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Batik Jacket - Sewing Part 2 [Jul. 23rd, 2009|08:50 pm]
Time to finish up the jacket. I'll try to post later with Mom wearing it (as I'm sure that she'll be a very cute middle aged lady in a flamboyant orange jacket). Until then, you'll have to content yourself with sewing instructions.

One of the easiest ways to make a clean line between the visible and supposedly invisible (i.e. insides) of a costume is a "pillow hem". (Correct me if my terminology is off.) For this, you just pin the two right sides together, then sew on the wrong side. Then you flip around, and you can see both right sides and a neat seam going between them. In this case, what we want to do is to create this type of hem between the outside front of the jacket and the little inserts that are sized to fit into the front. We do this mostly because a bit of the front of the jacket will be seen, and we really want to make sure that if someone sees it that it is pretty.

Next we create the same sort of hem on the collar. This will give us a clear line on the collar where we can't see any frays. (Note that both the underside and upper side of the collar will be visible to observers.) I want to state as well that this is only one way of making a clean hem. Another method would be to hem both sides then sew them together (which is pretty clean, too.) Or, if you're OK with the inside of the fabric showing (generally not on a collar, but whatever) you could double hem the fabric. So this isn't the sole method of creating a collar...but it is the one given by the pattern, so I shall follow it.

Very grainy picture of a pillow hem...

I personally think that the pattern explained this poorly, so here's hopefully a better explanation. Now that the "pillow" is done over the front, you need to hem the sides together. I just folded over both edges, tried to match them, and sewed them together. This looks OK. Not great. You could pillow the sides as well, if you wanted to, which might look better. Either way, you need to do something with them...

The photo is awful here (and I tried several, this is just not good for picture taking), but I'll try to explain what I did to attach the collar. Essentially, we know that we do NOT want frays showing on either side of the collar. So what I did was inserted the top of the jacket in between the two pieces of the collar, then folded each half down on either side of it. This left a neat hem that looks good from either angle. This is a fairly tricky seam, so I pinned every inch or so to ensure that the hem stayed "hemmed" before proceeding. (OK, now I'm not much better than the vague pattern...)

Finally onto my arch-nemsis...sewing in the sleeves. I will admit straight up that years of sewing has not made me hate sewing on sleeves any less. It's horrible. It's trecherous. It sucks. But I have my one quasi-simple technique for getting it done. More or less, insert the sleeve right side out through the arm hole. Face it so that you're at the inside of the jacket. Then pin the center line of the sleeve to where the side front and back connect. With right sides of the sleeves facing each other, continue to pin about the sleeve. Check it out a few times. Some sleeves are gathered. If they are, are the gathers where you want them to be? Does the seam look right? Is it smooth? If so, leave it pinned. If not, take out a few pins, and try it again. I use a LOT of pins here (maybe 10 per sleeve) so that I can really see how it will turn out. I suck at sleeves, so I have to be extra careful with them. Eventually I get the fabrics lined up right....

The sad thing about sleeves is that even after they're pinned, they're STILL difficult to sew. Talk about unfair. If the sleeve is big enough, I usually try to insert it around the sewing machine, so that I can just turn it around in a spiral to sew. This is fairly easy to do.

Sometimes it's too small to do that, though. In this case, I essentially try to keep as little material as possible near the needle. Drop the needle foot, tug at the rest of the fabric, and slowly sew, adjusting every inch or so to make sure that there isn't fabric that is being sewn that is not what you intended to sew. Hard to explain. Even harder to do. It's a lengthy and laborious process. The main thing to remember is that if you sew something together that was not pinned because it accidentally got caught under the needle, you'll have to rip it out and redo it, which sucks. So go slowly, keep as much fabric as possible away from the needle, and work slowly so that you only have to do this once. (I need a video to show this properly...)

Finally, once the sleeves are on, hem the bottoms of them and the bottom of the jacket and you're done!