Tag Archives: button-up

Completed: The Archer Popover

29 Dec

Oooh, one last make for this year!!!

Gingham Archer Popover

I made this about 4 months ago, but it was a sample for Craft South so I’m just now getting possession of it to actually wear! I love making samples for the shop – you get access to the pattern + materials for free, and are allowed to sew during downtime at the store – but the trade-off is that you have to leave it at the shop for at least a couple of months. Which makes sense – it is a sample, after all, haha. But it can be frustrating when you have to wait to be able to wear it!

For this top, I used my personal Archer pattern (which we do sell in the shop, but I didn’t want to rip one open when I had a perfectly usable pattern at home), and I downloaded the popover variation. The fabric is Cotton + Steel Checkers, in the 1″ black and white. It’s a nice woven cotton that feels similar to a yarn-dyed cotton – it hangs (and feels!) nicer than a quilting cotton, but it does have a dense weave that still makes it have quite a bit of body. The checkers are woven, not printed, so the design is the same on both sides of the fabric. I did take this fabric home and prewash it before actually sewing the sample – I wanted to be sure it got its shrinking out of the way before I cut it up. Actually, I also cut it while I was at home, and fused my interfacing as well. Matching plaids takes some focus and concentration, and there are a lot of pieces to contend with on this pattern. I didn’t want to have to try to juggle cutting/matching while also dealing with customers as they come in and out of the shop, so it made more sense to tackle that part of the project at home away from distractions. But all the actual sewing did happen while I was at the shop!

Gingham Archer Popover

Gingham Archer Popover

I’ve made lots of Archers in my time, so there’s not much to say that I haven’t already said. I made a size 0, and followed the instructions as they are written. This particular version is a bit different in that the button placket doesn’t extend all the way to the bottom of the shirt – hence, that it’s a popover, not a button up. The variation pack includes a new shirt front, a new front placket, and a different sleeve placket, as well as the instructions you need to actually sew them in. It’s been a few months since I made this top, so my memory is a little fuzzy, but I recall the instructions being easy enough to follow. I do remember that I did not like the instructions or pattern pieces for the tower placket on the sleeve – I found that whole process unnecessarily fiddly, although it did turn out nice in the end. Personally, my favorite way to sew a tower placket is by way of the Colette Negroni, it is very straightforward and simple, with a really nice finished result.

Other changes I made to the pattern was to include tabs for rolling up the sleeves (I swiped the pattern piece from my copy of B5526) and different shaped pockets (pattern piece swiped from the Negroni). I cut the gingham on the straight grain as directed, except for the outer yoke and pockets, which were cut on the bias. The inner yoke is also cut on the straight grain, to give the bias side some support. I didn’t get any photos of me with the sleeves rolled down, but they are full-length.

Gingham Archer Popover

Gingham Archer Popover

There were 2 reasons why I wanted to make this particular shirt – one, I really liked that Cotton + Steel fabric and I wanted to sew something out of it; and two, I wanted an excuse to bust out some fancy machine embroidery. I love embroidered western shirts, hence the inspiration for this one. Because I work in a sewing machine shop and we have several models out on the floor to play around with, I went straight for the Rolls-Royce of the bunch and did all my embroidery (and sewing, for that matter!) on the Horizon Memory Craft 15000. Y’all, we sell this sewing machine for a little over $10,000 (yes, all those zeros are supposed to be there). It comes with a fucking IPAD. It’s a super badass machine that I’m going to confidently say will never ever be in my personal budget to own, but you bet your ass that I’m gonna take advantage of the fact that I can sew something on it right now. Ha! Honestly, it was actually a good thing for me to sew this project on that machine, because it gave me lots of time to play around with it, learn how to use the embroidery features, and get comfortable sewing on it. I can’t imagine anyone would ever want to buy a sewing machine from someone who doesn’t even know how to use the thing themselves, so it was beneficial for me to learn all that in shop downtime. Also, I have a new shirt from it. Yay!

