Hi everyone! I have just finished making the most difficult shirt I’ve ever attempted and it took all the experience and tips working with silk that I’ve gained from eleven years of sewing! It wasn’t the pattern that was difficult but the fabric.
Last season I fell in love with a georgette polka dot shirt by Saint Laurent but at £1,020 I needed to make one (it also sold out very quickly). Problem number one was sourcing fabric, I looked everywhere but there was none available, I eventually gave up and concentrated on Christmas.
Saint Laurent repeated it for spring/summer 2018 and I finally gave in and ordered some chiffon from Cosy Fabric out of China on Etsy. I wouldn’t normally order from China but this seller had good reviews so I went ahead. The quality is acceptable, not as good as Italian silk but at £15.36 per metre it’s good value. I came across Vogue 9029 whilst looking for a suitable pattern and it was perfect, I chose view D with the sleeves from view B. I made my usual petite adjustments and shortened the sleeves by 3 inches.
I used silk Gütermann thread, a Schmetz microtex needle and a straight stitch needle plate to stop the fabric from being pulled into the feed dogs.
I started by taping the fabric to the cutting board using the markings as a guide to square everything, the polka dots helped with lining up the pattern pieces. I cut some pieces on a single layer of fabric too.
I used French Seams for all the seams including setting in the sleeves which was surprisingly easy as there isn’t too much ease in the sleeve head on this pattern. It did take a lot of pinning though.
After sewing 6mm seams, wrong sides together I carefully pressed them open before folding back right sides together pressing, then sewing a 9mm seam. I used the edge of my machine foot as a guide for the 9mm instead of 1cm. I also used tissue paper on all the seams which gave me great stitches without any puckering then it just tore off easily afterwards. I didn’t do any back stitches either on any of the seams but I started stitching on the tissue before the fabric and this stopped any unravelling.
Another way to do a french seam is to sew a 1cm seam wrong sides together, trim to 3mm, fold right sides together then encase the raw edges with a 5-6mm seam. This produces a very narrow finish but I find it’s not as hard wearing.
I struggled with the edge finish on the ruffle as I didn’t like the result of the narrow hem, it was just too bulky and difficult to get an even finish. I tried to use my rolled hem foot but it didn’t like the bias parts of the ruffle. In the end after a lot of experimenting, I used the rolled hem stitch on my overlocker/serger. The ruffle on the cuff behaved a lot better so I managed a narrow hem there.
On the shoulder seams I used silk organza selvedge to stabilise.
The collar and collar stand pieces were to be cut on the fold so I made my own complete pieces using swedish tracing paper. I used silk organza as interfacing to keep everything sheer.
I had to do a lot of basting on this project but it was worth it.
I am very pleased with the result, there are a few things that aren’t perfect but I’m fussy. Taking a look at RTW garments is gratifying as they’re usually not perfect either! Last week I saw an uneven narrow hem on a Fendi organza skirt in their shop window!
I won’t get to wear this shirt until June as it’s too hot in Singapore, maybe not even then if we get some good weather in the UK! We can only hope.
I’m off to finish my next project now, au revoir x.