November 23, 2011

Petersham vs. Grosgrain

I remember the first time I handled petersham ribbon. It was on a skirt that I prize and still have and I went in search of the ribbon at my local Joann. Thinking it was just grosgrain, I bought a length of grosgrain, took it home and started sewing with it. I was disappointed to say the least with the result. Not knowing what to do, I went back the my favored skirt and took a closer look at the ribbon that was adorning the waistband and hem. Just judging from my own experience of working with both ribbons, let me enlighten you on a few key differences between the two.

Before we go any further, I would like to say that I don't feel that grosgrain is an inferior ribbon, even to sew with. In fact if you can lay your hands on some high quality grosgrain, there are some great uses for the ribbon and even benefits to using it over petersham for certain sewing projects. However, the grosgrain that I normally come in contact with is the cheap stuff that feels almost like paper and actually is something that would be ideal for scrapbooking, I think. Crunchy, itchy, and incredibly stiff.

First, let's start off with the key difference between grosgrain and petersham. Grosgrain has a finished straight edge, where petersham has a scalloped edge. This is a result in the different process each ribbon goes through to be made. Grosgrain has a ridge like texture which is produced from the particular weave of the ribbon (in other words, its woven ribbon) and has a bound edge. Petersham has a ridge like texture too, which results from the cording its made from being strung together through the middle by what seems like a million strands of thread that encase the cording, also creating that scalloped edge which is so pretty.

Usually in today's world, grosgrain is typically stiff - made from polyester, nylon or a blend - petersham is typically soft and pliable - usually made from rayon, though I've also seen cotton, polyester and acrylic and all of these can affect the drape, softness and pliability of the ribbon. Petersham is also strong and these two qualities together - the softness (rayon) and strength - is the biggest reason I love working with this beautiful ribbon. It's soft against the skin, creates a beautiful drape in complement with the fabric if used as a trim, yet can be used as waistband or waistline stay because of its strength too. It's also got a lovely sheen to it making it just that much more exciting to use in a sewing project.

A few things to keep in mind about petersham and grosgrain. Grosgrain is usually stiff and works great with stiffer fabrics. It also makes a great waistline stay because it absolutely will not stretch, the result of that great bound edge. Grosgrain also does not require pre-shrinking where petersham might if made with rayon, cotton or a blend of both. To pre-shrink petersham, soak in warm water for a minute or two, drip dry and press.

Hopefully this gives you a better idea of the differences between petersham and grosgrain. I'll be showing you my petersham waistband tutorial in a day or two (actually there are two waistband tutorials coming up + several other tutorials so stay tuned!). And as an added bonus, I've just added two new colors of petersham to the shop! Sky and Olive!

Have you used petersham before? What do you think? Which do you prefer?


November 21, 2011

the Best Tip for Cutting Slippery Fabrics!

Way back when, when I did this post on working with silks, there was a very clever reader that gave me a great technique that I've used ever since. Slippery fabrics can be a b*%&^! to cut. Ugh! I've used my self healing mat and rotary cutter with them, but honestly, I'm a shears girl. I've always worked with shears and for me, they're just easier to handle. So if you've got a thing for your shears too, here's a very handy tip.

Keep a length of muslin handy at all times. I have a yard that I have hanging up in my "sewing closet" (and yes, I actually now have a full closet dedicated to sewing + an entire room! Yay!).  Lay the muslin down first and then lay the slippery fabric over the top of it and begin pinning your pattern pieces in place through all layers. Now, with your shears perpendicular to the table, cut only your slippery fabric out. And Voila! The pattern doesn't shift around, the slippery fabric doesn't shift around and the shears will make nice even cuts instead of jagged edges (which is what usually happens for me when I don't use this technique).

It's OK, if you think this is like magic, because really it is. It's also OK if you have some doubts that this just won't work for you. It may not, but hey, you've at least got to try it once. Next to sliced bread, this is a pretty neat trick. Show your friends! They'll be terribly impressed! Enjoy!


November 17, 2011

Simply Biased

For whatever reason, I'm having a hard time coming up with post names these days. So, if you feel that the name of this post is not quite apropos, my apologies. Yesterday, I informed you that I was working on a skirt. It's actually the skirt section from the Lonsdale dress pattern and I'm totally and completely in love with how well its working out. I've wanted to make just a skirt from this pattern for sometime and had even bought a nice blanket weight, double faced wool for it. By the way, my circle skirt from last year is another double faced wool, and for winter time, if you live in a fairly cold climate, I'm telling you, you absolutely need a skirt from a double faced wool. It's not a fabric I find often, but when I do, I try to buy it up. It's terribly warm and last year I wore my Linda Hop skirt to death.

For my Lonsdale skirt - which I'm going to formally dub my "blanket skirt" for now - I wanted to take advantage of the seams that go up the center front and center back. My double faced wool is a lovely black and white plaid and I wanted to create that wonderful chevron look in these areas. So I had to add a bias cut grainline to the skirt front and back pattern pieces. I remember reading about this technique in a book and instead of walking you through a useful tool, it simply stated "mark a bias cut grainline on your pattern pieces." If you've read the same thing somewhere, I thought I would share my favorite way and tools for doing this.