Anyway, that particular sewing machine comes with a bunch of pre-loaded embroidery designs, plus you can download (or create) more designs and upload them straight to the machine (either via USB, or with that aforementioned iPad haha). I get too overwhelmed when presented with way too many options, so I kept it simple and stuck with what was available on the machine. This little floral design fit right in the back yoke, although the suggested colors were a little weird (those were easy enough to change, obviously). I made a few practice pieces to get a feel for the finished size and also how the embroidery goes on, then I embroidered the actual garment piece. To do this, I first cut my piece and fused a piece of interfacing to the back to stabilize it (this isn’t 100% necessary in all cases, but since that piece is on the bias, it was needed). I used my sample piece to determine where the machine would start the embroidery, and centered my pattern piece in the hoop with tear-away stabilizer. Then you just turn the machine one and let it go to town! I can’t remember how long the embroidery took – we turned the speed down and let it roll on in the background while we worked – but it wasn’t super long. The machine will stop when its time to change the colors, and thankfully its also smart enough to pick up where it left off if you run out of thread or have to stop the embroidery for any reason.

Gingham Archer Popover

Gingham Archer Popover

Other than that, sewing was pretty uneventful. I finished the rest of the shirt on the same machine, which let me play around with all the available feet and additional sewing settings. It was pretty fun! All the seams are flat-felled, so it looks just as good on the inside as it does on the outside.

Gingham Archer Popover

Gingham Archer Popover

Gingham Archer Popover

Gingham Archer Popover

Gingham Archer Popover

Gingham Archer Popover

Gingham Archer Popover

I think the shirt turned out really nice, however, I’m not super crazy about how much it stands away from my body. I normally like my Archers in a stiffer fabric, but all the others I’ve made button all the way to the bottom, so I can leave them open and wear them sort of like a little jacket.This particular style might do better in a drapier fabric. With that being said, I am hoping the fabric will soften with more washing, as cotton tends to do. We will see! In the meantime, it gave me an excuse to sew something on a machine that costs more than the first 3 cars I owned combined, so that’s saying something haha.

Gingham Archer Popover

Completed: Denim Rosa Dress

16 Nov

Good morning, everyone! As I write this, I am preparing to experience what will probably be the shittiest day of my life (literally – I have a colonoscopy tomorrow and today is prep day) (lol) (bet you never expected to read THAT on a sewing blog). I haven’t had solid food since last night and I’m stuck in this house for the rest of the day. Lucky for you, I am writing this blog post to pass the time!

I’ve had quite a few people ask me when this project was going to be posted (Rosa made her debut on my Instagram nearly 2 months ago, and I’ve worn her several times since – including to all the workshops I’ve been traveling to in between!), and honestly, the only reason it’s taken so long is because I really hate taking photos! So, with that being said, sorry in advance for the quality of these – namely, how freakin’ wrinkled the dress is! It looks much worse in photos than it did in real life – otherwise I would have at least steamed it a little – however, I have been wearing it pretty rumply in real life so I guess this is as close to authentic as one can get.

Also, I’m sorry if I don’t make any sense in this post. I’m blaming it on the lack of food.

Denim Rosa Dress - front

Denim Rosa Dress - front

Rosa is one of Tilly & the Buttons‘ newer patterns, and it includes options for both a shirt and shirtdress. The pattern features front and back princess seams, a pointed back yoke (which I LOVE!), plus all the features that make for a proper button-up shirt – collar, collar stand, button placket. There’s also an online video workshop if you need help with the steps, although I didn’t use this (I’ve made plenty of these sorts of garments before, and plus, the instructions are pretty great as they are).

I made a size 1, as I wanted a very fitted dress. I made a muslin before cutting into my real fabric, which I’m glad I did because the arm holes ended up needing a little adjusting for me. Apparently I have very small armscyes – arm holes almost always tend to be too low and/or too large for my body, which restricts movement when you add sleeves to the equation. The sleeves in this dress weren’t necessarily bad as-drafted, but I knew they could be better. I ended up raising the armscye 3/4″ higher at the bottom, and also adding 3/8″ to the back arm curve, which made the entire arm hole that much smaller. I reduced the sleeve cap ease, so that the sleeve would properly fit without a bunch of gathers. This worked perfectly and I have a full range of movement with my dress, woohoo!

Denim Rosa Dress - side

Denim Rosa Dress - side

Denim Rosa Dress - back

Denim Rosa Dress - back

Style-wise, I shortened the hem 1″ for a real mini length, and also added a curved cuff so that sleeves would be full-length (the bracelet-length sleeves are sweet, but as I mentioned before – it’s either full sleeves for me, or none at all!), as well as a tower placket so I can roll the sleeves up if I need to. I left off the sleeve tab, because it just ended up feeling too bulky with all the denim. To make the curved cuff, I used the straight cuff from my B5526 pattern and just curved the edges using curved ruler. The tower placket pattern piece is from my Negroni pattern.

