Petersham ribbons – an expansion post

My last post on the self-drafted skirt led to this post on petersham. Naomi asked me to expand on petersham ribbon and I said I’d do a post since my reply was getting long.

But first this:

The first time I used ‘petersham’ I had actually been sold grosgrain. Since I had asked the shop assistant who very nicely showed it to me – I just assumed I had the petersham that I had read of. I recall even asking if it would curve and she said yes. As I was sewing, it remained suspiciously straight but I reasoned that maybe it had to be worn before it does its thing. However, after wearing the skirt a couple of times with no change in the shape of the ‘petersham’, I started considering the possibility that it wasn’t me who had made a sewing mistake.

That’s when my search began again – better equipped with the knowledge of what  ‘was definitely not‘ petersham ribbon. I eventually found a haberdashery which was run by an old woman in the market (she told me she had been there for 40 years). She also had some petersham. I was mistrustful given my previous experience but I bought 1m (it looked a lot like grosgrain but had a teeny tiny difference to my untrained eye). When I got home – I unrolled it and immediately noticed the difference between the first one (grosgrain) and this second one. This was definitely Petersham ribbon. I got back as soon as I could to the market to buy more but alas !- apparently she had retired and the day that I had bought the 1m was her last day! So I now had to find some Petersham! The game was on.

Why bother with petersham in the first place

Before I get into a long ramble of petersham ribbon, let me sell you on the benefits of this essential sewing cave notion. The benefits are manifold:

  • It’s so comfortable because it expands to contours of the body and ‘sits’ rather than grips the waist.
  • Can be use if there is no fabric for a facing
  • Can be used to reduce bulk at the waist
  • Its put on after everything is constructed and fitting done so it’s less fuss
  • It’s a strong durable finish used often in couture houses
  • It is much easier to use than a normal waistband.
  • looks neat on the inside

So what is a petersham ribbon?

My first stop was Wikipedia and it says:

Petersham ribbon, also called Petersham facing or simply Petersham, is a thick, stiff, flexible corded ribbon usually made out of eithercotton, rayon, viscose, or a cotton/ rayon or viscose blend of fibers and used as facing by milliners and tailors… It is woven so that once steamed, it will take on and support a particular curve of fabric….t is also useful as an alternative to bias tape for making fabric conform closely to the shape of the body wearing it— in a corset, for example, or along the waistline of a pair of trousers or a skirt.

This is an accurate definition. Petersham looks like a ribbon but it is much thicker and not as drapey as a ribbon. Like grosgrain (pronunced grograin) ribbon, it comes with a scalloped edge but petersham has a tighter weave on one side which allows it to take on and support a curve.20170404_16375320170404_163814

It sounds simple enough but the problem is that in most sewing books that I have read there is no consistency as to what grosgrain and petersham are. In most cases, it is used interchangeably. Add to that the fact that in most shops I have enquired about petersham I almost always get shown grosgrain. It’s not the shop assistant’s fault either as I elaborate below.

Grosgrain or Petersham? Same thing or different?

Petersham is not to be confused with its close cousin grosgrain, which is straight like normal ribbon you might use in hair.

What do the sewing books have to say….

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You cant take the academia out of the girl…..

 

I did a search of my sewing books. I was limited to my own personal library and if there are other books that deal specifically with petersham ribbon I’d love to hear in the comments below.

Just like my shopping experiences, my sewing books also present different information.

Readers Digest mentions petershams and only says this:

Petersham ribbon is often used for finishing or staying waistlines. It can also be a decorative trim. It is sold by the meter in various widths and a wide range of colours. A special curved petersham is also available in black and white only. Pg. 20

This tells me that it is referring to grosgrain in the first then actual petersham last. It is helpful as it does point out that petershams are only in black and white.

