Tuesday, February 23, 2010

a lot of quilted fabric

Our costuming journey this fall started in late April with preliminary discussions about the possibility of working on the costuming for the opening ceremonies, and over the course of the summer the possibility began to become a reality.
By the end of September, the reality arrived by transport truck. Five thousand pounds of reality in the form of our fashion fabric pictured here. It seemed to be a double loft in terms of batting and since we had not seen the fabric before we started, we needed to figure out how to work with it.
Well, first we needed to get it out of the boxes which took three or four of us to manoeuvre the stacked boxes, open them, and pull out the 50 metre rolls of fabric where we could unroll it as it was needed.

The loft of the quilt batting made it challenging to deal with. Drawing your pattern out on it and cutting it meant pinning the loft down to control it. Then we found that every stitch line and every serged edge needed to be compressed by machine stitching before sewing the garment or finishing the seam allowances. If this wasn't done, you couldn't sew accurately and in many cases the fabric would pucker and pleat under the presser foot or against the feed dogs of the machine. This meant cutting the pieces beyond the finished seam allowance, and reducing it after compressing it.
We also found that it was easier to work with if we loosened off the presser foot tension on the machines as well as sew with a toe up velvet foot (which is a very narrow machine foot for industrial machines).

We couldn't touch the fabric with the iron either. There was a layer of fusible on both sides of the batting, right underneath the fashion fabric, which would turn to a crispy texture if you put the iron directly on it. We solved some of the issue by using steam, holding the iron just above the fabric, and using our hands or clappers to open up seam allowances.

We also figured out ways of dealing with the hems and bindings. We received unquilted fashion fabric that we cut on the bias for binding. This fabric on its own was quite lightweight and we found that a fusible tricot was needed to give it some body and make it better suited for use as binding. The hems couldn't have machined topstitching on the outside, because it would look odd with the various quilted patterns so we solved that by using a fusible hem tape.
Obviously these costumes were only being worn a few times and the fusible tape worked remarkably well in this situation.

The first priority/deadline: the production of three prototypes that had been selected from our group of costumes, to be delivered one week after the fabric arrived.

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