The denim that I used to make this dress – honestly, I have no idea where it originally came from, ha! It was in my stash and it’s a much lighter weight than what I would use to make jeans. I imagine I probably bought it intending on a skirt, but I don’t think it would really even be suitable for that (considering how easily it wrinkles). It’s a woven cotton denim with no stretch, and clearly I should have pre-washed it at least one more time because it has shrank a little since I finish this dress. On the flip side, I intentionally made the sleeves a little long in anticipation of that – and now they are the correct length. On the downside, the dress is even shorter than I was planning and it pulls a bit across the bust now. Oh well! Lesson learned haha.

Denim Rosa Dress - detail

Denim Rosa Dress - detail

Denim Rosa Dress - detail

My inspiration for this dress came from the Rosa inspiration post, in fact. The top left denim dress immediately caught my attention and I knew that was exactly what I wanted mine to look like. A few clicks later brought me to the Net-A-Porter page, which at the time showed close-ups of the dress from several angles (unfortunately not the case now, I guess, since it’s sold out – sorry!). This was extremely helpful in assisting me with my blatant rip-off.

I used a brown/taupe thread for all my topstitching – it’s just some weird cotton crap I had in my thread rack, and I used the triple stitch on my machine so that the stitches were nice and thick like topstitching. Most of the topstitching is two rows – the first row 1/8″ from the edge, and the second row is 1/4″ from that first line. Instead of doing a true flat-fell seam, I just mock flat-felled them as per the instructions (stitch as normal, serge, and then topstitch from the right side). The tops of the pockets are secured with bar tacks. The snaps are gunmetal snaps done up with an industrial snap setter (I use the one at Elizabeth Suzann’s production facility bc they haven’t shooed me away yet haha). I LOVE hulking out of this thing at the end of the day, y’all!

What else? I think that’s about it. Have a picture dump (pun intended looool):

Denim Rosa Dress - on dressform

Denim Rosa Dress - on dressform

Denim Rosa Dress - on dressform

Denim Rosa Dress - on dressform

Denim Rosa Dress - on dressform

Denim Rosa Dress - on dressform

Denim Rosa Dress - detail

Denim Rosa Dress - detail

Denim Rosa Dress - detail

As I said, I am pretty happy with this finished dress and I have worn it tons! It’s a nice autumnal version of my beloved chambray Hawthorn (which, 2 years later, is still one of my most worn me-mades to date) – a good neutral base that can be worn as-is with flats when it’s warm, or layered with tights and a slip when it gets cold. I’d love to make another version in corduroy – currently on the lookout for a good one if you have any suggestions! πŸ™‚

Completed: Chambray Tencel Butterick 5526

3 Oct

Well, surprise surprise…. I am back again with – you guessed it! – another button-up shirt. Ha! Is this all I wear these days? Probably. I’ve been sewing – and making button-ups – for years at this point, but it still tickles me to no end that I can get them to fit every part of my body without bagginess or gaping. To hell with all those tiny safety pins and double-sided tape – I finally have buttons where the buttons need to go! Yay!

So now, my wardrobe is just slowly filling up with the button-ups of my dreams. Also, button-ups are really really really fun to make. You like making jeans and bras? You’ll love making button-ups. So many tiny pieces with lots of precise topstitching I LURVES IT β™₯

B5526 Chambray Tencel

B5526 Chambray Tencel

When I was in NYC earlier this year, I made some time during my trip for a couple hours at Mood Fabrics flagship store in the Garment District. Since I live way way outside of NYC, I don’t generally get this opportunity except once or twice a year – so I try to make it count! I always come prepared with a list and a plan – and while I allow myself to veer off the list if I see something shiny that appeals to my magpie tendencies (very much like when I go grocery shopping, although that sort of veering usually involves chocolate :P), the list is helpful for keeping me on track so my purchases are a little more focused. I don’t know if you’ve had the pleasure of shopping in the physical Mood Fabrics store, but it is QUITE overwhelming if you’re not used to it! The aisles of fabric go on forever, piled to the ceiling – and there are 3 glorious floors of it!

