Monday, May 2, 2011

It's a Learning Process: Right Side or Wrong?

Last night a friend called to ask the dreaded question, "Is it done?" She was speaking, of course, of the First Communion Dress which I've been working on since February and which I'm supposed to be taking with me to Ohio this Thursday.

"Yes," I said. "It's done." As a matter of fact, I had put the last few stitches in it just moments ago. (I'd thought I had finished it a couple of days ago but had just realized that I'd forgotten to blind stitch the opening in the sash and the thread loops to hold it in place.)

"And was it fun?" she asked eagerly. I wasn't quite sure how to reply. This project has had more twist and turns, more set-backs than any other I've done in a long time.

"Well," I said carefully, "I learned a lot from it." That was certainly true, and I suppose it was all worthwhile -- even though many of the things I learned didn't end up being used in the final dress. Originally, I had hoped to document my progress, but ended up sewing too fast and furiously to be able to write about it. So I thought I'd do a few posts about the process and what I learned from it, now that I've had a chance to catch my breath.

Here is a picture of my beautiful silk dupioni on its way through my Bernina 1530. The more observant among you are probably wondering why I'm using a spool of green thread to sew white silk.

Well, I am marking the right side of my fabric. Never having worked with silk before, I realized that I had no idea which was the right side of the fabric. I could see a slight difference between them; I just wasn't sure which one was supposed to be on the outside of the garment.

So I took it to my heirloom sewing teacher, and she marked it for me with a pin in the selvage. When we were sewing our Heirloom Linen Shirts, she'd had us mark the right side with a few pins which we moved down the length of the yardage as we cut out the panels for various parts of the shirt. I couldn't quite see myself doing this with five yards of silk. (Especially since I wasn't planning to cut out all the pieces of the dress at one time.) But then I was struck with the idea of sewing the selvage edge with green thread on top and white in the bobbin. Then I would always know that the side with the green stitching was the right side. A minuscule brainwave, but mine own -- and an idea I'll use again the next time I have a fabric for which it would be easy to confuse the right side with the wrong.


Rebekah said...

Oh, I am so happy to hear that the First Communion dress is now complete! You must be very proud of yourself. :)

I've read numerous sewing hints and tips via blogs and magazines, and I have never ever come across your right side/wrong side stitching idea. I will do this the next time I run into a tricky fabric. Thanks for sharing your tip!


Catholic Bibliophagist said...

Well, I'm not sure if I feel proud.

Glad, relieved, ecstatic, exhausted...

All of its flaws are glaringly visible to me, but I hope young Miss Darwin will like it.

Katie said...

I look forward to seeing the finished article! :-)