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Ok, for those of you who drooled over the amazing Milly plaid fabric I was able to procure from Gorgeous Fabrics, I’d like to point out that a very limited quantity of another amazing Milly silk has just popped up on that great site. I’ve already laid claim to my precious two yards, so I’m graciously going to give you all permission to snap up the rest. That’s right, I’m sharing. (Yuck.) [Update: And 5 and a half hours later, this fabric is gonzo! Better luck next time, my chickadees!]

Oh, so pretty.  And it’s disappearing fast, so make haste! Look what you could make with it:

If you had that dress, wouldn’t you be making the smug “I have this dress and you don’t” face too?

And if you totally want to Single White Female me (Engaged Asian Female?), I picked up some of this silk too:

And again, no, I’m not getting paid to promote the business. It’s just really really good fabric. :)

You’re welcome.

A few months ago, I chanced upon some pictures of the Melissa plaid shirtdress by Milly, and I wanted it. I wanted it the way a toddler wants a gummi bear. I wanted it the way that annoying guy in your office wants the new iPhone and won’t shut up about it. I wanted it the way Dan wants out of the domestic prison in which I have ensnared him (just kidding, Dan’s not allowed to want things.) Basically, I wanted it the way that only the Selfish Seamstress could want something – violently and aggressively.  After all, just look how cute:

So after seeing it, I trolled the web hunting for any plaid fabric with a similar feel and colorway to make my own shirtdress and found nothing. I’m fond of plaid in general, but once I had this particular plaid in mind, every other plaid just looked comparatively dorky. I did have a moment of hope when I discovered Cidell’s plaid silk knit tunic, which was in the right plaid flavor category, and super cute on its own merit. But of course, the fabric was already sold out, which leads me to think that she planned the whole thing to get a rise out of me. It wouldn’t be the first time she’s bested poor Selfish.

So I did what any rational person would do in a state of despair – I threw myself down on the floor and pounded at it with fists and feet, screaming at a high pitch, “I hate you I hate you I hate you” at no one in particular. As usual, it worked.  My efforts were rewarded when a few yards of the exact Milly silk (a plain woven with nice body to it, and minimal sheen and slipperiness – perfect!) appeared magically on Gorgeous Fabrics, almost certainly because of my temper tantrum.* I immediately snapped up three yards of it to make sure that none of you would get to it first, backstabbing vultures that you are.

Next up was finding the right shirtdress pattern.  Given the huge scale of the plaid, I wanted to avoid piecing to the extent possible. None of the current Big 4 patterns, nor anything in my stash of Burdas had quite what I was going for, so it was off to Etsy, where I found a vintage Simplicity 8294:

(This actually isn’t my copy- mine is a size 6P with a *sigh* 30.5″ bust, but I forgot to take a photo of it.) The pattern was missing the sleeve (and it wasn’t really the kind of sleeve I wanted anyway) so I drafted my own. No princess seams or waist seam on this pattern. The only places I had to worry about matching were at the side seams, across the chest and onto the sleeve, and the center front, so my three yards was more than enough. A bit of taking in through the torso and waist and ta-da! Once again, Selfish gets everything she wanted. (Excuse the photos- the light was fading outside and it was freeeeezing.)

I realize that the navy of my shoes is not the same as the navy of my dress, but I still have every intention of wearing the two together.

Hmm.  There seems to be a little wrinkling across the bust near the bottom of the armscye that I didn’t notice during fitting.  I’m going to have to check that out. Also, I think I need to wear the sash a little looser (the way the Milly model is wearing it) so as to give it less of an Urkel-y effect.

The dress isn’t an exact copy of the Milly version, as I made mine a more work-wearable slightly-above-the-knee length, and it’s got a different placket and sleeve. Incidentally, I wasn’t too impressed with the RTW version’s placket stitching (you can learn a lot from the zoomable views on department store websites!):

Fortunately it’s not my problem now that I’ve got my own. By the way, you may be wondering more generally how it is that Selfish always gets exactly what she wants, despite being a person with no redeeming qualities, one who contributes little to the world while simultaneously exploiting it and everything in it for her own purposes. Is there a trick or magical secret, you might ask, to continually evading the karma police while managing to end up with everything one desires and never giving anyone anything?  The answer is yes. Yes, there is. Have a good day, y’all.