One of the things on my list for this trip was to find a chambray Tencel shirting. I’ve seen this all over sewing blogs and even in RTW – chambray Tencel was apparently very hot last fall (whether or not it’s still hot this fall – whatever, I like it, that’s all that matters!). I wasn’t familiar with Tencel until a couple of years ago, when I was sewing for Elizabeth Suzann and she started using it for some of her designs. Tencel is very similar to rayon – it’s a wood cellulose fiber, so it breathes beautifully, and it has an incredible drape. Unlike most of the rayons I have sewn with, this is a bit thicker and easier to handle – it’s not quite so floaty. My brief internet research also tells me that Tencel is a very environmentally friendly, and the fibers are grown sustainably. Gooooo Tencel!

I found this particular Tencel in the depths of the shirting fabrics in Mood’s store, and it was exactly what I had been dreaming of when I wrote my list. It’s drapey and nearly as soft as a baby’s butt – just like rayon – but with a thicker hand and an incredible sheen. I am pretty sure this is the same stuff available on the website, actually (also FYI, Mood Fabrics now has tons of Tencel on their site – including flannel WUT). I bought enough yardage to make a long sleeved button up, prewashed that bad boy when I got home, and set it aside to allow summer to pass before I cut into it. And finally, here we are!

B5526 Chambray Tencel

B5526 Chambray Tencel

B5526 Chambray Tencel

B5526 Chambray Tencel

B5526 Chambray Tencel

I used my very favorite shirt pattern, Butterick 5526, to sew this up. I’ve made this pattern dozens of times at this point, so there’s not much I can say about it that I haven’t already said dozens of times. I’m so familiar with this pattern, I’m pretty sure it could sew itself if I gave it a chance. I decided to mix a couple things up to make my shirt look a little more like a workshirt – rugged, casual details, but with that pretty, slim fit that only princess seams can give you. And also to make it look less like I am just wearing the exact same shirt every day. Even though I totally am.

I redrafted the back to include a yoke (and by redrafted – I mean I just sliced off the top of the pattern piece and added seam allowances, ha!) and swapped out the simple bias plackets for a more manly tower placket. I also drafted pointed pockets with matching pointed flaps (again, I am using the term “drafted” VERY VERY loosely here!). Another big change was to topstitch everything at 1/4″, instead of my usual 1/8″ edgestitching. It’s a lot more bold and pronounced, like the RTW stuff I’ve been lurking on, and gives a completely different look! I imagine that over time, the edges will curl and wave a bit and make the whole shirt look more settled in. All the interior seams are flat-felled, with the exception of the yoke – which is faced with more Tencel. Oh, and I added button tabs to the sleeves, so I could roll them up if I wanted to!

B5526 Chambray Tencel

B5526 Chambray Tencel

B5526 Chambray Tencel

B5526 Chambray Tencel

Working with Tencel wasn’t much different than any other shirting fabric I’ve used, although it does have a tendency to stretch and slide if it things it can get away with it. I added lightweight fusible interfacing to all the normal shirting bits – collar, collar stand, button placket, etc – as well as the sleeve tabs and pocket flaps, just to give them a little more structure. This fabric responds really well to heat, so I was able to steam everything easily into submission, which is a must for shirt making.

I did have one pretty big unpicking session with this shirt – for some reason, the collar ended up too big (I don’t think it stretched out, as the top collar is cut on the straight grain and was also immediately interfaced after cutting – I am thinking maybe I skewed my seam allowances somewhere, somehow?) and went almost to the ends of the collar stand. I noticed it right before I started topstitching, and while I tried to convince myself it was ok – it wasn’t, and I knew deep in my heart of hearts that it looks absolutely fucking shitty. At this point, I had already aggressively trimmed down all those seam allowances and pressed the shit out of everything, and while I could still unpick things – it would going to be a giant PITA. I left the shirt on my dress form for a few days so I could get some space, and upon revisiting, I knew I wouldn’t be happy with the collar the way it was. Considering how much time I had already spent making this shirt (and the uncertainty of knowing whether or not I’d be able to get more of this fabric to cut another one), I ultimately decided it was worth the time to unpick everything, re-sew the collar with larger seam allowances, and then re-insert it. Not gonna lie – it took me about 2 weeks of leaving the shirt wadded up in the corner of my sewing room (so it could really think about what it had done) before I got up the energy to do all that unpicking, and another week or so before I re-sewed everything. But you know what? It looks SO SO SO much better now (it’s not perfect, but it is a 1000% improvement, no question) and it was worth the anguish! Sometimes you just gotta step away from whatever is frustrating you, to get another perspective.

