Yes, summer has arrived and with it, heat, sweat and unruly hair situations. In today’s post, we will bring a nice little breeze in our wardrobe by creating a silk crop top to keep you fresh and stylish even in the deadest heat wave… And exactly in the “pyjamas” current trend. Shall we?
In a few months, I’ll be back in France as a guest to one of my friend’s wedding. And what a good excuse to make a brand new dress! I envision a flowing silk dress artfully folding over my body like in the movies of the old days.
Yes but, apart from my wedding dress (translation of the tutorial to come, available here in French), I never actually used that kind of flowy fabric. They have kind of bad reputation, being slippery and all. To test the waters at a lesser cost, I bought a random piece of said silk material and embarked in creating a little crop top perfect to wear under a denim or leather jacket.
Because it is “Pride Month” here, we decided to have a little photo shoot in beautiful Castro, the Gay neighbourhood of San Francisco.
America just how I love it: open, exuberant, colorful…
Silk art mastering
Choosing a silk fabric is actually quite tricky. In US fabric shops, they are generally gathered under 2 categories: “silk” and “silkies”. But they encompass so many options! The best in my opinion is to find the fabric with the greatest amount of natural fibers. It is that detail that will enable you to
sweat in it wear it under the heat gracefully.
Objective: silk expertise
So you are in the fabric shop. There are no exact labels to tell you the % of each fiber in the fabric. How do you make your mind on your best option if you are not an expert? What clues can you use?
- Price: something that “looks” like silk but cost 3$ a yard will likely be a “silky”, an ersatz that isn’t great to wear on bare skin. And since you are making a little top, you don’t need that much and can spend 10$-20$ on a good soft-as-a-baby’s-buttcheek real silk fabric.
- Softness : on that topic, test the fabric with your fingers : will it be agreeable on bare and very delicate skin? Avoid scratchy glittering option too, unless you have a planned lining. If a piece of clothes is pretty but you don’t feel great in it, let’s be honest, your chance of actually wearing it more than once are close to zero…
- Temperature: Like most natural fiber I know of (like real wool versus acrylic) natural silk will feel “colder” on you hand than fake one. You can hold 1 synthetic fabric in one hand and “silk” in the other, you will feel the difference in temperature.
- Wrinkle free: To make your life simpler, look for silk that are wrinkle free. Just grab a handful and see how quickly it regains shape. Look for the ones that don’t create wrinkles, that’s going to be easier to maintain…
Make your silk top in 4 steps
Step 1 – pick one of your favorite top as a guide
As you know by now, I find it hard to restrict myself with only following patterns. Just like last week’s swimsuit tutorial, we will use an existing top as a guide. This time though, no need to cut it, you can trace around it easily. Yes this technique doesn’t work every time for stretchy fabric (RIP 2 yards of too tight wasted fabrics) but it gives great results on non-stretch ones as the margin of error is smaller. And what a time winning technique if it works!
I went for 2 layers for my top, to avoid too much transparency and be able to wear it day and night. Both layers are identical.
If your fabric is too “slippery”, you can apply this starch technique I learn during my time at the costume workshop:
- Test the entire technique on a small amount of your fabric first. No stain after ironing? Go for it!
- evenly spray your fabric with a thin layer of starch. It should be slightly wet but nowhere near “dripping”
- Iron it flat and voilà, fabric is now nice and stiff
- After sewing, wash the top to get rid of starch, the fabric will regain its “slipperiness”
✂ First time I test the starch trick to sew fluid fabrics (this one is from @fabricoutlet ) and well it works! 🇫🇷 Premier test d'amidon sur un tissu fluide et bien… Ça marche! On en trouve partout en grande surface: 1. On vaporise sur l'ensemble du tissu 2. On repasse (avec un tissu entre si votre tissu est fragile) 3. Le tissu devient rigide comme un coton ! On peut recommencer si c'est tjrs trop fluide #astucecouture #sewing #sewinglove #blogcouture #jecoudsdoncjesuis #instacouture #instasewing #memade #couture #handmade #tuto
Step 2 – create a different back option
Because having the same top in 2 colors would be boring, I made a slight alteration at the back
Step 3 – bring the 2 layers together
Step 4 – add straps
I created several spaghetti straps to give me option for positioning them in the back. Found a tutorial here in case you would be lost but it is very simple really.
To avoid ugly fraying seam, I used the french seam technique. Very neat and easy to do. And only add 10-15 minutes to your work time.
You can find a nice tutorial below from one of my favorite sewing blogger With Wendy (skip video to 3”55 for french seam tutorial). I also used her hemming method (skip to 5″30 on video) to have a clean bottom seam.
And voilà, you are done!
What do you think? tempted to make one too? The silk is a real pleasure to wear I confess. I wear this at home as a pyjama or under a jacket during the day. It is so far the most successful project I completed in terms of “actually wearing what you made”
Cost : 20$
- 1,5 yard (or 2m) of flowy silk fabric
- sewing machine, thread, scissors
Time needed? half a season of Jane the Virgin
To visit Castro “sewing style”
- Crazy good frozen yogurt at Easy Breezy
- Fun souvenirs at Cliff’s Variety
- Going to the movies at Castro Theater
What about you, what did you sew for summer heat? What’s your impression of sewing silk?
I took pictures of the Gay Pride yesterday so another article is coming about that this week. Next, a swim suit tutorial ;-).
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