Thursday, 27 November 2014

Silk velvet Maya!

Christmas is coming and this silk velvet has been burning a whole in my stash lately. This is one of my favourite types of fabrics actually and I especially love it in yellow gold, petrol blue, grey or burnt orange. I guess being a grungy teenager of the nineties means that velvet holds a special place in my heart! I didn't have any of those aforementioned colours, but I have been carting this green piece around for the last 10 years. I just love how soft and drapey it is and how it catches the light!

When I originally started putting together the Maya pattern I wanted to make up a version like this and had in mind all sorts of drapey silky versions, but for some reason or another have only just gotten around to trying it out. In truth, I have too many ideas and it's not possible to execute them all, with there only being 24 hours in the day and two little people depending on me for laughs, food and general servitude. I have just come to a bit of a standstill with other things however and felt like now was as good a time as ever!

It has pretty much turned out as I imagined, so no surprises. I made the top with the shortest hem option on the front dipping down to the curved hem on the back. I did originally sew on a pocket, which I later removed as positioning seemed impossible. The pile is too squishy, so it never stayed wherever I put it. Once the pins and hand basting were done I found it had moved to a completely different place. I even machined it on, but then unpicked it and had to soak and dry the finished top to remove the bruising to the pile. This fabric marks badly if you make an unwanted stitch line, so beware!

If you have never sewn with velvet at all before then I would say that this could be a challenge to say the least. This pattern is perfect for experimenting with challenging fabrics though, as there are few seams to contend with. Silk velvet is quite different to cotton velvet, but if you take your time then it should be ok! I found that pinning my pattern pieces to the fabric was much easier as long as I put the pins in a certain direction and always tried to work with the pile. Going against the pile causes the pattern to shift. Also, pin every seam or hem to within an inch of it's life and hand baste just to be sure that it will sew ok. I didn't baste the seams BTW, I only pinned, but handled it very carefully.

Other aspects to consider are pressing seams. You can give it a go if you have a velvet pressing pad (a mat with pins for the pile to sit in), but the likelyhood is that it will mark. If unsure test a scrap first and not your actual garment. I french seamed as per my instructions, but then topstitched the seam (like a false fell seam) towards the back of the garment to make it neat. Rather than use my facings I turned the armhole edges in, doubled them over, pinned and topstitched. For the neckline I faced it with some bias binding and topstitched it down.

I didn't really know how to style this to show off it's potential, as I will wear this with scruffy big cardigans and denim skirts. If I still worked in an office then I would definitely wear it with a pencil skirt and heels. Ok, so I worked in design establishments where it is fairly impossible to be overdressed, but I really think you could get away with this anywhere.

Maybe it's time to go through your stash and try sewing with that fabric that you've been avoiding! FYI - I shall never be tempted to try tricky silk chiffon!!!