The Vogue Sewing Book doesn’t have petersham listed in its index or glossary so I went to look at skirt waistband finishing. Sure enough, it pops up there but under a different guise and name here is the extract (on Faced Waistline):

RIBBON: Shape a 20 -25 mm (3/4″ – 1″) wide strip of grosgrain ribbon by steaming it into curves corresponding to those of the waistline edge. Be sure to stretch the edge that is to be let free; if you shrink the edge to be joined to the garment, it will stretch during wear. Fit ribbon to your body, allowing 25mm (1″) for ends. pg 336

Based on what we already know about the definition of petersham, – clearly, this tutorial is talking about petersham and not grosgrain which will not ever curve unless cut or darted. It’s a good tutorial apart from the fact that if a beginner were to buy grosgrain and follow it, they would be shocked (perhaps not shocked per se but maybe frustrated) to find it’s not working. (Caveat being that they are using this 1978 edition which I have – if anyone has a newer edition – is this still the same exact text or has it been changed? )

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Vogue Sewing Book

 

The Sewing Book (Alison Smith) This book had petersham in the index and has a well illustrated photographic tutorial which refers to petersham ribbon as we know it. Here is the extract:.

Petersham in an alternative finish to a facing if you do not have enough fabric to cut a facing. Available in black and white, it is a stiff, ridged tape that is 2.5cm (1″) wide and curved – the tighter curve is the top edge. Like a facing, petersham is attached to the waist after the skirt or trousers have been constructed. pg 177

This is the best succinct explanation along with the tutorial. On pg 179 there is an equally good entry on grosgrain distinguishing between the two ribbon cousins and providing a tutorial on using grosgrain.  The only thing missing from both these tutorials is how to finish the petersham and grosgrain at the zip fastening. I have provided a link down below in the resources section on a great tutorial which goes all the way to finishing around the zip fastening – I highly recommend this read if you are looking to up your finishing techniques.

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The Sewing Book (Alison Smith)

 

Couture Sewing Techniques (Claire Schaeffer) is the only book to use the term grosgrain and describe a process that is for grosgrain ribbon. I have included it as I found it very interesting. She describes a technique where snipping and darting are used to shape it. So it is definitely grosgrain as it is sold today i.e. straight and needing cutting to shape it to a curve. It doesn’t have a petersham entry on index or glossary either.Here is the extract.

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Couture Sewing Techniques (Claire Schaeffer)

 

Gerstie’s Ultimate Dress Book (Gretchen Hirsch) has a petersham reference in the index. I can’t be too certain but it looks like what’s being referred to is possibly a grosgrain given that it comes in different widths and colours. Also looking at the picture provided, I can’t see the typical waviness I’d expect to see on a petersham that’s been curved around a waist.  Perhaps this might be a US thing and they sell the petersham as defined at the beginning there in differing widths and colours? If there are any US readers who know I’d love to hear your experiances/thoughts on this.

Here is the extract:20170404_200836

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Characteristic waviness of a petersham ribbon

 

So far the Alison Smith book has provided the clearest definitions and tutorial for petersham ribbon. It’s the one book where a beginner would seek to find the proper petersham ribbon since the book specifically says that its only black and white and 1″ wide. The tutorial would also yield a good result as everything matches up.

Ok so now we know that petersham ribbon is the best thing since sliced bread and why there is some confusion as to what it actually is. But hopefully, by now, you get the idea that grosgrain is NOT petersham. Perhaps you can even tell the difference between them. Of course, now are wondering where to buy this lovely thing I speak of. Well, that’s a tricky one……

Where to buy  petersham ribbon?

I live in the UK so my experiance is limited to this country unfortunately.  More specifically to my region in Yorkshire. I tried buying on Ebay twice and each time received grosgrain so I gave up buying online. I went to Bonds in Farsley but they didn’t have any in stock at that time (I havent yet returned to check but they said they stock it). I found some in Boyes Super Store (Bradford branch) where I bought loads. Samuel Taylors in Leeds Market also had some. And thats it. I have basically stocked up and have about 10m each of the black and white in my cave. I invite readers from other countries (& UK) to share if they know where to buy petersham. Please let me know in the comments below.

Mistakes to avoid.

Hopefully, I made these mistakes so you don’t have to.

Buying the wrong thing.

