Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The garment that almost destroyed my sewing mojo

It's been so hot all summer that I got the idea into my head that it would be nice to own a few camisoles. To be honest I have never been much of a cami person because I am not a big fan of the strapless bra. However, I think I found one that stays up pretty well and doesn't dig in uncomfortably so I was ready to give the style another try. The Ogden Cami by True Bias is such a popular pattern that it was easy to get inspired with all of the different versions out there.

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My test version used the leftover indigo-dyed cotton/linen from my Willamette shirt. I had just enough hand-dyed fabric left that I hated to waste it. I was able to squeeze out enough for the cami, which takes less than a yard of fabric. This time I used the reverse side of the fabric from my Willamette shirt. It's much more solid in appearance and pretty much looks like a chambray fabric, which I was very happy with.

For this version I cut and sewed a size 0. I lengthened the body just slightly, about 5/8". Otherwise I made no changes. I embroidered a red X with perle cotton on the back lining piece to make it easy to identify the back from the front. It was very easy to do and didn't create any itch potential like it would have if I'd sewed a tag on the inside. I used the string trick to turn my spaghetti straps, but I wasn't altogether happy with the results. The straps turned just fine but getting them pressed flat and straight was difficult and honestly my straps are pretty wavy.

The fit on this one is ok, but it's tight under the arms. I modified the pattern to increase just the armholes to a size 2, giving me about 1/2" additional width all the way around. I sewed this version all in one afternoon so I was ready to cut out my next version. I haven't actually worn this one yet but I have made it part of my Summer 10x10 challenge, so I'm sure I will have plenty to report on it soon.

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This is silk charmeuse that I bought from fabric mart ages ago. I went a little crazy and bought all these silky fabrics and then let them sit in the stash because I was too scared to sew them, for good reason it turns out. I watched a bunch of classes on sewing with silk and other fine and sheer fabrics. I was armed with all these techniques for cutting and sewing silks.

I used my rotary cutter, pattern weights (ok, I used wet cat food cans but they actually work really well and I highly recommend), and i stabilized my fabric with medical pattern paper. I traced my pattern pieces to be a single layer and the cutting went fine. Where I think I went wrong was using cheap cotton thread for the sewing. One of the classes I watched recommended thin cotton thread, while others advised using silk thread or rayon embroidery thread. I was impatient and only had cotton thread in the appropriate color in my stash so I just used what I had. I am pretty sure the thread was too thick for the fabric and I'm definitely sure that the low quality really hindered my progress. There were often little slubs that would get caught in my tiny 65/9 needle and mess up my sewing. And even though I lowered my machine tension considerably it still puckered quite a bit when I sewed, especially on the hems.

I also had issues with my machine. Because the fabric was so delicate I pretty much had no choice but to use the single hole needle plate function on my machine. However, I have always had a problem with it breaking needles and skipping stitches and this project was no exception. I also had issues with my rolled hem foot. I have basically never been able to get the damn thing to work. Fortunately I knew ahead of time that it probably wasn't going to happen and only ruined a few practice samples before giving up and doing a machine rolled hem without using the special foot.

I did French seams, rather poorly. I also had the same problems with my straps being wavy. it took me about 2 weeks to finally finish this camisole, and I think I only did it because I didn't want to let it defeat me. I am not anxious to sew with silk charmeuse or any other slippery fabric again, no matter how nice it feels.

July 25

Having said all of that, I am wearing my silk cami today and it feels so lovely on. The color is just gorgeous and it'll be perfect to transition to fall with a cardigan or jacket. I've even ordered more fabric to make another Ogden Cami so evidently I haven't learned my lesson. Hopefully rayon challis will be less of a bear to sew than the silk.

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