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?!

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!

Keep the Faith

1 faith 3

Pin-tucks: there's something very satisfying about sweeping these aside with a hot iron to set shape

Pin-tucks: there’s something very satisfying about sweeping these aside with a hot iron

StyleArc’s Faith Woven Top is graded as medium in difficulty.  This means that those same features that make it a great project for a beginner wishing to learn new tricks might prove the undoing of the more experienced sewist looking to do a fine job – maybe even show off a little –  by trying out couture techniques or testing fitting skills!

Neckline guides - pattern pieces cut from paper only

Neckline guides – pattern pieces cut from paper only

The pattern has five pin-tucks at each side of the centre front, though there’s also the option of gathers.  The back is gathered at the neckline, below the simple mandarin collar.

I’ve noticed StyleArc often provide pattern pieces to be used as guides for checking the finished width of gathers or pin-tucks: something I’ve not noticed with other pattern companies and I nearly forgot to use them but they’re useful for spotting discrepancies before attaching the collar.

1 faith stylearc side viewThe raglan sleeves are easy to sew too, fitted to the shoulder by, in my view, over-simplistic darts. There are no closures; instead there’s a centre front split as well as side seam splits below the waist.

My frustrations, which tended to be slight, came from the simplicity of the pattern.  Take the splits: I like to use French Seams for a clean finish but I haven’t worked out how to do so neatly where the seam breaks into a split (or a pocket, for that matter). Similarly, the raglan sleeves and the flat, upturned collar: the result is somewhat lacking in sophistication. I might have avoided the peasant look by using a light, silky fabric with drape instead of lawn; it would have ensured the fabric skims the figure like on the pattern envelope drawing.  But I doubt then the pintucks would have been easy.

1 button

Crude topstitching (well it was a bit dark!)

Sizing

As with previous StyleArc projects, the ease was spot on. If you require a reference, I bought size 8 and it fits perfectly my 34”/86cm bust and 10”/25cm upper arm.  Though it’s a bit long for my height.

Changes made to the pattern

1 trim into waist–   Interfaced the sleeve tabs lightly.

–   Shortened the sleeves and the hem by 2 cm.

–   After an SPR Reviewer suggested this pattern suffers from a lack of shaping, I trimmed off 1cm from the waist, i.e. the waist is reduced by 4cm all round.  Not sure it helped.

 

Must try harder

I kind of like this: it brings nostalgic memories of mummies at the school gates in the early 1980s… who were probably dressed like this ’cause they were pregnant.   But it needs to be done better.  Next time I’ll:

  •  Use silk (I paid a visit to Simply Fabric last week looking for more Umbrellas in the Rain, but there was no sign of it and the stock was so low so that for the first time I left without buying anything.)
  • Sew 8 narrow pin-tucks on each side, rather than 5 wide ones. I’ll need to stabilise the fabric somehow so please let me know if you have any recommendations.
  • Put in 4-5 small covered buttons at one side of the centre front split with loops on the other
  • Make the sleeves fuller and gathered into cuffs

 

My current project is another Stylearc top. On the evidence of several PR reviews I’ve seen, no one appears to have made a decent job of it. Gulp.

Previous StyleArc Projects

Lea Jersey Wrap Dress

Mara Shirt Dress