  • Watch out for descriptions that say grosgrain/petersham in them – most likely they are the grosgrain ribbon. As mentioned above, my research indicates that petersham and grosgrain are 2 separate things.
  • I have also yet to ever come across Petersham that isn’t black or white or 1″ wide. I use that as an indicator myself. Buy from reputable sellers so that you can double check with them before buying. Also once you find it, buy shed loads of it – it’s not easy to come by!

Cutting your petersham too short.

Its painful and it has happened to me but I quickly learnt not to do that again. Now I don’t necessarily cut it from my roll before sewing in on. I will sew it on then cut off the excess leaving the allowance I need to turn under.

Unraveling ends

I have used Fray check successfully especially when I cut it an angle which I wouldn’t advise. Otherwise turn it under and hand sew it as soon as possible.

Petersham ribbon when used correctly creates the most comfortable waist finish. My all time favourite Holyburn skirt has a Petersham ribbon.

20170404_200400_HDRResources on Petersham ribbons

A Challenging Sew – a useful tutorial on sewing a lined skirt with petersham.

Threads  – a Youtube tutorial on how to curve petersham to a seam.

Hopefully you have a slightly better understanding of Petersham Naomi. I have enjoyed writing up this post so thank you for asking the question.

Now lets see if you picked up something. I have 2 pictures below – which ones are the petersham ribbons? All welcome to have a go 🙂20170404_16344320170404_16381420170404_163722

Thanks for stopping by!

Hila

xoxo

PS. Apologies for poorly lit pictures. I took these on my phone today as I was writing this post.

Readers Digest Complete Guide to Sewing, First Edition 1978

The Vogue Sewing Book, Revised Metric Edition, 1978

The Sewing Book, Alison Smith, 2009

Couture Sewing Techniques, Claire B. Schaeffer, 1993

Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book, Gretchen Hirsch, 2016

Early 2017 Springwatch

Hello,

This past weekend presented itself with some lovely weather so I was out on Sunday in the garden – cleaning the greenhouse, sowing seeds, etc. The etc includes taking in the beautiful spring sights.

I don’t know about you but I love the morning after a light shower. The flowers have the droplets clinging on to their delicate petals and its a lovely thing to see. I took these pictures using OH’s phone and I was rather impressed.2017-03-12 09.47.472017-03-12 09.48.082017-03-12 09.48.51-22017-03-12 09.49.132017-03-12 09.50.012017-03-12 09.51.292017-03-12 09.53.242017-03-12 09.53.402017-03-12 09.54.102017-03-12 09.54.282017-03-12 09.55.102017-03-12 09.55.592017-03-12 09.56.152017-03-12 09.44.202017-03-12 09.44.432017-03-12 09.45.032017-03-12 09.45.072017-03-12 09.45.16

Meanwhile at the allotment the garlic and overwintering onions are doing well. I just sowed the seeds for this year. The potatoes are chitting along. This year we are only going to plant one variety of potatoes : Maris Piper.

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Leek bed
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I think it was the birds that did this to our purple sprouting brcocolli

2017-02-26 15.44.28

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The onions sets and garlic.

Spring is coming.

McCalls M7430 Pattern Review

Hello everyone,

I am so behind with my blogging – though its February I still am blogging things from last year – still better late than never.m7430_a

I purchased this pattern during a half price sale around September last year and got around to sewing this dress up in December.

 

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McCalls M7430

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Pattern Description: Misses’ Knit Side-Panel Dresses with Yokes

McCalls M7430 is a fitted pullover knit dress with side panels (no side seams). It has a front and back yoke with neckline variations. The neck variation is a bound, round neckline or a turtleneck. The hem variation is a shaped hem or a straight hem. The dress may be made sleeveless, three-quarter sleeve or long sleeve.

Pattern Sizing

Pattern sizing combinations are A5(6-14) and E5(14-22). I cut out a size 10 based on finished garment measurements and I thought it was not too far off the mark ease-wise.

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?

