April 12, 2013

Colette Beignet, v1. Or, A Cautionary Tale.

And I'm back, with yet another sewn garment that I made in the weeks leading up to my trip to New Orleans which was also left behind. But unlike my plaid Vogue dress, this one fit in perfectly with my chosen vacation palette, and it's even named Beignet, for crying out loud! I REALLY wanted to eat a beignet in my Beignet, but alas, it was not to be. I was foiled (by my fabric? by my own cleverness?) this time around, and I want to share my woe because I would hate for any of you to make the same mistake (whatever it was).

Green Beignet

But what? Why? I can hear you say it. I know, at first glance it might look okay. Maybe even kind of awesome. But take a close look at the hem in the picture below and you can see a bit of my woe.

Beignet in kelly green cotton

Okay, maybe you can't unless you look really hard. Here, try this one:

Shrinkage

See that lovely powdery blue lining peeking out? Well, you shouldn't! That, my friends, is the result of what they call shrinkage. And yes, OF COURSE (I think) I pre-washed and dried this fabric before I started. And I know that I didn't do a crappy job cutting or measuring, and in fact, this is one of the most beautifully made garments I've made. Inside and out, it's lovely. And the most perfect shade of kelly green, is it not?

Bazillions of buttons Beignet

And once again, the button gods were smiling down on me, because the buttons are the EXACT same shade of green as the fabric. This fabric, in fact, which has been with me for quite some time. It started as a huge long piece, probably five yards or more, that was gifted to me along with my serger by my super generous inlaws at Christmas a few years back. The fabric was used quite cleverly as the wrapping paper around the oversized box, and in the years since I've used pieces of it for a whole bunch of things. It's just a plain weave cotton, light weight but not like a quilting cotton. It's got a loose weave and it's kind of drapey. I decided once I bought the Beignet pdf pattern that I needed a kelly green Beignet, and thankfully I had enough left to cut out all the pieces with just a few scraps remaining.

Beignet rear view

And then I had a stroke of genius. I was a little concerned about the loose weave- I mean, I didn't want to end up with a saggy and baggy Beignet. I turned to my friend and favorite interfacing, Pellon EK130, a knit tricot fusible that I've been using almost exclusively as my apparel interfacing of choice since I discovered it. I test-fused a few scraps and even compared EK130 to ES114 and 860, a weft-insertion interfacing, to see how they changed the hand of the fabric and how they washed. (I discovered later that 860 is not to be washed, but it actually survived the trip through a permanent press cycle alright anyway.) My tests confirmed that my instincts were right. The tricot gave my fabric just enough body to make it a more suitable choice for a tailored skirt, but it wasn't stiff at all. I block fused two yards to my fabric and cut my pieces, and set to work.

Beignet hem

I toiled long and hard on this beauty. I found a remnant of something blue and slippery in my lining bin and I had JUST enough to cut my skirt lining pieces. I tried Steam-A-Seam for the first time to help tame that slippery lining hem and got a nicely even 1/4" narrow hem all around. I think I probably worked on this skirt for about a week, during nap times and in the evening after the kiddos went to bed. It came together beautifully and I can't say enough great things about Colette patterns. They're brilliant.

So, I finally finished up- exactly one week before my departure date, and naturally, I wore it. And naturally, I spilled something on it! So, a dab of stain remover went on, and I sent it through a delicate wash cycle. I pulled it out, and the stain was still there, so I sent it through again, with warmer water this time. Much to my relief, the spot came out, and I put it in the dryer on delicate for just a few minutes, then pulled it out and hung it to dry the rest of the way. I noticed that the lining hem seemed to be poking out funny when I hung it up, but I figured it just needed a good press. But then when I was trying to finalize my vacation wardrobe, I put it back on. And holy crap, the thing was tight! It wasn't that tight before, was it? And that lining! That wasn't hanging out before, was it? The damn thing shrank! Shrunk? No!

