Thursday, 12 March 2015

Silk crepe de chine madness

I briefly lost the power of rational thought at the Knitting and Stitching Show last week. Not quite to the same level as the lady next to me who had four carrier bags of wool and was mumbling, "I didn't really need any wool"… but still! I stumbled on a fabric company I'd never heard of before and fell head over heels in love with everything on their stand. The company - Til The Sun Goes Down - produce a unique collection of beautiful dressmaking fabrics in limited edition prints. Most of the fabrics I saw were silks, satins and rayon, all inspired by vintage prints from the 1920's to the 1960's and all absolutely breathtaking.



I kept leaving and looking at other stands, but my feet kept bringing me back to the stall and to one fabric in particular - this beautiful aqua posy print. I had a vintage inspired blouse made from a near identical print about twenty years ago. I loved that blouse and was devastated when I caught the front on a nail at work (god knows how) and ruined it. 



I caved in eventually and bought a metre. The fabric is a lightweight silk crepe de chine with a slight sheen to it. It's also eye-wateringly expensive (£36 a metre), which is the most I've ever spent on fabric, but it was the only thing I bought, so I'm telling myself that justifies the expense. I have big plans for it anyway - I want to recreate my nail-shredded 1930's style blouse! With fabric this special I don't want to mess about with an unfamiliar pattern, so I'm going to use vintage Simplicity 2844 which actually dates from the 1930's and which I've made twice already (here and here.) 


It has some lovely vintage features such as gathered shoulders and a back yoke and I think it's a perfect pattern for my precious fabric. The crepe de chine is very fragile - recommended garments to make from it are French knickers, camisoles and slips! - so I'm going to fully underline it with white silk cotton. This will make it a little more robust, especially for areas like buttonholes. It will also boost the colour too as it currently looks a bit grey rather than aqua next to my super pale skin.

I'm going to consult my new sewing bible - Fashion with Fabric - for recommendations on sewing with silk. I'm also wondering whether it's worth using silk thread for this blouse? If anybody has any thoughts on this or on working with crepe de chine in general, I'd love to hear them.  x



47 comments:

  1. gosh these are divine!!! I'll be following your progress most eagerly! Even though I haven't sewed anything beyond fairly basic tops for an age, I am planning on sewing a dress to wear to a v swish wedding in May, and I feel the urge to use silk crepe. I'm planning on V8766, with a straight skirt. I might chicken out and go with some cotton sateen instead, but I struggle to find any nice prints in that.

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    1. Oh Shivani believe me, they're just beautiful! I think a lovely silk crepe print for the sleeveless version of V8766 would be divine. Actually a lot of the fabrics remind me of you, so it's probably a very dangerous place for you to browse! x

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  2. Oh my goodness, the fabric you bought is just stunning, and if you manage to get a blouse out of your metre (is that enough? I'm curious because I have a few metre lengths of fabrics and I'm not sure what I can squeeze out of them!) then £36 is actually a bargain for a custom-made silk blouse!

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    1. I'm almost certain my first two 1930's blouses were made with a metre of fabric. The crepe de chine is relatively wide (138cms) too which is good. I'm confident I can get a blouse out of it! x

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  3. God, this show seemed fabulous! Since you paid the price for such a splendid fabric, I think you should go for silk thread. Annie Coton just blogged about a blouse she made in a pricey but amazing Liberty silk and she used cotton thread, which is fine she said, but she added that silk thread would have been more appropriate. See her blog: http://anniecoton.fr/techniques-1-coudre-de-la-soie-lexemple-dune-chemise/.

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    1. Thanks so much for the link, I'll definitely check out her blog. I think your logic re silk thread is absolutely right, why scrimp when the fabric is so fabulous! x

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  4. Jane...what are you doing to me?????? These fabrics are fabulous! I've bookmarked the site because I simply cannot buy any more fabric for a wee while...but I've got my on some for when I can!
    So looking forward to seeing your beautiful new blouse. And it will still be a lot less expensive than a comparative RTW so its really a bargain! And you get exactly what you want. Hurrah!

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    1. Yes, I like your logic too Evie! Bargain!! I did pause for a minute before posting the link to this fabric as I know the beautiful fabrics in the shop will be the ruin of many a stitcher! x

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  5. eep! I have issues with cutting into a £10/m stretch crepe so much so that i have no idea how daunting cutting into your £36/m must feel!! It is such a beautiful fabric and the pattern choice looks perfect! x

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    1. I think my hands might be a bit shaky when I finally cut into it! x

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  6. I think having bought such wonderful fabric the least it deserves is silk thread! It will be stunning and can't wait to see the finished blouse. That's such a good idea to line it with the white too xx

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    1. Thanks Pam, I think I'm sold on the silk thread, I just needed a few prods! x

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    1. I know! I'm trying not to think about it! x

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  8. Very pretty fabric! I have some that reminds me of it (print and color), but is not nearly as fancy as yours - I'm thinking a simple skirt, since I live in them in the spring and summer. Can't wait to see yours!

