for the welt. Something will pop up in my mind, or someone else's sooner or later.

Next steps will be to
  • baste the organza on the other cape pieces,
  • look for a suitable lining fabric. The pattern is not lined, so there may be some creative design required around the facing to make the lining fit correctly and still allow access to the arm opening.

  • find a fabric of a lighter weight but the same color (good luck to me) for the front facings. I think my fabric is too heavy for a facing, creating too much bulk at the collar and at the hem.
I think one of my lessons from this garment is to only use the recommended fabrics.....then you can actually follow the directions as given. Ah well, what fun would there be in that?

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