Thursday, 2 February 2017

Handmade Gifts: Liberty Silk Satin Almada Robe

I made a fair few handmade gifts that I was really proud of back in December. The first of which was this silk robe which was a birthday gift for my friend Checca. I wanted to give her something super special as it was a special birthday plus I knew she'd appreciate something I had sewn as she sews too (and is very talented at it, I keep on at her to start a blog!). That did mean the pressure was on to make a really good job of it though as she'd spot any mistakes! I do enjoy sewing gifts for the home and other small soft goods but what I really like to sew is clothes. However, when making clothes as gifts I always come a bit unstuck when it comes to the fit as you can't try it on them without ruining the surprise! For Checca's present I thought about what clothing I could make that had a more generic size range and wouldn't need a fitting. I suddenly remembered that I'd chosen the Almada Robe pattern with some of my original Seamwork credits as I couldn't resist the beautiful and unusual kimono inspired design and I was sold on the idea.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Liberty Silk Satin Almada Robe

All I needed now was the perfect fabric. I'd originally chosen the pattern with the idea of making it up in a double gauze (and this is still high up my personal sewing wish list, I've been eyeing up Nano Iro for months!) but wanted to use something really luxurious for such a special occasion. I'm not usually a huge fan of Liberty prints for my clothing but this kind of garment is perfect to showcase one of their more ornate designs. I remembered spying some Liberty print silks in Classic Textiles on Goldhawk Road a while back so took myself on a little jaunt and was delighted to find a whole array of designs for even less than I remembered! I have now of course entirely forgotten how much this was but it was somewhere in the region of £14.95 per metre. An absolute steal if you consider that Liberty silks are £45/m in store! If you can't get to west London Liberty are currently offering 50% off a whole load of their archive fabrics including this very print in both this and the purple colour-way!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Liberty Silk Satin Almada Robe

I felt like the trees in this design had a slightly oriental feel to them and loved how that complimented the kimono style of the pattern. They had at least three colour ways of this print in stock and I had a hard time picking but eventually settled on the green as Checca has amazing red hair which I thought would bring out the rich red of the leaves. When buying it I did forget to note that its only 139cm wide so had some trouble squeezing it out of the two metres I bought. I was forced to make the cuffs slightly narrower to fit but this turned out to be a happy accident as I think the delicate silk suits the change and the wider cuff would need a fabric with more body to support it.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Liberty Silk Satin Almada Robe

I had some cream sand-washed silk satin leftovers stashed from when I made my Vogue 1247 blouse which was the perfect match in weight for the Liberty print and worked out great for the binding along the front edge. The matt sand-washed texture makes it slightly gripper than the satin which I fin makes it slightly easier to work with. This and the fact that it presses well with crisp folds is a godsend when doing something fiddly like the narrow binding. The pattern does recommend you interface the tie and cuff pieces but I decided to omit it for a couple of reasons. Firstly I wanted to retain the delicate fluidity of the silk and secondly I was concerned about using a fusible on something so fine. I considered hand basting in silk organza which is my go to choice for special projects but it has way too much body to be paired with this silk.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Liberty Silk Satin Almada Robe

The quality of the silk is absolutely as you would expect from Liberty. This is their Belgravia silk satin and it has a stunning sheen on the right side and a super smooth matt finish on the reverse which feels amazing against the skin. It weighs practically nothing but retains an opacity and as you can see it moves and drapes beautifully. I pre-washed it on a 30 degree delicate cycle in the machine. I usually do this with my silks and as it was a gift I wanted it to be easy to care for.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Liberty Silk Satin Almada Robe

Cutting out was tricky as the pieces are really big so there's plenty of room for the silk to shift about and move off grain. I cut everything in a single layer on my carpeted bedroom floor. I like doing this for silk as the carpet grips the fabric a little and prevents too much shifting. I know some people advise to use as few pins as possible as they tend to leave holes in the silk but I personally like to use lots of pins in a slippery silk like this as it makes it so much easier to control. I just make sure to keep all my pins in the seam allowances and now have some super fine Merchant and Mills entomology pins for use with fine fabrics which are awesome. I used the finest microtex needle I had to hand and a Gutermann Sew All Thread; a combo I find somehow cures most problems I have with skipped stitches!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Liberty Silk Satin Almada Robe

