Join me in my adventures as I write romance novels and sew vintage and contemporary fashion.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Sewing For Victory 40’s Suit ~ Flashback #1

The Sewing

The thing about taking two weeks off from sewing to finish my book was that it felt great to finally be able to sit down and tackle a project--especially one that had lots of techniques I'd heard about, but never tried. I've sewn for decades, but most of it was production sewing--clothes for the kids and shirts for my husband, who loved that I could make the sleeves the right length and put large front pockets on his outdoor shirts. I kept the family in cowboy shirts, with pearl snaps and flat-fell seams, and made innumerable pairs of PJ bottoms that the family wore around the house. However, it was the same old thing over and over and over as kids grew and the husband wore out his shirts. I wanted to try something new. I collected sewing books, read articles, intended to try new things, but there was always something that needed to be sewn. Well, my nest is empty, my husband buys his shirts and now it's my time to try new things.

I'm not wearing a fez. This hat
has three feathers that look
very cool from the side.
I decided to make my Sew For Victory suit out of a linen-silk blend. I'd originally chosen a lovely blue textured fabric from the rayon section of my local fabric store, and it was only after it was cut that I noticed the 100% Polyester at the end of the bolt (that had obviously been mis-shelved). I'm not a history genius, but I know they didn't have polyester in the 40s and I wanted to be kind of accurate. Therefore I went with the linen-silk blend. I doubt it was a readily available fabric in the 40s, but it probably existed.

I love linen, but hate the wrinkles, however, I'd read that underlining with silk organza helped with the wrinkling. I'm certain that, during the era of fabric rationing, silk organza wasn't readily available either, but it did exist, so I decided to pretend that 1940s me used my grandmother's drapes, a la Scarlett O'Hara, to make my suit less wrinkly.

I found a source of decently priced silk organza, sewed the organza to the linen by hand, because I'd read that sewing it by machine puckered it, and then treated it as one piece.I have since seen photos of machine-stitched underlining that looked fine, but sewing it in by hand was kind of relaxing. I sewed in the morning before work and then a wee bit after work. I prefer to hit the machine in the afternoon, whereas morning is more of a hand-sewing-coffee-sipping time.
The cool thing about the underlining was that I was able to tack down my seams as I overcast them, thus insuring that they stay flat after laundering. (I ran everything through the washer and dryer before I started and it all survived.) Also, I sewed the hems to the organza, so the hem stitches do not show.  The underlining gave the linen an excellent heft and drape. The jacket feels light, but substantial.

The pattern called for the muslin interfacing to be sewn to the jacket front, instead of being attached to the facing, as it is in most modern patterns. I had my doubts about using muslin. I mean, it wrinkles... However, I preshrunk heavy weight muslin and tacked it to the underlining (this stuff is great!) and was really happy with the result.

So in summary, I learned that interlining rocks and that muslin makes a fine interfacing. I'll discuss being tortured by color blocking and bound buttons holes in the next post. If you want to know more about underlining, this Threads article is terrific.

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