Tips For Sewing With Velvet

By Molly Hamilton
on January 13, 2021

Tips For Sewing With Velvet

This month Folkwear is featuring the 111 Nepali Blouse Pattern, which is a beautiful piece, often worn by Nepali women as an over blouse.  While this blouse is considered a traditional garment, typically made of velvet, it has a truly contemporary feel, which makes it a perfect complement to any wardrobe.

This versatile pattern can be made for any season or occasion. For everyday wear it would be lovely made of fabrics such as cotton, linen, rayon, light wools, or even knits. Any fabric with a bit of drape and a light to medium weight would be suitable. When made in velvet or silk it is transformed into an elegant and comfortable garment whether for a special occasion or for blissfully lounging about. Shorten the sleeves for warmer temps and enjoy year round.  The blouse can be worn open at the collar (simply omit the top sets of ties and cut just four ties for the waist). The ties could also be made of ribbon or even be replaced with buttons, hooks, frogs, or snaps.

Dark red velvet wrap blouse, close up of front.

Since the Nepali Blouse is traditionally made of velvet, this is a perfect opportunity to learn more about velvet and how to handle it.  Velvet can be a tricky fabric to sew with, but the tips below will make it much easier and less intimidating to work with.

Most velvets available today are made of rayon or silk. They generally have a very drapey effect and sometimes a bit of stretch, that work well for tops, blouse, skirts, dresses, pants, and scarfs. The photos below shows the soft silky drape of silk rayon velvet. This type of velvet has a distinct nap, which captures the light creating a beautiful shimmer.

photo showing soft drape of silk/rayon velvet
Photo showng drape of silk/rayon velvet

 Velvet can also be made of cotton and polyester blends, which generally have a more stiff hand or feel, and are perfect  for  more structured pieces, like coats and jackets. The velvets in the photos below are made of cotton and have a stiffer drape and the sheen is typically more subdued than silk and rayon velvets.

photo of stiffer drape of cotton velvet
photo showing cotton velvet drape

 

While silk and rayon velvets are stunning and rich fabrics, they are not the easiest fabrics to control and require a bit of extra attention. This blog will help provide some tips to ensure successful sewing for any velvet sewing project on your list. Use these tips for making the 111 Nepali Blouse, as well as the 120 Navajo Blouse and the 124 Bolivian Milkmaid Jacket, which are also traditionally made in velvet. 

Also view or download these tips as a PDF.

PREPARING THE PATTERN AND CUTTING THE FABRIC

  • Velvet is a napped (or pile) fabric.  This means that the right side of the fabric has a direction that the pile (or fuzzy stuff on top) runs.  The fabic has a different feel and look depending on whether the nap is running up or down. To determine the direction of the nap, rub your hand along the lengthwise grain. The fabric will feel smooth in one direction (with the nap) and rough in the opposite direction (against the nap). Also, the fabric’s color or shade will appear darker with the nap going in one direction than the other. An upward nap creates a deeper and richer effect. A downward nap creates a more glistening or shimmering effect. There is no right or wrong when deciding on the nap effect you like, just personal preference.
  • Once you have determined the desired nap direction, be sure that all pattern pieces are placed pointing in the same direction (e.g., top edges of all pieces pointing in same direction). In pattern directions, this is a “With Nap” cutting layout, which usually requires more fabric than a “Without Nap” layout.  
  • If you cut the pattern out of a double layer of fabric, baste the two layers together along the selvage edges before pinning the pattern to the fabric. This will help keep the material from shifting and sliding.
  • If working with a double layer of fabric is too slippery and difficult, cut the pattern out of a single layer of fabric. Just be sure to cut both right and left pieces when appropriate (e.g., fronts, sleeves, facings). To do this, place the pattern piece on the fabric printed side up and cut out; then place it printed side down and cut out. Remember to point the pieces in the same direction.
  • Working with a single layer of velvet can be easier. Adding a layer of disposable fabric as a base, such as muslin or a thrifted cotton sheet, can make all the difference in creating more stability. Lay a single layer of stabilizing fabric on a cutting surface, then sandwiching the velvet between the disposable fabric base and the pattern. Pin and cut through all the layers of fabric. Paper could be substituted for the base layer of fabric, but this is not generally recommended because cutting paper dulls scissors or blades. The extra layer of disposable fabric really does a good job to stabilize squirmy velvet and silk fabrics.
  • Pin pattern pieces to the fabric only in the seam allowances. Pinholes often remain visible, because they punch out some of the pile threads, and you won't want these holes to show in the finished garment.
  • If the fabric frays or unravels badly, apply a small amount of fray retardant to all raw edges as soon as you cut out the pattern pieces.
  • Use silk thread for marking and basting, as it does not leave holes or imprints in the fabric.

