Readers, I know.
One month ago I dissed this fabulously fake fabric, the synthetic lovers's synthetic.
I posted photos of jaw-droppingly awful neoprene outfits.
Some of you think I'm a hypocrite.
But I had a change of heart. Here's how it happened:
A few days ago I was fabric shopping when I stumbled upon the wildest looking wool knit I'd ever seen and decided I had to have it. (You know when you just know?)
This despite the fact that these colors are not part of my cool summer palette but more Peewee's Playhouse. This intarsia resembles nothing so much as a
topographic map. It's a wool blend woven by the Italian mill Bonotto. I have roughly 1 1/3 yards -- a bolt end, just enough to make something with. I'm just not sure what.
On a related note, whom did I run into at Mood but lovely Melissa Watson of the McCall's Pattern Company. I was a little embarrassed to show her my purchase but thankfully she didn't judge -- at least not outwardly.
I was somewhat taken aback, however, when Diane, who works the cash
register, looked at the fabric and asked who I was going to be for
Halloween. Ouch. Parenthetically, Diane created this costume for Swatch, Mood's canine mascot, below.
Anyway, when got home, I quickly realized I'd need a solid fabric to tone down this knit. I decided the fabric really ought to be blue. Back I went to the fabric store.
I was open to almost anything, but it was difficult finding an exact color match in a suitable fabric. That's when I stumbled on this neoprene.
It only works with the knit, imo, if the reverse -- a rich purple -- doesn't show.
But why hide the purple, which is a good color for me? That's when I decided to create a completely neoprene garment that features both sides. I bought two and a half yards.
I know, it's a somewhat roundabout story, but that's how life happens, no?
I've decided to make a coat. I'm inspired by this vintage 1958 Vogue Special Design (below). I'm thinking oversized, kimono sleeves, big hood. Thoughts?
I've experimented with stitching my neoprene and found I have no problems on my Bernina 930 with the thread tension turned up to the highest setting. But I'm still left with those bulky seam allowances.
I got my best results with my Brother 1034D serger. I created a flatlock stitch by turning the thread tension way down and the lower looper tension way up. (After serging, you pull the two pieces apart till the two edges abut each other.) The results from my very first swatch, using the thread that was already in my serger, were excellent. Here's the thread side:
And here's the lower looper side:
The seam is quite flat and, I think, very attractive. This seam is also strong: try as I might, I couldn't rip these pieces apart.
I still have to experiment with turning collars and pocket welts. These may not work, so I may have to come up with my own techniques/solutions.
I found some good tips on sewing with neoprene here. Another seam finishing option is lapping one end over another and stitching (below). I think I prefer flatlocking to the exposed raw edge.
And that's it. I'm cautiously optimistic but I have a lot of fabric testing to do in the days ahead.
Any neoprene techniques/caveats you wish to share? Ever tried flatlocking?
I'm a native New Yorker and sewing fanatic! I started sewing in 2009 and today make all my own clothes using vintage sewing machines and vintage patterns, in addition to sewing for private clients. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!