Sunday, 10 March 2013

Green ensemble, part 2

The corded panels are done! Time to write a post on them.
Also, I've finished the line diagrams.(click for a larger view)
Front view of the completed bodice.
 You can see the wobbly lines more clearly now. I still haven't decided what to do with the sleeves, so I left them plain.
The inside of the bodice.
The right side of the diagram shows the pieces after they have been sewn together, and the seam allowances of pieces 1,3, and 6 have been sewn down to the canvas part. The left side depicts the finished bodice with seam binding, bias tape, hidden lacing, and hooks & eyes. It doesn't lie completely flat on the table.

There are 6 corded panels, 3 on each side. Each panel has an "a" and a "b" pattern piece.
(From left to right) 2b,2a,4b,4a,5b, and 5a.
 The "a" pieces are cut from the canvas, so they are the size of the finished panels. The "b" pieces are cut in the dark green thin cotton. The canvas pieces have staystitching on all 3 sides. I forgot the staystitching on the first panel and the edges got kind of warped.
The "a" and "b" pieces for panel 5.
As you can see, the "b" piece that is cut out in fabric is much wider than the "b" pattern piece.
The "b" pattern piece, and the piece that I actually cut out.
This is because the cording is very bumpy, the canvas lies more or less flat but the thinner cotton on top has to cover a lot more surface area. Since the cording is curved, it draws in top fabric from several different directions.
I tried to sew up panel #4 by cutting the pattern pieces out exactly. This is what happened.
Not good.
There wasn't enough fabric on the left side of the "b" piece. The gouge went past the seam allowance which meant I had to do this piece over again. Thankfully, I wasn't sure if I had given the top piece enough extra fabric, so none of the other pieces were cut out yet.
It wasn't a total waste, I cut the ruined panel in half and used it as a sample for sewing two corded panels together, which turned out very well.

While the pieces have a lot of extra on the sides, they still have to be cut the same on the bottoms.
The bottoms sewn together, trimmed(no notches!), and pressed right side out.
Then it's time to sew lots and lots of cords in.
The cord is first eased into place with a thumbnail and cut, leaving about 1 cm of extra length on each side. The first cord in each panel is the most difficult one to sew in smoothly.
Thumbnails are very useful.
The cords are sewn in with a zipper foot, using a very short stitch length (less than 1mm) and no backstitching. I've found some tutorials that tell you to sew the channels first and then pull the cords through, but Leimomi's zipper foot method makes much more sense. It would also be impossible to do curved cording using that method.
My other hand would be there too, helping keep the cord in place, if it weren't holding the camera.
 After 2 or 3 cords, the top fabric starts to wrinkle.
3 cords in.
This isn't too big of a problem, it just means you have to be more careful with the sewing. The "b" panels are cut on the bias, so they can still cover the cords smoothly.

Another thing that happens is the rough edges of the "b" panels and the ends of the cords stick out over the edge of canvas and obscure your view.
From the top, you can't tell where to put the foot anymore.
So the edges must be trimmed every 3 or 4 cords, with a pair of very sharp scissors, to make sure they line up with the edge of the canvas.
Trimmed.(after 3 cords)
After you have removed the ends of the cords you have to cut away from the canvas at a very wide angle, to make sure there is enough fabric to cover the cords that haven't been sewn in yet. The amount of fabric they pull in is surprisingly large.

After 18 cords.
The wrinkles are calming down now. The more cords you sew in, the less curved they become and the smoother the fabric gets. You can also see that there is an enormous amount of fabric on one side and very little on the other. It did manage to cover all the cords, but was dangerously close to the edge of the canvas at one point. I found the amount of excess fabric needed for the sides extremely difficult to judge.
By the time the panel is almost done, the cords are getting very straight and are not curved at all. At this point the top fabric may run out but this is not a problem at all.
Oh dear, panel "b" was too short.
Simply cut a little rectangle out of scrap fabric.
The rectangle goes on like this.
Sew it on with the zipper foot, right up against the previous cord.
The rectangle of scrap fabric is attached.
 Trim the seam allowances.

Trimmed very short, only a little bit wider than a cord.
Then continue sewing. The seam where the new piece was added will not be very noticeable at all.

2 cords after the fix. Quite inconspicuous, especially since this part of the panel will be almost completely covered when the bodice is done.
 There probably aren't very many cords left. 5 or 6 maybe.
Panel #2, for the left side, finished!
Th cords take forever to sew but they are worth it. They provide both stiffening and awesome texture.
Texture! like furrows in a ploughed field.
The panels are done now. I didn't keep track of the hours because I don't want to know how long I spent on these darn things.
All 6 panels. Done. Finally.
I hope this made sense. I found these quite difficult to explain in words, which is why there are so many pictures in this post. I wrote it in a "how to" sort of voice because I am considering shrinking the pattern pieces down, drawing them on little grids and posting them here.(and also because I get sick of saying "I" all the time.) It depends on how the bodice turns out.


  1. Hello. Testing. Testing.
    My grandmother says she was unable to leave a comment. Perhaps there is some technical difficulty, I shall see if this publishes. If it doesn't, I shall attempt to figure out what is wrong with the thingy that lets you leave comments.

    1. Hmm. It did work. This is odd. I wonder what's wrong with the comment processing thing.

  2. Heard that your blog is having trouble accepting comments. This is to check whether or not it's true.

    Oh, and your sewing work is lovely.

  3. You are amazing. And I don;t want to know how many hours that you spent on those panels either.

  4. Hi Mira, This is also an attempt on my part to see if your blog will accept my comment this evening. I love all the complicated work you are designing and sewing. Quite amazing.


  5. I am so impressed with all the work that you put into the panels!! I feel tired just looking at it :)

    But you do such beautiful detailed work! Can't wait to see how the next stage goes!!