INTERFACING

  • Fusible interfacing is generally not a good choice for velvets or other pile fabrics, be­ cause the pressure you apply with the iron to fuse the adhesive also crushes the pile of the material. Therefore, select a sew-in interfacing and baste the interfacing to the wrong side of the pattern pieces before assembling the garment. Baste only in the seam allowances.
  • You can purchase different weights of non­fusible interfacing, or you can use a light­ weight cotton (e.g., batiste) or silk organza for a low-bulk, sew-in interfacing. Test a sample of fabric to see how it feels and drapes with the different interfacing possibilities.
  • For a more structured result, cut the interfacing on the straight grain. For a drapey, less structured effect, cut the interfacing on the bias.
  • There are very-low-heat fusible interfacings on the market today. If you choose one of these, place the fabric’s right side on a needleboard (or another piece of velvet set right-side-up) before fusing the interfacing to the wrong side, so you won’t crush the pile, and use as little pressure as possible. Experiment on fabric scraps first!
  • It is not recommended to iron or press the right side of velvet, this will crush the pile or nap. Remove creases by steaming. Steam the wrong side with an iron, but avoid placing the weight of the iron on the fabric. Using a clothing/fabric steamer on the wrong side of the velvet is ideal.

STITCHING TIPS

  • When sewing with plush velvets or other heavily napped fabrics, increase the stitch length a bit. Experiment with different stitch lengths on fabric scraps to achieve smooth, secure, pucker-free seams. 
  • Use silk thread for stitching, which result in easier and smooth stitching. 
  • Baste all seams before stitching, to keep the various layers from shifting. Use a baste stitch and then make a small backstitch every three inches or so as you go. Baste diagonally across the stitching line, rather than along it or parallel to it (see illustration below). If the layers still shift, baste on each side of the stitching line as well as diagonally across it.

  • You may want to shave or trim the pile or nap from seam allowances before stitching, to reduce bulk in the seams.
  • Double-check the sewing instructions before stitching any seam permanently, to be sure you are completing the next step correctly. Ripped-out seams leave behind unsightly holes that cannot be hidden.
  • Stitch seams in the same direction as the nap, as much as possible. If the nap is running down the garment, stitch seams from top to bottom; if the nap is running up the garment, stitch from bottom to top.
  • If the fabric is especially slippery, encase it between two layers of tissue paper. Stitch the seam through tissue and fabric, then tear away the tissue paper.
  • Stitch slowly! Stop every few inches, with the needle down in the fabric, and lift the presser foot to let the fabric relax. Lower the presser foot and continue stitching. 
  • When sewing pile and non-pile fabrics together, such as velvet and lining, stitch the seam with the non-pile fabric on top and sew in the direction of the nap.
  •  When hand stitching, catch a thread in the foundation fabric only, leaving the pile threads free.

 PRESSING TIPS

  • Use scraps left over from cutting out the pattern to experiment with different heat settings and pressing surfaces, to determine what’s best for the selected fabric.
  • To avoid crushing the pile or nap, use a needleboard, fluffy terrycloth towel, or piece of velvet fabric as the pressing surface. Press garment with nap down against the needles, towel loops, or fabric pile. Press very lightly and use lots of steam if appropriate for the selected fabric.
  • If you must press the right side, use a piece of self-fabric or terrycloth as a pressing cloth and apply as little pressure as possible, to prevent crushing the pile.
  • Steam the seams open. Finger press the seams to secure an open seam. Do not directly touch the iron to the velvet.
  • To ”refresh” the nap of a garment made out of pile fabric, put it in the dryer with a few terrycloth towels. Set on air fluff (no heat) and run for just a few minutes, checking it often.

TEST SWATCHES

Because of the different nature of velvet fabric, it is a good idea to practice and experiment on a few scraps before you make your final project. Here are a few experiments to try using velvet.

