October 15, 2014

Coating with Cashmerette: When to quit? That is the question.

Coat woe is me. I had a bad feeling about putting the sleeves in: the princess seams absolutely refused to go in smoothly, and there are puckers all along the curves, so what hope did the curviest of curves, the sleeve, have? Not much, says I. Theories for *why* my cashmere refuses to be moulded abound. Maybe I used the wrong kind of interfacing (Sewing Supply’s pro-weft medium weight). Maybe I should have pre-shrunk the entire bolt of cashmere first (I didn’t do this for my last coat and it was fine, but perhaps cashmere is different). Maybe I should just have not been foolish enough to purchase a lightweight, solid colour coating – coat beginners if I can offer you one tip, it’s make your first coat from a dark, textured, reasonably heavy wool. Thank me later. 
Anyhow, it all started fairly well putting together my elegant two piece sleeve: 
And then…. crap. The actual sleeve head isn’t too bad. But puckers a-hoy on the armsyce, which weren’t there before the sleeve got eased in. Once again, pressing/steaming doesn’t help – in fact, it gets worse. I spent a long time gently pressing the curve over a ham, but as soon as I lift the iron… puckers re-form. They’re not under any stress – it’s just the fabric waving. 

Avert your eyes from this misery

The only saving grace is that the back looks fine! Quite why, I’m not sure. 
And on, you can see a further issue with a new armpit wrinkle. 
So, what to do now? Maybe I just chose a really bad fabric/interfacing combination and nothing’s going to remedy it. Options are:
1. Just scrap it. Get over the expense (sigh) and start again in a few months with better fabric choices
2. Unpick both the sleeves (basted *and* sewn!) and somehow see if there’s a way to get the puckers out *without* steaming/pressing. Some people have suggested removing the interfacing – it’s fusible so that would be very tricky but maybe I can cut it off with a razor somehow (obviously risks damaging the cashmere but could be worth as a last shot)
3. Throw it in a corner and maybe in a few months attempt again
Unfortunately this all coincides with a period of great stress at work, so I sort of dread coming home and then working on a frustrating sewing project that I’m concerned I may not even like once it’s done. That’s not what sewing is about!
What do you reckon, oh wise ones? 

48 thoughts on “Coating with Cashmerette: When to quit? That is the question.

  1. Katy Patzel says:

    I’d go with option 3. That coats should be put in time out!

  2. Normally, I would say take a break and get a little mental and emotional distance from the project. I find that this usually allows me to view the issues dispassionately. The potential downside, however, is that for me this dispassion usually morphs into a ruthless desire to dump everything and start over. Since I’m doing more knitting than sewing right now, this just means frogging (rip it, rip it) and reusing the yarn to do things properly. But since you’re looking at a loss of valuable and lovely materials, this may not be the best approach. So, I guess I’m deferring to better minds than mine and wishing you better fortune in your coating adventures.

  3. Oh no! This is so sad. My advice would be, if it is filling you with dread, definitely stop for a while, and don’t try and fix it while you are stressed: you will probably just cut a big hole in it or something: I would. Don’t bin it, but have a breather and work on something fun and easy that is an antidote to work stress, not an exacerbator. It will be rescuable, just give it time x

  4. Chloe says:

    Hmmm… from this angle, it looks like your sleeve is too small for the armscye. But you say there is no stress there, so I could be wrong. Did you use twill/tailor’s tape along your armhole? That might help give some extra stability to the seam. I would take the sleeves out and try again, but maybe give yourself a break first? You’ve made it this far, it would be a terrible shame to give up now!

    1. Jenny says:

      The thing that’s peculiar is I’ve made this *exact* same pattern before and it worked out really well. There’s a chest shield on the front so the whole armhole is entirely stabilized. The issue doesn’t seem to be stability per se but the fact the cashmere is warping every time it’s pressed…

  5. Rebekka says:

    I am totally not an expert. At all. For me that would be a wadder. That said, in that last pic, it looks to me like you need a extra dart.

    1. That was my thought too when I saw the last image…but that won’t take care of the puckering around the arm seam… hmmmmm…

  6. tanyamaile says:

    Maybe take a break and sew up something quick and easy. Maybe you’ll have an epiphany in the meantime and be able to figure out how to fix it.

  7. Laura says:

    Put it down. Pick up something easy that makes you happy. Find your inner ohm. Then go attack it again! You can do it.

  8. Denise says:

    **There’s a chest shield on the front so the whole armhole is entirely stabilized*

    Try releasing the shield from the armhole.

    1. Jenny says:

      The shield actually doesn’t go into the armhole seam allowance. To be honest this puckering is happening anywhere the cashmere is going round a curve so I suspect it isn’t a construction issue

  9. Crab and Bee says:

    I vote for option 3 as well! Sew something fun and let some solutions percolate in the back of your mind.

  10. Work on something fun and easy for awhile and see if your brain comes up with new ideas. Sometimes we have to let ideas percolate!

    1. Apparently I’m a total copy-cat of Crab and Bee! 🙂 Sorry!

  11. Debbie Iles says:

    I agree with all the rest, take a wee break. But…if you come back and can’t remedy the problem – this is what I would do. Ditch the sleeves completely, increase the armscyes just a tad and turn it into a sleeveless jacket. Seriously, long sleeveless jackets are really hot right now! In any case, you have still inspired me to have a go at a coat.

    1. Margo B says:

      I vote for option three as well. I had this happen to me last winter with a coat…I binned it and never looked back. I kinda wish now that I had just taken a break and revisited it at a later date. Also, I love Debbie Iles suggestion of a sleeveless blazer! Very on trend right now. Brilliant Debbie!

  12. Elle says:

    I’m no expert….Are the markings off? All of the trouble seems to be on the one side. Does the sleeve need to be rotated a bit? I think Debbie’s solution is a great last-ditch way to save this beautiful project.

  13. fourkid says:

    I would do some investigation – test some of the small scraps and see how the fabric is behaving under different conditions. Do curved seams with and without the interfacing – and perhaps try other types of interfacing (although the weft is what I would have used.) Also try some of the wool pre-treated and some not. If it is the fabric, it is quite possibly the lack pretreating it. I always pretreat any wool with a light mist of water and a steam iron. If it is a pretreating error, I would start over. If it is not the fabric then I would take the sleeves out and hand baste it back in. Depending on how it is behaving, then either machine sew or hand sew it.

  14. opalspeacock says:

    I agree, put it aside and do some research, if you must sew pick up something that is easy for you (napkins anyone). I think your coat is worth trying to save. As far as research, I would check shrinking first by grabbing two small pieces of your fabric (one faced & one not), tracing each on a piece of paper, press/treat the fabric just like you did the coat, then compare them to your tracing to see if it did indeed shrink. If it did shrink, can you repress and stretch it back to the same size and block it? Just like “fourkid” stated, do some experimenting on scrap before attacking it. Good luck.

  15. sewmanju says:

    Me personally, I would do option one because everything either has to be finished or a wadder. I don’t do UFOs! That said, I think Debbie’s idea is brilliant. But then, she is the queen of upcycling/ recycling projects. Could you turn it into a sleeveless blazer? Would you wear it?

  16. Unpick the sleeves. hand baste them in. Though, sew a sleeve cap to the sleeve first. Then handbaste in. Then you see where potential puckers are (if any) and adjust. It could be that you might have to slide the sleeve in an extra 1/4 an inch for an inch or two . . .

    Also, did you look at Gertie’s sleeve set in with a piece of fleece?

    And don’t scrap the coat. Give it a few days. Go make that circle skirt you just got the fabric for. Give yourself a reset . . . Leave that coat on the dress form though.

    1. Jenny says:

      I did do the Gertie fleece setting in approach, but I think it may have overly gathered the sleeve. I did baste them in first and they looked ok but it’s when it comes to pressing that it all goes to pot. But yes I am going to walk away and then maybe I’ll come back to it

  17. Michelle says:

    Another vote for Option 3. Set it aside and work on something fun. Make another wrap dress as a palette cleanser. I know that you’re a fan of the Christine Jonson pattern, but have you seen the new Muse wrap dress–it’s super cute!

    I’m not at all experienced in coat tailoring, so I can’t offer any advice here. I don’t recall running into that puckering issue that you’re seeing in front. These are things that stump me, too.

  18. Any chance that the fabric will relax some and help with the puckering any? I once had a similar problem with a skirt. I just carried on and finished it, wore it in all it’s misery, sent it out to the dry cleaner, and I don’t know what kind of voo doo they did, but it came back looking great.

    1. Jenny says:

      If I do complete it, I’m going to definitely take it to get professional dry cleaned and see if they can’t sharpen it up a bit.

  19. I have no experience with cashmere, so this may be a horrible idea… but I’m thinking that since you say steaming it makes it worse, maybe you could wet it and block out the wrinkles? Based on my experience blocking knitting projects, wet wool molds and shapes pretty easily.

  20. Option 3. Come back to it with fresh eyes when you are less stressed and make something simple and no-brainer in the meantime. That quite often works for me.

  21. Carol S says:

    I’ve never made a coat and it’s been a long time since I’ve tailored a jacket, but my thoughts are that if you heat the interfacing with an iron it isn’t going to be so hard to pull it off. I’m also question if it is a not enough clipping of the seam allowance issue. Something needs more relaxing. Do you enough scraps to do some experimenting?

    1. SewSealy says:

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  22. fourkid says:

    I was thinking of more clipping too, Carol. And it seems weird to me that it is just the front of the sleeve. Could just that part have been traced off a bit wrong? Or not the sleeve but the armsyce area on the front bodice – or maybe even the whole side front piece is off and that is why the princess lines are off? Personally I would hand baste and clip until it fit. As long as it isn’t a fabric shrinkage problem I would just make it work. Sometimes I go to sleep thinking it through and the fortitude to tackle it renews after a day or two.

    1. Jenny says:

      The thing that’s peculiar is that there is no strain at all on the fabric – those wrinkles aren’t caused by pulling, they’re just the fabric rippling when it’s steamed around any kind of curve (it’s OK if it’s flat). Unfortunately it’s already clipped which means that unpicking the sleeves and re-setting them is going to be an enormous and difficult job..

    2. fourkid says:

      Before you do anything, I would do some detective work on the fabric. I know Pam’s interfacing and so that isn’t the problem, unless it is that the interfacing in the SA is changing up the hand of the fabric too much. Test some scraps of fabric under several conditions – and testing the shrinkage like another person mentioned using identical sized scraps. Check the grainlines and how the bias acts. And I would also try hand basting. Maybe do some hand basting around the stitch line (on both sides of it) before you take out the machine stitches. Just make up your mind to patiently sit in front of an interesting show and pick them out one by one. It will keep it all neater. Maybe just doing the front side will be enough to get it to lay flat. I would also ask this question to the sewist over at artisan square – there are some very experienced sewists there. http://artisanssquare.com

  23. Gillian says:

    So sorry it’s not working out! I vote for option 3, but instead of just tossing it in a corner where it will taunt you, take it to a friend or family’s house and leave it there to mellow! Then when you want it, go pick it up for another shot!

  24. Heather says:

    Oh man! I hate when stuff like this happens. Do not toss it. I would unpick the sleeves then I would put it in the time out corner for a while. Make something that you know will work out for a break then come back to it. It’s so beautiful – I think you would regret chucking it!

