Nov 3, 2011
Readers, one of the best things about giving yourself permission to change your mind is that you're also allowed to change your mind back again, with the end result being like you'd never changed your mind in the first place. Do you know what I mean?
This time yesterday, very much in a wiggy whirl, I doubted I wanted to make my 1944 blouse with the two yards of poly charmeuse I'd purchased for it.
It looked too shiny, too slinky, too too. But rather than pitch it altogether I decided to try to make friends with it. I did some research in Claire Shaeffer's Fabric Sewing Guide. I took out my featherweight (my go-to machine these days), inserted a fresh #9 needle, and experimented with stitch length. The test darts I'd made the previous day that looked shabby with a medium-long stitch came out beautifully with a tiny stitch. I experimented with iron heat settings (my iron runs cool) and steam. The results were encouraging.
Michael said he liked the fabric. The alternative was to make the blouse out of an old cotton sheet I use for muslins. I decided to give the charmeuse a try.
I chose the darker of two thread colors, not that you'll ever see the thread. Normally I sew with serger thread -- there, now you know! -- but I received an 18-spool kit of Coat & Clarks thread from the BurdaStyle dress sew-along project I led, and was eager to use some of it.
Did I mention that my charmeuse has a little width-wise and diagonal stretch? I steam ironed it on the wrong side, and got ready to cut. It cut beautifully with my rotary cutter, with very little fraying.
The polka dots made it easy to line things up. As you can see, this is not a printed pattern. V-cuts and perforations are all the information you get, which can be confusing at first but you get used to it. The instructions are very detailed, if a little dense.
The back has two inverted tucks, and the front has something similar, referred to as "dart tucks."
I'm using french seams where I can. Not sure what I'll use for the armscye seams. Any suggestions?
I serged the edges of my front facings. I know that's not historically accurate but it sure is easier, and won't show throw the front of the blouse when ironed.
Anyway, there's still much to do. Maybe it's the quality of the poly charmeuse I bought (which wasn't all that cheap at $5/yd at Chic Fabrics), but I am cautiously optimistic. While it doesn't have the beautiful creamy quality of real silk charmeuse, this poly charmeuse is a pretty good imitation.
In closing, I think one of the tricks to success with this fabric is to use a straight stitch machine, which gives excellent control, especially on darts and tucks, and especially with potentially slippery fabrics. Sometimes I think sewing machine manufacturers perpetrated a huge hoax on home garment sewers when they introduced the zigzag machine. But let's not even go there -- unless you must.
Have a great day, everybody!