Monday, July 14, 2014

new girdle and carcanet set for a customer!

Here are some photos of a jewellery set just finished for an order.
(Had trouble getting the photos to shop up by email, so am putting them here.)

Nice formal "all done" shot

Closeup of centerpiece of girdle on my messy jewellery bench

And closeup of the necklace. I sure love those Montana blue stones.

All in all - a lovely order :) Can't wait to see photos of her wearing it!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Cinderella dress padded hem tutorial

How I did the hem on the Coello dress

So, I'm writing this tutorial because I think that hems do not get enough discussion and they are really important. They are especially important when they are done badly.
(And who among us has always done perfect hems? Not me, that's for sure.)

Before I start with the steps and the pictures, I want to add all the caveats. 
This type of hemming is best for:
  •  Skirts that have curved hems, not skirts that are straight and are just gathered or pleated at the top.  Curved hems have difficulty being folded up since the whole geometry of a circle makes the outside bigger than the inside, and then when folded up, it's got to squish/gather itself even more. 
  • Skirts made of thicker silks, wools, velveteens, or upholstery fabrics. It's not for drapey slinky fabrics that really want a teensy double-fold hem. We called these Janet hems. Cause Janet did them better than anyone else I've ever seen. (She did a lot of things that way, though.) I miss her :(
  • Hems that will have trim put around them, like my dress did. This technique stabilizes the hem area, helping to prevent the trim from gathering or controlling the fall of the skirt.
  • Dresses that can be hemmed permanently, not for hems that might need to be let up or down. Once this hem is in, there are no alteration options.  (So get the length really right)
Ok - enough about that, read on.

Step 1: Find the hem line

For this, I put the dress on the dress form over the farthingale and I used this lovely tool to get a chalk line that was parallel with the ground:

If you don't have one of these - get one. Like, really. Your local JoAnns probably has it. Here's the first link I found for an online one:

After finding the hemline, I took the dress to the ironing table and pressed the hem up. I discovered that I had very little "turn up" to work with in a couple of places, and that my turned up edge was very uneven. 

Hem pressed up - showing really uneven hem lengths.

 Step 2. Prepare the hem tape

I decided to use milliner's grosgrain (sometimes called Petersham) as a hem facing tape. Here's what it looks like straight:

and here it is after I've pressed in a curve:
Regular grosgrain won't curve like this. It won't curve at all.  I used this stuff because I had some in the right color, plus it's finished on both edges and  I know that it will curve nicely. You can also use single fold bias tape.

 I pressed a gentle curve into the whole length of the hem tape.

 Step 3: Attach the hem tape

I laid the hem tape on the hem and pinned it through just the folded up part of the hem, about 3/8" up from the hemline. I pressed the tape flat to make sure the tape's curve was all groovy with the hem curve.

I then took it to the machine, unfolded the hem, and topstitched the tape onto the hem right at the edge of the tape.

 When I came all the way around the hem, I folded the edge under and stitched it down.

 Just for my sanity's sake, I put it back on the form and made SURE it was level with the floor. Looked good :)

Step 4: Trim the hem edge so that it is shorter than the hem tape

Pretty self explanatory. But here's a picture :)

 Here it is all trimmed.

 Step 5: Pad the hem

The hem looked a little drapey/wimpy to me since I needed it to hold up a lot of flat trim and since the overall look of the dress is very stiff. I decided to pad it with some craft felt. I got this idea from one of the notes in Patterns of Fashion 4 (Janet Arnold) where it says that the hem was padded with a thick layer of wool. Since felt curves nicely and doesn't fray, I decided to use it instead of wool. Also - it's cheaper, and I had a bunch of it lyin' around :) I would absolutely use this product again - worked like a dream.
I cut 2" wide strips of acrylic craft felt, and joined the strips together with a zig stitch:

I then laid the felt right into the fold of the hem, and pinned it place.

 I curved the felt with the iron as I went to make it lie smooth and flat.

IMPORTANT: This next bit will vary depending on how you will be treating the outside of the hem.
IF: you won't be trimming the outside of the dress, I wouldn't recommend doing what I did here since it puts visible rows of topstitching on the outside of the dress. I would instead fold the hem out again and stitch just through the top edge of the hem tape and through the felt, and then do some kind of blind hem stitch at the top edge of the felt to hold it all up. That would work beautifully and be invisible form the outside. BUT - since I WAS going to put trim around the whole hem, AND I needed a guideline to use for that trim placement anyway:

 I stitched through all layers, using this wonderful little screw-in guide that I could NOT live without.  I have no link for you - mine came in a vintage sewing attachment kit. I think you can still get them, but I don't know what they are called.
 I ended up doing two rows of stitching, since I found that my first row was too high for the trim placement.

Step 5: Prepare the trim

Since I used trim I could curve, I pressed a curve into it before I laid it on the skirt. (which I really recommend - I'm a firm believer that there's just no really reliable way to get a beautifully trimmed curvy hemmed skirt with straight, unbendy trim. )
Here you can see that the bottom edge is bigger than the top edge. This is trim I assembled from three separate pieces, so I was able to ease one side on in order to facilitate this.

 Step 6: Attach the trim

Once again your mileage may vary, but I just lined the bottom edge of the trim up with my guideline and topstitched through all layers.

 I chose very forgiving trim that hid my top-stitches well, which is one of the great contributing factors of the success of this project.  I stitched the top edge of the trim down the same way.

Here's an image of the finished bottom edge, with both rows of trim in place. I love how the hem edge is nice and smooth due to the support of the felt.
The trim needed a good press here, but did lie nicely after it was pressed.

And that's it! At least that's how I did it on this dress.
Ironically, the silly picture shows off the finished hem the best.
Tha's ok. I like the silly picture :)

Hope this was helpful. Happy to answer questions, if you have any :)