Hey everyone! A little different sort of post for today – instead of showing you a finished project, I want to share some progress pictures and tips. I used to do these kinds of posts in the past, and I’ve missed nerding out on construction talk. Since this is my blog and I do what I want, that’s what you get today 🙂
Plus, I’m gonna make it on my new Spiegel 60609 sewing machine! Woohooo! 😀
This is *also* part of my Mood Sewing Network project for March, so you’ll have to wait a couple weeks until the Big Reveal 🙂
Anyway, I bought this fabulous black with white polka dot silk crepe while I was in Mood Fabrics flagship NYC store last November. I decided to make a silk button up shirt with it, although originally I planned to do a shirt with the standard collar (as I tend to do). Right before cutting into it, I thought it might be cool to give the shirt a big floppy bow at the neck instead, just to mix things up a little bit. I have vintage Simplicity 4676 in my stash, which I’ve made before. While I love the way the bow looks, I’m not as big a fan for the shape of the actual shirt – so I just put the bow on my beloved TNT Butterick 5526 and it worked out perfectly! As long as the neck measurements on the two patterns are similar (which for these, they are), then it’s easy to sub one neckline for another.
Silk crepe is one of the easier silks to work with, as the texture gives the fabric some grip, but it can still be quite shifty. It doesn’t have to be a nightmare, though, if you know how to work it! And, honestly, I think the hardest part about dealing with shifty fabrics (this isn’t necessarily limited to only silk, btw!) is getting an accurate cut without the piece morphing into a map of the United States once you move it around. There are tons of ways to accomplish this, but my personal new absolute favorite method is to use a stabilizer to make the fabric crisp, which gives it less chance to shift around. I use Sullivan’s Spray Stabilizer, as I like that I can direct that ~stable flow~ to whatever part of the fabric I need it to (sometimes you don’t need to cut your entire yardage, you know?), and it dries very fast. I have received some really good tips on other things to use for stabilizing fabric, such as gelatin, which I will eventually try! But spray stabilizer is also the bomb.
I spray it on evenly, then lay my fabric flat and straight on the table and allow it to dry (I guess you could do this on the floor if you don’t have a table, but my cat thinks that things laid on the floor are a special running obstacle course I have created just for her, so I personally try to avoid that route!). Since the fabric dries into whatever shape you leave it in, it helps to fold it in half and pin along the selvedges. Once the fabric is dry, it will feel like a silk organza – MUCH easier to handle. For pieces that really need to be accurate, such as a collar, it’s easy to reapply a second layer after you’ve cut, just to make sure there’s not shifting happening. Once your garment is completely assembled, you simply wash it out and it softens right back up. I always prewash my silks on cold water, so I don’t have to worry about water spots or shrinkage when I wash the garment.
When I’m sewing a fabric that doesn’t have a definite right or wrong side, I try to be extra careful that I don’t sew two of the same piece. Unpicking sucks, and it’s even worse on a delicate fabric (that has been French seamed, no less!). To prevent this, I lay my pieces out so they mirror each other, and pin them like so before I take them to the machine. That way, I don’t accidentally sew two right fronts or whatever.
Speaking of French seams, the entire blouse is constructed using them. I love French seams because they are a beautiful finish, and they work really well with delicate fabrics. They do take some extra time because you are essentially sewing the same seam twice, but I think it’s totally worth the effort.
With WRONG SIDES TOGETHER, sew the first line at 3/8″ (this is assuming a 5/8″ seam allowance, which otherwise you’ll want to adjust accordingly). I know, sewing wrong sides together sounds totally backwards and all kinds of wrong, but trust.
Trim the seam allowance down to about 1/8″.
Press the seam allowances open. This can be kind of difficult if your seam allowances are super tiny, so do the best you can. I have a really hot iron and that helps a lot 🙂 Otherwise, you can press both seam allowances to one side – but I think pressing open gives a better end result.
Fold the fabric so the right sides are facing and all the seam allowances are encased on the inside, and press.
Sew again at 1/4″, then press one more time.
You should end up with something that looks like this – the seam allowances beautifully encased 😀
For hemming shirts – silk or otherwise! – I like to finish the hem with a self bias facing. Since the hem of shirts is usually curved, I find this gives me a MUCH easier way to get a MUCH cleaner finish. Contrasting bias is also fun, for a little flash of color! Here’s my tutorial for sewing bias facing. I like this method because you don’t have to pre-press the bias pieces – you press them after they are sewn, and it’s much faster and more accurate. I also used this method to finish the arm holes of my (obviously sleeveless, ha) blouse.
After hemming the shirt, I added the button placket. Since this is one of those areas where you want to be really accurate and careful, I fused lightweight interfacing (I use this stuff from Fashion Sewing Supply, it’s a little pricey but it is 100% worth it in my opinion!) to my pattern pieces and then re-applied the spray stabilizer just so everything was really easy to handle. Honestly, attaching that silk crepe placket was no more difficult than if it were made out of cotton. YES!
I seem to have lost the pieces of me adding the neck tie – whoops! But that was pretty easy. It is cut on the straight grain, and the edges are rolled up to where the tie is attached to the neckline. It’s doubled over *only* at the neckline, and the ends are twice as wide so you can make a nice fat bow. In silk crepe, it’s super floaty and awesome. Love.
The last step was adding all those button holes! I wasn’t sure if the Spiegel 60609 machine was going to come through on this one – button holes can easily look really terrible, really fast – but it did not let me down! The stitches are nice and tight, and the button hole foot calculates the correct size using the actual button. Also, how about those buttons? I found them at the flea market years ago and I’ve been hoarding them ever since for the ~perfect~ project, ha.
The finished blouse:
I am REALLY happy with how it turned out! I think the silk crepe is the perfect fabric for this type of blouse – it skims over the body, and the bow has a beautiful drape. Even with the polka dots and that big neck bow, it’s still not super incredibly sweet looking, which I like. And it feels SO GOOD to wear! I will never tire of wearing silk 🙂
~Big Reveal~ outfit photos to come soon! Next up – the bottom half of this outfit 🙂
As a side note, I’m headed back to NYC for the weekend to teach another Pants Making Intensive at Workroom Social! Just a head’s up that I’ll be a bit delayed in email/comment responses, as I tend to take off from the computer when I go out of town 🙂 I’m excited to go back to the city and get people making some pants, though! This particular workshop is sold out, however, there are still a couple spots open at my Garment Sewing Weekend at A Gathering of Stitches in Portland, Maine! Yay sewing! :DDD