It's about exploring and sharing my creative adventures (mostly sewing these days) ~
~those activities that sometimes obsess, usually inspire, occasionally frustrate
~and always provide a delightful maze to wander through.

Friday, December 28, 2012

That Crazy-Pleated Nylon Fabric (Soho Coat)

Yes!  I'm back in the sewing room!  The major distractions of the past couple of months are (sort of) (I think) (maybe) under control now (she says hopefully), and I'm happily stitching away, and looking forward to much more of it in the coming days/weeks/year - Yippee!

The further good news is that the Sewing Workshop Soho Raincoat I started last winter (when we had NO rain) is realllllly close to being finished.   Several of you have asked about it, in no small part because you have the same fabric, and I suspect are using me as a guinea piglet to figure out just how the heck to work with it.   I don't mind....really, I don't.   Just give me a challenge!

Here's the fabric:

This is a water resistant nylon (or something like it), purple on one side, black on the other (it also came in green, and I think a blue and maybe an orange?).   Several of us bought yards of the stuff at Fabrix - I don't remember the cost, but it was a great price!   I immediately earmarked mine for the Soho Coat -  that's my next post (coming soon!).   Meanwhile, I thought I would make some notes as to what I found while working with the fabric.

Last year, when I started cutting the pattern out, and experimented with the flat-felled seams called for in the pattern, I went into minor freak-out mode trying to figure out how to get all those teensy little pleats to behave.   My angst, combined with the fact that we had NO rain last winter, resulted in everything being shoved into the corner, aka Area 51, aka UFOland.

When I dug it out again, I decided that angst just didn't work for me, so I put some comedy on the telly and just dove right in.  (I was listening to/watching the TED Talks Smart Laughs series on Netflix, but here's a link directly to some funnies on the TED Talks website - highly recommended...actually, pretty much any TED Talk is highly recommended by me).

What I discovered:

  • All those teensy criss-crossing pleats really aren't that hard to work with.   They're actually a combination of forgiving and challenging, so it sort of balances out.
  • Washable Wonder Tape is a miracle tool.   I've never really worked with it before, and I found it to be nearly perfect for this fabric.  Definitely better than Steam-a-Seam for this fabric!
  • Most of the pleats run crosswise (selvedge to selvedge), which means that most of the stretch is actually in the length.   If you're making a garment that requires more stretch across the body, I think this fabric lends itself perfectly to laying your pattern with the grain line laid selvedge to selvedge. 
  • Because of the crosswise pleating, I found that the fabric stretched a bit along the length, and I ended up shortening the sleeves and the overall length a bit more than I had planned on with the initial cutting.   Whether it stretches even more in the long run remains to be seen......  
  • Because of all the pleating, paying close attention to the grainline while cutting really isn't that important.
  • You can iron the fabric.  Pressing alone, without steam, isn't very effective, but it will hold a crease (at least for awhile) if you use steam and a medium hot iron.  However, doing so runs the risk of flattening some of the pleats enough to change the shape of your pattern pieces, so do it carefully....
  • I definitely suggest using a pattern that has simple lines and not a lot of tailoring.   That should be a no-brainer with this fabric, but knowing me, it's something I would try anyway!
Some of the details in pictures:

Sleeve seam - trying to press it open.
Not such a great result, with out risking flattening the pleats.

Same sleeve, with seam pressed to the side.
I opted to do a faux flat-felled seam on the sleeves
to keep the seam flat.
I think the topstitching here gives an example of both how challenging and how forgiving the fabric can be.  No matter how straight I tried to do my topstitching, it came out looking wavy in some I just quit trying so hard!  ;D

The edge at the bottom of this pic is supposed to be straight.
I cut it straight.  I swear I did.
But by the time I got to this stage, it was curved.
I don't know if this happened during the cutting stage, sewing stage, or pressing stage.
I solved it by simply pressing the folded edge straight and trimming the edge - it worked fine for this pattern. [whew!]

The Hemming Process, using Wonder Tape:
1.  I measured, folded, and press the hem at the hemline.
2.  I finger-pressed the Wonder Tape (WT) to the edge of the fabric.

3.  On the ironing board, I then folded under the edge (with the cover tape still in place on the WT), measured the hem depth, and pinned the edge in place.

4.  I pressed the hem, just enough to hold the creases in place, and removed the pins.

5.  I removed the protective tape from the WT, finger-pressed the WT in place, and added pins on the Right Side of the fabric.  I had already learned my lesson about top-stitching from the Wrong Side - being able to keep your eye on the pleats is very helpful!
I hope this helps give some hints to others who are working with this fabric - and if you've already used it, please stop by and add your thoughts!

Finished Soho Coat post will be coming this weekend :)


prttynpnk said...

Oh, you aren't showing enough- I want more peeks at this!!!

pegsewer said...

This is great info and can't wait to see the coat. happy New Year !

shams said...

I'm glad you are back to sewing! As you know, I bought this in green and purple when you bought the purple. My next project uses the green, so THANKS for all of these tips!!!

RhondaBuss said...

Thanks for the tip on TED. I think we all need lots of laughter in our lives.
Love that fabric. What a fabulous coat this is going to be.

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to see the finished project. What cool fabric!

House of Pinheiro said...

Ted has great videos.. I'm big fan too... I'm loving learning your adventures. I was wondering how to use this type of fabric..

Ps I'm very glad you are sewing again

Re's Home on the Road said...

Ms. Guinea (sounds better than Ms. Piglet!) you are so nice in making this fabric up (exactly the same as mine) using the pattern which so many of us with this Fabrix-find also decided to use. Please post as many details and pix as possible, thus making your follower's sewing go much smoother.

Judi Pinkham said...

Sooooooooo glad you're back! That fabric is beautiful. What you said about the top looks great and with the beautiful pleating, who would ever notice if the top stitching was a little wavy in places? Can't wait to see it!!!!

Louisa said...

What fabulous fabric! Can't wait to see the results in full. Thanks for the hint about the Wonder Tape. I might need that stuff when I tackle some shibori-pleated poly that I want to make into a shirt. I'm kind of afraid of it!

Margy said...

SO glad you're back to sewing! I wish I owned stock in the company that makes Wonder Tape...I go through it SO fast

twotoast said...

Interesting fabric - and such teasing photos . . . . I look forward to seeing the finished garment!!

Dixie said...

So pleased you're sewing again. And tackling a UFO - kudos to you! I love the look of this fabric. Between the pleats and the purple, I'm in love. I can't wait to see the finished coat.
Happiest of New Years to you, Jilly!