Friday, 1 July 2016

Attack of the Killer Linen!

So I've been working steadily on the underdress for a week and a half or so. Drifa kindly helped me draft the pattern and then left me alone to get to it - I have a dress now, but it was a series of "whoops" moments along the way!

My first "whoops" was not carefully picking apart the seams from when the fabric was a palla - I got impatient with the progress and started ripping the seams apart, which I can see now caused some structural weakness in the fabric. I realized about halfway through the project that I was working with handkerchief linen and not midweight, which means that any roughness is extra noticeable. I have a few little holes forming already, which will only grow if I can't figure out what to do with them.

My second "whoops" was ripping the fabric into shape rather than cutting it, which further weakened the fabric and caused some strange warping at the edges which bit me in the butt later. I understand that sometimes ripping linen works really well, and I think if I was working with a tighter weave it might have been okay, but I could see that it was going to fray like nuts and I still went ahead and kept ripping anyway! I also included the frayed edges in my total measurement, so I was a bit lacking in seam allowance overall.

My third "whoops" was basically just rushing my sewing, so I ended up having to unpick a whole lot of my seams. There's so much fray at the edges of my fabric that I'm really not sure how to finish the seams anymore - I might have to ask to borrow a serger! My hope was to finish it in a slightly more period manner, but that's a consequence of making so many mistakes along the way.

The linen is frayed almost right down to the seam already in some places.
On the bright side, I finished the neckline with bias tape (a first for me!) and faced the neck slit with Caterina's help, I'm reasonably happy with the fit (although that was mostly Drifa's drafting) and I think it looks fairly serviceable!

Or, at least it will look serviceable when it's all finished up - the sleeves and most of the seams need finishing (I've unpicked more since I took this photo) and the hem has to be done. I also have to make a surcote to go over it. I decided to do the neck in a Norse style, so that I can wear it with an apron dress if I like. That's a very fashionable style here in Avacal!

I'm not too discouraged with how it went. It may not feel like much of an achievement, but everything I do I gain a little more confidence and knowledge. Everyone has to start somewhere, and I'm not afraid to make mistakes if it means I've tried something new. Hopefully, the surcote will go smoother!



  1. Looks good! Hope it stands up to hard work in the kitchen, LOL

  2. Yup, I gave up ripping a long time ago for this exact reason (and I hate ironing, especially ironing before and after "cutting"!).

    If you have scrap fabric, you can try finishing the seams by encasing them in lengths of spare fabric. Even different coloured linen would work. Like a bias tape finish. It will help keep the seams together and reduce fraying if not stop it completely. I can't speak to earlier construction techniques (or of it being used on an underdress) but there is some precedence for it being used on doublets, hose and gowns.

  3. I think it looks great - and little flubs are just a part of the learning process! With more experience working with different fabrics, you'll get more of a sense for what will and won't work.. (And I'm a huge fan of ripping whenever possible... thread-drawing is tedious!) As Adelheid mentioned, binding the seam allowances works well.You can do this together, or seperate and pressed open if you think you might need to take the garment in in future.