Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lady Grey: The lining fabric is in too.

I received another envelope, this time with lining fabrics to match my favorite shell options. Now I can make the final decisions on fabric, finish fitting, and get on with the business of sewing this Lady Grey Coat.

The wonderful Elfriede in Boulder mailed these my way last week, with some help from my sister Anne. Anne knows I have been in a panic over the fabric choice, so when she offed to go look at Elfriede's inventory on my behalf, I had to say yes. Yes, I know it was out of her way, but I also know Annie has great taste. Plus, she knows my style and preferences, and I wanted her eye on this project. Thanks to her, I received these samples to match the shell options.

I am deep in conflict (again). Now I have so many pretty choices that I am nearly paralyzed. No one single combo stands out as perfect. Each has merits, each has flaws, and I find myself still concerned over price, ease of sewing, and wearability. So I don't know if that means that NONE of these choices are right, or if it means instead that there are just so many choices that no one combo will ever feel absolutely perfect. Or is it that I haven't struck the ideal option yet? I go back and forth and back and forth in this debate. The more I think, the worse it gets. Please offer your advice.

The first combo option high on my list is a cotton twill shell with cotton batik lining. The pros are that this fabric is easy to sew, will result in a casual (and thus easy to wear) garment, and is the least expensive of all of my options. The cons are that I don't love the batik lining, because in general batiks are not my favorite look. Additionally, batik is not a traditional lining because it is not thin and slippery, so I will be deviating from tailoring norms with this choice.

Cotton twill shell: $54 (4.5 yards x $12/yard)
Cotton batiste lining: $19.50 (3.25 yards x $10/yard)
Total fabric cost: $73.50

I do LOVE this silk tweed with blues, browns and taupes intermixed, and Elfriede sent a lovely golden china silk lining. The pros are that this is a very grown up look. The lining option is slippery, as a lining should be. The entire jacket will be silk, which is breathable and feel comfortable to wear in my south Texas climate. The cons are the expense of the fabric, plus a concern that this will be hard to sew. I have been warned I should serge every edge of the silk tweed before sewing, which will be challenging because I do not own a serger, nor have I ever worked on one before (I do however have access to one through my work, and would like to learn). Additionally, silk is slippery to work with, so the lining may be frustrating. But, then again, this is the fabric option I am most drawn to, pluse I think it will look classy with some tan gloves.

Silk Twill shell: $119 (4.25 yards x $28/yard)
China Silk lining: $32.5 (3.25 yards x $10/yard)
Total fabric cost: $151.50

Finally, Elfriede sent this abstract floral gold and teal silk charmeuse as an option for the silk tweed, but it turns out it matches a teal wool she sent with the shells samples. I love this combo, except for the price and the promise that the silk lining will be hard to sew. Pros are that this would be a traditional winter jacket, warm from the wool shell and slippery from the thick silk lining. The wool should be easy to sew. And the teal is a vibrant color that will stand out in this jacket pattern. The cons are that I do not need a warm winter jacket. Additionally, is it silly to sew a warm winter jacket with bracelet length sleeves? It strikes me as ironic to make a warm coat that will let cold air up the arms. Finally, this is very expensive. For the $200+ dollars I will spend on fabric alone, I could purchase a really nice jacket and have it tailored.

Wool Twill shell: $119 (4.25 yards x $ 28/yard)
Silk Charmeuse lining: $91 (3.25 yards x $28/yard)
Total fabric cost: $210

So I am again at a crossroads. You see, I have a history of purchasing more expensive fabric than I should, and then not succeeding on the final project. I don't want to do that again. But on the other hand, I am really trying to use this Lady Grey sewalong to complete a project by avoiding shortcuts and excuses, while using the opportunity to learn the professional tips and steps needed for a tailored jacket. In that regard, a pricier, lovely fabric is in order.

I would love any feedback. In the meantime, I will continue to refine my fit and study my tailoring guidebooks. Perhaps I will wait until I have the fit of the muslin 100% perfect before determining the final fabric. If the jacket promises to be a knockout, I can splurge. If my fit attempts falter, I should go with the less expensive option. Now I just need more tissue tracing paper for fitting... onward and forward!


Cynthia said...

I am a fairly novice sewer, but it seems to me that the cotton twill will give you a jacket that you are likely to wear a lot, AND the fabric will be easy to work with. Since this is your first tailored jacket (right?) I'd pick this for the main fabric. I think that the silk tweed is going to be a nightmare to sew and that the wool, while easy to sew, is going to make a jacket that you won't wear much. Since this is your first jacket it is likely to be not quite perfect no matter what you do, so making it in a special occasion type fabric is (IMO) not the best choice, because on that special occasion you will focus on the not-perfectness of the finished jacket. In an everyday fabric, you'll just wear it a lot and the not-perfectness won't bug you. (And for "you", read "me".)

I think the batik lining is great -- it perks up the otherwise slightly dull cotton twill. But I love batik. If you don't, ask for other lining choices that do the same thing but aren't batik. I am imagining the jacket swinging open a little and sort of sparking up whatever else you're wearing, you know?

That's my two cents.

Sarah said...

I agree with Cynthia!

Winding Ways said...

Yes, it would be cheaper this time to buy a jacket and have it altered to fit. But by sewing your own jacket you are going to learn valuable skills that will allow you to make your own, unique creations. The process will show you how garments are properly constructed, what works and what does not, so that when you do purchase ready-to-wear you will recognize quality and not be disappointed by paying top price for garments that turn out to be poorly made.
There's a lot more value in sewing than just the finished item.

Kate said...

Great points all. Yes, I believe there is great value in going through the constructing process myself. It is about the learning and the creating, not just the finished project. With that said, I do hate to waste time and effort on a poor outcome, so I think I will follow Cynthia's advice about sticking with the easy-to-work-with and less expensive fabric for the first go-round. This way I can focus on construction and fit with less technical challenge or concern for damaging the materials.

Thanks all for your input!