  • Try cutting two layers of velvet to see how it behaves.
  • Experiment with how the naps directions look when stitched.
  • Pin and baste in the seam allowances before cutting.
  • Practice machine stitching the seams to see how the fabric behaves on the straight grain and in a curve.
  • Evaluate the thickness of turned seams.
  • Experiment with different stitch lengths and adjust if you get any puckers.
  • Practice steaming to remove creases.
  • Practice steaming and finger pressing the seams open.
  • See how the velvet behaves going through a serger.
Making swatches will help you get better acquainted with how velvet behaves. With a bit of experimentation, velvet is a pleasure to sew.  

While working with velvet takes more time and effort, the benefits are well worth it. No other fabric compares with the unique quality of a stunning velvet. Use these tips to make a 111 Nepali Blouse and for all your other velvet sewing projects. 

View or download this as a PDF.

 Back of dark red velvet blouse

 

 

240 Rosie the Riveter Sundress Version

By Molly Hamilton
on May 13, 2020

240 Rosie the Riveter Sundress Version

Learn How to Turn Folkwear Pattern 240 Rosie the Riveter Overalls into a Summer Dress.

by: Cynthia Anderson

In honor of all the essential workers who are making personal and professional sacrifices in order to protect and support us all, through this challenging time, we at Folkwear, hope to inspire the "can do" attitude of one of our history's iconic women . . . Rosie the Riveter. We are happy to offer a tutorial on how to transform the 240 Folkwear Rosie the Riveter Overall into a dress for sunnier days.  I made this version (above) for Cari, Folkwear's wonderful Customer Service and Shipping Manager, and I am going to show you how to make your own in this post!  

Getting the most out of any pattern you invest in is always preferable. Learning how to look at a pattern and knowing how to create other options is often easier imagined than executed. Seeing the possibilities in a pattern and setting the challenge of making something new, is much easier when the foundation and options of the pattern are as tried and true as a Folkwear pattern. The Folkwear 240 Rosie the Riveter pattern already has so much to recommend it - the iconic overall, a flattering slack, the perfect classic shirt. Then there is the sweater, which could be knit in many varieties of yarn and colors. The options are endless. This pattern is loaded with "can do" possibilities.

Folkwear's 240 Rosie the Riveter overall pattern is a natural for a transformation to a snappy sundress for warm weather wearing. The versatility of this dress is also a plus.  Wear it with a tee or shirt or simply go bare and comfy cool! Make it long or short, full or slim.  

As a plus, nothing is lost in the dress portion we are about to make.  All the great overall details of the pattern, including the pleats, darts, and pockets will all transfer to the skirt portion.

Getting Started

To make the dress from the overalls, the bodice portion of the Overall version will  be made according to the pattern instructions, and the bottom portion (the Slacks part) will be the foundation for making the skirt. 

Find the your size and cut pieces for the bodice and waistband.  To insure fit, make a muslin and make any adjustment necessary.  

For the skirt part of the pattern, trace and cut out the size pattern you need for the front Slack pattern (Piece G) and back Slack pattern (Piece H), the front inset/pocket (Piece J) and the inner pocket (Piece I). You may not need the entire length of Pieces G and H, and may want to trace/cut from the knee area and up.  Also, leave extra tracing material on the seam edge of pocket pieces, J and I, because the skirt edge angles out and a little extra will be needed. See the illustration before cutting these two pieces out below.

Note: Size Large and XL are accidentally reversed on slack pattern pieces G and H. Be sure to follow the outline of the size you need.

When tracing off the pattern, be sure to draw all the markings that help guide the assembly. This includes all the notches, dart markings, pleat indicators, and the grain line. 

I find using Swedish Tracing paper, to be very useful material for this type of work. It's transparency makes tracing easy, it takes both pen ink and pencil lead well. It behaves a lot like fabric, which is helpful when making darts and pleats. It is durable enough to handle lots of pining and manipulation. If you trace your pattern you can keep it intact for future projects.  We have it available here

Planning and Cutting the Skirt Portion

Now, decide the length of your skirt and how wide you would like the bottom edge of your skirt to be. I want the width of my skirt to be a full a-line just about knee length, to ensure it will drape over the hips with enough room for cool comfort. So, I have decided to make my skirt 35" wide laying flat, and 25 inches in length. The Rosie waistband is at the true waist, so you can measure from there to determine your desired skirt length.

