Thursday, 12 October 2017

Couture Techniques Workshop at FTM


Last month I attended a wonderful workshop at the Fashion and Textiles Museum ran by Zandra Rhodes' head couturier Jalanta. She planned a comprehensive set of tasks based around sewing silk satin and silk chiffon. These are notoriously tricky fabrics to sew with as well as being very expensive. Double trouble! There was no need to have worried as Jalanta gave us some really practical advice and we were all sewing with little samples of silk satin and silk chiffon with great confidence by the end of the day.

French Seam
I already knew how to do a French Seam but a really handy tip Jalanta gave us when sewing with ANY delicate fabric was to start the seam on a scrap piece of similar weighted fabric and keep sewing onto the seam from there. It avoids the delicate fabric from disappearing down the throat plate of the machine.




Pin Hem
I have read about Pin Hems but never knew how to accurately sew one until this workshop. Fold a 1.5cm hem, iron in position then sew as close as is humanly possible to the folded edge depending on the type of foot your sewing machine has. Now trim the raw edge, again as close as is possible to the sewn hem. Fold over and sew a second set of stitching, ideally in exactly the same place as before. Fiddly but oh so satisfying.



Pin Hem Around a Corner
This looked so hard I thought I wouldn't manage it. Luckily patience and resilience is key here AND nimble fingers. To sew around a scarf / handkerchief the key (which I NEVER realised until now) is to start sewing the edge in the middle NOT at the corner so you can fold over the corner as you get closer to sewing it and keep going. Once you have sewn one full seam all around you trim back the excess fabric like before. Next, fold over and sew a second hem making sure you hit the original sewing lines. This is particularly tricky when sewing with the chiffon as it is transparent and you can easily see any mistakes.









Silk Chiffon Bias Binding
Yes, I know what you are thinking; as if sewing bias-binding with regular fabric wasn't enough! We made our own bias binding with silk chiffon and attached like regular bias binding. The only difference with the final finish was how it was pinned at the front of the neckline / hem so that when you blind-stitch from the back you technically should be stitching in the ditch (I hope that makes sense?). The sewing line is 'supposed' to nestle EXACTLY in the seam of the chiffon bias and base fabric. In practice this was VERY hard.




There were a few more techniques but I didn't really get sufficient photos to share with you. Overall it was a great workshop that made me feel like I could make something from the 2 metres of Liberty silk I have had in my stash for too long.

I will leave you with these fun photographs of Bermondsey Street Fair that was in full swing on the 13th September!






13 comments:

  1. I've been scared off these kind of fabrics so far but a great set of tips here to give sewers more confidence, thanks for sharing! Have you got a pattern in mind for your liberty silk?

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    1. Hi Alex. I am really not sure. Maybe the Alex Shirt Dress (in honour of you!!) ; )
      Have you got any recommendations for a slinky, slippery but gorgeous fabric? I have 2 metres.

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    2. Well I'd of course get in board with the idea of an Alex shirt dress! :) I've usually been drawn to the idea of a blouse with slinky, slippery fabric so that it can be dressed up with a nice skirt or down with jeans.

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  2. I knew this workshop would be great! You just don’t realise how different techniques are in slippery fabric. Wish I could have attended.

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    1. You would have enjoyed it Sophie! It was a really interesting day - Bermondsey Fair made it that bit sweeter!

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  3. What a great workshop! I would love to go to one like this one! And thanks for all the helpful tipps :)

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  4. Fantastic pictures and sounds lie a wonderful workshop. I love silk to work with and accepts machine embroidery well. Have a good week x

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    1. Cheers Carolee x Your embroidery sounds nice x

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  5. This sounds like an amazing workshop, thanks for sharing some of the techniques you picked up . I am scared of delicate fabrics, I made our daughters prom dress from a satiny type thing and vowed never again but I guess it's all about knowing these kind of techniques that make it possible. This will be one of the features over at Handmade Monday tomorrow :-)

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    1. Thanks Julie. Glad I can help by sharing some of the tips I learnt.

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  6. I make pin hems all the time, I really like them on Pjs. I wish I had know about the scrap fabric tip because my new bra kept shooting down the footplate. Thanks CJ Jo xxx

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    1. I think I'll be using pin hems more regularly now I know how to do them!

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