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Made by a Fabricista: Pre-Spring Suede and Silk





Tippi dress style
I'm always pushing myself to learn more about fabric. If there's a fabric that I'm not familiar with, I don't shy away from just getting some to see just what can be done with it. So it was with this suede knit and silk taffeta I took on for this month's project.

Spring Suede and Silk

I've worked with suede knits a couple of times before. They have a wonderful brushed surface that is so smooth on your skin. I chose this goldenrod one for my dress which is sold out but there's several other colors like this gorgeous raspberry. It has a good spring and bouncy recovery not unlike ITY.



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Suede knit tips

Unlike actual suede leather, suede knits are much easier to sew. Here's what I found to be helpful when you work with these knits:
  • Choose the right needle: A 75/11 H-S stretch needle is a good choice. This is my favorite all-purpose needle for knits, but after experimenting, I actually got better results with a 80/12 jersey ballpoint needle. Experiment. Different machines work better sometimes with different needles.
  • Take advantage of draped elements: These knits are magical in that they're opaque and yet lightweight enough to handle gathered and draped elements like the cowl and twist on this Burda 2-2008-103 dress.
  • Interface the hems: These knits do NOT like to be topstitched on. If you want to avoid skipped stitches and get a hem that hangs nice, definitely add some interfacing to the hems. Something like the SewKeysE tape is a great choice.
As for me and this dress, it's been on my list for forever. The February 2008 issue of Burda World of Fashion (yes, before Burdastyle!!) was my first Burda magazine ever and it's the one I love so much I might have to will it to my daughter. I've had a goal to make all of the jackets in it but this time I had to go for what has been labeled the "Tippi Hedren dress". This suede is just right for this pattern.



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I typically avoid wraps, but the twist on the skirt is really interesting. Still, for modesty purposes, I'll probably always wear this with tights. When I make it again, I'll make more of an overlap on the underskirt. I'm up and down all day long with my kids, so I never want to have to think about if I'm flashing someone!

Silk taffeta jacket and skirt




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Working with silk taffeta

I've been drooling over Fabric Mart's silk taffetas for longer than I'd care to admit. There's so many beautiful colors to choose from! I could pass up this olive/pistachio/cream taffeta no longer. If for no reason than pistachio olive cream sounds like a pretty sweet cake!



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The sheen, the body, the movement, and even the crispy sound of silk taffeta are some of the things that make this special fabric just beautiful. But this will not be a quick sew. There's some things to consider :
  • Pick a simple pattern. There's 3" squares on this--that's HUGE, and you have to match all of them. Be nice to yourself and pick a simple pattern like this boxy Burda jacket and Ottobre A-line skirtI chose. The silk is going to be stressed by close fitting princess seams, so avoid them.
  • Cut single layer. I know, it's a pain, but again there's 3" squares. Take your time cutting and it will save you when you need to match all the seam points.
  • About those seam points: when you're sewing, match the squares by sewing about 1/2" on either side of the intersection with a long basting stitch. This way if you miss the intersection, you can quickly pull out the stitches without damaging the silk. Plus, if you match the pattern this way, you won't have to use pins at all when you sew the seams!
  • Be delicate with the iron: use a pressing cloth and don't get aggressive with heat and steam. I learned this the hard way on one of my underarm seams which now has a couple tiny puckers I can't get rid of!
As for closures, I used covered snaps. It's a couture touch and a smart choice to keep the sharp edges of the snaps away from the delicate silk.



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I lined the jacket and the skirt both with a polyester lining from my stash. The jacket is interfaced with silk organza which is perfect for the taffeta and makes it light as a feather. I used an ultra fine beading needle and silk thread to hand baste the silk organza to the fashion fabric to avoid making any holes in the silk.

Mom life + silk

With 4 young kids, I've avoided silk like the plague. I've always been convinced that someone would either throw up on me or that I'd rip something in the rigors of my day. All real concerns at many points of my Mom life! But now my youngest is nearly 3 and people are a little more independent, and I've started thinking about working at least occasionally with silk.



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All that everyone says about silk is true. Yes it slows you down in your sewing process, but then you have this absolutely ethereal thing to wear. There is no substitute truly! So even if the extent of my fancy is going to the grocery store with my toddler, I'm going to wear my silk!

How about you? Do you enjoy wearing and working with silk? Have you ever made anything from suede knits?

~Sew something creative

Comments

  1. I love silk a lot :) Love your dress & jacket Elizabeth! I've learned over the years that silk is like other fabrics in that the more you pay for it the better quality it is and the easier it is to care for. I always throw my silk in the washer and dryer not fussed about temp or how gentle any cycle is. I've never had a problem with it. I cut it out on one of those fleece backed red plastic checked table cloths and pin all layers - keeping the pins away from the edges and cut it out (not the table cloth of course ;) ) and that keeps it even and prevents any crazy shifting around at the cutting stage. I sometimes soak it in a stiffener or you could spray it with a stiff starch too. I just finished a Wiksten Kimono for my husband with a silk lining (he loves those pink flowered silks for linings :) ) and it sewed up beautifully.

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  2. Three beautiful garments! I love them all.

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  3. Elizabeth - I like all 3 of your new garments and they do say spring! Also they're gorgeous and I'm glad you've been able to incorporate some silk back into your life!

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    1. Thank you Carolyn! This will definitely not be the last time I use silk! I've been so enjoying both these pieces!

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  4. Gorgeous dress, jacket and skirt. Love how the suede knit fabric drapes. All of your fabrics give a great spring vibe!

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    1. Thank you Linda! Yes, this suede knit has just a totally liquid drape--it's beautiful to work with!

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  5. Thanks Kathleen! I love your tablecloth trick! I use just the kind you mean for my blockprinting--so maybe not that one since it's covered in old screenprinting ink, LOL! What a treat for your husband--there truly is nothing more luxurious than silk!

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  6. Beautiful and well sewn garments. You have mastered sewing with both knit and woven fabrics! Karen

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  7. Elizabeth, all your 3 pieces are great and I especially love that dress - the colour is wonderful on you! Yes I remember that pattern from 2008 and seeing your version I'm putting it on my bucket list. Great choice of fabric also for that design!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Virginie! Some of those older Burdas are gold mines! It will look great on you!

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