Steampunk Soliloquy: Part 2

Even though my first day of sewing my steampunk costume for DragonCon had some hiccups, I have been feverishly thinking about it all week, and thus slowly working on it each night a little bit after work.

If you’ll remember correctly, last Saturday I had stitched many of the coat pieces together and made a fairly stupid decision to use red cord for the loops on the back of the coat. I say fairly stupid because it does look good and I did not want to make my own loops out of fabric, yet the really thick cord was a PITA to sew onto the fabric. I bent and broke the same needle just basting.

Well Monday I was ready to connect the two back side pieces to the coat, effectively sandwiching the re cord loops in between two pieces of my pinstripe coat fabric.  Below is a picture of one side (the right one) of my project pinned and ready to be sewn together.

My freshly attached Size 16 titanum ballpoint needle would certainly get me through the rest of this process.


I got maybe halfway through the first side of loops before this happened.

This is why I actually find bent needles to be worse than broken ones. It is very hard to see the difference.  Thankfully, a bent needle is usually accompanied by some louder-than-usual clicking sounds from your sewing machine, so it does clue you in to look at the needle.  Can you tell which of these is bent?  It’s the gold one.

I swapped to a heavy duty size 18 needle (I was out of larger ballpoints, but my stretchy fabric did not seem to mind). It was still a little scary, but we made it.  I did not take a shot after both sides were done (of tequila OR with my camera) , but here is a picture after I had finished one side of the coat back.

Next I had to sew the lining pieces together. I have only done a lining one other time, on a Halloween costume. It worked out ok, but I suspect I could do better. I was paranoid about the lining being too small for the coat, so I made my seams a little bit smaller.

Pinning Trick Interlude

As I was sewing the lining together, I took some pictures of my “pinning trick” for curved edges.

First, match one end of the pieces as usual and pin.  I generally go with the end that I can pin furthest before things stop matching up easily.  When things no longer easily match, your project may look something like this:

I drew some red lines in paint to help you see the piece I am pinning, since it was difficult to see the edges of the gray on gray fabric.

Next, force one piece’s edges to meet the other edge, and pin.  Continue this process until you get to the end of the edges, or until the edges match back up.  Your pinned fabric may have a few bumps in it on the edges, and the project may lift off the table a smidge, like near the arrow in the picture below.  That is a good sign that you have pinned it properly for a curve!

You are ready to stitch as usual!  I hope this helped you.  I felt very accomplished when I finally figured out how to pin my first project that had curved edges.  Sewing it was easy enough, but figuring out the pinning was a bit confusing for me.  Happy pinning!

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming …

Once all the lining was connected, I hit a small snag.

I had a fairly long debate with myself over following the pattern instructions. I also debated with Elizabeth and my mother. What was I debating you ask? Sleeves. The pattern instructions call for easing them into the shoulder seams by sewing a circular seam after the underarm seam has been completed.  I have kind of done this once and it sucked.  A lot.  And I didn’t even do the easing part; the circular seam for a shoulder, due to size is not fun.  I have also sewn sleeves while they are still flat (like on the pirate costume).  This is much more reasonable, in my opinion.  I may not have made sense to some of you.  Kate does a much better job explaining this, if you are curious.  Regardless, I hemmed and hawed over flat sleeves or eased sleeves.

Why did this matter now?  Well if I decided on flat sleeves, I would not attach the lining in the same way as I would to go with eased sleeves.  I’d need to leave the whole coat flat, sides unstitched, in order to put in flat sleeves. The only part of the coat that would be stitched to connect the front and back sides would be the shoulder top seam.  I would have to modify my pattern instructions, move forward a few steps, change methods for doing the sleeve ruffles, etc.

Ultimately I decided to go with eased sleeves and follow the pattern instructions, for the following reasons:

1)  I am paranoid that modifying pattern instructions will end badly.  I am not sure I am advanced enough yet to follow through on this properly.

2)  I need to learn how to ease a sleeve properly sometime!

3)  The cut shape of these sleeves did not look like it would match well to the shoulder seam when laid flat.

4) The sleeves and ruffles looked complicated enough without adding in modified instructions.

I stitched the sides of the lining and the coat and pinned them together.

You may notice from the picture above that my lining is in fact a bit too large for the outside of the coat.  To fix this, I pinned both sides of the coat, all the way to the back neck line.  Then I squeezed the gray fabric together along the center back seam until the rest of it laid flat along the neckline, and pinned it up.  Like so:

Then I basted down the center, to about the middle of the back on the coat (also marked with pins).  I tried on the coat to make sure my modification was successful.  It was.  Side note: Be very careful when trying on garments with so many pins.  Especially when you are as prone to sticking yourself with them as I am!  Anyway, here is the newly stitched center line of the coat, prior to my clipping and overcasting.

After I made this modification, I stitched the lining to the coat, leaving an opening at the gray part on the bottom back side of the coat.  An opening was called for in the instructions, and even though I have read them many times already, I still am not sure I understand it.  Something about understitching.  Which I have done before on facings.  Not sure what I will decide to do on this, but I am once again debating following the instructions.  More on that next time, after I decide.

I will leave you with this.

This is an actual picture from my pattern instructions.  I know this picture logically has to be lining and right side of coat.  Ironically, it is the part of the instructions talking about understitching, that I am currently pondering.  However, when I look at it, all I can see is the backside of someone wearing polkadot underwear.  The person is walking, and their right knee is bent.  What do you see?

Have I mentioned how much I hate patterns before?  Cause I do.  Someday I will post about my dream of pattern instruction reform…


5 comments for “Steampunk Soliloquy: Part 2

  1. Jill F.
    March 1, 2012 at 6:45 pm

    Nice butt. 😉 I hate pattern drawings too.

  2. March 1, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    Yep, looks like a butt.

  3. Jen S.
    March 1, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    “She wore an… itsy-bitsy, teeny-weeny yellow polka-dot bikini!”

    • jadesabre9
      March 2, 2012 at 7:51 am

      This is exactly what I was thinking, too!

  4. March 6, 2012 at 10:47 am

    Keep working ,great job!


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