B5526 Chambray Tencel

B5526 Chambray Tencel

B5526 Chambray Tencel

B5526 Chambray Tencel

B5526 Chambray Tencel

B5526 Chambray Tencel

Butterick 5526 is *my* personal go-to button-up pattern for sure – I’ve got my tweaks down to a science at this point, and there’s nothing this shirt pattern can’t do for me! I love a good button-up shirt and I’m so happy to see more of this sort of pattern emerging out of the wild these days! Cashmerette’s Harrison Shirt is drafted specifically for plus sizes all the way up to an H cup (like, seriously, the double princess seams with no gape is absolutely mind-blowing to me) and Tilly & The Button’s new Rosa Shirt & Shirtdress is a gorgeous little beginner-friendly piece that will walk you through every single step (stay tuned for my Rosa review, btw, bc OF COURSE I made one of those bad boys!). I also love the Grainline Studio Archer for a more rugged/boyfriend looking shirt (lack of princess seams on this one means less fitted, but also much more suitable for those cozy plaid flannels!) aaaand I just got my hands on a copy of Deer & Doe’s MΓ©lilot shirt so that’s coming up next! What’s your favorite shirt pattern?

As a bonus, the skirt I am wearing in these photos was also made with fabric from Mood Fabrics! I used a cotton corduroy and you can read all about it in this post from earlier this year. This skirt has been on hold during the summer – it’s too hot here to wear cord, plus, it just looks silly in 100* weather – and I am excited to bring it back into wardrobe rotation with these dipping temperatures! Mustard and denim – is there a prettier color combination? I think not!

Note: The fabrics used in this post were provided to me by Mood Fabrics, as part of my participation with the Mood Sewing Network. That fabulous hat is all mine, though πŸ˜‰

Completed: Silk Chiffon Archer Button-Up

30 Aug

So I guess we are now officially in that time of the year again – when the shops are screaming FAAAAAALLL (Wool caps! Corduroy bottoms! Pumpkin spice everything!) but our temperatures are still firmly stuck in summertime. While I’m not ridiculous enough to pull on my Ugg boots when it’s still 100 degrees outside (LOL JK I don’t own Uggs hahaha) (but seriously, Ugg-watching in 100 degree weather at the ritzy mall is absolutely my favorite pasttime during these months. Bonus points if they are wearing a wool hat, too.), I still want to at least look the part of the changing seasons, which still complying with the temperatures outside. For me, that means colors and silhouettes that give a nod to fall – but sticking to lighter-weight fabrics so I’m not sweating my arse off.

So anyway , with all that being said – here’s another button-up shirt! HAHA

Silk Chiffon Archer

I used the Archer pattern to make a fall-inspired button-up, but with a twist – instead of the traditional plaid flannel (which I lurrve, but again – HOT!), I used a light and breezy wide silk chiffon from Mood Fabrics for the main, and woven silk crepe de chine for the collar, collar stand, button band, pockets, and bias facings. Mood Fabrics carries tons of colors of both of these fabrics, but I went with boring ol’ basic black. In the future, I might go completely insane and try this with a PLAID silk chiffon. Maybe.

Silk Chiffon Archer

Silk Chiffon Archer

If you are feeling some major dΓ©jΓ  vu about right now, you are absolutely correct – I totally and completely 100% shamelessly ripped off Kendra’s silk Archer from the Grainline blog. I don’t ever think I’ll look as chic as she does, but that doesn’t stop me from trying! πŸ™‚ I followed Jen’s instructions for making the Archer sleeveless (basically shortening the shoulder drop and adding some contour to the back armhole, nothing crazy here) and shortened the length by about 2″. I sewed a size 0, which is what I normally make for this pattern.

