Liberty Silk Crepe de Chine M6696 ShirtdressMay 29, 2017 / byFiona Parker / Categories : Feeds
The fourth piece of fabric in my order was this beauty of a Liberty print in sand-washed silk crepe de chine. I'm not usually that much of a sucker for a Liberty print but The Fabric Store do stock a great selection of the kind of prints that I would actually wear and I fell head over heels for this one. I prefer larger scale prints and I like that this is vaguely floral but has a more organic feel. It is the perfect summer dress or blouse weight and has that liquid type of movement to it. Although more opaque than a georgette it is quite sheer in direct sunlight so I will probably be wearing this with some sort of slip. The sand-washed aspect means that it is missing that sheen that crepe de chine usually has which for me makes it infinitely more wearable. It gives the fabric a soft, matte texture but the effect on this particular silk is a little more subtle than I have seen on other sand-washed silks which have the feel of a peach skin.
This project 100% started with and was driven by the fabric. This print has such a romantic vibe and I knew before it even arrived that it would have a beautiful delicate drape. I wanted to be able to waft around in it all summer. I've been really enjoying the trend for midi and maxi shirt dresses with vents which enable the skirt to billow and float around your legs as you move and decided this silk would be the perfect match. I looked at a few different patterns (including the Capital Chic Cuba Libre and Named Reeta which would both be great choices for this style) but suddenly realised I already had a shirtdress pattern I adored and which I could easily adapted to have the floaty feel I was after. I still wear my denim version of McCalls 6696 to death and know it is a favourite among many other sewing bloggers due to it's classic lines and clean finish.
The pattern does come with the option for a fuller pleated skirt than the fitted version I originally made but I decided not to use the pattern for that as I was after more of a contemporary straight cut and a gentle gather so it didn't get too bulky around the waist. The skirt with the pattern is a knee length style and I thought if I lengthened those flared panels I was going to end up with way too much fabric around the hem. Instead I cut four simple rectangles as my skirt panels, using the pattern I drafted for my pleated midi skirt last summer. I was really happy with how much fabric and volume there was in that skirt and the rayon for that had a similar weight and drape. I then extended the M6696 pattern piece for the front placket to match the length of my new skirt as the placket running all the way from neck to hem is a feature I really like of the original pattern.
To assemble the skirt I sewed the centre back seam then the side seams, leaving them open from about 25cm above the hem. I finished the seam allowances then pressed them open; continuing down to fold back and press the seam allowance of the open part of the seam in place too. Then I topstitched up from the hem pivoting to sew across the seam about 1cm above the opening and back down the other side. It turns out that the split hem was really hard to capture in photographs as you can see above! It's much easier to show you in flat photos.
After running some basting stitches across the waist of the skirt and pulling them up to create a light gather I attached it to the waistband in the same way as the original skirt. I followed the pattern instructions to hem the skirt before attaching the front placket pieces as I love the way that is so neatly finished at the hem. One of the reasons 6696 is such a great pattern is that it's packed with these lovely techniques to achieve a clean finish inside. There are only a few seam allowances exposed as the yoke is lined, the armholes finished with bias tape and the placket and waistband hide many of the other raw edges. I french seamed the side seams of the bodice and the centre back seam of the skirt but the side seams of the skirt I opted to overlock as it was going to make creating those hem vents so much easier. I did think the silk might be too delicate for the overlocker and I might end up with a bit of puckering but I had a little experiment on some scraps and it's actually worked really well. I think it's a common misconception about silk that it is usually very delicate and fine but despite its weight it's usually super strong although easily stretched out on the bias.
I know some people shy away from and even hate working with silk but I love it. It doesn't need to be a huge challenge especially when it's a top quality crepe like this. The sand-washed nature of this silk gives it a slight texture which means it has some grip against itself so doesn't slip about too badly. It does still move about and shift as any silk will but patience and plenty of fine pins in the seam allowance can soon sort that. If you're having trouble laying out your silk to cut I would recommend either cutting in a single layer or if folding it pinning your selvedges together. I also like to cut silk on the carpet rather than a table top or smooth floor for a bit of extra grip. I thought this crepe was rather beautifully behaved and all those shirt details came out so well because it responds so well to a press and holds a nice crisp corner. The fine silk also meant limited bulk to deal with around that collar. As always I followed Four Square Walls' tutorial for sewing a collar as I find that order so much easier than any other I've tried.
I love so many things about the classic design of this pattern but did make a few tweaks to suit my personal taste. I've worn my denim version a couple of times recently (hello British sunshine!) and am still very happy with the fit so as before I removed the gathers from the back of the bodice and stuck with those alterations. If I remember rightly I cut the size 10 with the B cup (yes another great thing about this pattern is that it has different cup sizes!) and removed a smidgen of length from the bodice. The pattern instructions do involve quite a lot of slip stitching by hand but I actually avoided all of it as I love the look of topstitching on a shirt or shirtdress! I used the 'burrito' method for the rear yoke which eliminating the hand stitching at the shoulders and topstitched the whole collar, front placket and waistband as well as the bias finish of the sleeves. I used the standard white thread I'd been using to keep it subtle. I found a fine microtex needle and Gutermann Sew All thread worked best for this silk by the way. Good quality silk crepes can sometimes be nightmare for skipping stitches!
The buttons are from a beautiful East of India card that my Mum gave me yonks ago! I've been wanting to use them for ages but never found the right project. As soon as this fabric arrived I knew they had met their match. I'm really pleased with how my buttonholes turned out on this project too. I've had a few disasters sewing them recently so made the effort to clean out the machine and get it freshly threaded before starting them and luckily it seemed to love this silk! I interfaced the collar, stand, front plackets and waistband with a lightweight fusible woven interfacing which I'm pleased to say hasn't affected the drape of the silk too much.
Being quite petite I would never have considered wearing skirts and dresses of this length a couple of years ago but I'm absolutely loving this. I'm not sure exactly what it is but there's something about the combination of delicate wafty silk, the close fitting waistband and figure skimming bodice that's really working for me. I can see me wearing this to death this summer as it will be so easy to dress up or down for many occasions. Thank you so much to The Fabric Store for offering me the opportunity to try out the fabric and adding some real gems to my summer wardrobe. I'm looking forward to showing you what else I've made!
This is a syndicated post. Please visit the original author at Diary of a Chain Stitcher
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