Monday, 29 May 2017

Liberty Silk Crepe de Chine M6696 Shirtdress

At the start of the month The Fabric Store got in touch to see if I'd be interested in trying out a selection of their fabrics. Of course I jumped at the chance as I've been addicted to this store since I visited their LA branch 18 months ago and was blown away by their carefully curated selection ideal for dressmaking. They are New Zealand based but their online store has been shipping to the UK for about a year now with free speedy delivery over $150. If you're a long time reader of my blog you'll already be aware that I adore their merino wools so this time I tried to branch out a try a wider selection...although I couldn't resist snagging a piece of this merino/polpropylene honeycomb jacquard. I've never seen anything like it and the idea of some merino sportswear was too tempting! I sewed up my new favourite t-shirt over the weekend from this marle rib knit and to get a good variety in my selection I added a couple of metres of rich teal linen which I am considering making a pair of slouchy dungarees/overalls from. Every piece is top quality and it is a treat to work with such gorgeous natural fibres. They looked so lovely when I unwrapped them I could hardly bear to unfold them to get them in the wash!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Liberty Silk Crepe de Chine M6696 Shirtdress from The Fabric Store

The fourth piece of fabric in my order was this beauty of a Liberty print in sand-washed silk crepe de chine. I'm not usually that much of a sucker for a Liberty print but The Fabric Store do stock a great selection of the kind of prints that I would actually wear and I fell head over heels for this one. I prefer larger scale prints and I like that this is vaguely floral but has a more organic feel. It is the perfect summer dress or blouse weight and has that liquid type of movement to it. Although more opaque than a georgette it is quite sheer in direct sunlight so I will probably be wearing this with some sort of slip. The sand-washed aspect means that it is missing that sheen that crepe de chine usually has which for me makes it infinitely more wearable. It gives the fabric a soft, matte texture but the effect on this particular silk is a little more subtle than I have seen on other sand-washed silks which have the feel of a peach skin.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Liberty Silk Crepe de Chine M6696 Shirtdress from The Fabric Store

This project 100% started with and was driven by the fabric. This print has such a romantic vibe and I knew before it even arrived that it would have a beautiful delicate drape. I wanted to be able to waft around in it all summer. I've been really enjoying the trend for midi and maxi shirt dresses with vents which enable the skirt to billow and float around your legs as you move and decided this silk would be the perfect match. I looked at a few different patterns (including the Capital Chic Cuba Libre and Named Reeta which would both be great choices for this style) but suddenly realised I already had a shirtdress pattern I adored and which I could easily adapted to have the floaty feel I was after. I still wear my denim version of McCalls 6696 to death and know it is a favourite among many other sewing bloggers due to it's classic lines and clean finish.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Liberty Silk Crepe de Chine M6696 Shirtdress from The Fabric Store

The pattern does come with the option for a fuller pleated skirt than the fitted version I originally made but I decided not to use the pattern for that as I was after more of a contemporary straight cut and a gentle gather so it didn't get too bulky around the waist. The skirt with the pattern is a knee length style and I thought if I lengthened those flared panels I was going to end up with way too much fabric around the hem. Instead I cut four simple rectangles as my skirt panels, using the pattern I drafted for my pleated midi skirt last summer. I was really happy with how much fabric and volume there was in that skirt and the rayon for that had a similar weight and drape. I then extended the M6696 pattern piece for the front placket to match the length of my new skirt as the placket running all the way from neck to hem is a feature I really like of the original pattern.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Liberty Silk Crepe de Chine M6696 Shirtdress from The Fabric Store

To assemble the skirt I sewed the centre back seam then the side seams, leaving them open from about 25cm above the hem. I finished the seam allowances then pressed them open; continuing down to fold back and press the seam allowance of the open part of the seam in place too. Then I topstitched up from the hem pivoting to sew across the seam about 1cm above the opening and back down the other side. It turns out that the split hem was really hard to capture in photographs as you can see above! It's much easier to show you in flat photos.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Liberty Silk Crepe de Chine M6696 Shirtdress from The Fabric Store

