Sunday, September 11, 2011

In Case You Were Wondering If I'd Ever Sew Anything Again... (With Photos!)

Let me start by saying how much I appreciate all of you wonderful, knowledgeable sewists. In a fit of anxiety, I post (horrified) about puckered seams and before I know it I've got all kinds of expert solutions! Thank you so much.

Amongst them - should you ever find yourself with puckered seams in silk charmeuse:
  • Try a walking foot. (I'm not sure if this helped in my case, but it didn't hurt. And I can imagine, depending on the silk and the machine, it could be very helpful.)
  • Check out Gorgeous Things' method for pressing in steps - it totally works, peeps!
  • Use a ham while pressing, if you're working some princess seams.
Then there are these, which I also considered / tried:
  • Adjust stitch length - sometimes shorter is better, sometimes longer.
  • Adjust tension. Generally low tension is better for silk, but I didn't find that.
  • Use silk or cotton thread - not much help once you're half way through and/or using out-there whack colours.
The hardcore winner was pressing - something I hadn't yet tried (but intended to try) when I wrote my plea for help. You cannot press enough with this fabric. Inside and outside (use a pressing cloth if you're worried that the heat will alter the sheen of your silk).

At any rate, I put in a good 16 hours constructing this shirt - that's a long time given I had fit more or less sorted and I've made it before. Note: I did not find the Pendrell easy the last time I made it, though the instructions are excellent and clear. It takes some working knowledge of methods and some dexterity - at least when making version B. Having said that, I put this slog down to a) being out of practice and b) really fucking difficult fabric.

But look how pretty it is:

(Note: I don't know why blogger keeps compressing my photos and making their awesome quality look fuzzy and crap. You have to believe me when I say I took very nice pics...)

As I seem to so often these days, I'm calling this a qualified success.

The Good:
  • The hem is gorgeous, inside and out.
  • Ruffles worked very well.
  • Binding method (inside) worked quite well, though was finicky on the neck. Very clean.
  • The overall fit and colour of the garment.
The Mediocre:
  • When my serger likes to slice and dice, it really does it with gusto. I had a couple of near misses (leaving hideous wrong side spots on the seams). I tried to improve them cosmetically by going over them again with the blade turned off, but the result was meh. I also had to do some reconstruction inside the serged seams (re-seaming with my machine).
  • Even though I pressed the crap out of those puckered seams - and it made things 200 per cent better, easily - they're not perfect. I don't know if I'd do princess seams in silk again. That's a lot of seams with a potentially puckery fabric. You should note that these photos are unforgiving. On me, the puckering is barely noticeable. That's the plus of having boobs!
  • The last time I made the Pendrell, I used a synthetic with utterly no stretch. And I still found the waist a bit large (I should have made the 8, instead I altered down the 10 so that was a residual challenge). I know this top needs to be roomy, given that there are no closures i.e. it has to fit over your head - plus, it's not meant to fit close - but, given my shape, it's a bit boxier than I'd prefer. This time, given that I had a lot of stretch, I brought the side seams in further. My execution was regrettably not perfect, but I think the shape is better on me. Word to those who are thinking of making the blouse: IMO, it's sized large.
On balance, I'm glad I've used up the cerise silk. It's been taunting me since I bought it - and it was really not much fun to work with. I'm happy to be able to move on to other fabrics - and all's well that ends well.

Next up: My pants sloper in stretch wool (another RTW fabric bought from my designer friend). I have every reason to believe this fabric will sew up without trauma. Not that I want to get over-confident!


  1. Really pretty! I keep trying to imagine how you can get this over your head, especially in a fabric without stretch. . . But the effect is so clean. I love the simplicity of it, with just those light ruffles at the shoulder.

  2. That blouse is gorgeous! And I'm so glad that you are back to sewing, I was starting to miss the beautiful sewn garments you make. And, you've officially convinced me to purchase the pattern. I'm off to make the order right now. Ciao!

  3. Congratulations and what a beautiful result! I love it! I almost now make all my blouses with princess seaming and I adore them. I've never made one with silk, though, so I hesitated to add comments - but it's ADORABLE!

    I'm glad your sewing mojo is back! Don't stress - I went through a 9 month long sewing plateau - I resolved it by taking classes - I think that helped.

    Honestly, you're fantastic - this blouse is wonderful! I have the pattern and may have to go ahead and rock it!

  4. Stunning blouse! Love this particular shade of red, it's rich but still fresh. Glad to know you do sew ;-)

  5. Wow, what a gorgeous blouse - fantastic colour and I'll bet the ruffles are lovely on you.

  6. It looks perfect to me. You've been staring at it too long ;). Glad you got it sorted, and I will definitely be checking out that pressing technique, if I ever feel masochistic and try to sew with silk. ;)

  7. From this end it doesn’t look mediocre at all, in fact, it looks perfect! And the colour is so pretty. Thanks for the tips about working with silk.

  8. Nice work Kristin! The blouse is beautiful. The ruffles look perfect. Actually the whole blouse looks perfect, despite the issues you pointed out. It's a very nice design.

    I do hope you'll keep on sewing even though it can be stressful.

  9. I think it looks lovely, the littel ripples are not noticable. I think you need the Magic Closet to make them disappear.

    I've been wondering about Sewaholic patterns. I love the look but pear shaped I am not. It's good to see how they look on other non-pear folks.

  10. F: The neck hole is actually too big on this one! (On the last one, I bound the neck seam in a different way which effectively made the hole smaller. And that fabric had no stretch - but still it fits :-)) I have the SMALLEST head. Once you add the stretch it's a piece of cake. Oh, I want cake.

    CGC: Thank you! And you will love the pattern. Let us know how it goes...

    Pammie: You are so sweet! And I do think princess seams are very flattering. I just find them to be lots of sewing, if you know what I mean. You def have to give some silk a go.

    Karin: :-) I love the shade too. It's where pink meets red.

    Gabrielle: Thank you! The ruffles, which in this fabric have lots of bounce, give my narrow shoulders a bit more width. Which is great.

    T: Maybe I have been staring at it too long! I wore it recently and I loved it.

    Andrea: Thank you! And you're welcome!

    Susan: Oh, I'll keep on. I love the finished items too much to stop.

    Seraph: The magic closet!! BTW, the Sewaholic patterns may be quite long and large in the hips. Make a muslin, but consider going down a size.