*Okay, perhaps I should acknowledge the the amazing Ann of Gorgeous Fabrics for having procured this wonderful fabric, rather than attributing it solely to my impressive and highly effective tantrums. But you know how I am loath to give credit where it is due unless it’s to myself.

Hey, kids!  Are you ready for some science? Of course you are!  So, on the topic of the Fabric Mart “silk” versus the Denver Fabrics “acetate,” it’s time for a little experiment. After getting lots of helpful tips from readers and reading a bunch of web pages about burn testing fibers (not terribly consistent, by the way), I went to my local pharmacy after work and picked up some nail polish remover with acetone to see whether the fabric would dissolve in it, thus indicating acetate.

After my initial burn test I was fairly convinced that whatever the fabrics are, they are the same.  Even so, I decided it would only be fair to test both of them. So I took a scrap of each and some glass yogurt jars, figuring that would be nice and non-reactive (I save them for when I make jam or pickles – useful and conveniently sized!) and here’s my experimental setup:

I then poured in a little bit of Cutex “Strengthening” Formula, enough to cover:

I kind of figured that if this fabric were acetate, there would be a rather immediate shriveling reaction, sort of like when you pour water on the Selfish Seamstress.  But nothing happened.  I swirled it around a bit.  About fifteen minutes later, both swatches were still intact:

So. It’s been about a half hour now, and there’s little change except that it seems like maybe some of the blue dye has run off into the nail polish remover. Other than that, the fabric is holding up.

On the basis of this test, as well as the fact that the burn behavior of the swatch (crispy nubbins of black char on the burning edge, no obvious melting, self-extinguishing) was similar to my known-to-be-silk dupioni scrap (the dupioni feels, crumples, and smells like silk), I’m going to call this one in favor of Fabric Mart and declare both fabrics to be silk. I’ve already ruled out rayon, and I assume polyester and nylon would melt. Yay for science and observable phenomena!

Now, a little bit of sleuthing, as I think we were all a little bit skeptical and perhaps still are.  How could Denver Fabrics possibly have listed a silk fabric as acetate, sold it at $3.75/yard, ad then put it on sale for $1.99/yard? Well, if you look at the fabric description, you’ll see there is another error:

The fabric is described as “jacquard,” which would suggest a pattern woven in different textures. This is incorrect- the fabric I received is definitely twill, with a consistent diagonal weave, and the design printed on.  So what happened? A little poking around on Denver Fabrics’s website turns up several other “100% acetate” linings that have this pattern rendered in a single color at a 49″ width, such as this navy one:

Close inspection of the image suggests that this one actually *is* a jacquard in a solid color, and that the clover pattern is woven in (satin weave clovers on a matte ground, reversed on the other side), rather than printed as it is on my fabric. This lining is also available in all green, all pink, all purple, and a couple of other colors. My best guess is that the solid color ones actually are acetate, and that the whole bunch of rolls came from the same manufacturer in the same shipment along with my silk one, and whoever at Denver put them into the database didn’t take note of the oddball, other than that it was 5″ narrower.

So that’s how I’m going to explain this mystery to myself until any contradictory evidence presents itself. For those of you who were hoping I might write a nasty email biting the heads off of the folks at Fabric Mart, aren’t you happy just knowing that Denver Fabrics might one day send you surprise silk?

Another freezing day, another super quick, ridiculously frigid outdoor photo shoot!  Here’s blouse 119 from the 2.2008 issue of Burda, a simple sleeveless top with slightly gathered neck opening and an attached scarf collar:

[Hmm.  I think I need to add a second hook closure on the tab waist of those pants (self-drafted pattern) because it's not sitting flat against the waistband.]

