Yesterday night I “played hooky” from work (which is to say that I only put in 10 hours!) and went to see a guild mate of mine, Eve, who is an experienced seamstress and was going to help me out.
And wow! Eve really knows her stuff. I think she’s forgotten more about sewing than I ever knew.
Eve recommended that I start by fusing the entire piece, as yardage, to a very lightweight fusible knitted interfacing. This would stabilize the fabric and reduce raveling. I seem to recall that another very experienced weaver/seamstress (Daryl Lancaster?) recommended doing the same, with Touch o’Gold interfacing, so I will probably do this. She also recommended fusing the hair canvas where I needed interfacing, so I will try that as well. Apparently fusibles have come a loooong way since I started using them years ago.
Eve also helped me with a few fitting issues (the sleeves needed to be expanded, and it needed some adjustments at the bust), and advised me to try it on over what I would be wearing underneath (e.g. a sweater). So I’m going to adjust the muslin and the pattern, and try again. This time I will probably only cut out the top portion of the coat – I’ve already gotten a look at the flare and drape, and I really like it, so there’s no need to test out the bottom part again. (It’s also a REAL pain trying to fit the huge pattern pieces onto my dining-room table.)
Finally, I stopped by Penny’s place to show her some yarn, and she had a BRILLIANT suggestion: instead of warping up again for the 18″ I’d need to do the collar, why not use something like Ultrasuede? That would allow me to get a pure black (more dramatic contrast) and would look really nice (quite possibly nicer than the handwoven black collar), without requiring all that work.
I thought this was a fantastic idea, but wanted to take it a little further. When at Fabric Outlet (a great fabric shop in the Mission district of San Francisco), I had seen that they had leather pieces on sale, at 50% off. This resulted in some pretty cheap leather – high quality leather, too, as far as I could tell. Since I have to go back there anyway to buy more hair canvas, I’m going to investigate their leather section and see if I can find some lightweight black suede for the collar and lapels. If it costs the earth, I’ll skip it and use Ultrasuede; but if it doesn’t, well….! I’ve never worked with leather and I think it would make for a really attractive coat. The only downside is that it would have to be drycleaned (I think).
Any tips for sewing with suede? Is it going to be really hard to clean? If it is, I might go with Ultrasuede. But I’ve never tried working with leather, and I’d really like to give it a go.