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    1. It's such a lovely print isn't it?! A simple skirt would look great in that fabric. x

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  9. Oh my! Gorgeous fabrics - I love silk (but I guess who doesn't?!)

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    1. I know, how could you to like it?! x

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  10. Many of times I've gotten enamored to expensive fabric and caved in. Sadly the expensive fabric sits in my stash unused because I am afraid to ruin it. Maybe I should use it on patterns that I have done before and worked well on me. Thanks for the idea.

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    1. I think that's the way to go with expensive fabric. It's too precious to potentially ruin on something untried and tested! x

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  11. What gorgeous fabrics. The lilac blue & cream flowers and the spirally/ snail shells one would make the most wonderful vintage dresses (if only I weren't so broke at the moment!). Looking forward to reading about the making of your blouse. I would definitely use silk thread, if for no other reason than it's a joy to sew with!

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    1. Forgot to say, the stall also had a rail of dresses made up in the fabrics using vintage patterns. I couldn't stop playing with them, they were all absolutely exquisite! Thanks for the silk thread tip! x

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  12. Just popped over to the site. Wonderful, loved the Dilly. I dont think I would dare cut into such expensive material, (not unless it was a tried and tested pattern)

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    1. I know, I'm going to have very shaky hands! x

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  13. I may be in the minority here but I actually think that's quite good value for money! Silk is expensive to make , and it looks like this is top quality stuff. Plus you will end up with a blouse for about £40, and you could easily pay that for a shoddily made polyester RTW one! I too vote for silk thread. I made a silk slip recently and used silk thread, it suited it wonderfully and the stitches melted into the fabric. Can't wait to see your finished blouse xx

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    1. When you put it like that it's a complete bargain, which is how I'm going to look at it from now on! Thanks you for the silk thread endorsement! x

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  14. I think £22 per metre is expensive....for Liberty lawn which is very wide. It was well worth it though. You could spend more than £36 on a few drinks and a meal. Gone in a night.

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  15. I made my wedding dress in silk crepe de chine, and underlined in silk georgette. It was much easier to sew than I expected...but I'd have run screaming at the thought of buttonholes! A good blitzing with hairspray helps to control it while you work, and also I recommend cutting it out with the fabric laid onto a cotton sheet...stops it creeping so much. Looking forward to this one!

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    1. They are god tips. So I guess the hairspray just stiffens it then washes out? Does it not stain it?

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    2. I'm a bit scared to use hairspray on it, but the cotton sheet tip I already use and it works brilliantly. I may also have a cunning plan up my sleeve for the buttonholes…! x

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  16. Well bought :) Silk is so good to wear - cool in summer and great under for winter. Price RTW and you have an absolute bargain for that price. I bought some here for nearly $70 metre (Australian) here and that wasn't the most expensive either. I used silk or silk/cotton mix thread, silk needle and silk organza for under buttonholes/buttons, stress points. Looking forward to seeing the finished product. (Sorry can't work out what to publish under... sigh)

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  17. beautiful silk, I love crepe de chine. I've use regular Gutermann thread and even overlock the seams, although I use 1 needle to reduce the bulk. Can't wait to see your finished blouse!

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    1. Thanks, can't wait to make it now! x

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  18. Oh Jane! I can't afford any more fabric, but thanks so for the link!! I do so love a new (to me) fabric shop! What divine fabric you have bought, and isn't home sewing wonderful, when you can choose beautiful, quality fabric and create something that you could never find in the shops, that reflects your personality and tastes, and that fits just how you want. As others have said RTW like this would cost waaay more, so... bargain!! Personally I'm still struggling with fit; I've nearly finished McCalls 6035 view D but I have a wide back and it's pulling there, but ho hum, I'm new and learning. Mustn't be despondant, it's def wearable. Rome wasn't built... blah blah. I do enjoy your posts, thank you Jane - very inspiring and informative : ) Looking forward to seeing your blouse! Jen

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    1. Glad to hear you're diving into the world of sewing your own clothes Jen, keep up the good work! And thank you! x

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  19. Those fabrics are to die for!

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  20. I can't offer any hot tips I'm afraid as I'm a complete scaredie-cat of those finer fabrics. But I just know you will do that fabric justice. It's so beautiful, just like you xxx

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  21. I've got fabric envy, although don't envy you doing battling with slippery silk! At least we share the same sewing bible. I can't wait to get stuck into Fashion with Fabric!

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    1. Oh it's fab, you'll love it! x

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  22. Oh, Jane, it's so gorgeous! I'm glad that you bought it! Honestly, crepe de chine isn't that bad to work with- it's much less slippery than other silks, like charmeuse, for example. If you're worried, hand basting seams first can be really helpful, and I also find that my tension is nicer if I kind of hold the fabric taut in front of and behind the presser foot with my left hand as I sew. Can't wait to see what you make!!!

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  23. OMG. I have actually got some VINTAGE fabric just like that. Gorgeous!

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