Happy Valentine's Day! One of my favorite things about Valentine's Day is seeing pink and red everywhere. In the middle of the month of February, which can be such a cloudy and dreary month, seeing colorful pinks and reds can really make me smile. So when I saw this Dragonfruit Pink 100% Silk Blouse Fabric, my mind went straight to Valentine's Day!
I didn't know exactly what I wanted to make with such a luscious fabric, and went back and forth several times on what it would eventually become. I was sooo tempted to make a dress with it, but I knew that if I made a dress, it would be something that would languish in the closet, worn only once in a blue moon. I really wanted to make this into something that would be wearable in an everyday casual setting, not hidden away waiting for a special occasion! So, I decided to make a "casual" silk top. Is that an oxymoron? I hope not! I really want it to be a thing. I know that I won't be doing the dishes, or digging in the garden in my "casual" silk top, but I do think that I can wear it at home, at work, doing light office work or watching TV!
While I was contemplating what to make, I did the unthinkable- I washed it in the washing machine! I knew that it would change the fabric somehow, but I also knew that no matter how hard I try not to, I always end up spilling something on what I am wearing. So, into the washing machine it went. And luckily, it came out beautiful. It was still vibrant, had a soft sheen, and a slightly more crinkled texture, which I loved. I can't say that I recommend you do this to all silks, but if you are like me and don't want to dry clean, it's definitely worth a shot to at least wash a small square and see how it goes. Fabric Mart always has an incredible silk selection to choose from.
At that point, I found McCalls 7251- a tunic pattern with a shaped neckband that reminded me of a sweetheart neckline- perfect for Valentine's Day! I could definitely see this style of tunic worn with some casual pants, and it had some interesting pleating details that would show up well in a solid fabric.
This particular silk is what I would call a featherweight silk- it's like the whipped cream of fabrics, although whipped cream probably weighs more. It is just light as air, which poses some interesting challenges when sewing with it! Here are a few of my tips with working with featherweight silk:
1. Some people swear by cutting only a single layer at a time, but I've found that if I lay tissue paper underneath a double layer of silk, and then use a rotary cutter, that this works most of the time. I just use tissue paper from the dollar store, and lay it out under the full length of the fabric that I'm cutting. I make sure that my blade is very sharp. Any nicks in the blade will cause sections that will pull and not cut.
2. Block fuse a section of your fabric with a featherweight fusible interfacing. Then, when cutting out pieces that need interfacing like neckbands and plackets, cut the interfacing and fabric at the same time. You know how instructions usually have you interface one side of a band or collar, but not the other? I will fuse both sides, as otherwise, it can be a nightmare to try to sew them together. As long as you use a featherweight interfacing, it doesn't get too heavy.
3. Use the smallest needle that you have for your sewing machine. For mine, that is usually a 60-70. Otherwise, the needle just overwhelms the fabric. This small of a needle can be a pain to thread, so wind a couple of bobbins first, so that you don't have to rethread it a second time!
4. When hemming, the only way that I've found to work consistently well is to do a baby hem. This involves stitching a line around the edge, then pressing the line to the inside of the garment. Trim close to your stitching, and fold again, one more time before stitching the hem in place. It sounds like a lot of work, but in the end, it's less work than ripping out your first try when you realize that it looks bad!
For something to wear with the tunic, I was lucky enough to snag a couple of yards of this wonderful crepe knit. It went fast on the FabricMart website, and they don't have any left, unfortunately. I had tried on a pair of ready- to-wear crepe knit pants that I loved the feel of, and I had been on the hunt for some crepe knit to make my own. Crepe knit has a heavy drape, and kind of a spongy texture to it. It's not a thick fabric, but not sheer either. This print had just a hint of pink in it, which I thought would work with the silk.
I knew just which pants I wanted to make- Butterick 6389. They had a loose fit that I thought would work with this fabric, as well as pockets, and a combination interfaced front/ elastic back waistband.
So, I'll be spending Valentine's day in this outfit- enjoying a nice dinner at home. But, it won't be the last day to wear it- I will be hopefully enjoying this outfit on many days to come. Have you ever made a "casual" silk top? If not, please join me and let's make this a trend! Have a wonderful Valentine's Day!