This month's writeup is sponsored by Rose of Battle.

November Write-Up: Pai's Shirt is COMPLETE!

Hello and welcome back to our post-Construction Hell update for Pai! Have an Abby for your trouble. She was instrumental in completing this piece.

When last we left off, I was describing the intense order of operations I'd need to do to make this piece. I'd made some errors in the mockup leading to several versions of that. I had said the last step of my mockup was the white "pie" marks. Little did I know the errors I was about to make with those!

After the muslin mockup was complete, I committed it to paper pattern. Then, I cut out and serged the pieces accordingly. My new Madame Sew heat erasable pens ended up being incredibly easy to use, although I did run out of one entire pen's worth of ink in the process of completing this whole piece. Also, know that I was lint rolling and ironing through every single step, being careful not to iron over the ink I knew I'd need for the next step. I'm proud of myself for not accidentally erasing anything I did end up needing!

I'll admit a small heckup here: I had ended up cutting the back piece with the wrong side on the fold of the fabric. Luckily, I had cut it long enough that I could shift it by a few inches and it didn't mean I had to order new fabric to start over.

As planned, I set the pintucks into the white yoke pieces before ironing on the interfacing. I did mockups of the white pieces' satin stitching to see what length would be the best (... not before forgetting I have different stitch widths on this current machine, whereas the one I've had since I was 8 didn't).

But here's where I hecked up: I Heat N Bonded the white pieces in place on the tan shirt pieces BEFORE doing the interfacing. I didn't account for the fact that steam can mess up something that's already been ironed on. In my tests, the pieces seemed to be the strongest when interfacing was already on the fabric, then the white parts were satin stitched. In my head, the order of operations as to which was first didn't seem to matter. What mattered more was that I had stabilizer that wasn't parchment paper so that the seams wouldn't feel papery or shed.

What I'm saying is I ended up with two very small, but still noticeable unstuck pockets of fabric on the front-and-center pie piece. Had the iron been too hot when I tried to bond down this piece? Or maybe too cool? I googled frantically to see what my options were and that's when I found out the way that people removed improperly placed Heat N Bond was through steam and I learned that I had interfaced at the wrong point. I basically broke down upon realizing the only solutions were to accept it or try to remove it and do it over, even though there was a chance the marks from the previous satin stitching would show through and make it look amateurish. That said, it's a miracle that no other pie pieces had unstuck pockets like this one. I could have gotten really unlucky!

After taking a break for a couple weeks, I unpicked the satin stitching on the practice pie pieces first to ensure it could be done. When that worked, I unpicked the final fabric. It went better than I had expected! Then, I traced a replacement pie piece that was about 1/16" larger on all sides so that it would definitely hide any marks from the first placement. I'm so glad I did. It really would have been noticeable had I kept the unstuck version, compared to its replacement.

But that's far from the only mistake I made.

First, though, let's take an aside to discuss the comparatively very easy sleeve scallops. Somehow, these suckers not only lined up exactly correctly, but the scallops themselves ironed into perfect curves without top- or understitching at all. I made sure to serge the edges before sewing them into circles. Then they sat on the table for a few more weeks until it was time to place them!

During that time, I also cut out bias tape from the white fabric, as I didn't like the way store-bought bias tape's texture looked on these cottons. Another thing that went as well as it possibly could go was sewing the yokes to the bottom pieces, then tracing and preparing the lining pieces based on the full-length yoke + bottom.

Now back to next mistakeys. On my original instructions, I was supposed to sew one edge all the way together before placing the bias tape so as to lessen the chances of the lines not matching up. At this point, I didn't realize that my original draft was off. When the yokes didn't line up at the side, I chalked it up to it probably being necessary for the armscye... right? I rationalized it, cut that bias tape in half, sewed it on with impeccable precision, put the two sides together, and then...... uh oh. Oh. That's definitely gonna be a problem.