First off, I have a self healing mat and when I bought my mat, I also bought a ruler that went with it. My mat is 36" x 23" and I wouldn't be caught dead cutting without it these days. I love it! On the mat there is a very handy 45 degree angle line and when I make a pattern grainline alteration like this one for a bias cut, its incredibly useful (if you don't know, bias cut is at a 45 degree angle to the lengthwise grain). In fact, I'm shocked at just how much I use this feature on the mat. I'll lay my pattern piece on top of the mat and have the original grainline perfectly aligned with one of the grids on the mat and then I draw in the new 45 degree bias cut grainline. Easy. Peasy.

If you're not up for purchasing a mat just yet, at least consider one of these handy, dandy gridded rulers. Mine was put out by Fiskars and is 23" x 5", clear and has 45, 60 and 30 degree marking lines on it. If you align the 45 degree angle on the ruler with the grainline on the pattern (by placing the ruler right on top of the pattern piece) you can draw in a beautiful new bias cut grainline for a project like this.

Voila! And there you have it. Ever done this for a skirt before? It's an especially great adjustment if you've made the skirt before and are looking for a way to spice it up a bit for next time. Enjoy!


November 8, 2011

Colette Sewing Handbook Blog Tour!

Friends, I'm so excited to be apart of the Colette Sewing Handbook Blog Tour! Yay! For those of you who have pre-ordered and/or purchased a copy of the book, you will not be disappointed. This lovely sewing book, is chocked full of great information plus there's more Colette Pattern goodness with the addition of 5 lovely and fashionable sewing patterns. They are gorgeous! The book is so wonderfully put together and I feel it is bound to be one of the best fashion sewing resources out there. It covers so much information in a very clear and concise way and puts a fresh new face on the art of sewing your own wardrobe at home. There is much to be gleaned for beginners through to advanced sewists alike. As part of the blog tour, I decided to include a few excerpts from the book and as an added bonus, there will be a giveaway of the book to one of my lucky readers! Please read to the end for more info on how to win a copy! Hip Hip Hooray!

I have two excerpts from this lovely book for you today - a tutorial and a tantalizer! First, the tutorial. Let's take a look at how to properly press a seam, shall we:

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Let’s get started with some basic lessons in technique! Take a look through these methods for a starter course on common sewing tasks. Of course, we aren’t covering every possible sewing technique here, but you’ll find that these come up very frequently in garment sewing. These breakdowns are here for you to reference whenever you need a little refresher.

Pressing a Seam Open
Press each and every seam after you sew it. This is the only way to get flat, inconspicuous seams. Most seams are pressed open, but if your pattern calls for a seam to be pressed to the side, follow these same steps, but move the seam allowance to one side before pressing on the wrong side.








1. Press the seam as it was sewn. This helps set the stitches. 2. Open up your fabric and lay it wrong-side up. Press along the seam, flattening the seam allowance. If your fabric is delicate, you may wish to lay the seam on a seam roll, to avoid marks from the seam allowance.

3. Turn so that the right side is up. Press the seam again from the right side.

Pressing versus Ironing
Be aware that pressing is different from ironing. Ironing involves moving the iron back and forth over your fabric. When pressing, you hold the iron still and apply pressure.

For a full view of this excerpt, click on the thumbnail below:





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I'm also a fitting guru - as many of you know by now. Getting a perfect fit is time consuming, but so worth the effort! I decided to add just a few extra tidbits from the book to my post today from the chapter "A Fantastic Fit." This is just a tantalizer to whet your appetite for this great chapter! Here's some great advice:

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The process of truly fitting a garment to your body takes time. Some sewers prefer to rush through it, take shortcuts or do no fitting at all. I know how tempting this is, especially when you’re excited about finishing and wearing something. But cutting these kinds of corners in making your own clothing can really end up being a false economy. Sure, it seems to save you time in the short term, but if you end up spending hours sewing something that you won’t wear because of a poor fit, you’ve wasted more time than you’ve saved. Plus, you’ll end up disappointed and frustrated.
Instead, I invite you to think of your sewing room as your own personal custom dressmaking studio. You are both the talented craftsperson making the clothes, and the client who must be happy wearing them. Take your time, and make something beautiful for yourself!

For more from this chapter, click on the thumbnails below for a full preview:





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I do hope you've enjoyed these little tidbits from the Colette Sewing Handbook! You'll love getting it into your hot little hands and having a go at some of the techniques and patterns yourself. Speaking of which, I believe I mentioned something about a giveaway....Yay! To win a copy of this book from us here at A Fashionable Stitch, simply leave a comment stating just how much you would like to win it! This giveaway is open to anyone, anywhere! We'll close things up this coming Friday, at which point I'll select a winner and ship out the book, poste haste! Enjoy friends!


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