Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Silky Goodness

I'm going to call this one a qualified success:

The Good:
  • Silk is not that slippery. Really. Unless you're expecting cotton. I mean, rayon jersey and many synthetics have been more challenging.
  • The serger deals with it remarkably well.
  • It feels fantastic.
  • My workmanship, with the exception of one glaring error, and a bit of snap misalignment, is surprisingly strong. I figured out, by working it through, how to self-fabric interface the plackets and the neck facing and I think I did it neatly.
The Bad:
  • The silk drapes very differently than a) a synthetic or b) than I thought it would. It fits, but I do find it strangely snug in weird places during movement. Maybe my pattern edits worked on a stronger, synthetic fabric but, given the delicateness of the silk, I suspect more ease would make it drape more elegantly. I'm going to keep the second set of tucks on the back (a pattern adjustment I came up with) but narrow them on my next go. I will also add the under arm ease back in. I wonder if the other (black and white, slightly sturdier) silk will have more natural ease.
  • Errors are very difficult to fix on charmeuse. You have to weigh the benefits of trying again against the potential for destroying the fabric.
  • Invisible catch stitching is a bit challenging. And the silk doesn't hold the stitches as firmly as a synthetic.
  • The snaps are too heavy for such a delicate fabric and they drag it down.
  • The neck facing to neckline, which was difficult on both other Senchas, IMO, was really challenging in silk. I will definitely have to work on that technique because I stretched things slightly out of shape. And I still ended up having to topstitch in order to keep the facing in place.
The Ugly:
  • I did something wrong when I attached the placket interfacing to the facing, at the top where it meets the neck. As a result, I botched the back of the top - not so badly that you'd notice it if I had long hair. Or even that you'd notice it if I didn't point it out (it just looks off, but it's "evenly off"). I deliberately didn't photo it because, quite honestly, I intend to wear this blouse and I don't want to give that error any more credibility that it deserves. Other than this, I did very neat work and the garment feels like a dream.
The Verdict:

Don't be afraid of silk. Not charmeuse, anyway. If you can find some at a reasonable price - I'd say anything under $20.00 a yard, take the chance and use it on a Sencha. Not counting the pattern cost, this top cost me 25 bucks all in. At a store I might have spent 5 times that amount.

Whenever you sew, you either succeed in producing a wearable garment, or you don't. Shouldn't you make that potential success as glorious as it can be? You'll quickly forget the anxiety of sewing with top notch fabric. And every time you wear it you'll remember how much you love what you sew.


  1. This is very pretty! I don't notice any of the little errors you've confessed to. It just looks really, really nice. A black silk blouse is bound to get a lot of potential wear too.

  2. It looks great. I would love to see a picture of you wearing it. I haven't tried sewing with silk yet. I'm still working on fitting...sigh.

  3. Well, this looks great to me. Good on ya for sewing with charmeuse, I still can't stand sewing the stuff. I just don't have the patience. I second a photo of it being worn by you.

  4. It looks lovely---I second the motion for modeled shots.

    I haven't tried sewing with silk yet (hey, even delicate cottons annoy me sometimes), but I definitely feel you on the "quality fabrics" theme. There's something incredibly satisfying about putting together a garment from gorgeous material.

  5. Lovely blouse! You're 100% correct - silk is not that bad to sew with, and when it's THAT wonderful to wear, it's totally worth it. Regarding the facing - frankly, I hate facings on silk! My preferred method of edge finishing on silks is a narrow bias edge. You end up with a little bit of topstitching, but the overall effect is so much nicer to wear.

  6. Nice work! The color is chocolate dreamy and I love the way the light and shadows as it drapes.

    I know what you mean about taking risks. To me, fit is the biggest risk, so I like muslin testing in an expensive fabric with similar ease and drape before cutting something expensive.

  7. I think it looks lovely! Is it really black, my monitor makes it look a lucious chocolate color.

    It strikes me as simple and elegant, timeless.

  8. That's an amazingly beautiful blouse! It looks brown on my monitor too but my monitor's color quality is iffy.

    How nice to hear that silk is not so terrible to sew with! The only other issues you had seem to be related to experience with that particular fabric. I think 99% of the mistakes I make are due to lack of experience with something. You said the snaps are heavy for this fabric, but many of the garments I see in delicate fabrics these days have heavy snap or zipper fastenings. Maybe interfacing that edge would help?

  9. Fantastic result! You are inspiring me to try more challenging fabrics, so far I have avoided them. And yes, I also want to see in action photos.

  10. Your top is beautiful - very elegant and luxurious looking! I do think that silk is worth the trouble of working with because it is so very lovely to wear.

  11. So I know this was a little while ago, but I'm working on making Sencha now. I'm finding the same odd fitting thing. I made one in poly satin as a trial, got far enough to decide I screwed up the top seam but it was okay. Cut another in woven rayon. I'm wearing it now. I've had unsolicited comments, so I know people like it, but the fit feels a little odd, like I'm wearing a shirt backwards and it pulls. I figured I worked out enough bugs though and made a third version yesterday. Cut the neckline a little lower, did some satin bias around the neckline, it's 100% poly but it seems to have nice drape. And yet it flattens me across the bust. Sigh. It's odd how much of a difference the fabric makes. So I was looking through your old Sencha posts to see, perhaps, where I went wrong.

    Your silk version looks lovely. All of them do.

  12. Karin: That's just what I like to hear! :-) Thank you.

    Carla: I finally wore this for the first time last week. I was amazed by how popular it was. Took me a long time to get over my little error...

    lsa: It does take a lot of patience!

    T: I can see there's a theme here and it's name is "modeling". I should get my ass in gear - and my lipstick on - and do a post that shows photos...

    Melissa: I totally agree with you. No more facings!

    Sal and Susan: Thanks!

    Treadle: It is actually a true taupe. Though chocolate sounds like a great colour for a garment like this...

    LSCG: I did interface - well I interfaced by doubling up on the silk (to make it extra pretty). I think I needed slightly smaller snaps...

    Suzy: It's payback time! Do it! Sew with some sassy fabrics :-)

    Eugenia: Thank you! I did really enjoy wearing it because the fabric feels luxe.

    Chutchings: I hear you. I wonder how many times we need to make the same pattern with different fabrics to understand how it's going to play out. It really makes the case for slopers so you can fool around with seam allowances more easily. I don't have the answer. Perhaps, in the old days, women made the same shirts a dozen times and perfected it sometime after the third go around?