I made view D, using a black contrast stretch pleather with a pink and black cloque fabric. And it looked like what I was expecting based on the pattern cover.

 Were the instructions easy to follow?

I read through the instructions before embarking on this project and they were huge easy to follow diagrams accompanying the written instructions making this beginner friendly. This is a relatively simple dress to make anyway. It scores more points on the beginner friendly scale as there is a YouTUbe sew along by Anita Design . You can’t do much better that! If you don’t like reading instructions it’s worth checking that out. 

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?

I like patterns with interesting seam lines. This has princess seams at the front combined with a front yoke as well which gives plenty of colour blocking options. There are endless possibilities.

Fabric Used

I bought the main fabric during SewUpNorth in November last year. It is a bold black & cerise jacquard blister ponte (cloque). I have since found out that composition is viscose, polyester & spandex (which explains why it’s so comfortable). It has a beautifully-soft handle and a firm stretch with good recovery across the width and length of the fabric. This is the same fabric I used for my Lady Skater Dress <link here>.

What really drew me to the fabric was the easy flamboyance of the vibrant rococo-style pattern. In terms of fabric care: I machine washed at 30°C and tumble dried as normal.

For the contrast, I teamed it with fabric I already had in my stash from Leeds Market. The stretch pleather was bought to make leggings but I am glad I didn’t make leggings with it. I didn’t want stretch pleather on my neck so I used what little black ponte I had for the upper body. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough of the black ponte for the side panels.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:

I took in the princess seams at the waist line to reduce a swayback issue. Swayback is a standard alteration for me but I skipped it on this because I had princess seams down my back to work with. Though for future makes I will do the adjustment on my paper pattern.

There is a little more ease across the upper back than there should be for a fitted dress- it was also slightly roomy for me around the bust area where I took in about 1” in total.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?

I am making this again for sure. Its easy to both make and wear. Comfortable and practical. I would definitely reccommend it.

Here’s a tip. The back of the dress is almost identical to the front so much so that when sewing it up its easy to mix up the pattern pieces unless if you make sure to mark them – I didnt and honestly will never not mark them again!

And another thing; my biggest issue was trying to get the sleeve head lines to line up with the yoke. My initial preference would have been to make this in a stripey main fabric. However, I realised that I had a bit of trouble with a solid colour – imagine trying to line up stripes! It is possible but its something to bear in mind when cutting out especially if one is fussy about perfect pattern matching.  

Conclusion:

It’s a good basic wardrobe staple. I may make a more summery one at some point with a shorter length, normal collar and no sleeves . this dress was on the shorter side – its fine for me but if you like more covereage there, pay attention to the finished garment length measurements before cutting so you can add length. I recommend McCalls M7430 if you are looking for a dress that is  well-fitting and easy-to-make. Alternatively, shorten it to make turtleneck top.

Final point about the dress: if made in one solid color, the detail of the princess seam and yoke seam is lost which would be a shame. So if you make this I highly recommend using contrasting fabrics. I also I love the slimming effect of the contrasting side panels (especially when black is used like I did for mine) – but any dark colour will have a similar effect.

Many thanks for stopping by my little corners of the interwebs. Until next time, happy sewing!

Peace and love,

Hila

 

 

 

The Lilian Dress by Pattern Review

Hello everyone,

I am super excited to share this post with you as part of a blog tour for the newly released Lilian Top from Pattern Review. When Deepika reached out and asked me to participate, I needed to see the pattern first and honestly I was hooked. Cap sleeves and a yoke are some of my favourite features so I was like “yes count me in. Plus I also loved the story behind the design. Here is an except from the designer Deepika:

Ever since I read about Lillian Weber, the amazing woman who sewed 1000 dresses to donate to Dresses for Africa, I’ve been yearning to do something to support this great cause. Dresses for Africa is an organization which not only clothes little girls in Africa, they do lots of other projects there, like building wells and community centers to improve lives of people in villages in Africa. And that is why I am dedicating this pattern to Lillian, hence the name. 20% of all sales from this pattern will be donated to Dresses for Africa. So when you buy this pattern, you too are joining me in this cause.

