Lately I’ve been trying some new tricks with my sewing room layout to keep me focused on my planned projects. I tend to take random detours of inspiration, even though I’ve had the same pattern on top of my “must sew” list since it came out (Claire Schaeffer’s V8804). I have since hung an IKEA curtain wire behind my sewing machine and hung these patterns on it. I’m challenging (challenge #1) myself to do every other project from that collection (every one back-to-back seemed a little too high a hill to climb).
One of the projects on this wire was V1488, a tie-front shirt dress by DKNY. I thought it was cute in the solid silk, but (of course) doing it in a solid would be boooorrrringgg … what challenge is that? Another recent activity was an inventory of my silks (challenge #2, start using my silks). I’ve had this silk panel purchased from EOS (roll end) for a couple of years now, and was struggling with what I could do with it? I only had one panel, and this print was extremely dominating. On a whim, at midnight, I pulled it out and started laying the pattern pieces of V1488 on it. I kept fiddling with it until I found an arrangement that would fit, but I didn’t like how the colorway was working up (I wanted a stronger contrast on the two sides of the front). To achieve this, I had to mirror image the pieces and put the tie on the other side. Many meticulous hours later, I had all the pieces cut from this single 1.8 y panel!
Regarding sizing, I worked with the printed finished measurements. Any shirt in the 40-42” finished bust range fits best. I’ve also been losing weight, so I went with the smaller end of the spectrum (12). All the other measurements had tons of ease, so I didn’t worry about those at all. I did remove 1.5” from the length to compensate for my shortness (5’2”). I wouldn’t not have gotten this garment from the panel if it weren’t for this alteration. The total 3” out of the length made a big difference.
Working with silk also requires some trial and error with your machine settings. My Bernina 830 sews silk beautifully, but must be manually calibrated. Here is my setup
- Use dual feed feet. I used 57D (1/4” quilt piecing with guide), 37D (1/4” quilt pieces with guide attachment) and 10D (9mm edge stitch) for this project
- Unless edge stitching, use a straight-stitch plate
- Use a 60/8 universal needle
- Top tension set at 2.25
- Lower tension set to -2 clicks
The pattern construction starts with the assembly of the front.
- The first step is the construction of the yokes. I find that silk is a lot more cooperative if you steam any creases first. I applied this tip the yoke pleats, which I finished with French seams when attaching to the bodice.
- It is my opinion that you should interface the button plackets. When completed, there are about 4 layers of silk total, but it does not add enough structure to keep the them from gaping and looking sloppy.
- To achieve the desired precision in silk, you will need to be extra cautious when folding in half and basting. I pressed the crease first by pinning to the iron board, and then pressing the crease with the iron at the hottest setting. Using a tailor’s clapper to secure the fabric from moving around also works well. I use both techniques interchangeably
- Make sure you transfer every mark (I used tailor’s tacks mostly, some chalk for the buttonholes). You will need this for this garment to turn out properly! Refer to the pattern masters when in doubt!
- The instructions have you sew the center front seam AFTER you sew the ties and lower button placket in one continuous horizontal seam. It finishes a WHOLE LOT BETTER if you sew the CF first, before you sew this seam
So at this point, I have the front assembled. The back is a no-brainer (see tips above for the assembly of the yoke). I attached the front and back with French seams, and I’m on to the next arduous task: installing the collar.
- The undercollar is meant to be interfaced (not the outer collar). If you do it the other way, you will lose some of the wonderfully soft qualities of the silk fabric, and it would look texturally “off” when worn (kinda stiff to the eye). I used a lightweight weft from Fashion Sewing Supply.
- I trim the collar joining seams to a ¼” seam allowance for all projects. This allows for a clean, precise join, when combined with a ¼” sewing machine foot.
- I also have a method for the corners to ensure that there is a good/clean finish at the end. I fold the fabric back and encase it inside the collar and then sew the seam about 1.5” before trimming and turning back out.
- I did attach the outside (visible edge) first, and then caught the facing in the top-stitching. I don’t know, didn’t seem like any more steps that the other methods out there?
- I did baste the entire collar before topstitching due to the slippery movement of the silk (dual feed considered, it’s still a fussy thing to topstitch on the bias.
- I attached a thread tail at the very beginning of the topstitching to help pull through under the foot until all the feed dogs were engaged
So now it’s the sleeves. This was uneventful, minus the running out of thread part (I switched the thread to black at this point and kept the aqua for topstitching & buttonholes, used a kind of “close color” in the bobbin, and harvested the bobbin too! LOL). I did capture some notes here as well:
- The tabs are a bit tricky to edge stitch. Use a needle and thread to anchor the pivot points and help control the fabric when not fully under the feed dogs
- Pre-crease the sleeve before sewing. The wrong side of the fabric will show, unless you take care to create a double fold hem (instead of rolling up, fold one half to the inside, stich in place and then fold up on the outside.
- Instead of tacking the roll at the underarm, I used a small patch of Stitch Witchery
Instead of tacking the roll at the underarm, I used a small patch of Stitch Witchery The button holes and buttons were straight-forward. I used a small patch of stabilizer under each buttonhole, and then transferred the button positions after cutting the buttonholes. I found the previously mentioned sloppy placket when I tried it on, but I also noticed that I could easily pull the dress over my head with only the upper button un-buttoned. So, I just fused the placket with more Stitch Witchery.
Overall, this is one of my best projects to date, and I’m very happy with the finished work! I hope these tips help you and that you can enjoy this pattern, too! It is well drafted, great instructions, and I might sew it again (after I finish my to-do list)!
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