Kelly green Beignet

Before I left I spent some time staring at it and trying to figure out what to do. For the lining, it should have been as easy as ripping out the narrow hem and restitching it a bit deeper, but thanks to the permanent bond that the Steam-A-Seam creates, that hem is there to stay. I thought about rolling the lining hem under again, but that disrupts the beautiful finish that's going on in there where the lining meets the facing. And then there's the fact that I couldn't really breathe in it, and there was no way I could eat a beignet in it. I decided it would be better if I just left it at home.

And then once I got back, I was still determined to have a kelly green beignet, so I bought a piece of green denim with the intention of remaking the skirt. I thought I might be able to salvage the lining from this one, and reuse the buttons. But, the denim, although a pretty good color match, just isn't the same. It's rougher looking and the dye isn't even and after I washed and dried that piece of fabric, I knew that it wouldn't make a Beignet as lovely as this one. I had to save this skirt!

So, I begrudgingly rolled that lining hem up a third time and stitched it down. It's bulkier and not as lovely as it once was, but no one will see it and at least it's not hanging out of my skirt anymore like a tacky slip or something. I pulled off a couple of the belt loops and let out the only two seams that I hadn't serged completely off, gaining back about 1/2" around the waist. I moved the top three buttons over a little bit so they aren't so strained anymore, and just to prove to myself that I hadn't simply fatted out of my skirt, I fused and washed another scrap of fabric, but this time I actually measured it before and after.


That was a 5" x 5" piece of my fashion fabric, with the EK130 fused to one side. As you can see, it's now more like a 4 3/4" x 4 7/8" piece. It's clear to me that the length is where the greater shrinkage happened, and though the width shrinkage seems insignificant, it was clearly enough to make a difference. I'm kicking myself for taking the time to swatch the interfacing before I made the skirt, but not thinking to measure the pieces! Foolish girl. And for comparison's sake, I also washed a 5" x 5" piece of fabric without the interfacing. They came out exactly the same size!

So, the way I see it, there are a number of things that could be coming into play here:
  1. Maybe I never pre-washed this fabric after all. It was years ago, and I can barely remember last week. Probably should have washed it again, just to be sure.
  2. The interfacing shrunk (shrank?), taking the fashion fabric with it. This is what I was convinced had happened, until the two test swatches came out of the dryer exactly the same. So much for that theory! Although the un-interfaced cotton would have relaxed again in the width, while the interfaced piece doesn't have any give.
  3. I'm a slob, and should really stop wearing the clothes that I make in real life situations. True, had I not spilled on my skirt the first day, it might have gotten to come to Louisiana with me. I am confident that I would have spilled something on it there, but maybe it would have been powdered sugar from an actual beignet, and my meta skirt dream would have been fulfilled. But the point is, I would have had to wash it eventually anyway. Maybe...
  4. The loose weave means it will continue to shrink, wash after wash? So...
  5. I guess I should have washed, fused, washed again, and then cut a size bigger? I don't even know. I think that it's salvaged at this point, assuming it doesn't keep shrinking. But it's a skinny day skirt, that's for sure. And I'm not done with this pattern, so hopefully next time won't be so problematic. I've got some charcoal grey mystery fabric stashed that I've earmarked for Beignet v2. Better go throw it in the wash!

I've got one more dress to show you that I completed last week, and then I think that I might be even more absent than I usually am for a while. I'm going back to my old (pre-babies) 9-5 on Monday, and I imagine that might have an impact on my sewing output. However, Me Made May '13 is just around the corner, and I still have some plans from my old Work Wardrobe Pinterest board to tackle. And I have to determine what my level of participation in MMM13 will be before I make my pledge. While most of my me-made garments aren't completely unsuitable for a corporate environment, they definitely skew a little more casual. I've got to take stock of the closet and formulate a plan.

So, what do you think went wrong with my Beignet? What would you have done? Are you playing along with MMM13? Do you like how I just snuck in the fact that I'm going back to work like it ain't no thang? Truth is, I tried to write a whole thing about it, explaining and laying it all out there- but frankly, it's just not that interesting. I got a job. David quit his. We're trading places, and hopefully it all works out for the best. I'll keep you updated, of course. And now, I'm off to begin my final weekend before this very dramatic life change takes place. Hope you enjoy yours as much as I intend to revel in mine!