Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Aunt Inez Dress Project: PATCHING! Tiny Stitches...lots and lots of tiny stitches.

I was on an epic quest to find a way to glue small bits of new black silk to patch holes and tears before I underlined the dress.  Lets just say my epic quest turned into an epic failure.  I requested technical assistance from the wonderful members of the Greater Bay Area Costumer's Guild, and as always they came to my rescue.  Well, kind of that the answer to my question "what fabric glue will try matte and clear," was none will.  I had already gone through several test runs and everything dried shiny and clear, white, or shiny white.  Ug.  Oddly Fray Check did not dry shiny or white but provided only a temporary hold...booo!

Here is a test run of some small spots of iron on tape, as well as glues...might be hard to tell but none really worked:

Before I started patching the dress I decided to stabilize the ripped areas and holes.  Through testing on a piece of the original sleeve I found that if I used a fine paint brush and dipped it into Fray Check and painted the edges of the tear or hole I could stop the edges from fraying.  I was still working on the large pieces of paper I had set out earlier on the island top.  The Fray Check dried very fast and I would poof the fabric up a bit so it wouldn't stick too badly to the paper.  I didn't have one area adhere so tightly to the paper that there was residue.  REMEMBER, I did a precheck with the old fabric first before I dove in.


So back to patching:  The answer to my question was stitching will be the only way to go.  I pulled out a #20 needle I could barely thread, picked up a small spool of silk thread at the local big box fabric store and set off to patch Aunty's dress.  Immediately I ran into issues.  The smaller bits of silk I cut to patch the small holes frayed as I tried to sew them on.  Frustration ran high...I had to pause and find chocolate.

Thinking a bit I used the concept of fiberglass repair to make my own stabilized patches.  I did a test run with a  (aprox) 5 x 10 inch piece of new silk first and found that it worked beautifully!!!  Here is what you need:  Fray Check, tin foil, paint brush.  I found using blue painters tape helped with hanging the piece to dry.

 A note here is that I found that when I coated the fabric by dropping Fray Check from the bottle I did end up with more shiny areas than when I just squeezed the liquid into the cap and painted it on.  I made sure that all the fabric was coated but I did not saturate the material.
Here is where the blue tape came in handy.  Oh, forgot to mention.  I found that if I ironed my new fabric first it was easier to coat.

AND NOW FOR THE FUN STUFF:  Patching and stitching, stitching and patching....

 Above is the large dried patch and a small piece I cut out.  I find if I cut a larger patch than I need then CAREFULLY trim away excess after I sew it in I get decent results.  I also don't knot the thread.  I leave about a 3 inch tail and when I reach my starting point after stitching around the perimeter then I tie off the two ends.
 Above I show using pins but for the smaller patches I don't pin, I found it did more damage than help.


Above is before and after.  I am not patching every single weak spot on the dess, but will patch any holes that can't be covered by beads, and anything hugely apparent.  Here are more:

The shoulders present a huge challenge.  I was going to leave the grosgrain ribbon that was at one time added (along with tape) to stabilize the shoulders...then I decided not to.  Repairing the shoulder made me realize that with large patches it is apparent that the two silk materials are quite different, the old has a more subtle finish and the new a tighter weave.  I will still cover the shoulders further to camouflage the repairs but for now I've done this:

 First I removed and saved the loose beading (above)
 Then I cleaned up the opening a little bit (above).

 I coated another larger piece of material since the smaller one was used up making patches.

 Above is the patch, however, I went on to take off the grosgrain ribbon and will post a pic of that soon.


  1. Mad skills! And patience! This is awesome to follow along with.

  2. Thanks Lauren! The final goal is to look good from 20 -30 feet, I don't have any notions that this will look like new up close, but it is coming together. :-)