To create the skirt pattern, draw out a rectangle with one side the desired length of your skirt (in my case 25 inches) and the other side half of the desired width of your skirt (in my case 17.5 inches - half of 35 inches).  This will be used for both the front and back of the skirt, however the back of the skirt has an additional 3/4 inch seam allowance at the center back, as noted in the pattern.  A bit more seam allowance is added to make inserting a zipper easier. 

Place the both the front and back slack patterns on top of each of the paper or Swedish tracing paper used to make the skirt pattern. 

 

 Find the Center Front and Back:  To find the center back, draw a horizontal line from the top back edge of the slack pattern. Use the grain line as a guide. The line you are drawing should be parallel to the grain line. 

To find the center front, draw a horizontal line from the edge of the slack pattern center. Remember that a 1/2 inch seam allowance has already been added to the pattern at the center front, however, because we are cutting the center front of the skirt on the fold we will not need that 1/2 inch seam allowance. So, the center front line should be on the fold. The 1/2 inch seam allowance should be off the center front edge. See the illustration above. 

Add the pocket pattern pieces to the Slacks pattern to finish the shape of the Slacks front.  

Now you will  create the skirt shape.  For the front, use the pocket pattern pieces placed with the Slack front to help create the shape of the skirt. Line the three pieces up using the pocket curve and edges as a guide. See the illustration below.

Once you have pattern pieces G, J, and I aligned, draw a line from the top edge of the waist to the bottom corner.  Do the same for the back piece, going from the outer edge of the Slacks back to the outer edge of the rectangle.  See the illustration above. 

Transfer all notches, dart and pleat markings to the new pattern pieces, cutting the top of the new skirt pattern to match the top of the Slacks pattern.  

Now you have all the pieces you need to create a dress from the 240 Rosie the Riveter pattern!  

Making the Dress

Proceed with sewing as the pattern indicates. Assemble the front bodice and waist band and set aside. Assemble the right and left back bodice and waistband and set aside. Assemble the front and back bodice facings and the shoulder straps and set aside.

Skirt Front and Back

Use the Sewing Guide for Slacks provided in the 240 Rosie the Riveter pattern for reference as you proceed.

For the front of the skirt, assemble pockets and pleats as described in the pattern.  For the back of the skirt, stitch darts as indicated.  

Now assemble the front and back of the dress SEPARATELY.

Assemble the front of the dress first, by attaching the front bodice at the waistband to the top of the front of the skirt, with right sides together. Press seam allowance towards the waistband.

Assemble the right and left back sides of the dress, by attaching the back bodice at the waistband to the corresponding back skirt pieces. Press seam allowance towards the waistband. 

You should have one front dress piece constructed of a bodice, waistband, and skirt. You should have two (right and left) back dress pieces constructed of a back side bodice, a back waistband, and a back skirt. Insert your zipper and join the back pieces at this point (remember the 3/4" seam allowance at center back).  Press seam allowance open.

Put the dress together

With right sides together match the notches on the front and back bodice pieces, align either side of the waist bands both top and bottom, and match the bottom edge of the skirt. Be sure to pin and ease as necessary along the length of the skirt. Sew the side seam allowance and press seams to the back. Do this for each side.  You can finish the seams and topstitch them down for a faux flat felled seam here, if you like.  

Use the 240 Rosie the Riveter instructions to finish the bodice and waistband facing and and to add the straps to the bodice, as well as for all finishing work.

I hope you enjoy turning the Folkwear 240 Rosie the Riveter Overall pattern into a dress to be worn all summer long!  All it takes is a bit of inspiration and a "can do" spirit to encourage you to look at any pattern with fresh eyes and see other possibilities. Try using this simple formula in other pant to to skirt transformations.

 

 

 

 

Flapper Dress Beaded Embroidery Tutorial

By Molly Hamilton
on April 30, 2020
4 comments

Gathering the Inspiring bits of this and that is half the fun.

The team at Folkwear is terribly excited to be offering a smart & select, new Flapper Dress Pattern! This is a fabulous little dress pattern and so easy to make. A dress that can literally be made the afternoon before the party. There is no excuse to claim you have nothing to wear!

The 1920's was not called the "RoaringTwenties" for nothing. It is the iconic flapper dress that we all associate with this bold and exciting time. Whether dancing to the electric energy of jazz party tunes, or relaxing all afternoon sipping a fancy drink on the lawn, the flapper dress is always appropriate. Plus, there is hardly a dress more fun to wear! 

