Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Blue wool cote II: Revenge of the fabric

I've written about the plans I had for constructing my blue wool cote earlier. And just as I had written, I constructed the garment. And it was a good fit, and comfortable. And the wool was flowier than the linen. And the wool was warmer than the linen when it was cold, and not much warmer when it was hot. And I forgot to take any photos of it. From my memory, the only difficulty I had was the seams were a little more difficult to sew than regular seams because I was always working in the middle of the fabric, and because the fabric was so thin.

But alas very quickly my choice of fabric let me down. I had chosen a thin wool suiting, and the fabric manufacturer had decided to make the fabric modern by doing something to stop it fulling (making it machine washable). I don't know if it was  treatment or if they chose worsted wool or something else, but the wool frayed, and refuse to full (felt) even with warm water and soap. And it frayed more, and I was in deathly fear that all my seams would fray out and my dress fall to pieces.  Possibly in embarrassing ways. So with tears in my eyes for all the effort I'd spent constructing the dress, I set about systematically resewing each and every seam on the garment (well maybe not the entirety of all hems). I tried to maintain the effect of the original stitching, by tucking in the edge of the fabric and then sewing both seams together in the same manner as the original seams, but now with no exposed edges.

Here's how the seams looked after resewing::

 This worked well, the seams years later are still not fraying, and I still maintain the original magnificent effect of the white thread on dark blue fabric, but without the fraying. And I only had to resew the entire garment (I'm not bitter :-) ).

I still forgot to take photos of the entire garment at this stage, but I do have some photos of details which have not changed, so let's take a closer look at some of the features of the garment:

neckline detail - this was bound with a piece of straight grain tape made from the same fabric

 gusset detail - see how interesting the white linen on blue dress looks

arm detail - see how the extra length ruches (gathers) up about the wrist

front of centre gore -I decided to play with the gore insertion, gathering the gores into the body pieces slightly. This was inspired by the gathering seen in side seams of 12th C garments and a half remembered reenactor's late period gathered garment. I have little evidence for centre gores at all, let alone gathered in ones, so this was mostly an excuse to explore garment cut than a serious conjecture about how centre gores might be finished (side gores are a different matter).

back of the seam showing the reinforcing piece I sewed on to strengthen the pleating. This piece doesn't really support the garment, but it protects the back of the pleats from rubbing, and the edges of the pleats from fraying. I have only half garbled inspiration for such a construction, but I did need to protect the frayable edges of my fabric.

You might be wondering why I don't have any photos of the garment at this stage- wasn't it finished this time? Alas no, the seams were working great, but there was one problem with resewing the entire garment (other than having to resew it), which was my seam allowances were now much larger than they were before, and consequently the width of my pieces became narrower. What was once a casual comfortable garment was now tight across the chest and upper body. But it wasn't tight like my side laced garments, it was too tight for a loose garment, but not as tight as a tight garment - the worst of both worlds. So more changes were afoot, which I'll write about in the next episode of the saga.


Anonymous said...

The Moselund gown, while it's a man's garment, has gathered and split gores in the front and back.


Teffania said...

Ooh, I'd forgotten about moselund. thankyou! Although I don't think hte gathering was probably done the way I did it.