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dressy but not difficult

dotty | Posted in Fabric and Trim on

Hi all. I’ve been too busy to sew or visit the site for a while . There sure is a lot to catch up on! I’m looking for fabric suggestions. I’m making a semi fitted princess blouse that I’ve made before in cotton. I’d like to make it in something dressier, but not extravagant and not hard to work with. I don’t want to spend my precious sewing time being frustrated. I would consider silk but not having ever used it, I have no clue as to what type to look for. I don’t want any thing clingy. Any suggestions silk or otherwise? Thanks.

Edited 11/7/2007 9:41 am ET by dotty


  1. solosmocker | | #1

    Silk dupioni makes a wonderful blouse with timeless appeal. It has a crisp finish and would be drycleaned. You can prewash it and then gently wash after but you will be seriously changine the hand of the fabric into something much different and very soft. It is not difficult to sew on other than I would recommend serging all edges before you start construction. It ravels horrendously. It's worth the effort. Silk charmeuse makes a beautiful blouse also but has many challenges, chief of which is having a mind of its own when it comes to cutting out. There are ways to conquer this, cutting on paper, starching the dickens out of it, etc. It looks best in a soft type of blouse without too many construction details or topstitching. Those can be done but I personally don't think they show off charmeuse like a look that is softly draped, ie, a cowl neck tunic. You can get poly shantungs that will have the same issues as the dupioni with raveling. When you are done they look like poly shantungs, not dupioni however. Their advantage is a lower price point. Taffetas of all fibers can be really pretty as well. You will still have the raveling issues with taffetas. They look wonderful with details like topstitching. The poly versions actual look quite nice. acetate taffetas waterspot terribly so stay away from those. Just a few thoughts to help you in your quest for the right fabric.

    1. dotty | | #2

      thanks. Would something that ravels be difficult with princess seams? The charmuse sounds like what I want to avoid at the moment.

      1. Ralphetta | | #3

        Since princess seams tend to be somewhat curved, wouldn't they be a little less likely to fray than straight seams?

  2. jane4878 | | #4

    Farmhousefabrics.com has some beautiful cotton fabrics and shirtings, even precut bundles that are about the right size.  Liberty Tana Lawn would be expensive but gorgeous.  The site:  Intfab.com has the best online selection of Liberty I've ever seen and the best prices.  I've never bought from either site, but a Martha Pullen instructor, whose class I took, loads up on bias, piping, batiste etc. when in the US at the Farmhouse Fabrics store. 

    Not all dupioni is created equally.  I've bought dupioni from Fabric.com for blinds and it was OK, but not great. I never could get it on grain.  I've bought dupioni from Thaisilks and it's way nicer.  I bought some locally to make a blouse and it cost 4X Fabric.com's dupioni, but it's 10 X as nice.  I wash my dupioni partly because I like the softer hand and because sooner or later my other half is going to get his hands on that silk whatever and throw it in the wash.  The stuff I spent $$$ on is beautiful and iridescent still, even after I washed it in cold water. 


    1. moira | | #11

      Thanks for the Liberty website. I've Googled Liberty fabrics several times and always got to EBay, so it's great to see they can still be bought by the meter.

  3. starzoe | | #5

    Wool crepe is a beautiful fabric and easy to sew. I haven't had much luck in finding it recently though but haven't gone the route of the internet.

  4. Ralphetta | | #6

    The wool crepe suggestion reminded me of wool jersey, (not the cheap synthetic that Jo-Ann usually has.)   It makes beautiful draped and feminine garments that look great with sporty clothes OR eveningwear. I only see it in "better" RTW.  Raveling isn't a problem and I don't find it difficult to sew with.  I have a couple of well-worn wool jersey blouses that I've worn to a broad range of events, depending on the kind of accessories I paired with it. You get a great garment without too much sewing.  In case of emergency i would probably grab my black wool jersey blouse as i ran from my burning house.

    1. dotty | | #7

      wool crepe sounds interesting. Is it thin with a pebbley texture? I've been looking for viyella for years to no avail. That could be dressy too, no? I think of taffeta as very formal. I'm looking for something elegant, slightly casual. Is sandwashed silk tricky to sew?

      Edited 11/8/2007 10:42 pm ET by dotty

      1. MsMouse | | #8

        Hi, Dotty

        You have already received some excellent suggestions.  May I add another?

        Crepe-backed satin might work for you.  You may use both sides, if you wish; e.g. one can be the body of the blouse, the other could be the collar, covered buttons, or other trim. The result would be matched color with  different textures


        Ms Mouse





        1. dotty | | #9

          Very nice idea! I often end up making covered buttons when I can't find a match I like. I'll have to check out crepe backed satin as I can only imagine the satin part. It never ceases to amaze me how many fabrics are out there that I don't really know what they are. I own both the Betzina and the Schafer books about fabric, but for me they help more when its time to sew than while planning or shopping.

          1. MsMouse | | #10

            Good luck, Dotty.  Hope you find the right fabric for your project.  When I was Cruise Director and had to have an extensive formal wardrobe, I used crepe-backed satin (or satin-backed crepe, if you wish) for many gowns because of the versitility of using both sides.  Evening bags could be made using one side, the gown the other side; the same with wraps. There are so many possibilities with this fabric including the fact that you can find it in every grade of fabric from silk to poly.

