V Neck Springfield Tank modification and cornstarch for slippery fabric

Springfield Vee neck20-08-06 21I needed a gray tank top to wear with a new skirt I completed. Deep in my stash I recovered several cuts of silk charmeuse. I’d bought these over the years with the idea of little silk camis. I never sewed them. In part because I no longer needed silk camis to wear under suits, but also I was terrified of sewing with slippery fabric. And by terrified, I just could not be bothered. I hate cutting out slippery things — maybe because I’m a slipshod cutter to begin with.

Springfield Vee neck20-08-06 20But, we’re in a pandemic and I have a pandemic budget, so use this  warm gray silk I would. I chose the Springfield  from Cashmerette Patterns because I’ve had great luck with them. I just wanted a narrower neckline and to try a gentle Vee- neck.

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To make working with the fabric easier, I did a cornstarch bath. I know there is sizing and commercial stiffener available. But, my mom had always made clothing/ ironing starch at home with cornstarch. She also used a milky cornstarch bath to stiffen the crochet doilies and baskets she had around the house. Plus, I have plenty of it on hand.

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Sewn and crisp from cornstarch

Recipe: I winged it. But, if I had to guess, I used about 1/4 cup to four quarts of water. I would cut the amount of starch in half next time. I brought it to a milky boil on the stove and tossed in my silk. Once saturated, I removed it (tongs and silicone oven mitts) and laid it flat to dry outside on the deck. It’s a little messy and the starch acts like a glue as it dries. But, it left my fabric crisp like paper with zero problems cutting out. I was very worried and conscious about keeping it as flat and on grain as possible. I’ve since learned that people do this same thing with gelatin. I actually tried to buy gelatin this week after hearing this. But, it appears a victim of Covid-19 supply chains.

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To accommodate the vee-neck, I knew I couldn’t do the narrow bias facing from the pattern. I drafted an all-in-one facing going 4″ down in the back, 1.5″ along the sides and 2″ in the front. I also did some trimming in areas to narrow the facing and pull the fashion fabric under a bit and prevent showing. Next time, I would bring the back facing down to meet the back yoke for neatness and make the side facings 2.25″ so they are wider. I also learned from Lisette on Instagram that a nice technique to finish the facing neatly in a book about blouses I own, so I’ll try that too.

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Hem is a narrow 1/4″ turned hem. Oh, I sewed the 16 C/D for my 44″ full bust. I definitely need to lower the darts. I also think there isn’t enough cup room for me. I think I’ll go back to my 14 and increase the cup from my old E/F to a G/H.  At the bust, I can see the side seams pulling and the back looks snug. I have a 14 G/H Montrose top in my closet that doesn’t do that. I could also try 16 with an E/F cup. Sounds like I have a few muslins in my future.

Springfield Vee neck20-08-06 26After sewing and hemming, I washed the top in a garment bag, cold water, gentle cycle in my toploader. To press, I used a press cloth and thick paper on overlapping seams and just tried not to overwork the fabric.

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Other than cutting out, the real benefit of working with this stiffer material is it just doesn’t get away from you. I wasn’t as worried about stretching out seams and bias edges.

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And there you have it, how I worked with a potentially slippery material and modified the Springfield Tank. Next up, the Vogue skirt I made this to go with. Spoiler…. it doesn’t really go with the skirt. But, it will be a great top for under work jackets — if we ever go back into an office.

Pants are Burdastyle 4/2011 #139 . Aaaaand thanks to my girl Liz for photos.

45 comments

    • It isn’t! I’ve had a few people tell me that they don’t find it too slippery. But, it was especially nice to not worry about the fraying.

      • I really love what you’ve done with that lovely top & your tip is a life saver!!!

        I’m designing a gown for the Veteran’s Ball in early November. I’m using black rayon challis.
        (What was I thinking? Slippery fabric, so well cut single sections at a time. But, my aging eyes may not like me for awhile. Black fabric, black thread, old lady eyes!!!! Yes, indeed, I’m probably certifiable!)

        I’ve been frantic about cutting it out; this technique sounds perfect! Did you iron it before cutting? Assuming you did.
        It’s so flattering.

      • I really love what you’ve done with that lovely top & your tip is a life saver!!!

        I’m designing a gown for the Veteran’s Ball in early November. I’m using black rayon challis.
        (What was I thinking? Slippery fabric, so well cut single sections at a time. But, my aging eyes may not like me for awhile. Black fabric, black thread, old lady eyes!!!! Yes, indeed, I’m probably certifiable!)

        I’ve been frantic about cutting it out; this technique sounds perfect! Did you iron it before cutting? Assuming you did.
        It’s so flattering.

  1. Wow. Thanks for that tip. again 1/4 cup starch to 4 qts water? I have used spay starch in the past but it gets on everything. then yuckers, cleaning up after.

  2. Wow! What a pretty top and the colors in the photo all look so good – the door, your pants, the flower box – everything! And thanks for the cornstarch solution info.

  3. I never tried to sew with any silky stuff, its usually poly so I can’t wear without sweating to death, silk is too spendy to cut into, I’m too scared. You look radiant btw.

    • I too am always scared of the silky stuff! I still have three more cuts of silks. I may just power through and make them up into these tanks as they are super versatile.

  4. Your tank top looks so elegantly chic and perfect to wear in hot temps. Great tip about taming silkies with the cornstarch solution. I always have cornstarch around (it’s my go to for gravies).

