Yes this is the third version of the Emmeline Tee from The Little Tailoress that I am sharing with you within a couple of months! I was always planning on making more as I've fallen hard for this little pattern and have been practically living in my other two but I wasn't going to bore you all to tears sharing every single one...until Marine from Supercut contacted me to ask if I would like to sew something up in a remnant of some beautiful Italian silk crepe she had chosen for me. I instantly thought Emmeline and it's turned out so well I couldn't resist sharing the fabric with you.
Supercut are an online fabric store based in Italy. They stock a stunning selection of fabrics from high quality brands including Liberty, Merchant & Mills and Linna Morata along with a gorgeous range of notions and haberdashery. Marine sent me a selection of samples with my silk and I'm kind of in love with this cotton shirting which is embroidered with little spectacles! If like me you're not based in Italy you may be feeling slightly put off by the international delivery charges. Within the EU I think they're already fairly reasonable at €12 for up to 2kg but Supercut also offer a storage and delivery option which I think is a great idea. You can group up to three orders together over a period of time until you reach the necessary €150 total including VAT to receive free shipping. They will store your orders until you make your last order and ship them altogether, meaning you can take advantage of sales and offers or make sure you pick up your favourite fabric before it sells out (You can of course order from outside of the EU but will need to contact Marine for shipping details and prices). I've also ended up posting about this at a great time for you guys as there's currently a pretty great sale on with up to 50% off some fabrics!
Anyway, back to the sewing which you all came here for! As I was so pleased with my previous versions I cut the XS size again and used view 2 with the raglan sleeves which I used for my silk georgette version previously. This silk crepe has a bit more body to it and an ever so slightly crisp hand which has given the sleeves a bit more of a structural shape compared to the soft drape of the lightweight georgette. I needed less than a metre of the silk which is another reason why this pattern has become a firm favourite! It's great for using up your stash and scraps too as you could definitely use a contrasting colour or print for the raglan sleeves and binding. I might have enough left of this silk to use them as sleeves paired with a plain navy body actually...hmmm!
Despite being lightweight this silk crepe is actually pretty robust. It has a lovely matt and dense finish to it which meant it wasn't too problematic to cut as it's not particularly delicate or shifty. The texture of the crepe gives it some grip so I just used pins and sheers. The fabric does really show and keep pin and needle holes though so make sure to keep your pins within the seam allowance with fabrics like this and try to avoid doing any unpicking! I did consider using french seams throughout on this project as Ami includes instructions for this and it's a great simple garment to practice this technique on. However as the silk was fairly dense I was worried about a french seam becoming too bulky and opted to finish all my seams on the overlocker...also making the whole construction process a lot quicker!
I did have a bit of a nightmare working out how to get my machine to behave with this fabric. Stitches were skipping like crazy. It wasn't even just the odd stitch but there were inches at a time where the needle hadn't perforated the fabric properly and seemed to be just bouncing off. It's hard to describe but it felt like my machine was really chugging along rather than running smoothly and it sounded and felt like the needle was punching at the fabric rather than piercing it.
I did a bit of online research and discovered quite a few people have had similar issues with certain types of silk crepe. I've sewn with lighter weight and softer crepes before and never had a problem but I think it's dense nature was the issue. I couldn't find one ultimate solution to my problem, just a smattering of advice on things to try which might help, so I decided to take a trial and error approach with some scrap fabric. First I tried all sorts of needles to not much avail. I had started with a sharps needle and tried a few different sizes of these before moving on to standard needles and even ball point and stretch! In the end I reverted back to my original choice of a size 80 sharps needle. Employing my walking foot made a slight difference but man did my machine then like to chew up the fabric at the beginning and end of each seam! Backstitching was a total no go.
What finally made the most substantial difference was changing the thread. I had been using a cheap Moon polyester as it was the best colour match but I changed to a Gutterman Sew All thread and suddenly no more skipped stitches! Well almost none...I had to go back over a couple of points. It might have been even better with a silk thread but I had none to hand. Lesson learned; don't try and save on thread!
Despite the tricky time I had sewing up the fabric, once I had worked out the best way to handle it was a super speedy project. This top comes together so quickly and this is even the most time consuming view as it has the extra sleeve pieces to deal with! The most tricky aspect of the top is the binding along the neckline as it is very narrow, but I love how it looks so I wouldn't want to change that! I'm again really pleased with how my neckline binding turned out. This was mainly helped by how well this particular silk pressed although Ami's method and instructions are very thorough too. I have found some silk crepes to be quite bouncy but I used a medium heat on my iron with lots of steam and this ensured the silk really held a nice crisp edge.
The Emmeline Tee might be the perfect way for the winner of last week's giveaway to use their chosen metre of fabric from Fabrics for Sale! I've finally got around to selecting a winner! Chosen by random number generator the lucky recipient is...Katy M who had her eye on this beautiful Wiltshire Liberty Tana Lawn! Congratulations Katy; you are of course free to change you mind so have another look and have fun choosing and sewing your fabric! I'll send you an email shortly putting you in touch with the ladies at Fabrics for Sale to confirm your choice.