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Feb 6, 2012

Glitzy Fabrics and the Sewing Headache

Readers, I am happy to announce that the top (I'm calling it a jacket) that goes with my Halston-inspired outfit, Simplicity 7295, is almost done.  But oye, the headaches!

Like leather, when you stitch through plastic "sequins" or whatever you want to call them, and then you need to rip your seam out, the original stitching holes stay visible.  I had to reattach both my sleeves with a slightly narrower seam allowance, so of course I'm left with something that looks like this at the shoulder seams.

It's not dreadful and you'd never notice it from more than six inches away, but still.

This is one of those wrap dress-type tops where you're supposed to leave a 1" wide gap in the right side seam and run the belt (that's attached to the left side of the jacket -- the side that wraps underneath) through this hole, and then bring the belt around the back, to the front.  The belt half that's attached to the right side of the jacket (which wraps over) loops around the back as well, crossing the other belt, and tying in the front.

Does that make sense?

I tried this with the belt just pinned on and I didn't like the way it looked; the belt, made from a shiny lycra material, really spoiled the drape of the jacket, and the crisscrossing layers looked sloppy.  Here's my lycra and my two belt sides.

I devised a different method of tying the jacket:  I sewed one piece of grosgrain ribbon to the inside right seam at the waistline, and another to the left side of the jacket (the side that wraps under).  Tied, it looks like this.

Here are the ties.

I then attached one side of the belt to the left side seam, and the other end to the right side edge (the side that wraps over).  The belt simply ties on the left, without wrapping around the waist at all.  I much prefer this to the original drafted style, don't you?  Don't you?

You may be wondering why I didn't use my fashion fabric to make the belt.  The sequined fabric can't knot in a soft way, and knotting it would certainly damage the sequins.  To be honest, I think there's an even better closure for this jacket, perhaps a rhinestone clip or similar decorative doodad.  Right now those ties look a little noodly to me.  

Meanwhile, my original plan to use polished cotton bias tape along the neckline (where there was simply an exposed serger seam attaching the facings) didn't work.  The combination of a stretch synthetic and stable cotton created problems: the bias tape wouldn't lie flat; it rippled.  So instead I cut bias tape out of the same shiny lycra fabric I'd used for my belt/ties.  This worked well as it "gives" along with the fabric.

From the inside it looks like this.

I still have to finish the hem and cuffs, probably with the same stretch lycra bias tape.  And I'll think about some better closures.  Maybe a large satin frog?

One thing I haven't had issues with is my machine, a vintage Singer 201, which handled all these weird stretchy fabrics without a hitch, thank heaven.

Friends, I hope your projects are proceeding more speedily than mine.  Have you ever had similar challenges with glitzy fabrics -- or challenges even worse than these?  I wonder if real sequins would have been harder, though at least you can remove them along a seam allowance.  Thoughts?

Happy Monday, everybody!


  1. Have you considered fold over elastic (FOE) for those edges, instead of bias tape? It might be just the ticket for that situation, and a lot less work.

  2. That is one fabulous wrap top!! Very Liza

  3. FOE is magic works on everything stretchy

  4. I agree with you about the ties. A nice, glitzy, rhinestone fastener should do the trick. I mean, once you've sewn a sequined jumper why not jump in with both feet?

  5. Try a separate belt. I think the front needs the shaping of the belt it was drafted to have. I would use a big snap to close the coat, and go for a belt. It would be a way to change up color accessories.

    1. Good point. Maybe I'll try a snap to close it and a low-slung chain link belt or something.

    2. I love the idea of a chain belt, but I think it's got to have rhinestones. When in doubt, WWLD? (What would Liza do?)

    3. OMG, I just used WWLD on my post today (Tuesday) before I saw this comment. Great minds think alike, right?

  6. From THAT fabric you have made a "take no prisoners" outfit (and it's not even completed). AMAZING!

  7. Very slimming top. Not that you need it. Just sayin'.

  8. Helloooooo Liza! That outfit is looking so great!

    Just a thought, but perhaps, instead of a belt or chain on the outside of the jacket, go with the snap as a closure, but add a little elastic discreetly hand sewn on the inside that would bring in the jacket like a belt (because to Eljean's point, it was drafted for a belt) and give it shape, but would not cut the line of the body.

  9. The jacket looks great. I think you came up with a good solution for the belts. But a frog closure or a glitzy pin would be excellent, too. If you want to hide those needle holes in the sleeve seams you could cover them with bands of your binding fabric, but if they're not noticeable, I'd forget all about it.
    I avoid sewing on those fabrics, have no patience for it anymore.

  10. Funny, I just finished a wrap top in a similar style, but ended up going in the opposite direction from you. As drafted, it has an inside tie for the wrap-under side and a hook and eye for the wrap-over side. This is perfectly functional, but it just sort of hangs there sadly with the hook and eye, so I added a sash to tie all the way around my waist. I could have just done a little side tie like yours, if I had thought of it!

  11. How about a buckle or D-rings? Or even a black pony holder and a large button? M&J and Dakota would have tons to choose from.

  12. The top looks amazing. I love all those crazy fabrics but couldn't imagine trying to tackle them myself. I'm sure you'll be getting a call from Liza.
    BTW, went to see the Halston documentary over the weekend. A must see.

  13. My mom had a real shearling maxi coat--she pointed out several times that it didn't belong to her ;) Sadly it was too big for me and weighed a ton. We gave it to someone who fit it, and appreciated the retro look (this was ~15 years ago).

    I like long coats in winter to keep me warm :)

  14. I agree that the arrangement of waist straps going in and out on a top like this is one of the most damfool arrangements for closing a garment I have ever encountered! Much better to fit the thing, put a tie or a hook on each side to secure both panels and then just make a belt to go around the waist!


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