Pintucks

1 stylearc faith with loop and button closure1 front

1 faith 2

The original Stylearc Faith

Nothing new to see here: this is the same blouse as in my Bishop Sleeves post.

But there are some brutally frank close-ups of the loop and button closure, the less than perfect collar as well as pintucks.

The idea was ‘to upgrade, with ambition’ the Stylearc Faith Top I made earlier this year out of lawn and judged to be wearable but a bit simple.  I fear it’s one of those garments you suspect makes people think ‘you spent hours and hours sewing, just to make that?’  The pintucks were wide and the back-of-neck gathers too crude.  But I thought it had potential.

1 stylear faith hackThis garment has more interesting details, the fabric is silk and I will enjoy the feeling of luxury every time I fiddle with the loops and covered buttons while getting it on and off. It’s not precise enough in execution to save for special occasions. This will be an everyday blouse worn over a tight vest to give me warmth and decent coverage throughout our too cold summers.

In the process I made two mistakes which led me to learn a couple of important lessons. The first relates to sewing sheer fabric where the seams show through.  This doesn’t look good.  It doesn’t so much matter on the side seams but the original bodice front had a centre seam which in the sheer version looked ugly, despite my using French seam to keep raw edges hidden. So I had to discard attempt number one (after all the pintucks were made – 🙄 ) and started again, creating a single front piece which was then slit at the neckline with a very narrow facing to which the rouleau strip loops were attached.  In short, Lesson One: re-design your pattern to reduce the number of seams.

The second hard lesson was first chronologically and is more relevant in that it relates to pintucks.  I decided to begin by making the back first to give me practice of pintucks in the less visible area (in the  Faith pattern, this area is gathered).  But despite careful calculations (or so I thought), the finished piece ended up too narrow to fit my shoulders. I’d already widened the shoulders to eliminate the raglan sleeves but it was nowhere enough so I had to chuck that away and start again, this time making longer than required pintucks on a rectangular piece and when they were finished cutting out the pattern piece so that the pintucked area would fit the neck piece.  1 back stylearc faith

Pintucks are not for everyone; they require so much time that you have to be a bit of a fan to think it’s worth it.  Here are some tips if you want to give them a go:

  • On woven fabrics, where the grain of a fabric is visible, or where there’s a visible pattern like on this striped chiffon, you can use the lines as a guide to the placement of pintucks and their width.

 

  • Some use a double needle to make them, I used a pintuck foot.  .1 pintuck food

 

  • Press each side of pintuck after it’s formed to sink in stitches, then press to one side.

 

 

 

1 and tie knots nicely

Pintucks on reverse

  • I used a basting stitch, later removed, to mark the end points of each pintuck so to know exactly where to stop stitching.  (Chalk lines turned to dust and disappeared under all the pressing and  jumping from machine to ironing board.)

 

 

  • 1 take thread to wrong sideYou cannot backstitch at the ends: it looks unattractive.  Instead, pass each thread to the wrong side, using a hand sewing needle (yes, lots of time-consuming threading) and tie into a  secure knot, taking care not to ‘choke’ the pintuck.

And two very important points:

  • Stiffen your fabric to make it easier to handle if your pintucks are fine. You can use starch on cotton. I used gelatine.
1 jcrew pintuck

J Crew Pintuck blouse

  • If you don’t want to risk making your pattern pieces too small by adding pintucks, make them on separate sections of fabric then add to the garment.  Many RTW garments tend to have them applied in sections, as in this JCrew top (quite similar in colour to mine.)

 

 

This post  looks at pintucks from a historical sewing angle and was very helpful in my research.  It shows something that had completely escaped me in my focus on sewing the garment I’d envisaged: that pintucks are often horizontal. (As the post suggests, use the straightgrain or crossgrain but never bias as it’s too stretchy).

You could put a few rows of horizontal ones on a little girl’s dress and unpick them as she grows out of the length.  On coloured fabric, there’d emerge an interesting colour difference due to fading.  Just don’t forget to make them first and then cut your pattern 1 Helline Denim dresspiece.

Here’s a great denim dress with what look like horizontal pintucks….  I may just copy it someday.

Have you ever been potty about pintucks?!

12 thoughts on “Pintucks

  1. Wow, great post, Marijana -lots of useful information and thoughts to ponder. I have made wider tucks on a blouse once (a failure overall because of fit), but I’d be interested in trying fine pintucks sometime. I’m not sure I’d have the guts to try chiffon, but I could see something nice for summer in something resembling a cotton ticking or maybe a striped linen. Thank you for the guidance in terms of process! Your blouse is very pretty on you. Cool denim dress, too – looks like you’d get the wow factor of the pintucks with much less work/hassle.

  2. The turquoise is a lovely colour on you with your dark hair.
    I once had a traumatic experience involving pin tucks on tartan so won’t be going there again.
    That denim dress looks very interesting although it’s the top part I like rather than the horizontal pin tucks – although you might be able to persuade me to like them too if you make a version of it.

    • Pintucks on tartan sound traumatising indeed, all that intricate matching of pattern.

      As for the denim dress, I too love the top part. According to Pinterest (where I found it) it’s by the French company Helline but I’ve trawled their website and not seen it. Let me know if you come across it on your travels (sometimes you just have to buy RTW!).

  3. Beautiful pin tucks, now I want to try them too!

    Thank you for reminding us about he gelatine tip. I have some by slippery silk waiting to be cut and was wondering how I was going to manage it.

  4. This is the sort of detail that I don’t make for clients, and don’t have time at present to do for myself. Your garments really make me want to play – maybe when my plans to reduce client work actually happen I will do this!
    Thanks for sharing your experience.

  5. Potty, you ask? I love them as long as I don’t have to make them ?. I guess I am potty about pin tucks, I made one garment that I never wear ?! it’s just not my style and was for the PR sewing bee. I avoid them because I’m too lazeeee to bother. I really like that denim number in this post and will reconsider my laziness should I want to copy it….thanks!
    G

  6. I second the part about spending a lot of time on something that looks very homespun/sisterwife at the end. I have made this top before. Many times. And each time, it’s not half as nice as yours. Gunne Sax hippy boho 70s flashbacks, from someone who dressed like that in the 70s (runs screaming from the room)
    The denim dress looks smashing, though. Horizontal tucks perhaps…..

  7. Lovely top on you and what a brave lass working with chiffon. I’d need a valium and a nice glass of red beforehand!! Actually I’ve never done that but it sounds suitably dramatic!
    I have my sights set on smocking as an alternative to pin tucks at the moment. There’s just something about adding all that extra work that looks special to me. Pity the Indian sub continent churn out these garments at a rate that devalues our handwork. I wonder if they just have an automatic machine for pin tucks? Oh bottoms, they do, check this out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=husRs030eWc

    Wonder if it also does smocking?!!

    • 🙁
      It makes sense now: just cut the panels required after the machine has produced an endless roll. It’s quite a cute machine really, I love how it vibrates excitedly like a kitten when salmon is announced! I don’t know whether to feel like a mug for doing this the hard way. Maybe next time, I’ll hand sew them too for extra penance 🙂
      I’ve seen some interesting smocking on Pinterest and have tried out one idea (by hand) which I hope to add to a blouse front eventually. Another blog challenge idea maybe.

  8. I think this blouse is immaculate. I do tend to associate pintucks with little girls’ dresses but many high end designers also use them. Very well done. I’m learning from your mistakes!

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