With the weight of guesting Tekko over my head, I couldn't let myself not fix it. But I knew that fixing it meant I had to redo all the steps of the first back yoke, PLUS I had to accurately cut and measure how much further down it would need to go to meet the existing yoke on the front. Normally I'm good at eyeballing, but the thought of having to redo the entire back tan piece, its interfacing, and its satin stitched pie pieces was almost overwhelming. I used a seam gauge and my new marking pens to figure it out, and luckily that went well. But the punishment of going through the back yoke steps again made me feel like I absolutely HAD to get the rest of this piece right on the first try.

I managed to get the new yoke piece on and match the bias tape, with maybe only 1/32" misalignment on one side. Something you probably wouldn't notice at all in person unless I had entered a craftsmanship comp (which, for this entire article's reason, is too stressful for me to do now!).

I'm happy to report that the next few steps went as planned: sewed together the other side, shoulders, and bottom scallops, and hid a whip stitch to hide the bottom yoke edge. The lining was also easy to sew to itself (again, all sides serged). That was a great sewing day!

Then, it was time for the dreaded straps. I hadn't mocked up the straps that make a halter shape because I figured they "couldn't be that hard." I wish I had. The length and look ended up looking okay, but in my haste to put them in between the lining and finished piece at the collar, and because I had had the lining side down when I sewed it, one of the straps slipped and got sewed in crooked with the serged end hanging out. It was maybe only 1/16" off, but it ground me to a halt. I had to unpick several other spots on that seam that had bunched up and it felt like I was just a total noob at sewing again. I knew redoing them would be worth it, but my energy tanked nonetheless.

So I started understitching the scallops at the bottom of the shirt by hand because the margins are too thin and they're in too precarious a position to be machine-stitched. Some of you probably already know that I really like to hand sew as stress relief. This part of the project was probably my favorite! My backstitches aren't perfectly even, but they're pretty darn good.

When I was ready, I came back to redo the lining piece. The second try was much better and I was able to anchor the straps where I wanted them. I understitched the lining so that it would lie flat and graded the inside excess with pinking shears. Finishing off the straps meant more hand sewing, so I made sure to save those portions for when I'd get stressed out by the next step: the sleeves.

Sleeves are never fun, but because I'd chosen to attach the lining at the collar and not through the vest pull-through method, my only option was to sew the lining + fabric to the sleeve scallops all at once, which was not only a big risk for slippage, but produced a lot of bulk. I always hand-baste all layers together when sleeves come together but it was extremely difficult this time around. Whether I had mis-measured the new back yoke or simply didn't catch the exact line of sewing due to the layers being sandwiched, the scallops were ever so slightly larger than the hole for the sleeve. I was eventually able to match them up, but not without a lot of convincing the stitches. It was such a pain. Grading the excess edges was also a pain and as of this moment, they're currently blanket stitched under the scalloped edge, but because I had to cut notches for the curve, the serged threads that were cut are a little all over the place and I'm thinking I might cover them with some type of tape to neaten them up since it's so close to the outer fabric.

But for then, I'd decided it was all close enough. I'm also happy to report that there were no further major mistakes in the finishing!

The last steps were to topstitch a channel for the elastic, open the inner seams to guide the elastic through, sew the elastic to itself (minor mistake here, I hadn't noticed that the elastic was twisted halfway through and had to undo and redo a single zigzag stitch), and then close the lining by hand with ladder stitches. The final step in making Pai was planned to be, and remained, ladder stitching the inner hem down.

When I tell you I was overjoyed to finish this shirt, I mean it!!

Overall, this shirt took about five and a half months to finish, from draft to final hem. I can't believe how long that feels compared to my days of staying up until 1am to make three or more new cosplays for a convention! The real test of whether I'm able to regain a faster pace will be between now and Ohayocon, during which time I have supplies to complete 2-4 sewn costumes but will probably only have stamina for 1. Please cheer me on because this isn't as easy as it used to be, plus I have all Pai's accessories to finish!

Thank you for joining me on this hell journey and for your support! I'll see you next time~

Photos by me.

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