Our very own Cari provided Folkwear with the inspiration for this dress. We copied this original flapper dress that belonged to Cari's grandmother. The dress was hand sewn and hand beaded. We were inspired to make the dress for ourselves. And because it was so fun and easy to make, we decided it would be a perfect project to offer to the Folkwear community. You can download this simply fabulous flapper dress as a PDF here.

One of the things that can make a flapper dress have its great drape and swing is the beading on the dress.  Glass beads add a weight and glamour to the dress that is iconic of the time.  You can use beaded fabric, or as with our original, add beads to your dress.  Below you will find a tutorial on how to add beads to fabric, and at the end we've included videos to show beadwork that is both fun and simple to do.  Every Flapper, even if only in spirit will enjoy learning a few beading tricks to embellishing a perfect something. You only need a few supplies to do amazing things with beading on fabric.

Beads

Everybody in the know, knows that a flapper dress gets it's swing from the weight and drape that only beading can provide. 

 

Seed beads and bugle beads are perfect for beading on fabric and allow for beautiful details.

Flapper dresses were originally adorned with glass beads, metal beads, pearls, and sequins. Today, beads are easy to find whether new or vintage. Online sources such as eBay and Etsy are a great place to search for vintage or antique beading treasures. Glass beads originally used on flapper dresses were mercury glass beads, jet glass beads, Czech glass beads, etc. Millinery supplies shops are also good places to look for beads too. For new glass beads, most craft stores, such as Jo Ann's fabrics and Michael's carry a beautiful and wide range of colors and shapes. One of my favorite local bead shops is Chevron Bead Shop in Asheville, NC. 

Designing with beads is one of those endless possibility pursuits! There are just so many different beads to chose from and the design possibilities are endless. 

Fabrics

Just about any fabric will work well for beading. Flapper dresses with fancy elaborate beading designs were originally made of silk, velvet, and rayons that varied in weight and textures that always lent a soft drape. Stiff or heavy fabrics really do not allow for the drape that is synonymous with the flapper dress aesthetic.

The beauty of the flapper dress is that it can be made for easy everyday wear or done up for a fancy glamorous party or evening dress. Recommended everyday fabrics include cotton lawn and voile, handkerchief and mid weight linens, and rayons for warm weather wearing. Light weight wools, flannels, mid-weight cottons are perfectly acceptable for cool weather wearing. Depending on the weight, knits work well for an even more casual look in all seasons. For a glamorous evening look, silk and velvet are always absolutely perfect. Basically you want a soft fabric that hangs and drapes nicely and makes you feel beautiful.

 Thread & Needles

While everyday all purpose polyester thread like Guterman will work just fine for beading, cotton thread, silk thread, and plastic thread just for the purpose of beading are also available and work well. 

A long beading needle above a shorter Milliner's needle.

The eye of the needle is the element that counts in beading. Like Milliner's needles, the eye and the shaft of a beading needle are the same width. You can use any needle that will allow the eye the needle to pass through the hole of the bead. Beading needles are useful and a pleasure to use because the eye is extremely small which will pass through tiniest of seed beads and the needles are long and wire thin. The long length of the needle allows for you to load lots of beads on the needle at one time. The size of the thread used also depends on whether it will pass through the eye of the needle.

Helpful Hint: Due to the really tiny eye of beading needles using a needle threader is highly recommended.

Just about every sewing mending kit come with a useful needle threader.

Preparing your Fabric

Once you decide on a beading design for your project you will need to transfer this design to your fabric. Both transferring your design and the actual beading will require working on the right side of your fabric. This part of the process will take some consideration, and experimentation may be in order to achieve success. The idea is to be able to see your design guide well enough to outline or fill in with beads, but to not see the transfer marking or lines once your piece is completed. Depending on the fabric you use, will in part depend on the transfer method used.

Invisible pens used in sewing are a good option for drawing or tracing your design to your fabric. 

If your fabric can be seen through, tracing your design using a light box or light table would be ideal. Using a window instead a light box will work too.

No matter what method you use, always use a light hand with an ink pen or fine leaded pencil. 

If your fabric can not be seen through, then laying and pining your paper design guide on top of your fabric, with fabric appropriate carbon paper sandwiched in between, is a good method to try. Instead of trying to actually draw your design with a continuous tracing line... use small continuous dots to create a line. Just remember that fabric is not paper and will not behave like paper when transferring is the task. 