After running some basting stitches across the waist of the skirt and pulling them up to create a light gather I attached it to the waistband in the same way as the original skirt. I followed the pattern instructions to hem the skirt before attaching the front placket pieces as I love the way that is so neatly finished at the hem. One of the reasons 6696 is such a great pattern is that it's packed with these lovely techniques to achieve a clean finish inside. There are only a few seam allowances exposed as the yoke is lined, the armholes finished with bias tape and the placket and waistband hide many of the other raw edges. I french seamed the side seams of the bodice and the centre back seam of the skirt but the side seams of the skirt I opted to overlock as it was going to make creating those hem vents so much easier. I did think the silk might be too delicate for the overlocker and I might end up with a bit of puckering but I had a little experiment on some scraps and it's actually worked really well. I think it's a common misconception about silk that it is usually very delicate and fine but despite its weight it's usually super strong although easily stretched out on the bias.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Liberty Silk Crepe de Chine M6696 Shirtdress from The Fabric Store

I know some people shy away from and even hate working with silk but I love it. It doesn't need to be a huge challenge especially when it's a top quality crepe like this. The sand-washed nature of this silk gives it a slight texture which means it has some grip against itself so doesn't slip about too badly. It does still move about and shift as any silk will but patience and plenty of fine pins in the seam allowance can soon sort that. If you're having trouble laying out your silk to cut I would recommend either cutting in a single layer or if folding it pinning your selvedges together. I also like to cut silk on the carpet rather than a table top or smooth floor for a bit of extra grip. I thought this crepe was rather beautifully behaved and all those shirt details came out so well because it responds so well to a press and holds a nice crisp corner. The fine silk also meant limited bulk to deal with around that collar. As always I followed Four Square Walls' tutorial for sewing a collar as I find that order so much easier than any other I've tried.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Liberty Silk Crepe de Chine M6696 Shirtdress from The Fabric Store

I love so many things about the classic design of this pattern but did make a few tweaks to suit my personal taste. I've worn my denim version a couple of times recently (hello British sunshine!) and am still very happy with the fit so as before I removed the gathers from the back of the bodice and stuck with those alterations. If I remember rightly I cut the size 10 with the B cup (yes another great thing about this pattern is that it has different cup sizes!) and removed a smidgen of length from the bodice. The pattern instructions do involve quite a lot of slip stitching by hand but I actually avoided all of it as I love the look of topstitching on a shirt or shirtdress! I used the 'burrito' method for the rear yoke which eliminating the hand stitching at the shoulders and topstitched the whole collar, front placket and waistband as well as the bias finish of the sleeves. I used the standard white thread I'd been using to keep it subtle. I found a fine microtex needle and Gutermann Sew All thread worked best for this silk by the way. Good quality silk crepes can sometimes be nightmare for skipping stitches!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Liberty Silk Crepe de Chine M6696 Shirtdress from The Fabric Store

The buttons are from a beautiful East of India card that my Mum gave me yonks ago! I've been wanting to use them for ages but never found the right project. As soon as this fabric arrived I knew they had met their match. I'm really pleased with how my buttonholes turned out on this project too. I've had a few disasters sewing them recently so made the effort to clean out the machine and get it freshly threaded before starting them and luckily it seemed to love this silk! I interfaced the collar, stand, front plackets and waistband with a lightweight fusible woven interfacing which I'm pleased to say hasn't affected the drape of the silk too much.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Liberty Silk Crepe de Chine M6696 Shirtdress from The Fabric Store

Being quite petite I would never have considered wearing skirts and dresses of this length a couple of years ago but I'm absolutely loving this. I'm not sure exactly what it is but there's something about the combination of delicate wafty silk, the close fitting waistband and figure skimming bodice that's really working for me. I can see me wearing this to death this summer as it will be so easy to dress up or down for many occasions. Thank you so much to The Fabric Store for offering me the opportunity to try out the fabric and adding some real gems to my summer wardrobe. I'm looking forward to showing you what else I've made!

