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July 6

Macaron Redux Stabilization

Happy (belated) 4th of July to everyone!

Felix and I had quite an eventful weekend which included a huge hail storm, fireworks right outside our apartment windows, fun family time, buying myself a (much needed) new computer, aaaaaand SEWING!

My macaron redux dress is continuing to progress, slowly but surely.  I’m incorporating so many new techniques that I’ve never used before on anything, the first being stabilization.

As I started handling my front yolk section more and more, it became quite apparent to me that something had to be done to stabilize the neckline seam.  While my lace seems somewhat stable on the main floral motifs after I added the silk charmeuse underlining, together it feels a bit slick and shifty.

I started using Kenneth King’s method of neckline stabilization from this threads article, when I realized that it wasn’t going to look pretty on the inside (since I’m still debating my seam finishes and/or lining).  So I took to my sewing referece books and found a different version for stabilizing a neckline in Couture Sewing Techniques by Lynda Maynard that looks a bit cleaner.

The technique instructed me to use the original pattern piece to cut out some silk organza with a wider seam allowance (usually double) and machine stay-stitch it just inside the stitching line.  Since the silk organza piece is on-grain with the silk charmeuse it naturally won’t be quite as stable as the Kenneth King method since his uses organza strips that fall perpendicular to the main fabric’s grain line.  For my project I figured it would be alright since I have the lace piece in addition to the silk charmeuse.  But only time will tell….

After stabilizing the neckline, I decided that I also needed to stabilize the armholes as well.  Using the same technique I attached more organza to the armholes like so.

I had a tricky time with my iron and some of the silk charmeuse pressed into the lace and left some marks (on the right side of the yolk) .  You can be sure I’ll be fixing that later…

As I was looking through all of my sewing books researching about applique seams, I came across the absolutely perfect treatment for the center front bodice sweetheart neckline!  I bookmarked it for myself and was really excited to try it out this weekend.

I first came across the technique in Claire Shaeffer’s book Couture Sewing Techniques but it was in reference to a sleeve.  And after more searching I also found it in the Lynda Maynard book of Couture Sewing Techniques also. (Seems to be a popular book title, hmm.)

After much reading it seems that stabilization is in love with silk organza.   They apparently go everywhere together, like peas in a pod.  So who am I to separate them?!  heh

I started by using a rectangle piece of silk organza and stitched it to the RIGHT side of my bodice.  Both instructions called for a square piece, but I didn’t think it mattered too much.  Plus all I had rectangles in this black organza and I refused to use the white since I didn’t want to take the chance of having it show.

The white stitching is my basting and also my stitching line and you can see a bit of my yellow chalk marks on the left side.  I added the chalk to be more precise as I sewed at the machine so I could use that as a guide for in between each of the visible basting threads.

One reference guide said to stitch it right on the seam line, and the other said to stitch it just inside the seam line.  I ended up stitching it right on the seam line, but if I were to do it again I would be stitching it just inside.

And here it is from the underside/wrong side:

You can see my stitching is just the littlest bit off in the center, but it’s so tiny you can’t even tell when I had it all pressed.

As an FYI, if you’re using this method yourself, you’ll want to remove your basting stitches from this center front section only before going any further.  It’ll make things a lot easier once you begin to sew your seams.

Basically the silk organza both serves as a stabilizer and also helps you turn your seam allowance to the the wrong side.

I snipped all of the layers (4-ply silk underlining, lace, and organza) at center front V, just up to the machine stitching.  You want to clip as close to the stitching line as you can without the fabric unraveling, this enables you to press a very nice, smooth and pointy ‘V’ in the center.

Here’s another view that really shows all of the layers:

Here’s the top most view of all of the layers:

The organza will be on the top now, on the wrong side of your piece.

And here’s the Ta-Da moment!

Perfectly stitched center point on the sweetheart bodice.  YAY!

I love seeing the result of all of these extra steps come to fruition and how they can yield amazing results.  At times I feel like I’m doing a bit of science as I’m sewing; perhaps I can coin the phrase doing “fabric physics” instead of sewing.  These couture sewing geniuses (Ms. Shaeffer, Mr. King, and Ms. Maynard) really know their stuff.

Anyone else tried or read about a new sewing technique lately?

 

P.S.  If you try this at home, don’t forget to overcast your fabric and organza together at that center V that you snipped.  It’s important to stop and do that before you progress so you don’t have the center bit fray on you (and then lose your nice stitching).

  1. Tasha / Jul 6 2011

    Liz, your stitching amazes me. Everything in this post made my head hurt thinking about it. LOL I don’t believe I will ever want to undertake things so complicated as this in my own sewing, so my hat is really off to you! That dress is going to be amazing once you’re finished.

    As for new techniques, I learned how to make bias tape this weekend which was fun! And I learned how to do a hand picked lapped zipper (both the hand picking and the lapped part were new to me). And later today I’m going to apply my first bias tape as visible binding around a neckline (I’ve only used it as facing). Oh and I did my first patch pocket this weekend, too. In case you’re curious, this is all for the same project. Clearly lots of first for me, albeit small ones in comparison with what you’re undertaking! :)

    • Liz / Jul 6 2011

      Oh no! I didn’t want to hurt anyone’s head…. But thanks for your sweet compliments.

      I did have to do a lot of research for this dress to figure out what new techniques I should be adding to the construction.

      But I’ve never even done all things you are doing on your pretty blue dress (bias tape, lapped zipper or patch pockets)! I’ve never applied bias tape to anything except to make some piping, and lapped zippers scare me! You are seriously brave for tackling that. So far I haven’t encountered any new technique on my macaron dress that has been any harder/easier than another. Although it took me several days to pull together some courage to cut my applique seams and darts.

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