Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Progress on Blue Wool Spencer

I am having SO MUCH FUN with this project!  It is really coming together in a nice, stress-free way that is pure delight.  How often have I been able to say that about a sewing project?  Not often, I can tell you!

After posting about the mockups yesterday, I got to work cutting out my final pattern choice (having previously pre-shrunk my fabric):

While listening to Christmas music on Pandora, of course
I am using all of the pieces from La Mode Bagatelle for View G, except for the collar, which is from Laughing Moon #129 View C.  I should also point out that I am doing the option of View C without the falling part of the collar.

I was raised by a seamstress mother who made sure I learned two very important things:  1. Fabric scissors is for fabric ONLY, and 2. Always lay out pattern pieces as close together as possible (while following grain lines) to get the best use out of the yardage.  When I started I had a little over two yards.  (2 1/4 yards by 61" wide, to be exact.)  After cutting everything out everything above, including the the Front piece again for self-facing, I had *just* under a yard left: 

Heartbreakingly close!  I'm not sure why I should care, other than I can't say "Oh, I have a yard of this fabric."  For some reason I feel like I can only find a future project for leftover fabric if it's in even yardage amounts.
Oh well.  I dove straight into construction (with a glance at the instructions) and was headlong into it before I realized that I was disobeying my previous resolution to take more in-progress pictures.  So I'll pick back up where I started documenting again.

I had picked out the heaviest interfacing I have for the collar, as I want it to stand up on its own with no chance of drooping.  It's a heavy, stiff canvas, possibly linen.  I haven't done a burn test, and I don't remember where I got it.  I have an interfacing scrap bin in my sewing room, and when I need a small piece I just dig through it.  :p 

I basted the interfacing to my outer collar pieces, per Laughing Moon instructions.  However, I basted it just outside the seam allowance, trimmed off the excess, and then stitched the outer collar to the facing right along the edge of the interfacing:

I did this because I didn't want the heavy canvas to add any bulk to the seam, but in retrospect this was probably not the right way to go about it.  I wasn't thinking forward to the fact that I would end up with my basting stitches showing on the outside now:

Well, maybe I can cover them with trim!  I have a bit to play with, after all.  And play I did: 

First I toyed with the idea of trimming the vertical princess seams with braid, along with the three horizontal bars that have been a part of the design since before I bought my fabric.  I don't think I'll have enough braid, though.

I have two pieces of the thicker braid - 8" and 18" - which will form the horizontal bars.  I also have a yard and a half of the thinner braid, but I have a feeling it will get used up fairly quickly.  However, I started with five yards of the velvet ribbon!  So that will go a long way.

Without the vertical trim
 I am also on the fence about whether I want the three horizontal bars to be all the same width (see above photo) or wider at the top and narrower at the bottom (see photo below). 

Pay attention to the width of the bars here, not the thickness of the braid.  I only doubled-over the top piece because I'm not ready to cut it yet.  All three bars will be the thickness of the middle one, no matter the width. 
I know I definitely want to trim the side back seams with the thinner braid, and possibly add a little frogged design at the top of each:

And maybe if there's enough, add a frogged design at the ends of the horizontal bars, too.  Oooh, or coming down from the top points of the collar!  So many possibilities...  Such a finite amount of braid. :( 

I definitely liked the velvet ribbon-trimmed collar edge, though.  This will do three things:  1. Add interest to the collar, 2. Cover those tacky basting stitches, and 3. Feel nice against my cheeks!

But I did not want to trim the center back seam.  Instead, I removed those basting stitches before attaching the collar to the jacket.

I gave the collar edge a good steam press, matched up the raw edges, and basted them together.  The facing is slightly smaller than the outer collar, so it won't "roll" over the edge when worn. 

The I sandwiched the collar in between the neckline edges of the outer jacket and the lining and stitched them together on the machine.  I also stitched the center front edges at this point. 

I was about the sew up the sleeves when I realized that I first needed to attach the sleeve band inside the sleeve seam.  I looked at my sleeve bands, which I had already turned and pressed, and thought "Well those are awfully plain."  I decided to jazz them up a bit with velvet ribbon trim.

At first I was just going to top-stitch the ribbon along the edges of the right side, but it was too wide for the narrow bands.  So instead I folded it over the edge and stitched it on that way:

Which, let me tell you, is hard on the hand that has to hold it in place! 
 Totally worth the effort, though:

Much better, right?
I took a break from this after finishing the first one, and attached the velvet ribbon to the edge of the collar. 

This time I kept it the full width, but stitched it to the edge in such a way as to cover the outer fabric edge just to the seam allowance:

Then I whip-stitched the inner edge, making sure to catch the interfacing in order to give it extra stability.

See how nicely this covers those pesky basting stitches?

And it just looks darn cool:

I love this collar so much!  Somehow it just seems a bit more cheeky (if you'll pardon the pun) and jaunty than my usual Regency style.  I am going to have so much fun wearing this Spencer.  

Now when I was cutting out the pattern, I was unsure if I wanted to add the peplum or not.  I wanted to see it before I decided, so I went ahead and cut it out.  When I finally figured out the pleating (I was doing it really weirdly at first) and tried it out, I loved it!

I'm thinking I'll trim the bottom edge with more velvet ribbon.  I measured to make sure I have enough, so there's no downside to adding it, right?

This is where I left off with the Spencer.  I am debating how I want it to close - hooks and eyes or buttons?

If I do buttons, I am strongly considering embroidering a loopy design on circles of wool before using it to cover button molds.  Something to emulate the soutache braid.  Would that be putting it over the top?  Or just the right amount of embellishment?

So many decisions! 

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