Daryl Lancaster and I swapped a couple of emails today – she was kind enough to offer some thoughts on the interfacing and backing. As I had half suspected, the mohair is too loosely-woven to work well with a sewn-in organza backing. (There are 1/16″ gaps between the threads!) If I simply tack it to the organza at the seamlines, over time it will stretch and “bag” at the bottom. And because of the looseness of the weave, it definitely needs support.
At the same time, the mohair is nubbly enough that a fusible would be problematic – twice over. First, I don’t want to flatten the “pile” of the brushed mohair by fusing an interfacing on top. Second, the rough surface would make it hard for the fusible to adhere.
So what to do? Well, obviously the only thing left was to sew the backing to the fabric, tacking it down across the entire piece of fabric. And that’s exactly what Daryl recommended.
So that’s what I’ve been doing:
I have been going through each piece, pinning the backing and the fabric together, then tailor-basting the backing to the fabric. The stitches are about 1″ in length, and the columns are spaced 1.5-2″ apart. I’m hoping that will be sufficient.
This is both quick and slow. The stitches go very quickly, but of course there are a lot of them to do. I spent about an hour working on it tonight, and have done one back piece, one side panel, and just under half of one sleeve. I expect I’ll spend a good chunk of time on it tomorrow, and that it will take me two or three hours to get it done.
This is not bothering me. The rest of this whole cashmere-coat voyage has been fairly slow, and this falls right in line with the rest. Moreover, it’s contemplative, and quiet, both things that I need really badly right now. And it’s hand-stitching, which I enjoy.
I have never really liked the sewing machine. It is undoubtedly faster, and in some cases better, than hand sewing. But it never feels “alive” to me, in the way that a loom does, or that a needle and thread do. I use it like I would use a computer – something that you work with, but which has no relationship to you – no “soul”. To me, a sewing machine is something standing between me and the fabric. I like hand sewing a lot better, and am seriously considering hand sewing this coat. To me, it is not just a garment, but also a meditation of sorts, and I feel like a machine gets in the way. The sewing machine, to me, is focused on efficiency, and that is not what this coat is about.
So I am really enjoying this basting work. It is giving me time to explore the silent, empty spaces, a wordless meditation.