Silk Chiffon Archer

While I have made my share of button-ups in tricky fabrics – silk georgette, silk crepe, crazy plaids, and a rayon challis that has yet-to-be-blogged – I did worry a little that this one was going to be a beast to sew. My last experience with chiffon did NOT go well (you didn’t miss anything – this was several years ago), but I think a big part of the problem was the quality of the material I was using (it was pretty cheap poly chiffon). Using a high-quality fabric makes a big difference in the ease of your sewing when it comes to tricky fabrics like this – you know they’re already on-grain (or it’s easy to straighten the grain if you need to) and the natural fiber content means you can actually press them (which, again, makes a world of difference during construction – especially for a pattern like this). With all that being said – I only used a yard of the chiffon to make this sleeveless version, which at $20.99 per yard isn’t really that expensive. I got a yard of the crepe de chine as well, but only used a fraction of that (I use silk bias on everythingggg so I have tons left over for other projects). Even having been made out of silk, it’s fairly economical! And you definitely cannot get a silk button up shirt for less than $50 in retail, at least not new. Plus, I machine-washed all my fabrics before cutting – so my silk is machine washable now πŸ˜‰

Silk Chiffon Archer

Silk Chiffon Archer

Silk Chiffon Archer

Silk Chiffon Archer

So anyway, about that sewing! I didn’t do any sort of prep before getting into cutting – in the past, I’ve used fabric stabilizer to stiffen the fabric so I’d have an easier time cutting and sewing (and yes, it does work – see the aforementioned silk georgette button-up post for my full review on that), but I didn’t bother with any of that this time. It certainly would have been easier if I had, but obviously it was doable without πŸ™‚ I did trade out my scissors and use a mat and rotary cutter to cut this, which was tremendously helpful.

Sewing was really easy and straightforward – I used a sharp 70/10 needle, polyester thread, and a lot of high heat from my iron. All seams are enclosed – the yoke and collar cover most of that, but the side seams are French-seamed, and the arm holes are finished with silk bias facing. The hem is just a simple rolled hem (I usually use bias facing there as as well, but I was afraid the crepe de chine would be too heavy for the silk chiffon). I used a super lightweight interfacing (which comes in black!) for all my interfaced areas – it gives some stability without making them weirdly stiff, which is important when you’re dealing with silk chiffon. The buttons are some vintage glass buttons that I’ve had in my stash for ages. The only thing I’m not thrilled about is the pockets – the crepe de chine sags a bit on the chiffon, so they’re not perfectly smooth when I’m wearing it (or when it’s hanging on the wall, for that matter). And also – they are a bit lopsided! Whoops! I hesitate to unpick them because I am afraid it may damage the delicate chiffon, but thankfully no one notices it – even when I point it out. Of course, that may be all you see now πŸ™‚ Sorry πŸ™‚

Oh, and in case you were wondering – I am wearing a black tank top under this, and I did not make the shorts (I WISH I did, though! Because then that would mean that I had found awesome fabric like that!). They are from Express, but the shape is quite similar to the Rite of Spring shorts. The fabric is a nice rayon challis. I pretty much never buy clothes these days, but these were given to me by my boss while she was cleaning out her closet in preparation for her cross-country move (she also gave me a pair of Jimmy Choo’s. Um, I WIN.). Speaking of which, I will be flying up to Rhode Island this week to orchestrate all the unpacking and whatever else you’re supposed to do when one moves cross-country (I’ll be staying here in Nashville and working remotely after that). I’ve never been to RI before so I’m excited to check it out! Wish me luck!

Silk Chiffon Archer

I don’t have much else to say about this pattern that hasn’t already been said to death, so I’ll keep this post reasonably brief. Yay for silk chiffon button-ups! Once we get into full-on winter mode, I think this top will continue to be useful as I can wear it under my cozy sweaters for an extra layer of warmth.

**Note: The fabrics for this project were provided to me by Mood Fabrics, as part of my participation in the Mood Sewing Network.

In Progress: Polka Dot Silk Crepe Blouse

15 Mar

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 πŸ™‚

Silk Tie Blouse

Plus, I’m gonna make it on my new Spiegel 60609 sewing machine! Woohooo! πŸ˜€

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 πŸ™‚

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.

Silk Tie Blouse - cutting silk fabric

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.

Silk Tie Blouse - mirroring fronts

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.

Silk Tie Blouse - sewing French seams

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.

Silk Tie Blouse - sewing French seams

Trim the seam allowance down to about 1/8″.

Silk Tie Blouse - sewing French seams

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 πŸ™‚ Otherwise, you can press both seam allowances to one side – but I think pressing open gives a better end result.

Silk Tie Blouse - sewing French seams

Fold the fabric so the right sides are facing and all the seam allowances are encased on the inside, and press.

