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Dec 2, 2015

Unusual Black Fabric Project + A New Vintage Sewing Machine!



I've just finished sewing a tunic-style shirt for a male client who wears mainly black (or dark gray) but wanted something a little unusual too.

I found a beautiful black solid at Mood.  It's a cotton jacquard (with perhaps a little rayon in the weave to improve the drape) with a polka-dot weave.  The fabric is slightly gauzy and, if you hold it up to the light, it's slightly translucent.  That said, it's not at all revealing when worn.



BTW, I always run these fabrics by clients before purchasing them, usually through photos.

I love the way this shirt turned out, though the jacquard, which had a tendency to fray and shift (as gauzy fabrics often do), presented some challenges.  Flat-felled seams, which I generally use when making shirts, weren't an option as the hand of the fabric is too soft, but I found the weave was too bulky for French seams.  In the end, I simply stitched the seams and serged the seam allowances: the result is sturdy, clean, and unobtrusive.  (I attached my yokes and plackets the usual way.)

Since the style of the shirt is basic, I used a contrasting black cotton floral for the inside cuffs and collar band.  The outer band, cuffs, and front placket are black cotton sateen.





I'm still deciding how to finish the hem.  Right now it's simply serged.  I may turn the hem up and topstitch for a more finished look.  Sometimes, however, I find that less is more when it comes to seam finishes, especially on drapey fabrics like this one.



One of the perks of sewing for others is being exposed to fabrics and styles I might not have considered for myself and discovering how much I like them.  I would love a shirt like this for myself.

In other news, my dear friend Johanna who, as you may know, has a marvelous vintage sewing machine collection, has gifted me her vintage 1950's Elna Supermatic!  It's in excellent working condition and comes with a large selection of decorative embroidery cams and other accessories.   Eventually I will make a video comparing the Supermatic to the Grasshopper.  They're both lovely green Elnas.  Thank you, Johanna!



You can see the Supermatic run here.  You can see the chihuahuas run here.

And that's it.  Anyone ever sewn with cotton jacquard?

Have a great day, everybody!



25 comments:

  1. Beautiful tunic.

    This tunic seems like a perfect candidate for my favorite hem treatment: a faced hem. I like it for just about any garment, but especially for tunics when a bit of weight at the bottom helps it to drape and to avoid the DVB (Dreaded Velcro B*tt - less a problem for men than women). For hems that are at all curved, I use bias strips for the facing.

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  2. Love the black tunic w/the mix of fabrics in the details.

    No suggestion on what type of hem but I caution you against leaving it simply serged. All it takes is to catch one of the serger threads and it looks nasty.

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    Replies
    1. I agree. Finish the hem. Especially on a project going "out the door". Beautiful work as usual!!

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  3. Ooo, gorgeous machine! I recently acquired the tan coloured supermatic - I think it was the next model - and I can't seem to make the zigzag cam work. The straight stitch is beautiful though so its not a complete loss

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    1. I have a Supermatic too. Check your manual--on all mechanical machines all the settings have to be right to get any stitch. You might be able to get a zigzag stitch by double checking the two or three settings, as I recall, that need to be in synch for the zigzag stitches and to use decorative cams for special stitches.
      Kristina in Ohio

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  4. Well, I learned something today. I thought that cotton jacquard was always a heavier cotton fabric. Didn't realize that it could be as thin as a gauze. Love that fabric.

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  5. I loved my supermatic when I was sewing all the time! I had it for at least 20 years until I wore it out :)

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  6. That fabric is very nice and the shirt is beautiful. Very sexy.

    I have an Elna 62C, one of the descendants of your Supermatic. Actually, I have two of them! I've found Elnas to be a bit temperamental but when in a good mood, will sew as well as any Bernina and at a much, much lower price. Yours looks great. I love green sewing machines.

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  7. Lovely shirt Peter. Pretty amazing the things that you are making.
    Terry

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  8. Great shirt and great choice of fabric! As for the hem, have you thought about rolled hem?

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  9. After serging the hem area of men's shirts, I always turn and topstitch. The hems look quite nice.

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  10. I have wanted to sew a shirt just like that for myself (dreamig about it for a long time). Can you please provide more information ? like about the pattern, and how you did the placket, and collar band.
    I'm starting some placket practice from a video of David Page Coffing (at craftsy.com), with the intention of putting a front placket.
    I hope that you know of any tutorial that will help me to learn how to do a shirt like this.
    I will probably do it on a treadle sewing machine, considering that I learned how to treadle some years ago from a video that you published... but I could also use a featherweight.

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    1. hmuel, I recommend purchasing a vintage mens caftan sewing pattern. You can find one in your size by combing through here:

      https://www.etsy.com/search?q=mens%20caftan%20pattern%20sewing

      David Coffin's book Shirtmaking is an excellent resource and includes a template for making a front placket if the pattern doesn't include one. It sounds like you're already practicing that! The method is very similar to the one you'd use to make a sleeve placket, which is also described in great detail in David Coffin's book.

      I based my pattern on a shirt my client lent me that already fits him well.

      You can make this on any sewing machine and a treadle sounds like a fantastic idea (so does a Featherweight).

      Good luck with it!

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  11. (In a sleeveless t-shirt, yelling up the curved staircase of a large house in the South) Johanna! Johanna!!

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    Replies
    1. Ah, thanks. Big smile on my face.

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    2. I was thinkin' 'bout you.

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  12. Peter,

    beautifully made tunic shirt!

    A(nonymous)

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  13. My daughter got married in our backyard and I made the bridesmaids' dresses. The morning of the wedding, I was using fray check along the edge of the sheer overlays on those dang dresses. Every type of hem I tried was clumping up in my machines or pulling all whacky (it was a bias cut piece). It worked beautifully and no one knew the difference. But, another factor is that I knew the girls wouldn't need to wear the dresses again - pretty much one time use frocks.

    I love your design features in choice of seams and facings, etc. I am trying to remember to slow down and do those very special things when I sew now. Earlier in my life, I thought the goal was speed. Now, I know the goal is to end up with something that just feels very special in your hands and on your body.

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    1. I should not admit to this, but did roughly the same hem for a wedding dress with lots of spiral cut ruffles.
      Hey, it was a stone beach wedding and a mail order dress. And nobody was looking at the hem.

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    2. No judging here. A girl's gotta do what a girl's gotta do, especially on deadline. I finished covering and sewing on the 38 satin buttons in the back of my wedding dress at 1 a.m. on my wedding day. Machine rolled hem for the veil. Faster is sometimes the better choice.

      But after a journey to Japan this summer, I am also inspired to take more care when I can, to use the wonderful fabrics in my stash to make beautiful clothes to wear and be proud of, as long as possible. The better finishes, cuts, and details do make a difference, and sometimes (but not always) take a little more time. Feel the zen...
      Kristina in Ohio

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  14. Beautiful shirt. I do like the faced hem idea put forth by silver mom. Would be interesting to pair this with your thai fisherman pants. Love the shirt

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  15. For someone who didn't like black a week ago ... ;)

    I'm with SilverMom - a faced hem would be my choice here.

    Spud.

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  16. What a good looking tunic shirt! I love the floral inside cuffs; it reminded me of how Ted Baker shirts looked like. My brother-in-law wore something similar a few weeks back, so I think I know what to DIY for your homegive him for Christmas!

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  17. Hi Peter, Could you please tell me which pattern you used for this shirt?
    I love your blog, thank you for all the stories.
    Greetings from Belgium.
    Marcela

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    Replies
    1. That's a pattern I drafted from the client's measurements.

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