16 June: 

Partlet Party!  Gritted teeth and lots of bad words...

There were several issues with the partlet...  The first one was the crystal metallic pleated organza it recommends!  Not only is this stuff seriously uncomfortable to wear next to the skin, it is also hell to work with!  I thought I'd like to use silk chiffon, but at the time I was buying, I couldn't find any at a price I wanted to pay, so since the gown is made of a hodge-podge of different fabrics, I got the polyester chiffon and used that.  I thought it might be easier to work with...  Hm...  Not so sure now!

Before I could get started, I needed to clear the decks...  And find the stuff!  Then I got to work:

fabric.JPG (54166 bytes)  partlet1pattern.JPG (153688 bytes) Once I located the fabric, I thought things were set.  I tore off a bit for the partlet: it only takes a tiny bit of fabric!  I cut it carefully, and used the spare for some experiments...
chewededge.JPG (186862 bytes)  notchewededge.JPG (115517 bytes)  chewedcorner.JPG (251589 bytes) I thought I might do a rolled hem on the serger for this, bit it was not to be...  I got a lot of chewed edges and frustration after two hours of trying different threads, different tensions, different needles...  Then I set the tension for a narrow edge rather than a rolled one, but forgot to move the lever back, and it rolled the edge!  Ha!  When I tried it on the real thing, it chewed the corner off to the extent that Version One went in the bin!  GRRR!
partlet2pattern.JPG (144673 bytes)  narrowhem.JPG (114692 bytes) I re-cut for Version Two: good job I bought a whole metre of this stuff!

I also gave up on the serged rolled edge and went back to the old fashioned way: a narrow hem done with the straight stitch machine!  It worked!  YAY!

narrowstart.JPG (201047 bytes)  stitching1.JPG (120752 bytes)  stitching2.JPG (99344 bytes) There is only one place to get pukka instructions for doing this: 'Fine Machine Sewing' by Carol Laflin Ahles, ISBN 1 56158 153 4 (Taunton Press 1996), $24.95 (USA)..  My copy was a gift from Joy on one of my sewing newsgroups, and has been invaluable for many things, but this is where it pays for the shelf space!  Carol stars on tear-away stabiliser, used in machine embroidery, but I found an off-cut of Dot & Cross pattern making paper worked just as well.  Start by pinning the first inch of hem in place to the paper. Stitch down the paper and onto the fabric, making one or two stitches in the hem while missing the pin!  Raise the presser foot, slide the pin out, tug the fabric into the curl of the foot, and lower the presser foot...  Stitch away down the edge, keeping the edge feeding into the curl.  I find it works best if you go slowly!
stitching3.JPG (154404 bytes)  stitching4.JPG (147652 bytes) If the edge of the fabric comes out of the curl in the foot, stop!  Take the work out, frog stitch the error, and put it back... 
stitching5.JPG (79472 bytes)  stitching6.JPG (74805 bytes)  stitching7.JPG (114627 bytes) Over stitch about half an inch, then lift the foot and get the fabric back in the curl...  Lower away and go on!  Once you get to the end, just trim the threads close, and the fix will be almost invisible.
paperstart.JPG (108292 bytes)  paperoff.JPG (158572 bytes)  stitching8.JPG (78784 bytes)

paperagain.JPG (135969 bytes)  tidyends.JPG (85798 bytes)  edgesdone.JPG (342558 bytes)

At the start of the hem, carefully tear the paper off the stitching.  Just clip the other end threads off, as this is to be finished later...

To start again round the corner and hem an adjacent edge, just do the same trick again with the paper.  It works well enough starting with an already neatened corner.  It also works well starting at the other end and finishing with the already neatened edge as the fabric is fine enough to feed through the curl folded.  Just take a needle and slide the threads up one of the hems, catching in any bits that haven't quite done it right.  Snip off any bearding you get: don't be tempted to pull dangling threads!

