Saturday, April 27, 2013

Cutting Out, Phase I: Complete!

My personal coat-sew-along on the Butterick 5824 1950's coat by Gertie continues.  One of the two challenging aspects of this project was upon me:  cutting out.  My goal was to get the camelhair wool garment pieces cut out and then rest on my laurels for awhile.  As Gertie has mentioned, the layout for cutting is single layer.  Which means you have to cut one pattern piece, remove the pattern, set the cut-out fabric piece aside, flip the pattern piece over, cut the second piece, put the two layers together (carefully matching the edges), and then reattach the pattern piece to both.  And remain aware of which side is the "wrong" side for each piece.  This is not for the faint of heart.

I knew I needed a day where I was well rested and there was plenty of light because my fabric is such a dark green, it looks black.  This Saturday morning was the day.  Gertie says you need two hours for the cutting out process. I was doubtful that I could manage that, so I timed myself just to try to make the process sorta fun.

On the coat sew-along Flicker site, I saw one photo where a sew-alonger laid all her fabric out on a large tile floor in her house.  I envied her large surface space until I realized she was going to have to crawl around on her hands and knees on that hard tile to cut out her coat.  Here was my cutting set up:

It basically consists of two tables, end to end, in my living room to handle the sheer volume of fabric.  In retrospect, I should have put the tables side by side to make a wider surface so that none of the fabric hung over the sides, but by the time I figured this out, the Carpenter had already left the house and I didn't want try move the tables by myself. 

You know how all the sewing books tell you to make sure your fabric doesn't hang off the table when you are cutting out to avoid distortion?  Well, I never paid attention to it and never had a problem with it.  But my camelhair wool is both drapey and a somewhat heavier weight than what I am used to.  And I found with my first pattern piece, number 6 (which is the side back skirt pattern piece), the fabric was definitely distorted.  When I put my two number 6 pieces together after cutting them out separately, I discovered the hemline was a little too long on one side and a little too short on the other, but I decided this wasn't catastrophic as I could compensate when it came time to hem.

So from then on, I spent a lot of time moving the fabric around in order to pin the pattern pieces, while also making sure none of the rest of the fabric hung from the tables.  As you can imagine, this process got easier as I continued to cut because my fabric yardage decreased as I progressed.  But it required that each piece be pinned and cut one at a time.

I also discovered while cutting the first pattern piece that I laid my pattern so that nap on my coat will go up rather than down.  I suppose it doesn't matter which way your nap goes as long as it goes all the same way, but I would have preferred it going down.  But let's pretend this is a deliberate design choice on my part rather than a result of my inattention to detail, shall we???

One decision I needed to make was which fabric to use for the pockets.  Gertie suggests using the wool fabric for that portion of the pocket closest to the body, and the lining fabric for the other side of the pocket, to reduce bulk.  But I hate wearing gloves in winter, and I have a tendency to jam my hands in my pockets to keep them warm, so I cut all four pocket pieces from the camelhair wool to make my pockets as warm as possible.

After two hours and seven minutes into the cutting out process, I took a break and made myself brunch.  Then I went to the fabric store to buy more pins.  I could have gathered errant pins by walking barefoot in my sewing room but I went the wuss route and just bought more.

I resumed in the afternoon, and by the time I finished, I probably spent about three and half hours cutting out.  This does not include marking - I'll mark the pieces as I use them.  I just don't have the energy for marking all the pieces right now.  I also discovered that I had nearly a yard left over.  I think this is due to buying a little more fabric than the pattern called for, and doing everything I could to conserve fabric while I was cuting out.  I used the leftover fabric to re-cut pattern piece number 6 again which made me feel immensely better - and I found that I had no problem cutting both pieces at the same time by folding the fabric.  So I am puzzled by pattern's instructions to cut this out single layer, at least for the skirt pieces.  I can only assume that the single layer layout is to conserve fabric, and the double layer may not work if your fabric is anything less than 60 inches wide.  My was, and I wish I had figured this out sooner.  I'll remember this, though, when it comes time to cut out the lining.

So the garment fabric is finally cut.  It isn't marked.  And I've decided to wait and cut out the lining when I need it - I just can't face it now.  The temptation is to jump in and start sewing, but I'm resisting this.  I see this coat as an exercise in restraint and slow sewing - virtually unknown to me - so I am making myself put this aside for a while and work on a dress I have in progress.  I have to remember this coat is marathon, not a sprint!

P.S. You may notice I didn't do a muslin for this coat.  I don't like muslins.  And yes, I realize I'm taking a big risk, but this is a coat, not a close fitting garment, and the finished measurements printed on the pattern lead me to believe I'll be fine.  : )


Deb Levy said...

Living on the edge...gotta love that :)

Bouree says it'll all work out just fine...better if he could contribute some fur to the deal...

Lindah said...

Ai-yee! 4 1/2 hrs -this is an investment. It will be so worth it! It's good you are doing it slowly, methodically, with that lovely fabric. Some things just need to be done slowly. When you talk about the fabric --deep green camelhair-- my fingers almost itch to touch it. :-)

Mezmerina Atelier said...

Sounds gorgeous!

Just thought I would let you know that I love reading your blog. Sewing + humour is such a good combo! I have nominated you for a Liebster award, you can see it here: