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A Minimalist Finish for No-Fray Fabrics

Dec 14, 2009
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Wool fleece and boiled wool are perfect fabrics for unstructured one-layer garments.

When I work with fabric, my Gemini traits take over. At times I want to pleat, tuck, fold, ruche, quilt, twist, and manipulate the dickens out of it to create great detail and surface design. At other times, I just want to leave it alone as much as possible. And when it’s a great fabric, that’s all you have to do. A few years ago, on separate occasions, I bought a piece of wool fleece and a piece of boiled wool. The colors were so great – my favorites – and they each felt like cozy blankets to snuggle up in. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with either of them, but I knew it would come to me. I also realized that whatever I made, I could overdo it if I added facings and interfacings and linings. So I used the minimalist approach and I couldn’t be happier. They’re perfect garments for the climate I live in. The tailored silhouettes satisfy the traditionalist in me, while the lack of added structure gives them a modern edge and comfortable wearability. The fabric doesn’t fray at all, so it’s really not necessary to finish the edges. But a…

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  1. Tosca2 December 1st

    Love the stitching. How do you prevent the collars from curling?

  2. samaraketa February 8th

    That buttonhole is simple yet looks elegant. I love your work! The fabrics are so gorgeous and I must say, you have inspired me!

  3. User avater dmk1 January 4th

    Can you check on the orange pattern Vogue 2236, I can't find that number is it another number?

  4. User avater JomustSew December 31st

    Wonderful article - now I have to go back to my favourite store here in Toronto, Fabricland. They are having their Boxing week sale and guess what's on sale for half price!! Of course -- boiled wool. Oh no -- more fabric for the stash -- need another week off to sew, sew sew

  5. waitingtosew December 24th

    I saw a ton of wool jersey at Nature's Fabrics, all kinds of colors too.
    Great topic

  6. User avater laigueglia December 19th

    Thank you MaryRay :)

  7. User avater Eyra December 19th

    Beautiful coats!And the colors are great too!Thanks for
    sharing these tips--valuable for an advanced beginner sewer like me.I was giggling with your Gemini description--I'm a
    Gemini too,forever split!

  8. User avater MaryRay December 18th

    To continue where I left off below -- yes, this is similar to Davidow's technique. You can learn more about it and see some great photos of Davidow suits in a past issue of Threads, #60. David Coffin, former senior editor of Threads, wrote a wonderful article about the designer's process -- another reason to get that DVD with all the past issues.
    And, if you want to learn more from me, I'll be teaching it at the American Sewing Guild conference in Atlanta in August in a class I call, "The Softly Tailored One-Layer Jacket."

  9. User avater MaryRay December 18th

    Thanks for all your comments. Let me try to answer some of your questions. First, I purchased both of these fabrics a few years ago from Habermans in Michigan (www.habermanfabrics.com). The green wool fleece is soft and seems to just get better with wearing. The boiled wool has great body for an unlined coat.
    Both patterns include a collar stand so there's that extra piece to consider, but I basically attached the stand and the collar by overlapping the seams or sewing the right side of collar to wrong of jacket and topstitching the seam allowance down much like a flat felled seam with a raw edge.
    And you can see most of the backs of each garment in the photos. The Miyake jacket has a center back seam with side back panels that have the cut-out edges. The coat also has a center back seam. And -- I'm running out of space so I'll continue in another comment!

  10. VeeBo December 18th

    Question for Mary Ray.....what do the backs of the jackets look like? Would like to see a picture of those too!

    Thanks

  11. User avater sewnutt1 December 16th

    In college, Dr.Bornemeier, at EMU, introduced us to Davidow suits.Probably a brand from the 50's and 60's which featured this technique. These suits were sold in the fine fashion areas of department stores. Also, in the 70's, one of the pattern companies featured "Make it Tonight" garments using polyester double knits and used very similar techniques.
    I am absolutely thrilled to see this article, will print it and try it very soon! Thank you for detailing this technique
    for me!!

  12. User avater laigueglia December 16th

    Beautiful!.I wonder how is the collar attached to the garment?

  13. SimpleGirl December 15th

    Where do you find the fabric?

  14. SimpleGirl December 15th

    Beautiful work - love the colors

  15. User avater sunrainor December 15th

    Gorgeous! Being a Gemini too, I understand what you're saying - I tend to love simple and these are just...gorgeous!

  16. User avater Kate_W December 14th

    Beautiful and very inspiring ... I am going to try the buttonhole support, next opportunity. Thank you!

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