27 comments:

  1. so pretty, fabric looks lovely and floaty and those buttons you chose are great ;o)

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    1. Aren't they a perfect match for the fabric?! I couldn't be happier with the home they've found! Thank you

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  2. Patricia Griffin.

    Not only do you choose some fabulous fabrics, you select the right garment to make with them.
    Lovely clothes.

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    1. That is such a wonderful compliment Patricia thank you. I'm really delighted with how this turned out.

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  3. Isn't it strange how making your own clothes makes you more adventurous with things like skirt length! Gorgeous dress and the fabric sounds wonderful.

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    1. Absolutely Catherine, I 100% agree. Making clothes seems to open up my mind to more experimentation and give you the opportunity to easily try new things. Thanks very much!

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    1. Thank you Anne, I want the summer to last forever so I can wear it all the time!

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  5. I'm a silk fan too! I'm just making up a sleeveless crepe de chine (very slithery) and for the first time using an all in one neck/sleeve facing which I had to unpick TWICE yesterday :( I was almost ready to give up but thought, "wait a minute this is how you learn!" :) so I repinned it back on and will give it another go today. I love your dress - that print is just gorgeous.

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    1. Hooray for another silk fan! I have been there with being almost ready to give up but very much champion stepping away, maybe even doing something on another project, then returning to it refreshed. Even if something is a complete disaster you'll learn so much from it. I hope it turned out well, third time lucky!

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  6. What a wonderful summer dress. I never got to that point in my sewing. Sewing buttonholes and mixing patterns.
    Happy Creating Donna

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    1. Thanks Donna! You absolutely should give both things a try - I think you'll find them much more straightforward than you fear!

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  7. Your dress is simply stunning, and you are lovely in it! I love everything you did with this pattern. Thanks for sharing the collar tutorial, I've pinned it for future use!

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    1. Thanks so much Meghan. That collar tutorial is one of my all time favourite things on the internet! It's made such a difference to my collars

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  8. Another gorgeous make, your dress is lovely.

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    1. Thank you very much, I'm delighted with it!

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  9. I love, love, love that fabric. Your dress is gorgeous!

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    1. Me too!!! I couldn't resist it and am so pleased with what I chose to use it for. The problem with a fabric that you love as much as this one is the fear of using it for the wring project and wasting it!

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  10. Fiona, I never would have thought to give this pattern side slits. But it TOTALLY works with this fabric! I'm sewing M6696 very soon, and I'll come back to your blog for insight! Thanks!

    Question for you: Can you recommend a pattern that would be good for someone who's never sewn silk before? I love silk, but haven't (yet) sewn it because it makes me nervous!

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    1. I don't know where the idea for the splits came from but once I had it there was no stopping me! I was really excited to make this and am so happy with how it turned out. Enjoy the pattern, it's wonderful.
      That is an excellent question! I'd probably go with a fairly simple top or blouse. Perhaps the ogden cami or sutton blouse from True Bias or the scout tee from Grainline Studio? All of these do require some accuracy with the bias finishes and straps but that's probably a good thing to get to grips with with silk early on. Or a top with a facing would be a great idea. I'd recommend picking a silk crepe or something that has just a little bit of body too it rather than something really delicate for your first try and would avoid a slippery satin. Give sewing with silk tips a Google too, there is much information out there! I think Jen from Grainline Studio has written some great posts on it if I remember rightly. Enjoy!

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  11. So beautiful! I love the length on you and this is definitely super wearable for such a lovely silk.

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    1. Thanks Katie! I'm surprised by how much I love this length and am enjoying wearing it...I never thought I'd be a midi length girl but I love the swoosh of this silk

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  12. Oh my god, that print!! I'm so in love with the entire thing!

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    1. Haha! Me too Kelly! It is a really stunning fabric

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!