Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I finally got it

The last few weeks have been a struggle for me. The muslin for V5789 was a disaster that made me realize I needed to deal the my personal sewing demon .. the collar. Since making the muslin, I bought an Elna Carina on Craigslist for $85 and then sinking another $160 into a full service and replacement of a few basic attachments that were missing. I hadn't attempted to use it when I bought it home, but the sound coming out of it was horrifying.

Once I had it back from the shop, I threaded it and tried out some stitches on scrap cotton. The moment it started stitching, I was astonished. The complete silence of the machine is unlike anything I've ever heard. No matter the speed or the stitch, there was no vibration and only the slightest hum.

With my 'new' old Elna, I launched into sewing V5789 in fashion fabric. I was able to sew the french seams on the back with amazing precision. Ditto for the yoke. The pattern called for a slip stitch, which I didn't know how to do. This sent me to my Vogue Sewing book and to Claire Shaeffer's "Basics" Couture Techniques Workshop DVD. I don't think of myself as a hand stitcher, but when Claire covered the subject of basting I was mesmorized. As she suggested, I bought a cotton darner needle and a thimble and pactised her baste stitch. It's a thing of beauty and works better than the machine stitch set to 6mm length.

My little 'ah ha!' moment with baste stitching led me to pickup the Threads June/July 1993 issue because aof a blouse picture on the cover. Within the walls of the magazine was a David Coffin article "Tips for the Perfect Shirt" covering the subject of making cuffs and collars. This article was adapted from Shirtmaking a book he'd written that has pushed my limits of understanding. While the book didn't help me, the article was just different enough that I understood for the first time how he had developed a new approach to making cuffs. I also have his DVD and watched the chapter on cuffs eight times before I tried it on scrap cloth. The first attempt was a disaster, but I could see what I did wrong and attempted again to make the cuff from scrap.

Reading on, the article, the book, and the DVD explained how I could make a collar from the cuff technique.

I finally got it.

The best part is that I didn't make the collar from the V pattern, but cut directly from scrap fabric.

In fact, I finally get the whole of David Coffin's book. The next shirt I make will be from a pattern I've drafted myself.


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