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Sew Fancy Fabrics into Everyday Styles

Sew your fanciest textiles into go-to garments
Threads, Issue #210, Aug./Sept. 2020
Every day can feel like a gala when you make basic garments in luxury fabrics. Pattern: Merchant & Mills Factory Dress, modified. Fabric: silk dupioni and embroidered organza, author’s stash.

I can’t resist gorgeous, glitzy, over-the-top fabrics: slubby silk dupioni, embroidered silk organza, sumptuous velvet, anything shot with gold or silver threads. However, I don’t have many cotillions, galas, or awards shows on my social calendar. Rather than let this minor fact of life keep me from enjoying traditionally formal fabrics, I decided I would find ways to incorporate glamour into my everyday life.

This idea took shape following the birth of my second son. I already had a toddler, so it seemed that I was doomed to spend my days in practical, washable T-shirts and sweatpants. Yes, a wardrobe of cotton knits was ultimately practical, but it was also boring. I splurged on a Donna Karan design, Vogue 2895 (unfortunately, now out of print) and some silk crepe de Chine. I threw the silk into the washer and dryer, then made some practical nursing tops from it. I wore and washed them on a weekly basis and felt so chic on playdates.

Since then, I have been incorporating the fancy stuff into my everyday style. So can you. Take a look at some ideas that will make you feel like you’re walking the red carpet every day.

Pretreat materials

garments made from silk
Garments made from silk can be safely machine-washed as long as the fabric was pretreated.

Most of the fabrics that we have been taught are dry-clean only do just fine in the washing machine. Washing fabric yardage is essential to avoid post-sewing shrinkage. However, some textiles, such as heavily beaded fabrics, do not react well to machine-washing.

Machine-wash gently

Put the yardage through a short, cold-water wash cycle with gentle soap, then machine-dry at a low temperature. Once the fabric has been made into a garment, use the same wash cycle, but skip the dryer and hang the…

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  1. user-7813011 | | #1

    I love this article and found it so inspiring. More like this please!

  2. degasdancer | | #2

    Thanks so much for this article! I love silk clothes (so comfortable and beautiful) but silk PJs and Ts are so costly! Off to fabric shop for some silk crepe de chine!

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