Silk Tie Blouse - sewing French seams

Sew again at 1/4″, then press one more time.

Silk Tie Blouse - sewing French seams

You should end up with something that looks like this – the seam allowances beautifully encased πŸ˜€

Silk Tie Blouse - bias faced hem

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.

Silk Tie Blouse - button placket

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.

Silk Tie Blouse - button hole

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:

Silk Tie Blouse - finished!

Silk Tie Blouse - finished!

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 πŸ™‚

~Big Reveal~ outfit photos to come soon! Next up – the bottom half of this outfit πŸ™‚

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 πŸ™‚ 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

Completed: Fancy Silk Georgette + Brocade

2 Feb

Here’s something a little different than my normal meat-and-potatoes (mmm… meat and potatoes) sort of dressing – FANCY GARB. YAY!!

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

Also: SNOW! Like, holy shit it snowed soooo much last weekend! I had a nice snow-in for a few days (it’s true that Tennessee all but shuts down when the snow comes in – but, before you make fun: we don’t have snow tires, we don’t know how to drive in it, and the roads are not properly salted or cleared so they’re actually pretty dangerous. Also, come and deal with our 100* heat in August ffs. Ok, soapbox off haha), which was even better considering that I basically was in a Winter Wonderland. We ended up with a little over 6″ – y’all, I can’t even remember the last time I saw that much snow. Shit was crazy. Also, it all melted within like 3 days, and then the temps went back up to 65*. Yay I love Tennessee and it’s fickle weather haha.

Anyway, I wasn’t planning on taking snow pictures – it was obviously very very cold outside, and so bright that I could barely keep my eyes open (sorry in advance for all the squinty haha). But the indoor lighting was just terrible, so I took one for the team and tromped outside. You are welcome.

Ok, back to the real subject of this post!

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

I made these two pieces about a month apart, so I didn’t actually wear them together for NYE – although I definitely wanted to. Considering I didn’t start sewing for the party until a few days before the end of the year, I knew that shirt would not turn out nice if it was rushed. So I focused on the fancy skirt, and wore it with a fuzzy black sweater knit Renfrew (you can see a photo of the outfit on Instagram). It was the perfect New Year’s Eve outfit for my plans – reasonably warm, yet stylish, and had these big pockets so I could carry my phone, wallet and flask without worrying about a purse. Which, by the way, my phone ended up leaving my pocket at some point that night (I think it was more that it didn’t *make* it to the pocket, rather than leapt out on it’s own accord). Here’s the New Year’s Miracle, though – someone found it – in a pile of trash on Lower Broadway, apparently – and then returned it to me the next day. How awesome is that?! 2016, you’re off to a promising start! β™₯

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

The metallic stretch brocade that I used for this skirt has been in my stash for a long time – over a year, at least (if not longer). I never knew what to do with it – it’s kind of thick, it has a really heavy stretch, and it’s pretty freaking fancy. I figured a pencil skirt or bodycon dress would be suitable, but I rarely wear stuff like that. When I was planning my NYE outfit, I decided to find a use for this stuff. I’ve been on a circle skirt kick lately, so that’s what I went with. I used my self-drafted circle skirt pattern (I used Casey’s circle skirt tutorial aaages ago, which I can’t seem to get a valid link to now 😦 There’s also the By Hand London circle skirt app, which does the maths for you!), pieced to include side seams and a center back seam. This was mainly due to fabric restrictions – I had only a yard of this fabric. It’s super wide, though, so I was just barely able to squeeze it out. I also knew I wanted an exposed zipper and side seam pockets, which mean seams were necessary. The waistband was cut so the greatest amount of stretch ran along the length; I stabilized it with a piece of stretch interfacing to retain that comfy-ass stretch. Yeah man, it’s comfy.

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

Sewing was easy, and relatively straightforward. My only complaints are that this fabric frays like a MOTHER, and it’s basically all polyester so it’s a nightmare to get a good press. For the fraying, I serged each seam separately to minimize the fuzz potential. For the pressing, I just used my super awesome, super hot gravity feed iron and then just held the seams in place with my clapper until they cooled. One thing I will note is that my iron has a shoe (basically a cover that acts as a press cloth), which keeps things from melting. If your iron does not have a shoe, you’ll want to use a press cloth on poly fabrics + high heat. Otherwise, melting will happen!

