MPB is proud to be the world's most popular men's sewing blog!



May 14, 2013

Stitching Silk Swatches + Arrival of the Bernina



So I've been experimenting with silk samples.

I happen to have another large piece of slinky charmeuse in my stash, along with all the swatches I picked up yesterday morning.  I've tried various kinds of thread, stitch lengths and tension settings.  I've experimented cutting charmeuse sandwiched between tissue paper with silk pins in the seam allowances (which works well) to discourage shifting.







I've even experimented with stitching through the tissue paper, and then tearing the paper away from the stitch line -- quite successful if a bit messy.







I've done all of this with my handy-dandy Kenmore 158.141, which has a stitch plate that can be switched from wide zigzag hole to teeny straight stitch hole -- one of its best features -- so there's no need to worry about delicate fabrics getting pulled through.

I've read tutorials, articles, blog comments, and book chapters about working with silk charmeuse.   So far my plan is to cut the silk using the aforementioned sandwiching-between-layers-of-tissue-paper method, with pins in the seam allowances keeping it in place.  Of course I'll be cutting with my rotary cutter on my self-healing mat.  When I tried it, the fabric stayed put and the silk cut cleanly.

Cotton thread was recommended by Claire Shaeffer (if I remember correctly), because it's weaker than the silk, so should a seam be pulled, the thread might break but the fabric won't tear.  Makes sense to me.

My greatest concern are the bias edges of the overlapping bodice pieces.  I will probably stabilize those edges with silk organza bias strips, using a method I read about on Marina's blog (originally from Susan Khalje) where you stretch the bias under an iron before you attach it.  I haven't tried this yet but I intend to.

I also thought about cutting lengths of tricot fusible interfacing to stabilize edges but I haven't yet had a chance to test fusibles on my fabric -- I'd rather not fuse anything to it, frankly.  I am willing to do all the hand stitching and stay stitching that may be necessary to keep this fabric stable.  I'm also considering underlining the front lapping bodice piece (the one that gathers on the side) with a second layer of silk, but that might be overkill.

Rather than zipping the dress on the side as per the original pattern, I may create a center back seam and place the zipper there.  With the side zipper, you have to pull the bodice over your head, which may cause more stress to those front bias seams.  We'll see.

In other news, the Bernina arrived today.  I haven't tested it out yet.  Not for the first time with an eBay purchase, the packaging was very sloppy -- a soft cardboard box (and not double-boxed either), accessories loose -- LOOSE! -- in the sewing machine case (since the accessories case isn't included) to knock around and scratch the machine' s finish.  Could they not bother to collect them all and put them in a bag?  I'm OK with charging more for shipping than the seller actually pays, to cover handling, but this is poor handling and not worth the $10+ difference.









Anybody know if that dark gray cap-looking thing has a purpose here?  I don't see it mentioned in the manual.

I'll keep you posted in the days ahead, needless to say.  If everything works well, these minor annoyances won't matter (much).  But they don't reflect well on the seller who was (apparently) the owner and maintainer of the machine.

In closing, friends, thank you for all your helpful comments about sewing with silk charmeuse.  I'm excited about getting started -- and a bit scared too.  Your advice is very helpful.

Have a great day, everybody!

17 comments:

  1. You can buy all sorts of packaging for ten dollars, even if the box costs five, which would be high.

    I look forward to some virtual learning about silky fabrics from you, those seams are lovely as always.

    Sometimes you get the oddest bits and pieces with a collection of sewing things, people don't know what everything is, so they include every bitty piece of randomness the sewist stored in or around the machine!

    ReplyDelete
  2. That grey cap-looking thing is what you'll need to remove and replace the light-bulb someday. I haven't yet needed mine, but my Bernina saleslady was adamant that as soon as I chucked it, I would need it. cheers-

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Kimberly -- I never would have guessed!

      Delete
    2. Heavens, I've always wondered what they are for. 22 years of Bernina 1120 and I never used the grey thing to change the bulb, which I think I only had to do once!

