Thank you Kasey for another wonderful fabric/pattern review! The embroidery takes this project to the next level. I think I need a pair of sleeves….. 🙂 You can follow Kasey and all of her embroidery work at Kasey Sasser Embroidery and Gifts.
The pattern is number 4012 from Decades of Style, the Sleek-Sleeved Bolero. In it they describe a “pair of sleeves” which is precisely what we need from time to time. The pattern has some interesting details: a vented sleeve, elbow ruching (which I changed to darts), and sewn in pleats at the collar, which creates a soft gather along the front edge. The pattern was easy to alter for an FBA, and came together very quickly. If you don’t need to line your fashion fabric, even the long sleeve version lets you get away with just 1 ½ yards of fabric. It also comes with a short sleeve variation, so you can have “pairs of sleeves” all year round. The sleeve itself is cut on the bias, allowing for a slimmer than normal fit while giving you plenty of stretch to move around.
To sew the silk I used a size 70 microtex needle and cotton thread – but that’s not even the interesting part! The gown I wanted to coordinate with has an old wrap skirt that was woven with gold and silver metallic threads. I thought embroidery would be the best way to enhance the whole outfit.
The georgette took to embroidery far better than I hoped; perhaps the double-thick nature of the fabric? I used titanium-coated size 75 embroidery needles for metallic thread, which have an enlarged eye. I also used Robison Anton metallic thread (the best one I have found; very little if any breakage, and acts the most like regular embroidery thread.) The color used for this project is “Antique.” I also used a lightweight mesh cutaway stabilizer, which I have in black but the material is opaque enough I think the white would be fine. I also used a light spray of KK2000 temporary adhesive just to help myself as much as possible.
As you can see the results are gorgeous! I decided not to go “matchy-matchy” on the motif so I could wear the bolero with other items if I wished; the peacock design lets it stand on its own. These designs are from the Mehndi Peacock collection by Embroidery Library. Although I did line the bodice of the bolero to hide the stitching, I also used a fusible tricot to cover the back of the embroidery – just in case any metallic threads might’ve come through. For the sleeves I only covered the bottom portion where the embroidery was located.
Need another pair of sleeves even more quickly? Try Vogue 7161, view D – truly a pair of sleeves! (Note on availability: Vogue does no currently list this pattern, but it is still available from 3rd party retailers.) You basically sew a rectangle into a tube, then add some binding to the edges – not even bias binding, it’s cut on the straight of grain. If you decide to finish the binding by “stitching in the ditch” instead of hand sewing the inner edge, even more time saved! In total, maybe 90 minutes from cut to finish? Yes, even with this lovely silk double georgette (sold out) and silk satin from Roz; I had no trouble sewing with these fabrics on the machine. I still had in my # 70 microtex needle, used a little tear away stabilizer to start my seams, and sewed as usual.
Some tips for sewing: it’s double georgette so yes, your cut edges will be a bit wobbly – it’s OK! No one will see that after they’re sewn, so don’t stress about getting the grain perfectly aligned for cutting. Also, leave the pattern pinned to the fabric as long as possible, it will make moving around the cut pieces much easier – Wonder Clips are good here; once you’ve cut out the pieces put clips all around the edges before you move them. The pattern recommends French seams and I second that, it will be the fastest, cleanest way to finish these projects. Also, georgette and chiffon tend to have wiry fibers, so check your finished seams closely for loose strands and pokeys. Forgo the pressing cloth and press from the wrong side. It will be easier to set the edge of the binding without trying to wrestle a third layer of fabric. Yes, the satin will get shiny, but once you’ve sewn down the second binding edge, you can go back with a bit of steam, or spritz and re-press with the cloth to remove the shine.
Afraid to steam or press your silk? Wash it first – it’s not the silk that gets water spots, it’s the finishers and other agents applied to the silk that get spotted. If you wash them all out first, you can always wash your silks afterwards. Warm water on the delicate cycle, a mild detergent like Woolite or 7th Generation, and a few minutes on lowest dryer heat to get out extra moisture – hang to finish drying. You won’t be afraid of your silks anymore!