Invisible Mending

1-two-holesI dug out of the wardrobe my Jigsaw suit – which I haven’t seen for a few years! – and immediately spotted two little holes on the back of the right shoulder.  ‘Moths!’ I thought, ‘Aargh!!!’  But wait a minute.  If it was moths, why hadn’t they gone for my much tastier wool skirts and cashmere cardies, which I check often and they’re always fine?  In fact the holes looked very much like those I get on my T-shirts, always over the navel area and made, I suspect,1-satchel-strap-buckle by the buckle of my belt.

I think these holes were made by the buckle on the adjustable strap of my bag which I carry on my right.

I needed the suit almost pronto and didn’t have much time to do thorough research on how to repair it but a quick look on YouTube with the search term ‘invisible mending’ was mostly disappointing.  So I improvised a little repair job.  Tell me what you think.

1-taking-parts

  • I opened up the lining to get to the inside.  I cut off a small rectangle of fabric from the seam allowance after staystitching it half way to stop fraying.

1-stick-over-hole

  • I cut this rectangle in half and after dabbing some Pritt Stick (don’t scream!) on the affected area of jacket, I stuck the squares over the holes.

1-seal

  • I cut a piece of fusible interfacing.  On the inside, I placed it over both patches and pressed with iron to seal all three in place.  I used a piece of silk organza when pressing the right side to stop the garment from getting shine.  No, I really did remember to do this, eventually!

 

1-after-repairNow the right side looked like this.  It was enough to stop light getting through but still those little sunken circles, like a vampire bite in Hammer Horror, bothered me.  I remembered one of my many chats with the dry-cleaner (a bit of a mate of mine these days), who told me the Invisible Mender comes every Thursday to do his thing.  I popped by to ask about the service but the dry cleaner shook his head.  ‘He died!’ he said.  My jaw dropped…  He wouldn’t be recruiting another.  The repairs were costing £50 and people were unwilling to pay, preferring to buy another suit.  ‘But how did he do it?’ I asked.  ‘What did he use?  A machine?!’

‘No, he would ‘weave’, he said.  He shrugged, ‘He’d take thread from the inside…’

A ha !

1-taking-threads

  • I went back to the seam allowance that keeps on giving and pulled off some threads.  They were too kinky and very short but luckily I had some thread conditioner.  What I didn’t have, and it would have been most helpful, is a needle threader (where did they all go?!)

 

1-weaving

  • I had to push the needle in before I could thread it, but eventually I got a little darning system going, trying to incorporate the patches beneath into the weave layer. It really helps when the ‘thread’ is exactly the same colour as the garment.  I kept pressing regularly: it made it all look much better!

 

1-finishedThis is the result, a close up.  I hope you don’t think it looks worse!  The area is bigger than the holes but I hope less noticeable.  It’s more of a ‘graze’ now and if I wear my hair down it will be in a shadow.

Have you ever used an invisible mending service or done it yourself?  Was the repair really invisible?

I leave you with a clip from Lead Balloon, where Jack Dee and Omid Djalili (playing a dry cleaner) have an argument on the topic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z9Eci0OJbJw

Gelatine Surprise

WIP: Pin-tucks on the back of Faith

WIP: Pin-tucks on the back of Faith

I seem to have inadvertently impressed some of you by sewing pin-tucks into the front of my Faith Tunic. But it was a beginner’s, entry-level attempt.  The pin-tucks were quite wide and easy to form on firm cotton.  I used the 0.5cm guide on my presser foot to get the lines straight.

My fabric on the cutting table at Woolcrest

My fabric on the cutting table at Woolcrest

It’s time to try finer pin-tucks, and in chiffon 😯  Enter some bargain silk (at £3 a metre) from Woolcrest Fabrics in Hackney.  It’s woven with fine vertical lines which should help with the pin-tucks but it’s otherwise a difficult fabric: fine, floppy and sheer.  Kate, who was with me when we went shopping, did warn it was light enough to fly out of the window should anyone walk into the room when I sew.  But I embark armed with a helpful tip from a reader: soaking the fabric in gelatine!

The method’s from Iconic Patterns (explained here).  You buy gelatine from the baking section of your supermarket: my pack of 3 sachets cost £1. 1 sachets of gelatineAnd ignoring the instructions on the packet, you do exactly as Lena says and dissolve 3 teaspoons (one sachet) in a glass of water.  Whereupon you will be hit by the whiff of dirty hooves!  Don’t worry – the smell will disappear once you move onto the next step and mix in 3 litres of water.  After soaking for an hour, I left the fabric to dry on the line overnight and ran out of the door the next morning burning with curiosity:  would it smell?  Be crispy?  Rubbery?  Or – worst scenario – no different at all…?

1 gelatine in chiffon‘Gelatus’ means stiff or frozen.  The photo shows me holding up identical sized swatches: one hasn’t been treated and one has.  The gelatine seems to have added a bit of backbone so the swatch holds up almost like organza.  I can still iron the fabric (but without steam as that would ‘rinse off’ the gelatine) and there’s no smell.  An excellent upgrade on cheap fabric.

1 stylearc faith back and guide

Faith Back: an area of gathers replaced by pin-tucks…

So hopefully I’ll manage to remake Faith.  I’m redesigning it though, with the raglan sleeves gone and I’ll get rid of the gathers at the back: while watching War & Peace, I noticed nice pin-tucks on the back of a nightgown worn by one of the aristos who rolled over in her bed so I’ll borrow the idea as it’s more consistent with the front of the pattern.  I never did like gathers: I think they are for beginner’s projects, girls’ clothes and peasant wear!

PIn-tuck foot: the white guide is adjusted left to right by turning the screw

PIn-tuck foot: the white guide is adjusted left to right by turning the screw

Have you been watching War & Peace?  If so, have you found any inspiration in the costumes?  I struggled with Episode 1, I admit, and felt let down by the lack of eye-candy (I have peculiar tastes!).  Luckily, a suitable villain may have emerged in Episode 2 which is as far as I got.  Do you recommend I persevere?

So Fedya, how does one fight a war with such big, er, spoons on one's shoulders?

So Dolokhov, how does one fight a war with such big, er, spoons on one’s shoulders?

With thanks to Lena of Iconic Patterns and Ruth who took me there!

Corduroy Trick

Take a look at these two swatches of corduroy.  Both are on the right side.  What do you think is the difference?

1 Corduroy Trick

The answer?  The swatch on the right, which appears deeper in colour, is upside down.  The appearance is dependant on how the light hits the direction of the nap.  The piece on the left has a pearly, whitish sheen which the eye would pick as you look down on the garment.  Most corduroy garments are sewn in this direction.

2 Corduroy trick

My tutor once told me she makes all her corduroy skirts on the reverse nap (i.e. so that if you run your hands down your hips, you go against the nap); this is to gain that darker, velvety shade.  There is a disadvantage; the nap picks up fluff and dust which will show up against the dark fabric so you have to regularly lint-roll.  This is more of a problem with black than with other shades.

What therefore puzzles is me is the apparent success of the Cordarounds: a company which specializes in garments made with the corduroy turned on its side.  I’ve made sleeve cuffs and a waistband with cord at crossgrain (on this dress) and the light made one side appear darker than the other.  What do you think?

4 Corduroy trick