"I love my cats because I love my home, and little by little they become its visible soul." Jean Couteau

Monday, July 4, 2016

more fun with stoles

I know I haven't posted in a long time, but I haven't done any projects in a long time. I've felt plenty busy enough with just life to not bring extra stuff into it. But I finally got around to a project I promised my very good friend back at the beginning of April. Now, I didn't put a time frame on when I would get this done for her, so it's OK that it took 3 months!

My very wonderful friend, E, is a minister. Back when she got ordained, I made her this stole. I'd been thinking that I'd like to make her some more stoles, but I wasn't sure what she had or needed. *Warning: church nerd info coming* The church celebrates what are called liturgical seasons, which are associated with different colors and thematic ideas. </church nerd info> So, for example, if E already had 2 purple Advent stoles, I didn't want to make her another one! So finally one time when we were hanging out, I asked her if she would like me to make her another stole, and if she had ideas of the sort of thing she might want. E got really excited and said she already had a bunch of fabric that she'd bought with the plans of making herself some stoles, but had never gotten around to it, and she would love it if I would use that fabric to finally make those ideas into reality. She told me the fabric was for a baptism stole, with blue patterned fabric that looked like water. 

We got together a few weeks later for E to give me the fabric and pattern she had made. As soon as I saw the fabric, I got worried. The other stole I had made was out of denim, which is pretty thick and has nice structure, which you want in a stole. This fabric was super thin and light and flimsy. 

There would need to be some sort of middle fabric to give the stole some structure. Plus, the water-pattern fabric was semi-transparent, so I'd have to back it with plain blue fabric before attaching it to the same plain blue fabric for the back of the stole. That was a lot more layers than I'd ever dealt with before, and I wasn't really sure how to tackle it. And unlike other DIY projects, this isn't a popular thing people blog about online, so Googling was not helpful.

Luckily, I have another source - my mom's friend who makes stoles for my mom and had given me tips on E's last stole. I emailed her some pictures and described the fabric and my concerns. She gave me some ideas for different interface materials and how to layer everything so it would turn right-side-out correctly. She also suggested that I first sew the 2 fabrics for the front piece (the water-pattern and plain blue) together using a basting stitch to help make thing easier when I was putting together the rest of the layers. I cut out the water-pattern fabric and both the front and back pieces of the plain blue fabric.

Next I had to figure out what to use as the interface fabric. I had initially thought of batting, just because that's the only thing I really knew about. However, when I go to JoAnn and was looking around, I quickly realized that any batting was going to be too thick and pillowy to really look right. Near the fabric cutting counter I found several other types of interfacing, but they all seemed to stiff to go with the flowy, light fabric I was using. My mom's friend had mentioned that when she had made silk ties, she had sometimes used a flannel as the interface, so I went through my fabric drawers at home and found some scraps of materials to try out. I tried a few different things, including a flannel and the green denim I had used for the first stole I'd made. I cut out some small pieces from the leftover plain blue fabric and sewed the various potential interface materials between them. Then I felt their thickness and structure and solicited opinions from my husband and some other ministers I know. In the end, I decided to go with the denim. As a bonus, I still had plenty of it left over that I could use, so I didn't even have to buy any more materials!

After I I had all my pieces cut out and prepared, it was time to test out the theory that my mom's friend had proposed of how to lay them all out to get the stole to turn right-side-out properly. Obviously, I didn't want to sew the whole thing together only to have it come out wrong and have to take it all apart and start over. So I did a test-run with some scraps. I cut out plain blue scrap pieces and labeled them front right, front left, back right, and back left, so I would be able to tell if they were right-side-out or not. Then I laid them all out as my mom's friend had recommended, starting with the interface layer of denim, then the front layer, right-side up, then the back layer, right-side down. I pinned it, sewed it together, and turned it inside-out, and... success - all the layers were just as I wanted them to be! So now I just had to do it on a much larger, more important scale!

After reading about basting stitches, my understanding of the theory is that you take them out after completing your actual stitches. However, I was lazy and mostly didn't bother to do that. I only did it in a few areas where the basting stitch overlapped with the main seam stitch and so would have shown through on the other side. Then it was time for the moment of truth - turning it all inside out! Just as with my test pieces, it worked correctly! The fabric didn't lay nicely AT ALL, but after a good ironing, I got it looking like a proper stole. When I gave it to E a few days later, she was super excited. Now she just needs to find someone to baptize!

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