Sunday, 17 December 2017

Step away from the shiny

I really shouldn’t do it. I ought to know better by now. It ends badly every time, but still I persist.

Yes, I’ve been sewing satin again.

It all began when I went to a Kerry Taylor auction in September. There were lots (no pun intended) of lovely 1930s and 1940 clothes, including several blouses in pastel satins. And it struck me that this was exactly what I needed to go with my 1938 suit (when I eventually make it). So somehow, by the time I got on the train home a couple of days later, a length of lightweight pale peach satin from Cloth House had slipped its way into my luggage.

The inspiration. Image © Kerry Taylor Auctions

Now I’ve not completely forgotten my previous traumas with satin. There was of course this, and the Dress of Frump™ was made from satin as well (although to be fair, that was the least of its problems). So I exercised some restraint, and chose a simple pattern.

Style 4649, 1944-5

One of my problems with satin is that I’ve never been able to machine sew it without the seams wrinkling, so I decided to sew this blouse entirely by hand, and see if that helped. It did, but because the fabric frays so much, every seam has to be neatened. So in effect, I sewed the blouse twice.

Inside view, showing the neatened seams

The front (piece B) is cut on the bias, and gathered with rows of small stitches at each shoulder. Because there is a curve across the top, the two gathered sections are at slightly different angles. One lies perfectly, the other - not so much!

Bodice front, showing the rows of gathering stitches

The 'good' side, gathered and pinned to the bodice back

I have left adding the pleats to the bottom of the bodice until the whole thing is made up, and I can decide on the best place to put them. The pattern calls for small shoulder pads, and I will probably make these myself because bought ones will be too bulky with such a fine fabric.

The neckline and back opening are finished with a bias facing. I’ve not tried this before, but fortunately Making Clothes for the Older Woman has a section on how to do it. The pattern instructions don't mention stay-stitching the neckline first, but attaching a bias strip to a bias neckline sounds like a recipe for disaster to me, so I have added stay-stitching.

The current state of affairs

Although the whole thing has gone reasonably well so far, I’m not feeling the love on this project. It’s become one of those things where I’ll find any excuse to do something other than sew, and I’m really not looking forward to tackling the facing. It will be impossible to prevent the stitches holding the facing in place from showing, so the best I can hope for is to make them as small and regular as possible. Any hints or suggestions will be gratefully received!


  1. I love the look of the pattern, I'm always a sucker for a slash neck! I've used bias facing on the neckline multiple times (it's a classic 1930s thing) and you'll be surprised just how easy it is. It does have a tendency to show on the outside with some fabrics, though, so be warned. If this happens with me, then I will opt for rayon tape instead as it's flatter. I hope it all turns out okay in the end, despite your troubles, as it's such a lovely design and colour. xx

    1. Thank you Cate, I'll have to pluck up the courage to persist! xx