I think I tried to explain the logic behind how I sew once before on the blog, and failed. But let me try again...
My mother recently passed on to me some fabric that my grandmother had given her. Grandma had brought it back from Japan probably in the early 60's sometime (correct me if I'm wrong mum) and assuming my mum could sew she handed it on. There's a bit of a joke about the complete lack of domestic skills in the women on both sides of my family so it was a very generous assumption on my grandmother's part. My own mother is now making a very generous gift of the fabric and an equally generous assumption that I won't balls it up in a really bad way.
So, I'm understandably nervous about cutting a vintage, patterned silk fabric. What to make with it?
I looked to a pattern that had no waist line and minimal seams to interfere with the fabric's own pattern. The Weekend Getaway Blouse and Dress by Liesl & Co.
Here it is as a dress:
|Photo from www.oliverands.com|
I had a few questions to answer before I launched into the real fabric so it seemed a test run was in order. Would I like the shape, would it fit? Could I handle the slippery fabric? How would I deal with the seam finishes?
Just as I was pondering these problems I happened to find myself in The Fabric Store, on a sale day, facing some divine mushroom-y coloured, sheer fabric with tiny silver dots all over it. What a coincidence! Not far away there was also a lightweight cotton of exactly the same shade of browny-grey. You can imagine my delight! So, now I'm daydreaming about a sheer dress underlined with the cotton. That's going to be a lot of work if I can't handle the seam finishes, I don't like the shape, it doesn't fit me.....
Problems NOT solved but the fabrics made their way into my bag all the same.
Then, in the remnants box at the front of the store I spied this fabric
It was a 1.1m x150cm piece of sheer polyester. It was definitely going to be evil to handle, it would be slippery as all heck, challenge my seam finishes, and at $9 it was very, very bin-able if it all failed.
I didn't really think at the time that I was throwing in another level of difficulty altogether in choosing a fabric with a very obvious pattern.
I almost wished I'd videoed myself cutting this out (except that I do it on the floor and I'm sure a video of my backside sticking up would detract from the genius of my cutting! ha). I had to fold, unfold, refold so many times. It really was not going to fit. Every time I folded the fabric to try another way I had to meticulously line up the plaid lines just to discover that the facings wouldn't fit or I'd only get one sleeve on.
Eventually I nutted it out but it was what I call a "multi-fold cut". That is, you can't just fold the fabric once and then cut every piece. You have to fold a bit, cut one piece, refold again to cut the next then flatten it out to cut some single layer parts wherever they'll fit. Does anyone else do this? I confess I never look at pattern layout suggestions anymore.
And the cutting turned out to be the trickiest part of the whole thing.
The instructions for the blouse are superb. I couldn't do any staystitching close to the edge of the fabric lest it get munched* so I cut some 1/4" strips of black interfacing and ironed them to the raw edge. That worked perfectly to stabilise the neck.
* that's also not in any sewing dictionary but I'm sure you all know what I mean
Then I worked out that where I couldn't do a French or hairline seam I could put a narrow strip of interfacing between the seam allowances and then finish them together.
If anyone else has made the blouse and worked out how to do a French seam at the shoulder and still get the facing to wrap around neatly then I really want to know about it. Meanwhile, this finish looks like it will hold up ok. There are some lovely French seams joining the front to back at the sides and sleeves
The back has this lovely inverted box pleat and the neckline is finished with a strip of bias facing.
Ticking off my muslin questions: I figured out a way of dealing with super lightweight seam finishes where hairline or French seams won't work. I handled the evil, slippery stuff without tears or seam ripping.
Do I like it? Does it fit?
The fit is the only part that I'm still undecided about. I love the fit of this blouse, but I wonder if that's because it's see through. If it were made in this size in a solid fabric would it look a bit sack like?...
And that question will have to wait to be answered when I get around to Weekend Getaway Take 2