 

Freehand drawing my design directly on my linen fabric.

Depending on how much beading you intend to venture into will in part determine how you approach preparing your fabric for beading. Beading will add weight to your fabric and the more beads your design requires the heavier your fabric will be. Beading also cause your fabric to shrink ever so slightly, because beading draws the fabric up. Generally, this is not enough to impact fabric size, but it is good to know.

The decision you need to make up front is when you will bead your project. You may want to consider beading your fabric before actually cutting out your garment if your beading design is extensive. Draw the outline of your pattern piece onto your fabric using a stay stitch or drawn outline. If using an ink pen be sure to use a light hand and allow the ink to completely dry, to avoid smudging your fabric. A useful method, is to trace your pattern piece with a pencil.  Once again using a light hand, and then stay stitch over your pencil line. Be sure to allow space between the edge of your outline and the seam allowance - you want to avoid beading in the seam allowance and leave  a quarter inch for your machine foot, if needed (sewing machine feet have a hard time going over beads). Do all your beading just a bit outside the seam allowance. You can always go back and fill in with a bead here and there if you have any unwanted empty spaces, once you have sewn up your garment or piece. 

Also, consider starting your beading design work in the center of your fabric and work outwards. This will allow you to more evenly distribute the weight of your project, which will help prevent the fabric stretching out of shape. 

If your beading work is not extensive or only occurs in small areas or as trim work along the edges, you may decide to do your beadwork after you have assembled your garment.

It is always prudent to try and think out the possibilities and challenges you may encounter in a new project. For that reason I am going to demonstrate several simple beading stitches and complete a simple design just for the fun of it!

Preparing to Bead

Tiny little seed beads can become unruly and literally bounce and fly off in all directions if you do not know how to handle them. A few simple preparations will help make your beading project go more smoothly and remain tidy. You can purchase beading blankets to help make working with beads more manageable. Beading blankets provide a soft surface, which help to keep your beads from uncontrollably rolling around or popping and bouncing about when you try to load your needle with beads. If you do not have a beading blanket a simple piece of felt will work just as well.

Felt to help prevent beads from bouncing about.

Loading beads onto a needle.

Beaded border designs in progress. See video for instructions.

 

Finished beaded design. See video for instructions.

Up close detail.

 

 

 

Flamenco Rose Tutorial

By Molly Hamilton
on February 06, 2020
3 comments

Flamenco Rose Tutorial

by Cynthia Anderson, Folkwear Creative Assistant

With Valentine’s Day literally just around the corner and the thought of spring inspiring me, my sewing aspirations have turned a bit romantic as I start to day dream of the clothes I want to make and wear.

What better project to satisfy romantic yearnings, as well as creating a nod to spring, than the Fabric Rose Accessory featured in the Folkwear Flamenco Pattern.

This project is easy to make and lends itself to so many possibilities. Of course, roses say Valentine’s Day, as well as notions of spring, gardens, weddings, parties . . . .  This project is simply the romantic touch only roses can conjure up.  Besides being easy to make with endless possibilities, you can practically make this project from scraps of fabric.

To get started you can use the pattern piece provided in the Flamenco Pattern, labeled Rose “Z”.  This pattern piece is quite large and would make a stunning statement piece be it for a dress, a purse, or even a pillow. You can make your rose any size you like. Use the “Z” pattern piece as a guide or make your own. Your rose size will vary depending on the width and length of the strips you cut. Cutting the piece longer will make a fuller flower, cut the piece wider for a larger flower.

Once you decide on the size of roses you want to make, you can cut out your fabric using a pattern as a guide or simply cut out your fabric freehand. This rose looks great cut on the fold as the pattern instructions suggests or it can be cut out as a single layer of fabric as well. Ribbon and seam binding work great too! When using mere scraps of fabric there is no excuse not to experiment. 

I chose scraps of silk dupioni left over from I dress I made for myself as a starting point for my Romantic Spring Rose Corsage. I wanted to work relatively small and vary the sizes of my roses to make my corsage. I ended up using scraps of silk haboti, linen, and silk organza to make additional roses. You can see the great effect of using different fabrics to make the different roses in the photo above and at the end of this tutorial.  