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

I thought an exposed metal zipper would look cool next to the fancy brocade, so I pulled a metal zip from my stash and used Megan Nielsen’s method to insert it (these are the same instructions that are included with the Brumby pattern, fyi). The pockets are silk crepe, also pulled from my stash. Nothing like using silk pockets to stow your whiskey amirite πŸ™‚

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

This past month, I finally gathered up all my cojones and made the intended matching shirt. Remember when I made Butterick 5526 in silk Georgette? I want to hate that shirt so bad – it’s pretty poorly constructed, I mean, that fabric was EVIL – but every time I put it on, I can’t deny that I like the way it looks. I want more floaty button-ups in my closet. I figured enough time had passed to forget the trauma, and I tried again, this time with much more success.

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

There are two major factors that contributed to the success of this version of B5526 in silk Georgette. First of all, I chose the fabric in-person, rather than blindly ordering online. Which means I don’t have a link for the exact fabric I used – I bought it at the Mood Fabrics in NYC when I was there in November. I have since ordered some swatches from the website, and it’s definitely not the same fabric as what I have here. Mine is more like a double Georgette – it’s much thicker, and less see-through (I’m not wearing anything under this top, except a bra. I think it’s a nude bra, but I’ve worn a black one underneath too and no one has noticed, HA!). That alone made a world of difference in handling the fabric. I also prewashed it in the washing machine/dryer (just a cold wash, ma’am!), which helped beef it up a little more. The second factor is that I used a spray stabilizer on my fabric before cutting or sewing. I’ve heard of people using a spray stabilizer – and allegedly, you can also soak your fabric in unflavored gelatin for the same effect, although I haven’t personally tried this yet – but I never cared to try it myself because I wanted to be able to tackle the fabric without any outside help. Also, a can of that shit is like $12, which is way too rich for my blood (says the girl who is currently looking at $45/yard silk faille lolwut). It just seemed silly and unnecessary. I always felt like using outside tools like that almost negated my skills as a seamstress, but you know what? That’s not true. It’s not any different than using a special presser foot to get good edgestitching. Whatever works… it just works. And that’s ok.

I am not going to go into too much talk about using spray stabilizer because this was my first experience with it – and I want to try it a few more times before I give it a big write-up (aka I don’t want to eat my words later haha). But I will say that it REALLY changed how the fabric handled, in a good way. Instead of it slipping around like butterfly wings, it held more like a silk organza. It made cutting things straight much more easy, and the shirt fits better as a result. I think my topstitching looks really good, and all those fiddly pieces weren’t quite as fiddly. Spray stabilizer isn’t going to turn your silk into quilting cotton – you still need some finesse with those fine layers – but it helps tremendously. It won’t work for anything that you can’t wash it out of – such as a coat lining (unless, I guess, you assembled the lining separately and then wash/dry it before putting it in the coat?) – but it’s perfect for this sort of project. These photos are post-washing, so it has the proper drape, fyi. I soaked it in the sink with some lingerie wash, hung it to dry, and then re-pressed. I have since worn the shirt and washed it in the normal wash, and it’s held up fine.

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

All that being said, I don’t think there’s much else to say about the sewing of this shirt. I’ve made it like a dozen times at this point, so there’s nothing new for B5526. The shirt is constructed with French seams and I used a very lightweight interfacing to stabilize while retaining that beautiful drape. I added buttons and button tabs to the sleeves, so I can wear this shit into the warmer weather. Yay!

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

I finally go to use some of my fancy vintage glass buttons for this top – yay! I didn’t have quite enough, so I had to mix them. There are beautiful black/green/gold Art Deco buttons for the front placket and sleeve tabs, and then solid black faceted buttons for the cuffs and collar. The white buttons you see on the inside of the placket prevent gaping at the boobs (I can’t take credit for this tip – I got it from Emmie and Jane). Speaking of which, if I’m getting boob gape… that probably means I need to start doing a FBA to my pattern. Sigh. Or else just keep adding hidden buttons hahaha.

Silk Georgette B5526 + Stretch Brocade Circle Skirt

I think I’ve run out of things to talk about with this outfit, so I’ll wrap up. What’s your best tip for sewing the slinky? Have you tried spray stabilizer? Hey, how was your New Year’s Eve, anyway?

Note: Fabrics were purchased with my monthly allowance for the Mood Sewing Network. Also, there are affiliate links in this post FYI. Click at yo’ own risk.