Monday, March 30, 2009

A Tale of Two Silks (some spring sewing)

Let me just say that I expected this project to fail. I am, as a rule, NO GOOD at all with delicate silk fabrics - they slip, they slide, they move all over the place when you're trying to sew them. It's a mess. I also tend to work only in solid fabrics, or in random all-over patterns (you might have noticed?). There's a reason for this. I in no way expect to be capable of cutting patterns properly on the grain; I've done it in costume shops, but I seem to be far too impatient to manage it at home.

So, stripes and silk, what was I thinking? And yet ... it turned out perfectly. (You might not be able to tell from the photo, but just trust me - if those weren't perfect 45- and 90-degree angles, I'd own up.) I even matched the stripes on the front-to-back pieces of the body, so they wrap around continually.

I'm still not sure how that happened.

This is a Built By Wendy pattern for Simplicity. I guess the pattern is technically discontinued, because when I tried to buy it at my local fabric store this summer (and thus avoid paying shipping fees), they told me as much. However, in September, I was still able to order it from Simplicity's website, so if you think you might want to make this someday, I recommend snapping it up sooner rather than later (the only caveat is that this pattern runs small - it only comes in sizes 4-12, and size 12 has a 34" bust and 26.5" waist).

The only alteration I made to the style A garment (blouse) was to cut it with the style B (tunic) length, so that later I could set the hem where I wanted it to be on my rather tall frame. I had a 3-yard piece of silk, so that I could have the freedom to rotate the pattern pieces and change the angle of the stripes. I have a fair amount left over, but I'd still recommend using at least 2.5 yards if you want to play around this way.

And it must be simple, because I didn't mess it up. Granted, I found the inset (the diamond-piece on the front) so difficult that only sewed the bottom seam and part of the each side seam on my machine. I left perhaps an inch or more on each side unsewn, as I could NOT seem to get that corner to lay flat on the machine. After botching it for the third time, I realized I could leave that little bit, and then by turning it right and pressing, I could get that corner point to lie perfectly flat and just hand-stitch. Hey, whatever it takes to get the job done, right?

Here's the back. Isn't that bias finish on the neckline (and ties) fantastic? The finishing is great on this garment - the yoke and inset are all self-lined, and there is even a nice bias facing for the armholes. Everything is covered and contained, which is probably good for such a delicate fabric. When I saw how nice the yoke was when all finished, I decided to use french seams on the sides, to do the whole process justice. In short, it's as pretty on the inside as the outside.

And though this isn't nearly as impressive, I also took the hem down on this beautiful silk dress by Laundry that a friend bought for me way back in September. We'd been out cruising secondhand clothing stores together at the end of our visit and I tried on this dress and, well, it was perfect, if a little short. "Oh, if only it had about 3 inches of hem to let down," I sighed - and turned up the hem to find (voila!) three inches to let down.
But even with this kind of miraculous clothing-wish-granting, I couldn't justify the $36 price tag and left it behind, on hold. My clever girlfriend, KNEW I wouldn't go back until long after this beauty was gone - and that I'd regret not getting it - secretly stopped by and snapped this up on her way out of town. True to form, two weeks later I went back. It was gone. I was sad.

And then it showed up as a late bday gift. Gotta love those old friends, who know us oh so well!


andrea said...

Dang! Your shirt looks fantastic! Makes me want to try that pattern...

wende said...

Those are amazing! I love the last one.

chelsea said...

Love your blouse!! The fabric is so similar to that dress!!

fleur_delicious said...

thank you!

andrea - really, if I can do it, anyone can. And if you were to use a fabric without a pattern on the grain, and something a bit stiffer than a slippery silk, it would be even easier!

wende - me too =) good friends are the best gifts, for sure!

chelsea - kinda crazy, isn't it? Now it feels extra special, and I love that I only paid 3 or 4 dollars/yd for the fabric.