I read about Lillian Weber and I was so moved by her story that even though I was given this pattern for free I decided to make a donation to Little Dresses for Africa. Even if you are not interested in the pattern please read up on Lillian Weber – its not often I come across such a such a positive and inspirational message.

Ok. So the Lillian pattern comes as a dress and top. It is described as a knit top or an a-line dress with a V-Neck Yoke and cap sleeves. I selected  the dress because I wanted something I could wear with tights and boots. I loved this pattern so much I made two dresses, one after the other. The beauty of this pattern that it sews up real quick.

The PDF went together beautifully. At only 16 pages, its ready to cut very quickly. The directions are quite concise and even beginners would feel confident to tackle it. There is even a Youtube tutorial on the trickiest part – the neck binding. The instructions have been very well thought out keeping this a very simple and quick to make pattern. I cant stress how quickly this sews up.

For my first one I knew I wanted colour blocking.  I used my colour wheel to select what are called split complimentary colours – choosing burnt orange as my main colour then the split complimentary colours are the 2 either side of its compliment – deep blue and apple green. I chose blue for the yoke because of the striking contrast with the orange.

For my second one I used some grey ponte and lace bonded ponte that has been in my stash for far too long. Actually all these fabrics had been stashers for far too long (stasher is a noun I use for fabrics that has been in the stash for over 6 months). So yay for stash busting :-).

I drafted the poofy long sleeve lengthening the cap sleeve to the desired length – in my case it had to fit the half meter length of bonded lace  ponte. Once I had the length , I then cut and spread at 5 evenly spaced lines inserting about 4″ in total.

Constructionwise ,I stabilised my shoulder seam with fusible bias tape. I have found that this is the next best thing to twill tape for shoulder stabilisation on knits. I have used clear elastic and after a dozen washes and driers it begins to get slack.fran-visit-plus-october-photoshoot-635fran-visit-plus-october-photoshoot-625fran-visit-plus-october-photoshoot-622fran-visit-plus-october-photoshoot-621fran-visit-plus-october-photoshoot-669fran-visit-plus-october-photoshoot-668fran-visit-plus-october-photoshoot-667fran-visit-plus-october-photoshoot-617fran-visit-plus-october-photoshoot-616fran-visit-plus-october-photoshoot-651fran-visit-plus-october-photoshoot-645fran-visit-plus-october-photoshoot-655fran-visit-plus-october-photoshoot-555fran-visit-plus-october-photoshoot-538fran-visit-plus-october-photoshoot-579lilian-topfran-visit-plus-october-photoshoot-572fran-visit-plus-october-photoshoot-590fran-visit-plus-october-photoshoot-595fran-visit-plus-october-photoshoot-594fran-visit-plus-october-photoshoot-521fran-visit-plus-october-photoshoot-524fran-visit-plus-october-photoshoot-528fran-visit-plus-october-photoshoot-558

I can easily see myself making loads more of these especially since I have seen some fantastic versions by the other seamsters on the blog tour – the possibilities are endless. There are plans to make a couple of summery ones – am thinking of lengthening to maxi and sleeveless..it has a seventies vibe to it no?

Thank you for stopping by, tell me which you like better the grey lace on or the colour blocked one? Oh and here it is in (wobbly) action..

A Blog Tour

Want some inspiration? These talented seamsters posted about Lillians on their blogs this week, so be sure to check them out.

Oct. 24th Jstarr4250 (Julie)

Oct. 25th Sue Parrott – Blog – http://sue-parrott.blogspot.com/

Oct. 26th GoodbyeValntino (Sarah) – Blog – http://www.goodbyevalentino.com/

Oct. 27th ecs81 (Eryn) – Blog – http://www.stylesewme.com/

Oct. 28th creatingitgap (Margo) – Blog – http://creatinginthegap.ca

Oct. 29th beanchor (Bianca) – Blog – http://thanksimadethem.blogspot.com/

 Until next time – Happy Sewing!

Peace and love,

Hila