Pattern puzzle: Scarf pt.2

We had some very good guesses in response to yesterday’s challenge. Without further ado, here is the scarf laid flat:


The designer of record is Vionnet -who else? I found this item courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum. This is how they describe the piece:

Madeleine Vionnet was a consummate technician, particularly known for her innovative use of the bias cut, mathematically precise construction, and use of geometric forms. Often interpreted in a rectangular form, Vionnet instead renders the outline of three stepped quadrilateral forms–2 squares and a central parallelogram–in a bias cut to give this scarf a highly unique shape. Its irregular form, with only one seam on each side, is an example of her economy of cut. The abstract shape, textural fagotting and bright color combination, reversed on the opposite side, give the piece a lively presence.

I don’t know that I’d agree with “economy of cut” considering the yield and how else would it be sewn down the center but with one seam -but that’s beside the point. Of course I had to try to recreate it, which was much easier said than done. Below is the pattern I came up with:


It’s not exact but pretty close.

[And now that I’ve made it rather easy to pick off and re-scale, I have little doubt this scarf pattern will soon be featured in our favorite home sewing magazines, on our favorite home sewing websites and the pattern for sale by various home sewing vendors. Without attribution of course. I should probably beat them to the punch.]

For one scarf, the yield is not so good but the waste isn’t as bad in a marker. In idle thought I wonder if it is possible to engineer the interchanging parts of this in such a way as to make it interlock more readily. For me, that’s the fun part. I suppose I can tackle it if struck by a bout of insomnia…

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43 Comments on "Pattern puzzle: Scarf pt.2"

3 years 3 months ago

What do you mean?

3 years 3 months ago

Nesting would work well.

3 years 7 months ago

Jennifer, everything you say makes sense, and I agree. Thanks for clearing up what you meant.
since couture and other fine sewing folks like to avoid extra fabric [bulk] unless it’s needed for weight/hang, piecing the turquoise somewhere else makes more sense, if it is pieced.

3 years 7 months ago

I wasn’t being clear I do understand that piecing was common and acceptable for the reasons you explain as much as my knee jerk is to avoid it. And I’d say this is a perfect example because even though the scarf is not that large it is pieced (I estimate on grain it requires a 26″ x 44″ piece of fabric). So clearly the maker had higher priorities than avoiding piecing and you’re correct hang of the cloth should be one. I was some how assuming the visible piecing seam here was parallel to the selvage but you’re right it may not be.

If I’m seeing the same ghost you mean, I’m still skeptical that it is a piecing seam in the turquoise. I see the advantage of having it perpendicular to the purple piecing seam, to reduce overlap. But if we’re talking about the same thing, it looks like a continuation of the ornamental zigzag. I would think that would draw attention to the piecing seam and would also mean there would be an extra layer of fabric folded back exactly at the tiny square in the fagotting. I’d think that would be possible but to execute but not ideal. Those squares have to be so precise, any extra bulk on one edge could make even precise work look sloppy. At least that’s my inclination not that I’ve ever done hand work of this precision. I would just guess you would avoid that situation unless there is some advantage to having the seam there. On the scarf overall, I actually see very little show through, so I think it’s entirely possible the turquoise is pieced and it just can’t be seen. I just think that particular ghost may be spurious.

3 years 7 months ago

If you look at pre-1940 vintage garments, it’s pretty common to see piecing. Looms, in general, were not as wide as they are now, so fabric were narrower. When I first started studying vintage garments, that surprised me and I thought it was either bad planning or artlessness. Now I know it was a way to get wide garment sections out of narrow fabrics and to reduce waste, when the fabrics were 24″ or 36″ wide. And as you say, good piecing could be almost invisible. Piecing is even more common in older antique garments, because the fabric was expensive and/or hard to come by. We modern folks are really spoiled in comparison.

Putting the piecing seam of the turquoise where it is extending out from a corner (if the ghost is indeed piecing) doesn’t seem like a bad idea to me. However I’d really need to know more, like how wide the fabric they were working with was and how they needed to piece. Even couture houses don’t want waste. Also you wouldn’t want the layers pieced and stacked in the same place because it would add bulk and draw attention. Criss-crossing the piecing seams seems like a good way to lessen bulk and make them more invisible. I looked through the drafts in the Kirke book and most of the garment have some piecing–and it looks strategically placed.

As far as rotating 90 degrees–I don’t know that the Met laid it out necessarily as it would have been cut. But let’s say they did. Then you’d really need to know how the bias is going to act to know whether rotating would make a difference or not. The stretch of the warp thread is different from the stretch of the weft–so that needs to be taken in account when patterning. Kathleen has a related post on bias stretch somewhere.

Oh, and I don’t know about Vionnet, but it’s been common to pattern the pieced section(s) as separate pattern pieces that are joined as part of the construction process.