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Do Scary Stuff

February 4, 2013

I am not an adventurous type, but I really wish I were. I see the (made up) repercussions of things well before I attempt anything, harmless or otherwise. It’s always been that way. Get a tattoo, get disowned by my parents. Have fun like most high school students, get my father fired because someone he works with might find out I’m not a good kid. Flash forward to the years where I’ve grown past the fear of ruining my parent’s lives. Now I worry that if I write a paragraph for a grant that a client doesn’t like I’ll lose my contract and we’ll starve. If I travel somewhere beautiful I’ll fall off a cliff while enjoying the view (no, seriously). And if I make a project for someone other than myself, a project that is requested, I will fail miserably and ruin their perception of me.

So this year I’m trying to do more things that scare me, even though those things are clearly not scary for 99.9% of the population.

My first scary thing this year was agreeing to shorten my friend’s wedding dress. It was an empire waisted Grecian style gown made of two layers. A slinky knit lining fell to the floor under a sheer bias cut layer. Really, hemming things isn’t a big deal, but this was a wedding dress and a new material.  When I’m sewing for myself it’s only basic knits and wovens; nothing so flimsy as wedding dress material. When I’m not writing for clients I’m helping this designer and dealing only with leather. Thanks to the Internet I learned a few tricks to deal with these new fabrics and hemmed away with nary a heart palpitation.

The slinky knit lining gave me trouble because it required a 1/4 inch hem in keeping with the original construction of the dress. There was no way to iron it or fold it or even pin it in place, and so I had to get creative. Knowing it would be hidden under the flowing exterior fabric I decided I’d use a trick I’d seen on making lamé edging. Clearly I knew this would change the flow of the bottom of the dress slightly, but I wanted a clean and even hem most of all so I had to make some choices (plus I didn’t totally know exactly what I was doing).

tape pinned

See what I did there? I ran to Staples and bought some adding machine tape, sewed it to the exterior of the dress right along the raw edge of the fabric needing to be hemmed. Once stitched in place I folded it under and pinned in place again. The adding machine tape gave just enough structure to the fabric that I was able to create an even hem. And it’s such a lightweight paper so the excess can be torn away easily once everything is stitched in place.

tape ripping

Look at how it pulls away after the hem is finished. And the paper is so lightweight that even though a small amount remains in the hem, it doesn’t change the stiffness of the fabric too much. Obviously I wouldn’t recommend it for flowing, exterior hemlines, but for hidden linings it might work if nothing else is coming together for you.

tape sewn

Then you get a really clean, crisp and even hem.

So after that first success, I moved on to the sheer, bias cut exterior fabric. I knew this would be more difficult only because of the whole bias cut bit. It was fairly easy to roll in place and control with my finger tips as I sewed away, but first I had to get my sewing machine to accept this lighter fabric. Smaller needle, check. Lighter thread, check. But somehow my sewing machine still wanted to eat the fabric. And so after some searching I realized the fabric was so light it was getting pushed by the needle into the machine and jamming each time. So out came the painter’s tape to cover up that hole and we were on a roll.

tape sewing plate

Then the dress was done with quarter inch hems sewn evenly all around. And you know what? It wasn’t absolutely perfect because the dress dipped slightly lower in front and I didn’t realize that until I’d cut and hemmed everything evenly, but she got married this weekend, looked beautiful and she didn’t trip once. And more than that, we’re still friends.

Now bring on some more scary (but not scary at all) stuff.

Also, for all you sewing experts out there, feel free to tell me how I should have done this because I’m pretty sure there was a better way to do things.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Patsy Scott permalink
    February 4, 2013 12:22 pm

    You’re brilliant! Keep pressing on, Claire!

  2. Julia permalink
    February 4, 2013 7:28 pm

    You did awesome Claire!! It all went off without a hitch, thanks to you! You’re the best.

    • Claire permalink
      February 4, 2013 8:22 pm

      Thanks, Julia. I definitely stalked your wedding photos to look specifically at the hem of your dress 🙂 Your shrug looked amazing, by the way!

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