To get started, using the Rose “Z” pattern, fold fabric in half lengthwise, with wrong sides together. Do not press the fold… in order to make the edges of your rose softer. I am showing the "how-to" photos below with a blue fabric for the rose, set over a white fabric for contrast (sorry the fabric is wrinkled!).

Turn the lower corner of your fabric strip with the squared off edge (right angle) upward to create a 45 degree angle as shown.

Now sew a LONG gathering stitch (by hand or on a sewing machine) along the raw edge, about 1/4 “ from the edge. You might want to try making the gathering stitches in three of four sections, rather than trying to gather up the entire length with one thread. I did find this helpful because my thread would break when I attempted to do just one gathering thread. 

Next, start at the pointed end, draw up the gather stitches… roll the strip around itself. This is where you will want to do a bit of experimentation in shaping your rose to see what effect you like.

 

As you roll up the strip, hand sew the rose to itself, using the gathering stitches as a guide. Try different techniques with the look of your rose, pull the gathering stitches lightly for a more tightly closed flower, and pull tighter for a fuller rose. Do a little of both for a more varied look. I used a small hot glue gun to secure my rose on itself. This technique allowed me to shape my rose more quickly because I am not stopping to sew.  As with most things concerning sewing, you will find the techniques that works best for you.

Continue to gather, roll and stitch the entire strip of fabric. I manipulated the shape and edges with each small turn. Trim away any thread ends and frayed edges. 

To finish off the underside of your rose trim a bit of the fabric to make it easier to turn under. Secure the base with a round circle made of felt or fabric to create a backing. Iron a bit of fusible interfacing on the wrong side of your circle to help give it some stability. Then secure your finishing circle backing to the turned under edges of your rose with a slip stitch - or in my case I used hot glue. The idea in doing this is to cover up the rolled up raw edges and provide a nice finished surface.

You could to attach a pin, barrette, or ribbon, etc. and accessorize any number of things. I ended up attaching my roses to a piece of silk organza and adding a couple of strips of silk dupioni to create ribbons, then I pinned my corsage to a silk scarf to finish off the look of my dress.  On some of the rosettes in this corsage, I  left the outer edges raw (as opposed to folding the fabric in half so there are no raw edges exposed), and I really like the look of this as well - a bit rustically romantic.  

 

 

Sewing with sheer fabrics

By Molly Hamilton
on May 19, 2017
2 comments

Sewing with sheer fabrics

The Greek Island Dress is a great garment to use with sheer flowing fabrics, but these fabrics can be a bit tricky to work with.  Here are some tips to help you before you begin to cut into and sew with those wonderful and fun (but maybe intimidating) fabrics.

  • If the pattern calls for interfacing, choose light-weight, sheer fabrics for interfacing, such as organza, organdy, or other sheer fabrics that match the fashion fabric or are flesh-colored.  For materials other than lace, you can even use the fashion fabric itself as a self-fabric interfacing.
  • If the sheer or lace fashion fabric is too transparent for your taste, underline the pattern pieces with a matching or flesh-colored sheer.  To underline, cut the pattern out a second time for the selected underlining fabric, baste underlining to the fashion fabric pieces (wrong-sides together), and handle as one piece. 
  • If neckline, armscye, front opening, or other facings will show through the fabric, omit them altogether, and bind the edges with bias strips, or line the entire garment with a compatible sheer fabric.
  • Cover cutting surface with a muslin, flannel, or old sheet to keep sheer, slippery fabrics from sliding around. 
  • Instead of cutting on the fold, cut in a single layer (making full-size pattern piece as needed).
  • Insert pins in seam allowances only, so you won't have pinholes showing in the finished garment.
  • Start sewing with a brand new sharp (or Microtex) needle and use size appropriate for lightweight fabrics (60/8, or 65/9, or 70/10)
  • If the fabric is too slippery and hard to manage while stitching, put a layer of tissue paper on top of the fabric, then tear away tissue after stitching. 
  • Don't backstitch at the beginning or end of seams.  Instead, set stitch length to 0.  Or, tie the thread tails in square knots.  Also, pull thread tails taunt for the first couple of stitches when starting to sew.
  • French seams are ideal for lightweight, filmy garments. 

These tips, plus quite a few more (including tips on sewing with lace) are included in the #266 Greek Island Dress pattern.  Happy sewing . . .  with sheers!