Some of you may recognise our incredible new contributor, Alex, from the latest series of the Great British Sewing Bee! But, you may not know that Alex isn’t just a regular sewer – she’s an eco sewer!
Alex has a fantastic blog called Sewrendipity, full of amazing makes and interesting articles about sustainable fashion. Being an avid GBSB enthusiast I couldn’t contain my excitement when I had a message on twitter from Alex saying she was an Offset Warehouse fan! So naturally, I asked her if she’d like to give one of our brand new fabrics a whizz and share what she thought of it. We sent some of our Carnation Pink Thick Taffeta. Here’s what she made, how she found using the fabric and tips for sewing with it!
Alex’s Pink Playsuit
By Alex, Sewrendipity
Silk is a wonderful fabric to wear in any season, but none more so than summer. Its natural cooling properties and light weight are just right for when the weather gets hot. So this beautiful silk taffeta was my first choice for a playsuit that was on my ‘to sew’ list in preparation for those summer parties, but also for a Caribbean vacation later in the year.
2m of Carnation Pink Thick Taffeta
I chose McCalls M6083, view D, with a wrap bodice and shorts, as I think the fabric’s intense colour was most suitable for a playsuit.
I prewashed the fabric by hand in cold water with a little shampoo (nothing special, just whatever spares from your toiletry cabinet) and air-dried. Try to squeeze it as gently as possible as it will crinkle and you’ll have to iron the life out of it afterwards. Best thing would be to iron while still damp, to make sure the fabric will stay lovely and smooth. You’ll want it totally crinkle-free for the cutting stage.
This is a good time to make any flat adjustments required, for example, lengthening or shortening the bottoms or bodice, bust adjustments, etc. I cut out a size 10 top and a size 12 bottom, grading in the hip area. I also adjusted the crotch length as it felt a bit tight in the muslin stage.
I like to pin my pattern to the fabric with extra sharp glass-head pins. Some people like to use pattern weights to anchor the pattern in place and cut with scissors or rotary cutter. I used serrated scissors, which are specially designed for slippery fabrics. However, the fabric is quite firm and not as slippery as you might imagine with silk. But it’s nice and firmly woven, so you will not have trouble cutting it with regular scissors, provided they are sharp.
Once you’ve placed the pattern pieces, making sure you keep the grainline as marked, cut them out and don’t forget to snip the notches and mark any other placements circle or triangles. I used transfer paper and a pin wheel. The fabric has no visible wrong side, so also make sure to mark the wrong side with an x.
I used an 80 regular needle and matching thread and I followed the pattern instructions. The only exception was making a pleat instead of the gathering at front bodice shoulder seam, as it looked nicer for the firm woven silk than gathers, which would have worked better for a more drapey material. I used my overlocker to finish all edges, though the fabric did not fray too badly. French seams are also a nice option. I also added a concealed zipper in the side seam, as it’s quite difficult to get in and out without it. I still kept the elastic as per the original pattern, but stitched it to the side seam instead. A bit oh hand-stitching was required to finish the shorts hems, but everything else was machined. The fabric was really great to work with, and it crinkled much less than I expected while handling it, so it hardly needed any final pressing at the end. And that was about it!
You can dress it down with a denim jacket and platform sandals, or up with a glitzy belt and fancy heels. Now all I can wish for are summer days and a nice party to show off my new playsuit!