Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Couture Techniques: Faced Waistband (Part I)

It seems, some projects never end; and this is especially true for couture projects... such as my red bouclé skirt, for example. It reminds me of Tolstoy's four-volume War and Peace, which we had to read and analyze at school for more than three months. My bouclé skirt may not be the finest literary achievement, but I swear, dear readers, what I learnt by making it could well be described in four volumes.

If you have read previous posts, I underlined the skirt in nice cotton batiste, not the usual silk organza. And since I wanted to know why batiste was better, I read several old Threads articles, Claire Shaeffer's and Susan Khalje's books before I came up with a decision. (Let me know if you are interested to hear more about my experience with underlining choice for bouclé.)

I also converted darts to ease, so the fabric pattern was not disturbed. I blogged about it here.

In addition, I quilted the fabric to the underlining to extend the life expectancy of the skirt by preventing sagging of this rather loosely woven bouclé. (Haven't blogged about it, since there will be more quilting projects coming up soon - this is so exciting, I can hardly keep it to myself. Ask me, ask me, please!)

So, what else is left? How much couture can you squeeze into one skirt? Honestly, the more I learn, the less I seem to know...

... There is this last thing with this skirt I wanted to share with you: the faced waistband.

This post is Part One of a two-part tutorial showing how to make a faced waistband. What you will read is the result of my experimenting using tips and instructions from Claire Shaeffer's Couture Sewing Techniques and from her article 'Facing Finesse' in the Issue 30 of Threads magazine, (which was also reprinted in Jackets, Coats and Suits from Threads).

It is really easy to make a faced waistband once you learnt the technique. There is more instruction, really, than work, so, do try it if it's new to you.

1. Choosing and preparing the interfacing

The choice of interfacing for a faced waistband includes sew-in hair canvas, petersham ribbon and other woven interfacings. Choose flexible interfacing to be able to shape it so it conforms to body contours. The more shaping is required (as for wide or shaped waistbands), the more flexibility you will need. So, for example, petersham ribbon will work fine with straight and narrow waistbands. In addition, interfacing needs to be crisp, especially for heavier fabrics. For my skirt, I chose sew-in hair canvas - it just felt right for this loosely-woven, somewhat bulky bouclé.

a) For one waistband, cut a strip of interfacing at least 3" wide (for 1"-wide waistband cut 3"-wide strip, and increase the width accordingly). For the length, take your waist measurement, if the skirt or the pants hit at the waist, and add 5" to get the final length. These 5" will provide some room for corrections as well as enough length for an underlap or overlap of the waistband.

b) Fold the strip in half lengthwise and zigzag it at appr. 1/4" from the edge. My zigzag width was 1/4", and the length 2.5 mm. Stitch two or three parallel lines, leaving the space of 1/4" between the stitched lines. Zigzag makes interfacing crisper preserving flexibility of the waistband.

As you see on this picture I have stitched six lines on a wider strip of fabric - I save time and get three interfacing strips of 1" to 1.25".

IMPORTANT: Before you cut a strip for your waistband, make sure you cut off the fold and any selvedges, so your waistband is equally flexible on all sides! 

I cut the wider strip into six strips of slightly different width.
I chose the narrowest (1") for the bouclé skirt.
2. Marking the fabric

This is another relatively fast and straightforward step. For bouclé, I decided to thread trace for the best visibility on bouclé. Uneven basting hand stitch is perfect for this purpose - it has shorter stitches on the wrong/ interfacing side, and longer stitches on the right side.

Mark waistband edges and seamlines at the top and at the bottom, as well as at the ends. Then proceed with side seams (perpendicular markings), center front and center back - this provides matching points for the final assembly.

The marked waistband from the right side. 
NOTE: The height of the finished waistband should be 1/4" wider than the height of the interfacing. This difference allows for the turn of the cloth. Generally, the bulkier is the fabric, the more allowance you should provide. 1/8" was a reasonable amount for this bouclé.

3. Attaching interfacing to the waistband

Now, place the interfacing on the marked waistband. Make sure that the turn of the cloth allowance is provided on all sides.

Next, pin the interfacing to the fabric (optional) and baste it using an even basting stitch. I made two rows of basting to secure the interfacing.

Wrap the seam allowances around the interfacing and baste in place.

Don't worry about the bulk at the ends of the waistband - the corners will be nicely mitered after the waistband is fitted.

Before you proceed, check whether the thread-traced seamlines of the waistband are exactly on the edge of the band.

4. Shaping & Preparing for fitting

Yay, we are almost done! Now let's press! Claire Schaeffer says pressing is important to set fibers of interfacing and fabric "so that they grab together". In addition, pressing helps shape the waistband to make it conform to body curves.

Surprisingly (for me), even with this narrow waistband, you will want to slightly ease its upper edge. I trust Shaeffer, and so I went for an additional 1/2". I must admit, I haven't measured it, but it seemed close to this number.

NOTE: Press the interfacing side of the fabric, not the right side!

Baste the waistband on top of the skirt seam allowances and make sure that the matching points align at the side seams, center front and center back.

The waistband basted to the skirt
A close-up of the waistband before the fitting
Et voila, we reached the end of the part 1 of the tutorial. I have four hours to catch up on some sleep before going to work this morning... And, by the way, I pricked my right thumb while I was working. Remember? It means 'joy at work', they say at Chanel! Let's see...


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