Saturday, August 6, 2016

Made by a Fabricista: A Sewing Legacy

While visiting my parents this summer I discovered a little piece of my family sewing history!  My Mom asked me to go through a few boxes of old patterns she was thinking of getting rid of and being the pattern hoarder collector that I am, I dug through them and found some family history that even my Mom had forgotten.


I found this pattern with awesome 70's styling (look at those espadrilles) and when I pulled it out of the envelope I recognized my Mom's handwriting.  The note says "You can send this back in your next letter."



My Mom said that she and her Mother often wrote letters (weekly) and that she was sure she sent the pattern to her Mom to make.  She also said this pattern was a favorite of hers and she made it for friends as well.  Back in the day she added hand painted embellishments around the bottom of the skirt.  She was a wrap skirt fanatic and has passed that love to me! 

After discovering that this pattern had not only been sewn by Mom but also my Grandmother I knew I had to make it up!  While laying out the pattern I even found their alteration notes written on the pattern.  My Mom and Grandmother were a good bit taller than me so they had to add a couple of inches to the bottom of the pattern, not me! I did however included that 1/2 inch they suggested to the waist line!




Around this time of year I also love to sew something on the fancier side since my husband and I try to go out somewhere nice for our wedding anniversary.  So I chose to make this up in a gorgeous, and I mean gorgeous, bronze charmeuse.  It is like liquid chocolate, I love browns and a brown that shimmers, even better! 


I feel I would be doing any new sewist a disservice if I did not put out a disclaimer that silk charmeuse can be a real booger to sew if you don't have a few tricks up your sleeves.  My biggest and best trick is Sullivan's Spray stabilizer.  I seriously wouldn't even look at silk charmeuse without this stuff- it helps that much.  When you apply it, it dries transforming your fabric into a well behaved sewing participant, otherwise phhbtt, it runs amuck.  The texture it gives you is closer to a cotton voile and after you complete your project you simply hand wash it and voila, back to slinky, flowy fabric!


I originally heard of the magic of this stabilizer from Colette patterns blog.  It can be a little pricey but for the money and time you will invest in sewing silk, it's totally worth it.  I have heard/read of other methods that may be a little less expensive but so far this is the method I prefer.

Another tool to incorporate are silk pins.  I really would not use anything but silk pins when working with charmeuse because the silk is very fine and it is actually difficult to get regular craft sewing pins to pierce the fabric. This is the kind I use.

Another thing that I have learned through trial and error in working with silk charmeuse is that choosing patterns that don't require too much fiddly handling of the pattern pieces or too many design details will make your life easier and increase the chances of your project's success.  Now maybe I am speaking as a less skilled sewist, but for me these guidelines have saved me some headaches and some silk!
   
For the top, I used Simplicity 1366, a Cynthia Rowley pattern.  This is a really simple pattern, the front and back are cut from the same pattern piece.  For interest I cut the top out with the matte side of the fabric as the right side.  I omitted the facings and chose to make the tiniest hem, this tutorial by Megan Nielsen details how to make a rolled hem and is essentially the method I used.

I caught a small breeze!
For the wrap skirt I used the shiny side of the charmeuse and converted the gathers at the waist line to inverted box pleats.  I also used french seams throughout and lace hem tape to finish the hem and hand stitched the hem in place.



Sewing charmeuse is not for the faint of heart but it yields such elegant and special results.  And the vintage family pattern just elevated the experience for me. Handling this pattern, smoothing it out on my fabric, pinning it where they pinned it, and folding it back up, I felt a connection to the women before me who have infused me with a love of sewing, and that is an awesome feeling!

Thanks for reading!
Elizabeth 

8 comments:

  1. That's a gorgeous skirt and top!! Thanks for the tips on the pins and fabric stabilizer! I love to make things out of decadent fabric. I've tried the cornstarch bath, but found it very messy (cause I'm messy!). I'll look around for this spray on.

    It was great to read about the connection with your mom and grandmother!

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  2. Stunning dress and so much history which is just wonderful, thank you for all the useful info as I've always avoided slinky fabric so may need to give it a go, I also recently brought a rolled hem foot and Megan's fool poor of guide looks fab, thank you for inspiring me.

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  3. A very nice read! It's so nice to find your mother's/grandmother's tips on the pattern pieces. Thanks, too, for the tips mentioned here. I'll definitely give the fabric stabilizer a try! I have some fabrics that definitely need taming ;-) Have a good weekend!

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  4. What a stunning outfit and a great back story.

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  5. What a lovely outfit and story to go with it.

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  6. This is just lovely and the fact that 3 generations have now touched and made the pattern makes it even better. I love it!

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  7. Thank you everyone for your kind words. It was a special make for me both because of the beautiful fabric and special family pattern!

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