    • Thank you for sharing! I’ve got some silks in my stash that I don’t want to use until I master a method for stiffening. Just bought a commercial preparation, but like the idea of cornstarch better. When you say you’d reduce the amount next time, do you mean alter the ratio of cornstarch to water, or make up a smaller quantity?

      • Hi! I’d reduce the amount of cornstarch I think. When I pulled my fabric out (using silicone gloves) the fabric was thick like glue? I think I’d like like it “starched” thinner when I was laying it flat to dry.

  5. Ohhh, all those colors! I can barely see the top, because you are positively glowing. Glorious!

  6. I made the Concord tee and stopped there. To be honest I don’t like how she drafts for cups sizes. It’s a lovelysummer tank for when you want something dressier than a knit tank, it looks good on you and it uses up deep stash, always a good feeling. I suppose it depends on what you make with slippery silk, but I have the remainder of a 50 yard roll of tissue paper from Alex’s wedding dress. Talk about being a pita to cut out, but pinning it to tissue paper really works and keeps it all on grain, which 15 yards of silk georgette and 5 yards of silk charmeuse needed. I also hand basted which I doubt I’d need to do with my Bernina 740. I made the wedding dress with my old Viking.

    • I was just rereading the bust fitting post from them and I think I made a mistake. It says if you’re over an F cup and fall into two cup sizes, go up in the cup. So I should have done the 14 E/F instead of the 16 C/D — which is what my guess was after finishing (even though I made a muslin). The paper trick is great! Especially with something like you were doing. What a lot of work that must have been!

  7. This looks lovely! And the photos are wonderful, including the beautiful door!😁

    • My friend Liz will be pleased! She wanted to go to a park to take photos, and I said, “Let’s just do them in front of your place.” It’s totally picturesque.

  8. Cool! I’ve actually tried to find spray starch recently to no avail and besides, the spray always clogs for me. Seems I am using a lot of sheer slippery fabrics lately so thanks for the info.

    I too am busty and have found the drafting my own tops is so much easier than using commercial patterns. Of course it does take more time but the time to satisfaction ratio can’t be beat.

  9. Awesome tip, going to add this to my list. I usually use spray starch. Will putting the silk in the hot mixture not hurt it? I have a vintage silk dress I want to completely alter. It was my mothers and its basically a shift dress with a belt but way to big for me.

    • Hi Jan! I didn’t find the hot water to adversely change it more than hand washing silk would anyway. I didn’t notice any pulls or overall dulling. The hand of the fabric definitely stayed the same, just less sheen (which I would have expected from handwashing anyway).

    • I guess you could let the cornstarch mixture cool down first. That might prevent shrinkage. On the other hand, if after sewing it up and you accidentally wash it in hot water – it’s already shrunk! And so wouldn’t be affected. I can’t wait to try this on some slippery synthetics I’ve got in stash!

      • I wasn’t worried about shrinking like that. For me, it just preshrank the fabric. I’m always afraid for a fiber accident myself, so this seems like safegaurding!

  10. And this is why I am slow to line garments: cutting rayon Bemberg makes me very stabby. I’ll have to try the cornstarch idea. Did you press out the wrinkles before sewing?

    The top looks really good!

  11. Simply elegant! And funny how much work and thought goes into something to make it “simply” elegant.

  12. The top is perfect for the weather we’re having and I love the cornstarch method for making the fabric easier to deal with. I hope you will make more because it’s a perfect layering piece for a work from home wardrobe.

  13. It looks fantastic! I love the tip about cornstarch – I definitely need to test this out on some particularly slippery fabrics that I’ve been eyeing in my stash lately.

  14. Thank you for a great tip with the cornstarch. Brilliant! I too have not had fun working w silk scarves I made for daughter and daughter -in-law. I always thought Never again! but now, perhaps…

  15. Gostei da dica sobre o amido de milho. Tenho sedas e nunca faço nada pela questão do tecido difícil de cortar e costurar. Vou aplicar nos meus. Sua blusa ficou muito bonita. Obrigada.

    • Thank you! I love it too. The cornstarch really worked well for me. It turned out like lightweight paper. And so far, cornstarch hasn’t been in short supply.

  16. Thank you for the cornstarch idea. I have some beautiful silk charmuese that I have been hesitant to try. Now I will!

  17. This pale, warm gray is very flattering on your skin tone. I don’t know what color the skirt is that you planned to pair it with, but it looks gorgeous with your coral (at least on my monitor) pants.

    Thank you for the cornstarch idea. I’m going to bookmark it. I’ve used gelatin to stiffen silk and make it easier to work with, but then I couldn’t get it to rinse out! I ruined a beautiful, very expensive piece of silk, and all I wanted to do was hem it into a scarf. But I’ve spilled enough cornstarch water on myself to know that it washes out!

    • Thanks, Kay! It is a warmer gray (I lean cool). But, the good thing is I think I can carry it off. And I LOVE it with these pants. I’d actually taken some photos with brown pants and they were a bit uninspiring.

      Thanks for letting me know about gelatin! The cornstarch did handwash out very well, but it was like it never existed with a run through the gentle wash.

  18. The original pattern is more of a scoop neck. Do you have a tutorial or can recommend a tutorial for converting scoop neck patterns into a V-neck pattern? Thank you.

    • Hi Carol, I’m sorry I don’t. I do have a drafting book at home and a some drafting software. I’ve found them helpful is making the first steps in changing a pattern. But, I’m not aware of a tutorial.

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