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!

14 thoughts on “Gelatine Surprise

  1. So like a sewist to be watching TV and notice the pin tucks in bed rather than the ‘action’! Glad you found Lena’s blog, her instructions are spot on and so thorough. Some are not like anything I’ve seen before, but they do work.
    I don’t think War and Peace has made it here yet, but you’ve got me intrigued as to your eye candy preferences – so is it Chris or Liam??

  2. Spooooooooooooooooooon! (sorry, never pass up a Tick reference)

    As a chiffon hemmer, I can’t soak the whole thing in gelatin, but I can handbaste the nasty parts. Helps if it’s ongrain. Swearing also works.

    • Good point: I never thought of just dipping the hem. I was recently asked to shorten three very full chiffon dresses and it took forever.

  3. I wonder if vegetarian gelatine would work? No dirty hooves smell.

    I watched episode of War and Peace and thought it was a bit soap opera-y but then gave it another try and now I’m up to episode 5. I would say persevere and then read (or re-read) the novel because then you will know who all the characters are which is always difficult with Russian novels as each person is known by about umpteen different names. I read it back in the mists of time but don’t remember much of it. Who is your eye candy? Is it Dolokhov or Andrei or the creepy, lizard like though strangely erotic Anatole who is big trouble (no spoilers). I like Boris (Aneurin Barnard) but that’s mainly because I saw him in a dramatized biopic of David Bailey and fell a bit in love with him in that.

    • I didn’t realise there was vegetarian gelatine! One vegetarian alternative, suggested by Demented Fairy, is using hairspray but I don’t like the smell of that either 🙂 so your suggestion will be used next!
      Aneurin Barnard is lovely. I’ve seen him play Richard 3. But I like Dolokhov best. Thanks for the encouragement. I agree about the soap-opera beginning and as I haven’t read the novel I’d not have guessed this was a great work of literature!

  4. I don’t know why but your blogs have not been coming to me. Not to worry as I saw your whole sweetness in person. I am keen to see if this is wearable – I felt it was a bit flimsy, even for lining. But if anyone can make it work it will be you – with your packet of gelatine! I am intrigued to see this technique in action.

    • The gelatine has made it easier but it’s still not easy. Only, I can’t give up and choose an easier style now I’ve committed!

  5. Keep the faith and watch W&P to the end! I can’t say I found any of the males terribly appealing – nice horses though!
    I haven’t tried the gelatine trick but I will mentally store that information for future use.

  6. I really loved War and Peace – no attractive men in it though. Stand out actor for me was Paul Dano. Seen him in a few other things and think he’ll be a big name in the future. Brilliant actor.
    Back to sewing. Never tried gelatine before. Someone did warn me to be very careful that after soaking to make sure the grain is straight.

    • He’s excellent. ‘There Will Be Blood’ is on tonight (though v late). Not an easy film to watch but I seem to remember PD did very well in it.

      Lovely to hear from you Sheree. Hope all is well and you’re not missing the sunnier climes too much at the mo. I’ll look out for grainlines!

  7. I may have recommend this technique but I will admit to having never tried it – flimsy and slippery fabrics are my nemesis. Always keen to watch from the sidelines….beautiful colour fabric and perfect pintucks.

  8. I read about this technique and always meant to try it, but so far haven’t got around to it. I’m looking forward to reading about how useful it is on the tucks. Presumably you have to let it dry naturally? That could be the downside in this climate.

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