Boy, that was a long hard morning!  It wasn't the easy job I thought it might be because the serger refused to do what I thought I wanted.  Now I compare the serged rolled edge with the narrow hem, I much prefer the latter!  AND I have mastered another technique on a difficult fabric!  Narrow hems like this work very well on things like fine cotton lawn, on straight edges.  While it is supposed to be possible on gently curved edges, I haven't yet got that one, and as for curved edges on okkard fabric like this, fergeddit!

There is a new edition of Carols book out, with additional developments in the mad world of Heirloom sewing by machine, but so far I have seen no reason to replace my lovely gift.

I love Wonder Tape!  Being polly, this chiffon is quite springy, and just pinning these narrow hems doesn't work. I glued them down with the tape, then attacked the end of the narrow tape...

Now, why, in the name of all the little fishes, do the instructions tell one to pin the partlet back to the pattern, turn the edge up, and then take it off again, before sewing the tape to the outside?

Wondertape1.JPG (192643 bytes)  wondertape2.JPG (276197 bytes)
I just turned up the hem to the outside and sewed the tape over it!  MUCH easier, and a lot less work... wondertape3.JPG (158908 bytes)  wondertape4.JPG (175130 bytes)  wondertape5.JPG (159838 bytes)
Once that was done, it was time to turn to the neck...  Here again I ran up against an inconsistency: there are all sorts of cheats and shortcuts in this pattern, but not on the simplest processes.  I cheated here: rather than cut out a bit for the neck band, sew it and turn it, and then sew it on, I used a bit of the cotton tape that was used for making the farthingale boning channels!  It seems to work, and is less bulky than two layers of cotton fabric.  Also remember that you are going to put the ruff over this later, and possibly two collars would be too much! tape.JPG (173089 bytes)  partletgathers.JPG (122775 bytes)  gatherstitching.JPG (106803 bytes)
Once the construction was done, I pinned it to the dress...  Hm - I may need to have another go at this, or at least trim the lower edge a bit.  It seems to be incredibly puffy  It is too long on a line from the side of the neck to the shoulder points, and down the centre back, but the edge that goes over the shoulder from front to back is too short - and the width at the lower back edge is only just wide enough...  I think I may try it on me before I alter it, and see what it looks like then... partletinplace.JPG (151708 bytes)  partletback.JPG (171380 bytes)

Well, it didn't look any better, so that was that!  Time for Version Three!


June 18

Party on...

I had a couple of ideas about what I wanted to do, so I set to work.

backpartletfit.JPG (104073 bytes)

partletfirfront.JPG (119310 bytes)

The first thing to do was assess the problem, so I pulled the partlet out and laid it as flat as possible.  There were two problems that were immediately obvious:

Firstly the partlet was far too long at the centre back.  When spread out, it was a good inch and a half below the neckline.  

Secondly, it was way too short at the front!  The problem was not the front opening, but the length of the side over the shoulder from front to back...

measurepattern1.JPG (162957 bytes)

measurepattern2.JPG (88313 bytes)

I pinned the pattern pieces together and measured them, and compared this over the shoulder measurement with the corresponding bit of the partlet pattern.  There was a two inch shortfall in the partlet pattern!  This is just shoddy draftsmanship.
partletalter.JPG (141355 bytes) I slit the pattern at the shoulder line and added two inches.  I also trimmed about three quarters of an inch off the centre back.  This made the corners sharper, but I thought I could cope with that...
trypartlet.JPG (169239 bytes) The partlet was made up using exactly the same methods as the previous version.  Before gathering the neck, I checked it on Dolly for correct fit: it seemed to be OK...
bachfit2.JPG (120424 bytes) Once gathered and added to the neckband (again a strip of soft cotton tape), I could see that this was a much better fit altogether, even if those back corners were very pointy!
partletcomplete.JPG (143059 bytes) Once pinned in place, the completed partlet looks great!  Well worth doing again for a better fit.  Now I can sew those little snaps on and a couple of little hooks and worked loops to close it.


Back to bodice                                                                                            On to the Ruffs