Yes, another 16 degree Fahrenheit day with crazy wind and snow (the little white streaks!) And this time, unlike yesterday’s Vogue 8379 shoot, I wasn’t wrapped in wool knit, but instead in filmy sleeveless silk. This silk, you may recall, is one that sneaked into my stash and had me puzzling over what to do with it. I’m actually pretty satisfied with how it rendered in this blouse and have decided it was probably the best use of it. I can’t say it’s made me a pattern convert or that I’ll be wearing this weekly, but it’s less clown-y than I feared. There was some lively comment discussion of the fact that the colors might not suit me, but these are all colors that I wear regularly so I wasn’t too worried about that. If they don’t work on me I have yet to figure that out, and I’d have to purge my wardrobe of much more than just this blouse. Or perhaps the Selfish Seamstress defies all color theory!

The blouse itself is pretty simple to construct with just 3 main pattern pieces and two bias strips to make a sort of bias facing for the arm openings.  You stitch a folded bias strip along the openings on the outside of the garment, trim the seam allowances, flip the bias strip to the inside, press, and topstitch for a clean finish with no exposed raw edges:

As you can see, I also used French seams throughout. I must say, although I like the blouse, working with this kind of slippery silk is not my cup of tea. It doesn’t stay put and it doesn’t behave the way I want it to.  So although this pattern was pretty easy, I didn’t find it to be tremendously pleasurable sewing. And I guess that is why I now have no more silk in my stash!

I’m often a little wary of Burda difficulty ratings because I feel like they often don’t take the fabric challenges into account. Burda gave this pattern one and a half dots for difficulty, which I suppose makes sense on account of the simplicity of construction and small number of pieces. At the same time, I wouldn’t wish this on a novice given the kind of tricky fabrics to which this pattern is suited.  That bias faced armhole, while not that much of a technical feat, takes a bit of coordination with a slippy fabric with an unstable grain and could be discouraging for a beginner.

That being said, I could see myself making another one of these.  In a solid of course ;)

For your entertainment, here are some blustery out-takes. As you can see, I could barely keep my eyes open in the wind!

   

BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR-da!

What you see above is my entire stash of silk fabric. Well, aside from the remnants from my Delancey Dress, that is. It may strike you as surprising that a Selfish fabric glutton like me has only one piece of silk in her possession, but as far as I am concerned, filmy, floofy, fancy, slippery, temperamental fabric just takes up space that that could otherwise be occupied by my beloved, well-behaved, practical wool suitings and cotton poplins. (Ok, I just remembered that I have some cotton and silk blend poplin. But it’s all business.)

This blouse weight piece of frivolity sneaked into my stash during a moment of weakness while I was strolling through the aisles at Vogue. When it comes to silks, Vogue is all about gorgeous quality for polyester prices, and somehow this one caught my eye like a puppy at a shelter who desperately wants to come home with you. And then you take it home and realize that you have a whole shelf full of puppies stacked up to the ceiling and didn’t you just swear last month that you would NOT TAKE HOME ANY MORE PUPPIES UNTIL YOU USED UP THE PUPPIES YOU ALREADY HAVE? Wow, that metaphor fell apart quickly.

Anyway, I think it was something about that sophisticated Banana Republic-esque color palette of tan, rust, and grape soda purple on the creamy ground that made me forget that drapey silk and geometric prints aren’t really my thing. The thing is, despite my commitment to boring solids, and a recent lively comment debate about the merits and disadvantages of prints, I don’t actually dislike prints. I just don’t find many that suit me and most of my ideas are solids, stripes, or plaids. I have made the occasional floral garment, and they tend not to see much wear.

But now I have this print, and it’s been sitting in my stash for some months, so I’m considering using it for one of these (Burda 119 blouse from 2.2008):

The weight of the fabric seems like it would work well with the pattern, and I could see a print blouse like this pairing reasonably with the more tailored and practical items in my wardrobe. But I’m still feeling kind of funny about that print- will it make me look like I’ve broken out into some crazy pox?

Because I could always put this back on the shelf and use it as jacket lining at some point in the future. Talk me down if I’m about to do something stupid.

About this blog

The Selfish Seamstress loves to design and sew garments, but only if she gets to keep them. I'm Elaine, known in the online sewing world as elainemay, and welcome to my selfish sewing blog.

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