Conquering Sheer Fabrics

I bought Simplicity E2118 at Walmart several months ago
I was enchanted by the two types of embellishment offered on the T shirt i.e. the flounce on one side and the tab on the other.  I planned to make the little shell top twice with tabs on both sides and then flounces on both sides. My purchase was made sometime last fall. So it sat in my stash practically forgotten until the summer heat began roasting us and my last order of Fabricmart fabric arrived.

I purchased a silk fabric in an outstanding white, black and turquoise print. I thought my fabric was lightweight and was somewhat dismayed to see that it alternated between strips of opaque and sheer. I know that I can use a transparent layer over an opaque layer of fabric. This usually results in a heavier, hotter fabric and often changes the hand of the fabric. I have ruined some summer fabrics by using an interlining of cotton batiste. I’ve managed to acquire a small stash of similar fabrics i.e. too transparent to wear alone but adding an interlining would make for a heavy hot fabric. I have been asking and searching for how to use these transparent fabrics in something besides cardigans and curtains. One suggestion which intrigued me was that two layers of sheer fabrics were often opaque. I didn’t have enough of the print in question to make two full garments (I didn’t want an opaque front and transparent back or vice versa), so I selected  a small-mesh fabric for the inner layer. I placed both fabrics over my ironing board and couldn’t see the patterned cover.  I draped them over Mimie and couldn’t see her patterned shell. So I thought, what the heck, let’s see if this idea works in real life.

The pattern is designed for knits. To use with my woven fabric I compared the tissue with my recently fitted MHAF. I trimmed the tissue one size larger than the pattern recommends for my measurements and then made a 1″ NSA. Unfortunately, after the NSA I didn’t have enough shoulder for 3 flounces. I was going to cut 2 until I started working with the fabric. Oh the mesh was easy to cut and sew. The mesh was a dream to work with. I did have to cut the back and then refold the mesh to cut the front. Those points take a lot of width! It was the silk which drove me nuts. At first I was auditioning the fabric trying to decide the best way to take advantage of the print. One side is 3 strips of black which I envisioned as running down the side from shoulder to hem on my garment. This didn’t work out. If the strip was on the shoulder the point was in the air. The other issue was the shape of the turquoise. It was large, irregular, circular swirls. They were large enough I didn’t worry about bulls-eyeing the old mameries but the swirls were just perfect for making a round tummy look rounder. After 30 minutes I had decided how to cut the fabric and then I began.

Then I began cursing. The silk fabric slithered left, right and away. I’ve seen agitated snakes that were still in comparison. I had a head slapping moment and mixed up a bucket of liquid starch to dip the fabric. That of course meant a delay overnight while the starch dried, but my fabric cooperated beautifully during cutting. I did have some issues with serging the shoulders. I didn’t stabilise with tape (silly me I thought the starch would do that) and they wanted to flare and move apart. Also I thought I wanted the narrowest seam possible which is the right most needle and both loopers. That seam wanted to pull loose from the edge. I changed to the 2 needle seam and still had to stitch and top-stitch the shoulder seams at the sewing machine. The side seams fed through the serger without issue.

Before hemming, I trimmed one side of mesh so that it was even instead of pointy, droopy and then I trimmed the opposite side on the silk. So that each layer had a pointy droopy side and a nice even side. I’m likely to go back and trim off these points entirely. I like the way they look but these asymmetrical hems tend to irritate me. I pick at them; pull; smooth and generally play all day. Once I put my clothes on I don’t want to fuss with my garments. I like to make a quick check from time to time to be sure they are still hanging in place but otherwise I don’t even want to think about my clothes as I go about the day.
I had pokies with the rolled hem. There weren’t a lot maybe 2 on the silk and 1 on the mesh but they were there. In both layers, I simply serged a second rolled hem on top of the first but instead of the R stitch length I changed it to 4. I also had issues with the finished neckline. It wanted to gape. I didn’t know if that was because of the starch or the fabric or the decorative stitch I’d used at the neckline. I was unwilling to ignore this issue. I’ve learned in the past that hoping a gaping neckline will fix itself in the wash is just fooling myself. I stitched a narrow lingerie elastic at the edge. I didn’t measure before hand. I just stretched slightly while stitching in place. I’m pleased to say that this worked. The neckline now snugs up to my body.

I know we all prefer pics on a body, but this is momentarily unwearable because of all the starch. Currently it’s in the wash. Oh but it is a success.  My undergarments and body are not visible beneath the two light, transparent  layers of fabric.


Comments on: "Simplicity E2118 with Sheer Fabrics" (4)

  1. Karen Saieed said:

    Beautiful top, Bev. I have considered this silk fabric many times. But since you had trouble sewing it, I will back off.


    • Karen Your machines could handle the fabric better than mine. I prewash my silks so that I know I can dip in liquid starch for stabilising and launder after the garment is complete. I probably should have tested more. If I had tested I would have know that the 3 thread serger set up was insufficient. I could have set my machine for 4 threads or taped my seams. Please I encourage you to experiment with silk. It is wonderfully adaptive and strong. For normal laundering, I will place my silks in a lingerie bag using warm wash water and cold rinse. I put the silk (still in the lingerie bag) in the dryer until almost dry.

  2. I think it’s just beautiful. Worth all your trouble and I know you’ll get lots of compliments.

    • Thank you Carole. This really should have been a simple project with all the effort on compatible fabric design with garment design i.e don’t want those bull-yey’s in the wrong place. I made it much more difficult by not thinking through and making a few quick tests.

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