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.
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.
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!