  25. JKW says:

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  26. JKW says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  27. JKW says:

    I say work on something fun for a bit. Do what you can to ease out the puckers. Then see if a quality dry cleaners can give it a go.
    No one is going to notice (fixate) on this as much as you. A beautiful scarf could help accent this beautiful fabric and de-emphasize the sleeves.
    A long sleeveless vest in cashmere would also be beautiful if you can’t get past your feelings ‘re the sleeves.
    You will wear and enjoy!

  28. I’m wondering whether the problem is that the fabric is shrinking when you’re pressing it – or if the cashmere for some reason is not getting along well with the iron…(as in the setting may be higher than it should be? I’m not an expert here, I just did a quick search, and found something that may be of help…I’ll link it at the end here… If it were me, I’d set it aside and get a little distance while working on something else. The fabric I’m using for my son’s robe is maddening, so I had to take a break from it… (It’s supposed to be cotton flannel, but it doesn’t act like cotton flannel, it acts like a synthetic…)

    And you may already know the information I’m linking to 🙂 😛 If so, ignore it!

    (Maybe even try hand sewing it after ripping it out? A pain, yes…buuuut maybe that will help?)


  29. oh no, how annoying! i would put it in the naughty corner to think about what it’s done (actually i would unpick the sleeves first as if there’s a surefire way to make sure that it becomes a wadder for me, it’s to leave the unpicking to be done). can you use a walking foot to sew it in? might a sleeve head help (i’m not sure it would as i think that’s more to ease puckers on the sleeve itself)

  30. Krystina says:

    This has happened to me when setting in a sleeve in a jacket (I really prefer sewing sleeves in flat for this reason). I think that somewhere along the line while setting in the sleeve my seam allowance wasn’t right (even though it looked fine to the naked eye and I was really careful sewing it). I unpicked the area that was wrinkly only (not the whole sleeve) and went over it again and for some reason the wrinkling was gone. Maybe try that once, and if it doesn’t work, give it some distance.

  31. I’ve only been sewing for a little while and I haven’t attempted a coat yet (snaps for the ambition!) but I think you’re aversion to trying again right away speaks to your natural response. It doesn’t always mean that it won’t be finished or that you won’t gain some clarity while you take a break. But, take a break! <3 I honestly think its beautiful and you’re on your way when you’re ready to pick it up again!

  32. Liz says:

    I would have thought if there were a problem with the fabric/interfacing then the back armhole would have puckering too. It seems to me that there is a problem with the side front piece and I would definitely check the pattern before going any further. You could walk the seams on the pattern pieces to check everything matches up (including the notches). If the pattern’s wrong you’ll never get the pieces to fit together no matter how much you press it.

  33. Liz says:

    Also, I know you have made this pattern before without these problems but if your first coat was in a more forgiving fabric perhaps these issues didn’t show up. The interfacing on this cashmere may be making the fabric more rigid and small discrepancies are magnified.

  34. Mate – I’m feeling your pain over here. So frustrating. Any chance you can get more of the fabric to cut new sleeves, and preshrink them then have another crack? I think a mutual separation of a short period is needed for you both though. Chin up old bean!

  35. Alex Bradley says:

    I agree with everything everyone is saying about taking a break, unpicking and re-inserting. I used up to much of my seam allowance when inserting sleeves on a dress and it looked very similar to your puckering. I removed the sleeve and reinserted leaving the slimmest seam allowance I could get away with and that solved it. HOWEVER, if all else fails and you are really stuck, leather or leather look sleeves on a wool coat are rather on trend and could be another option? Gah! I hope you don’t think I’m grasping at straws! Good luck hun, I feel your frustration and wish you the best. I love the colour and I really hope you get to wear it xxxxx

  36. Jenny says:

    Exclusive update: hard to believe it but this is now FIXED! Blog post to follow but the input of the blogosphere and some perseverance paid off. Woohoo!

    1. Bunny says:

      So good to hear!

  37. Jane M says:

    Hooray! I was reading through all the comments and am so happy to know that you figured it out. I am planning on a coat project this winter with a cashmere blend so your experience is priceless!

Let me know what you think!