Wednesday, September 7, 2016

New Project - A Silk Top

Lovely red silks
I'm going to the SAGA Convention later this month, in less than two weeks in fact, and I decided to make a top and skirt for the annual banquet. I had the red dupioni on the right in the photo in my stash, purchased a few years ago during a shopping trip to the Los Angeles fashion district. The silk charmeuse for the lining came from Elfriede's Fabric Store in Boulder just last week. 

I purchased a Craftsy class, The Couture Dress by Susan Khalje and is it ever an amazing class! Susan has so much great experience and she explains why she does each step all along the way. Instead of a dress, I decided to try it out on a simple top.  

Awesome pattern
I'm using McCall's 7352, which is a princess seamed fit and flare dress. In this particular pattern, the princess seams go right up to the shoulder seam, instead of the ending at the armscye like most princess seamed patterns. If you remember, back in July I made a dress form cover using this same pattern, so I knew I had most of the fitting solved. 

In Susan's class, you first make a muslin, which I did all over again, ensuring that it fits properly, then use it for your pattern. I didn't take photos of the process, so I'll jump ahead to the construction. All the pattern markings are made on a silk organza underlining, rather than the red dupioni. Then the silk organza is hand basted along the stitching lines with silk basting thread.

Silk dupioni can be rather difficult to work with and wear. It wrinkles easily and ravels ferociously! The silk organza underlining gives it great body and is supposed to keep it from wrinkling so much. The very large seam allowances, along with catch stitching the SAs to the underlining, keep it from raveling.

Corticelli silk thread
This thread is rather difficult to find, especially as it's not made any longer but I managed to score three small spools at a flea market in Fallbrook, Southern California. There is also a Japanese thread that Susan recommends, which is also difficult to find. The thread I have is very soft and so easy to stitch with. The best part, however, is when you remove the stitching, there are no holes left in the dupioni.

Thread tracing the seam lines
Here I'm basting the organza to the dupioni along the seam lines. After that is done, the pieces are basted together to make absolutely certain the fit is correct before machine sewing the top.

The basted shell on Phil
Here is the basted top, with no sleeves, on my dress form, Phil (after my sewing grandmother). This is quite a time consuming process, but by focusing on the stitching lines rather than the cut edges, it's much easier to get a great fit. Well, that assumes I can fit myself, which is rather a challenge. The top is somewhat snug on Phil, because I fit it to myself, and now I'm one size smaller than I was in July when I made the dress form cover.

Next up, machine stitching, removing the basting, pressing and catch stitching all the seam allowances. Then on to the sleeves.


  1. This is really gorgeous fabric, and I know from your other projects that it will turn out beautifully. I know it's so satisfying to do it right.

    I use Superior's Kimono silk thread for applique and EPP sometimes. It is 100 wt, so I doubt it would leave holes either. You can order it direct from Superior online, and some quilt shops have it too. For when your own thread runs out!

  2. I certainly hope it turns out well! Yes, I've seen the silk thread you mentioned, I'll have to check it out. Then again, another Craftsy teacher says to use rayon machine embroidery thread. It's a bit thinner than the silk but feels very similar, and I have enough for a couple of lifetimes.

  3. Love the look of those fabrics - it will be a gorgeous dress!

  4. A beautiful project. It will be perfect for convention. I hope you do a blogpost about your trip.

    1. Thank you, I'm busy with the lining now. I do plan on bringing the laptop and camera with me so I can take some photos and post about it.


I love to hear from readers! Please let me know what you think of my posts. If you ask a question, I will reply here on the blog, so others can see the answer.