          2. From my Stash.... | | #12

            Ms Mouse has a great idea with the crepe back satin.  I might suggest a matching full pair of pants to go with the blouse for a great elegant (and slimming look).

            As for the silk, there are all types of silk - not all are a difficult to work with as the charmeuse.  I have a beautiful textured silk that I bought to make a classic front buttoned, long sleeve shirt.  It's the texture that makes it.

            Good luck with your shirt.

      2. solosmocker | | #13

        Viyella is no longer made. I have heard of an occasional retailer having an odd roll or two but I am not even sure there is much of that anymore either. It was a wonderful fabric and why it's production was stopped I don't remember. I do remember reading and extensive article on this on a sewing website so maybe a google search is in order.

        1. dotty | | #14

          I found some stretch woven cotton that has a slight sheen to it, and the weft and wolf(isn't that what the crossgrain is called?)are two different colors. It has a silky look, but a cottony feel. I think it'll be nice.I'm going to keep my eye out for the crepe backed satin. Solosmocker- I have tried googeling Viyella -what I get is a clothing line. I had a plaid shirt I wore for years that was so comfortable. I still miss it 20 or whatever years later.

          1. Josefly | | #15

            (I think weft and woof both refer to the crosswise threads or yarns, and warp refers to the lengthwise.)

  5. Teaf5 | | #16

    Along with all the good suggestions so far, have you seen any interesting rayons?  The colors are wonderful, the fabric breathes and wears well, and the overall effect is dressier than cotton but just as durable and comfortable. 

    Even with a fairly basic shirt pattern, a soft, drapey rayon is very elegant and can be machine washed and dried.  Five or six years ago, I made a number of rayon blouses for work, and they're holding up well after being washed and worn nearly weekly.  I used a simple campshirt pattern, but the fabric makes them appear much dressier.

    1. dotty | | #17

      hi Teaf5. I am a big fan of rayon. However I have had varying results. I find it difficult to get on grain, so that when in comes time to sew it, it doesn't hang right. It gets sort of droopy at the seams. I remember a thread about this a while back. The suggestion was to use a higher quality rayon. I never did figure out how you know what to look for.

      1. surlyhowell | | #18

        Am new to this site & hope this is the correct place to ask a question. Anyway, here goes. I recently purchased a copy of "FIT AND FABRIC" from Threads and just love it. The back cover states "This series of books organizes articles from Threads magazine ..." But, no where can I find the titles of the others in the series. Can someone help with identifying & finding the other volumes? Thanks so much.

        1. Ckbklady | | #19

          Hi there,

          Don't you love FIT AND FABRIC? I have used that book for over a decade.

          It's out of print, as are the others in the series. These books compile articles from Threads, which these days is a much cheaper way to get them than paying a fortune per magazine issue on eBay. They're still around - you'll find them!

          In the series there are a few sewing books, and a few quilting books and a few knitting books. I've listed all of the sewing books that I can recall here:







          Used bookshops are a good bet to find these, or if you're a confident online shopper, check out http://www.bookfinder.com (for new and used, online and bricks-and-mortar store inventory listings) and type in "Threads" into the author box and see what comes up - you'll find even more titles than these listed here!

          Happy book-shopping and welcome to our discussion board here - you'll find a wealth of knowledge from some very friendly folks!

          :) Mary

          1. surlyhowell | | #20

            Thanks so much. Later

          2. surlyhowell | | #21

            Thank you so much for your suggestions. They are all right on!! I do love FIT and FABRIC.
            I recently purchased a MAC wireless laptop. Most times the computer wins. But I am still trying. I think that my son made all the settings too sensitive for me. Another novice question, I am having problems using this site. Somewhere, I read about ARCHIVES. How do I get to them? Thanks again.

          3. Ckbklady | | #22


            I don't know if I'm explaining this correctly - if anyone reading this knows I'm "doing it wrong" could you jump in and correct me?I don't think there is a specific place for Archives, so to speak, but I know that you can gain access to previous articles by clicking on Advanced Search (on the left side of the discussion screen) and typing in whatever subject interests you.

            I hope that helps!

            :) Mary

          4. surlyhowell | | #26

            Thanks for your help.

          5. Josefly | | #23

            Ckbklady is correct - you can access old messages by subject, particular poster, etc., using Advanced Search. You can also scroll down the left side of the message page - the part of the page which lists discussions by title under categories like " General Discussion", "Equipment and Supplies", etc., - and find a category called "The Archives" which probably includes all messages older than a certain date. Or you can click on one of the category titles to bring up older messages posted under that category.Hope this helps.

            Edited 12/10/2007 5:43 pm ET by Josefly

          6. surlyhowell | | #24

            Thanks for your input. I will keep plugging away. Sometimes just experience help!! Thanks.

          7. surlyhowell | | #25

            Thank you so much for your response. My son is upgrading my software and all of my messages were going to junk. Am finding all kinds of stuff in my junk mail!! Now I know where to look. Your assistance is appreciated and will certainly help me to navigate around this site.

          8. Josefly | | #27

            Glad to be of help. Your reply made me chuckle - sometimes I don't see things on a computer page even when they are in an obvious place!

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