I 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.
But, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
After 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.
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.
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.