Saturday, October 18, 2014

Hand stitching: Practice tunic

Alas! I cannot knit and hand stitch at the same time, and there's been less knitting and more hand-stitching this last week. I'm working on a tunic, checking fit and refining my techniques.

The root of the idea

I have a generous bolt of natural-coloured cotton/hemp jersey. I've been thinking I'd like to make a princess-seamed dress out of it, preferably dip-dyed a gradient coffee brown.

I've had it stashed for a while; I made this dress in 2007.

I usually draft my own patterns, but I didn't think I was up to drafting a princess-seamed pattern. I'd searched several times for a pattern designed for jersey-knit fabrics, and while I'd found several princess-seamed dresses, nothing that was right for the target fabric. So this summer when I started reading Alabama Chanin books, I was pleased to find a princess-seamed pattern made for knit fabrics.

Dress specifics

I'm pretty good at tracing patterns, but I decided to take the pattern from the book to a copy shop and have it copied so I could cut it out. Turns out those oversized copies cost $5.00/page, so the pattern cost me ten bucks in copying fees! Which was more than I spent on the fabric. I picked up two large grey t-shirts for fifty cents each, and used them as my fabric.

I'm a little torn on the techniques. There's something elegant about the hand-stitched seams, but I'm not convinced it's that much better than seaming up the dress, lickety split, on the serger. I've hand-stitched this tunic to gain the practice I need, and I could see my seams improving as I progressed. The seams are stitched on the inside, and top-stitched to one side. In this picture, you can see the neckline with stay-stitching, the armhole lined, and the top-stitched princess seam.

Stretchy stitch

I learned a new stitch on this project. The book calls it "Rosebud", and I quite enjoyed it. It certainly takes a lot of time and a lot of thread. I had two days off this week, and although both days were filled with errands, I also got some stitching time at home. On the first day, I top-stitched all six seams on the dress. On the second day, I only stitched the facing on the armhole. The seams in the dress each took two to three lengths of thread to stitch and top-stitch. The armhole took ten lengths of thread to stitch. A needle threaded to the length of almost my arm only stitches a distance of two to three inches in rosebud stitch. The following two photos show my progress: my very first time doing the stitch, and how my technique had settled down by the end of the first armhole.

What's next

So the dress is coming together nicely. I still have to face the other armhole and neckline, and I want to do something along the hem. I wound up changing size from the pattern I used for the corset top, but I'm still unhappy with the fit. I will probably be adjusting the bodice fit a little more in the next project. And while I'm pretty pleased with the outcome, I'm not yet sure if I'll wear it. You see, there's a bit of a logo, right on the butt. My original intent was to decorate the dress with stitched dots, in order to cover it up, but I'm not sure I still like the dotty idea. I've also wondered about just wearing it with the logo, which strikes me as really funny, but of course my daughter thinks that's a terrible idea. I also have pondered the idea of putting a back pocket on the dress, which was again struck down by the progeny, but I haven't totally tossed the idea out.