Sunday, September 23, 2018

Project Complete: Apple Green Wool Cotte

When I left off, this dress was sewn together with the body seams finished. The sleeves were sewn on, and I had buttons ready. I had an issue with the fit of the forearms, so I removed the forearms to repattern those. The neckline and hemming were also still awaiting finishing. I also knew that I disliked how the back gore draped, so I needed to troubleshoot that.

When I'd cut the skirt panels, I cut them all with angles on both sides. This didn't have the effect I expected, but while it wasn't exactly what I wanted, it was also passable. Except in the center back, where the gore was folding on itself in a weird manner that did not flatter my backside. So when I was finally ready to work on this cotte again, taking out the back gore and fixing that was the first order of business.

I decided to recut the panels at the gore insertion to be straight, rather than angled, reducing the amount of cloth that was trying to occupy the same space. The basic technical thing I was doing was not forcing the gore and surrounding skirt to widen too much too quickly. Once reinserted, the skirt draped more smoothly across my butt, with the gore "collapsing" on itself at a lower point, similar to the other gores. Again, not the overall look I was hoping to have, but still fine, and better than it was.

Next, I decided to go ahead and finish the neckline. Normally, I'd use a piece of linen to face the neckline, similar to using bias tape, but since the wool is fulled, I decided instead to keep the neckline as flat as possible by simply folding it inside about 3/8", and tacking it down with a fell stitch. No sense belaboring this project with finishing techniques that, while nice, are not required!

Then it was time to tackle the forearms. I began by transferring the top of the existing forearm to a new fabric (the grid helped with keeping things on grain later on), and just created a straight tube sleeve. I sewed this to the left sleeve, put the dress on, and had my husband pin the sleeve to fit and mark the line of pins for me to cut down. I adjusted the pattern, then tried it out again, making only a minor change to the wrist.

Concerned that the grided fabric was stretching in a weird way, I transferred the pattern to linen. For the final fitting, I sewed the linen pattern to the right sleeve instead, made one more adjustment, and finally had a finished pattern.

I had VERY little wool left for the second attempt at the sleeves. If I hadn't had this larger piece, I would have had to resort to piecing.

From there, the project picked up the pace. I finished the forearms simply, same as the neckline. Next step was to sew on the 30 buttons that had been waiting (15 on each sleeve). They ended up at a spacing of 3/4".

For the buttonholes, I was feeling daunted and mentioned to a friend that I wished the process could be incentivized. We talked briefly about how he might be able to do that. Next thing I know, I was working hard to impress him on my progress. At the end of a 3-hour mad dash, I had all 30 buttonholes done!

I sewed the forearms to the upper sleeves and basked in having finished the thing that had delayed this project the most.

While I had the dress on, my mom marked the hem for me, and I cut that down.

I used a double fold hem and running stitch, and the dress was complete.

I'm so excited to have this dress finally complete, and I feel that my willingness to wait to be able to give the dress my energy and attention paid off. I love the effect of the two-part sleeve and the fullness of the skirt is amazing to walk around in. I think my choice to opt for simple finishing paid off with this felted wool- it has no more engineering than it needs.

You can see more of the finished dress from the photoshoot on Facebook!

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