Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Sleeves: Taking the Show on the Road

By "the show" I mean the Project Dress, of course. Here are the two sleeves, which I stitched up while traveling.

It's hard to believe that this and this, turned into something that looks so beautiful.  I need to amend my earlier complaint about bias cut georgette. It definitely is difficult to work with on a sewing machine. BUT for sewing by hand, it was fine. And I'm thrilled with how it looks and how it handled.
That said, it took many hours of stitching away diligently. I spent most of both flights (12 hours or so of actual sewing) plus 2 hours a night, 3-4 nights while I was in London, usually between midnight and 2am when insomnia struck.  So, these sleeves represent about 20 hours of sewing.

For sewing on the airplane, I was nervous that even if I had scissors that were TSA approved (ie: less than 4 inches), they might be confiscated anyway. This happened to me flying home from Canada once since I hadn't considered that their standard might be different (in the UK it is 6cm or 2.36 inches). So, I bought this:

A yarn cutter pendant

Inside those notches are razor blades which you can't get out or cut yourself on. I just put it on a chain and into my jewelry bag in my carry on. It worked beautifully.

My other tools were silk thread (LOVE it for hand sewing), John James sharps (the best needles for hand sewing IMHO), and Thread Heaven.

Heaven for your thread

We have to have a little talk about Thread Heaven. For quite some time, it's been my dirty little sewing secret. You see, I've done other projects which have required rather extensive hand sewing. And other sewists who have done the same have touted the benefit of using beeswax to coat the thread. This would mean running individual strands through beeswax, then pressing the threads with an iron between paper towels or paper and then getting to the sewing. I think that you'll agree when I say that I'm not the kind of sewista who shies away from labor intensive sewing projects. But pressing beeswax into thread is not something that I ever forsee myself doing. Honestly, I think it would be just one thing too many - the straw that breaks the camel's back for me. And Thread Heaven does the same job, but I've never heard it mentioned in the sewing blogosphere as a suitable substitute.  So, my question is: have you heard of or used Thread Heaven or is it, like I suspect, my dirty little cheat? Will I now be branded a heretic? I hope not, but c'est la vie!

Fianlly, there was zero direction in the pattern instructions on what kind of stitch to use to attach the strips of bias to the sleeves. I experimented with a few stitches and then settled on the pickstitch. The decorative side (the picks side) is on the underside, so lost. But because it's a mini backstitch, it's a strong stitch and allowed me to keep the stitching completely invisible. So, I think it was a good call on my part.

Anyway, I'm in full-on crunch mode. Tomorrow I hope to have nothing left to do but hemming.  Ladies and gents, cross your fingers and toes for me, please!


Tanit-Isis said...

They are looking GOOD! So many things that are hard to do on machine are easier (but sooo much slooower) by hand. I can't wait to see the whole crazy dress finished :).

Also, I have never heard of Thread Heaven and have no idea what it is or does or how it works. Details? :)

Karin said...

Wow! They look beautiful! All your hard work is coming together. You are going to look amazing in this dress. Good luck with the hemming.

Marie-Christine said...

?Press the waxed thread?? Insane! As long as you're not actually dripping candles on it or something, just a light run on the wax makes the thread behave better without all those shenenigans.
Can't wait to see those beautiful sleeves attached :-).

AllisonC said...

The sleeves are just amazing, I can't wait to see the finished dress.

Sherry said...

Wow - they look amazing! You've done an amazing job - can't wait to see the end result!

BeckyMc said...

I have both thread heaven and beeswax. I use the thread heaven for quick and dirty untangling. Pressing the beeswax into the thread makes it stronger and the wax acts as a glue to meld the thread and fabric together. Also, if the waxed thread is not pressed, all the wax gets stripped off in the first few stitches.
I love your sleeves! Can't wait to see your dress on you!

AngelatheCreativeDiva said...

I love what you're doing. Can't wait to see the finished dress. I've used waxed thread ever since I've started sewing back in the dark ages. I have never ironed the thread but I've never had any issue with the wax coming off as I was sewing, either. Two passes through the cake is enough to strengthen the thread and keep it from getting tangled.

Eugenia said...

Your dress is going to be awesome - just those sleeves on their own are fabulous - real works of art! What an incredibly productive way of using your time in the air - I usually just watch a very bad movie!

Anonymous said...

I learned about Thread Heaven a few years ago. I've never used it, but since beeswax appears to be more easily available, cheaper, and is what's recommended by professionals, I've always used beeswax. Maybe I'll try TH if I don't have have access to an iron.

Your flowers look great.

Anonymous said...

Using beeswax is not that big a deal. You cut a bunch of threads, run them over the cake a couple of times, put them in a piece of folded paper, put the iron the paper and pull the strands through.