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!|
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!