      Delete
  3. Have you tried sewing with the tissue paper as well as cutting it out with tissue paper? I just had my first ever successful bias experience sewing with a bottom layer of tissue paper. A different experience from straight grain silk charmeuse, but I imagine could work well for your fabric and pattern. Perhaps you are already planning to try this, wasn't sure from your post.
    Looking forward to seeing the end result as always!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You'd have to be super careful ripping it off though as that process could stress the seam even more than the sewing without tissue...

      Delete
  4. Peter, I wouldn't underline the draped bodice piece,but you might underline or fuse it's facing pieces.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Very much looking forward to your lessons on sewing very slippery fabrics before I take the plunge myself (from stash pieces more than 2 years old), and hoping your lovely Berni survived ok and is good to go!

    ReplyDelete
  6. ergh, and what exactly does it take for people to realize that big heavy delicate things need to actually be packaged to survive the shipment?!?

    ReplyDelete
  7. I know you enjoy the mechanics of sewing machines, like to perform your own maintenance and enjoy knowing how things work, but please don't go exploring under the hood without some basic knowledge - especially if it has the needle up/down feature of the late version of the 930. There are a few things you need to be aware of.

    Let me know if you have some questions!

    Now go sew something on it......... I'm anxiously awaiting your report of first impressions! ;-)

    ReplyDelete
  8. When you select cotton thread for sewing the silk please make sure it is fine like the DMC brand David Coffin uses and a sharp needle along with the straight stitch plate. I use all those when making chiffon jackets...who needs delicate fabric disappearing into the bobbin area...bobbin hell. I sold my 1130 on eBay years ago when the light kept shorting out and no one could fix it but it made the best buttonholes in the world!

    ReplyDelete
  9. I have that machine! My mother bought it brand new for me when I graduated from college in 1984. I have done EVERYTHING with it, it even has frequent flyer miles since it traveled with me for years : ) There is supposed to be a flat accessory box that fits in the case behind the machine so things don't rattle around. That little beige "box" with foam in it is actaully a permanent part of the box, someone had to pull it out or broke the box, but it's for pins etc. One of my favorite features is the basting stitch, the little knob/lever up by the tension plates.
    One thing about silk thread from my grandmother who was a trained tailor - it flattens into the fabric so there is NO stitch lump. Yes, you want the thread to be the weakest part of your garment so that if something is going to give it's the thread but silk thread is perfect for silk fabric, especially if it's sheer. Good luck, can't wait to see what you make!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So the beige "box" would go in the accessories case? I love the basting stitch!

      Delete
  10. My advice is to make sure your iron is fully heated up before pressing because silk charmeuse is notorious for showing water spots. Also it shows press marks and a seam roll is a handy thing to have as well. And even though it can take the highest steam and heat setting (because like wool it's a protein based fiber) I always use a silk organza press cloth even on charmeuse to keep the fabric finish pristine.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Organza will be great to stabilize and reinforce edges or horizontal seams. But, I wouldn't recommend it in your vertical seams. It will cause them to lose flexibility or cause them to pucker when worn. Tissue paper strips are equally bad as they will make you 'stay' the seams and they will cause the garment to drape poorly. The best method is the slip baste the seams together after using large dressmaker's carbon to mark the seam allowances. Do not use knots and leave nice long tails. Let the garment hang for 24 hours and try on for fit. At this point you can adjust. For permanent stitching, sew directly on top of your basting, stretching the seams to their maximum. Carefully pick out the basting threads and then press.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Yes, the beige "box" goes inside the accessories case. I'll take a picture of my machine and the set-up so you can see it and emial it to you (in case you haven't found online pics yet). I also have the knee lift and LOVE it. I see them out here all the time, separated from the machines and people don't know what to do with them. Next time I see one I'll grab it for you if you like. Too bad you don't have the down-needle feature, one of the top five features of that machine : )

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That would be great. I do wish it had needle down, but I do find that even with needle up, the fabric never slips out from under the presser foot.

      Delete

Related Posts with Thumbnails