A silky Christmas

When we were living in India a year or so ago, I went on a bit of a silk buying spree. Towards the end of it G. held up one bolt and said he wanted a dressing gown out of it. It was a black and white floral – not my cup of tea, but if the boy wants it, why should I stand in the way of him and his floral delights. I also got myself some in a crazy red floral.

But in my silk haze I completely failed to think about how much fabric a dressing gown takes and as a result, months after we moved back to the UK I discovered with horror that I hadn’t bought enough for either of us to have a dressing gown. And so it sat, sadly on the shelf month after month. The silk I got for me, eventually became the lining of my BHL Victoria Blazer. And every so often G would remind me that I promised him a silk dressing gown. But I must admit it wasn’t the top of my sewing list …

RobeThen in October I had a brilliant idea – I’d make him one for Christmas. First I spent ages looking for the right pattern and eventually settled on  New Look 6233. I then scoured around online looking for some affordable silk (given that I’d need 4 meters of it)! Eventually I found some black silk charmeuse satin.

See I’m not normally so organised when it comes to Christmas but as I sew in the living room and G is an attentive lad, I would have to wait until he went away. And at the end of October I had such a window: 1 week where he’d be in the US for work. So I ordered my fabric and then waited. And waited. And waited. By the time it arrived there was only 3 days of my window left. And so began my perils of sewing with bloody silky, charmeuse, satin.

I wish I could tell you that I first did my research on techniques, to learn the pitfalls I needed to avoid. But alas I jumped in head first.

One of my biggest problems (if we put aside the slipperiness for a moment) was pressing folds. My iron had to be on a low enough temperature not to wreck the fabric, but this had very little impact on making a nice fold. Particularly challenging when it came to the pockets and hem.  The hem especially was, quite frankly, a nightmare. Thankfully no one, other than me, should be looking that closely at his thighs because the hem line wobbles up and down.

Pinning seams was a challenge as I don’t have a large worktop surface so the weight of the fabric kept pulling the garment off my ironing board as I tried to pin each seam. I had decided to use French seams so reduce fraying and because I wanted the insides to look nice. I used a 60/8 needle and the stitches did look quite nice but again the issue of pressing them posed a problem and so the seams are rather puckered in appearance.

I’ve since learned a good technique which is to iron over a damp dishtowel. This allowed me to use a slightly warmer iron (than the silk setting) and it made both my folds firmer, and gave a better general finish.

I did manage to get it done before he came back and so it  remained hidden in my closet hanging inside a dress until Christmas. And once it’s on it does look pretty nice.

But photographing black garments is not my specialty, especially silky ones. It seems like the photos really capture the faults in the seams, the puckers etc. So I’ve struggled since Christmas to get photos worth sharing.


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