I've been generally quite impressed with Seamwork patterns so far but have only tried four; this, the Mesa and Neenah Dresses and a Paxon Sweater I made for my Dad. I had some fitting issues with the Paxon and Mesa (I don't seem to get on with Colette armholes!) but was impressed with the instructions and style lines. I'm not a fan of every design and some of them seem very basic but to build up a wardrobe of staple garments quite quickly as they advertised I they're a good a good bet. The simple lines of the patterns also mean they'd be a good starting point to try a bit of pattern hacking and experimentation. The PDFs do drive me a bit mad as I feel like I'm wasting a huge amount of paper but that's pretty much the only negative I've found.

The finishing on this pattern in particular is well thought out. Just because the designs are simple and patterns affordable doesn't mean they skimp on basic instructions and construction techniques; they're well chosen for the styles and intended fabric. My favourite part is how the ties are attached really neatly by sewing them on right sides together then folding them back on themselves and using two rows of topstitching to hide the raw end.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Liberty Silk Satin Almada Robe

As I was using this lovely fine silk and I wanted this to be a gift to treasure for years to come I used french seams throughout. I made them as tiny as I could! I love this technique and was really happy with how they turned out on this. How well silk responds to heat and steam helped no end when it came to getting clean even finishing. It was really time consuming though as there were so many long seams! I liked that the way the cuff is attached meant I could use french seams here too and it looks really lovely. Even though my cuffs were narrower than intended I think having a cuff rather than the same binding finish that is along the front really lifts the design and gives it that extra something.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Liberty Silk Satin Almada Robe

Fit wise there's not a lot to say as it's such a loose fitting garment! It is fairly short so I'd be more inclined to wear it with PJ bottoms or shorts than a slip. It becomes even shorter when you tie it up tight so I'm tempted to lengthen it when I eventually get around to making a version for myself. The other thing I would note is that the kimono style of the sleeves mean that the armholes are very deep and as the sleeves are short this means you can see right inside when you lift your arms! Definitely more of a luxury item for layering rather than a robe to be worn for modesty.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Liberty Silk Satin Almada Robe

I can't now find how long this one was supposed to take to make but all Seamwork patterns are advertised as taking between 1-3 hours. Making it in silk and french seaming meant this took WAY longer than that and to be honest I think this pattern would take me longer whatever the fabric as it requires some accuracy and concentration. I don't think I'm a particularly slow sewer but I am careful and I think most of the patterns will take longer than suggested if you are too.

Thank you to Checca for inspiring this project and giving me a reason to sew something so frivolous and with such a wonderful fabric. It was hard to hand this over when the time came so I really can't wait to find the perfect fabric for my own now!
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16 comments:

  1. That's beautiful! Funnily enough my mum and I bought some Liberty silk together and an Almada for her is on my to-sew list! Yours is a gorgeous gift, and the print is just perfect for it.

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    1. Ooo excellent choice! Which print did she pick? Its a really satisfying project as its a good challenge in the silk, I recommend starting it when you've got plenty of time on your hands and won't be tempted to rush. Enjoy the process! Thank you

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  2. Beautiful! I made some dressing gown gifts from this very silk as well - I agree the quality is beautiful. In fact I also cut one out for myself at the same time, which I still haven't finished a year and a half later!!! I absolutely must finish it because the silk is so beautiful. I bought mine from Classic Textiles as well, such great value.

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    1. Thank you! Don't dressing gowns make great gifts?! No fitting to worry about and you can make them very special and personal. What a coincidence, Classic do a great deal on silk! I do urge you to get on with yours, they are so delightful to wear! I can't wait to have the time to make one of my own.

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  3. This looks gorgeous! I have some Liberty silk that I also got discounted and I'm trying to make a decision on how to use - a robe like this was one of my top ideas but I wasn't sure on what pattern. I LOVE this one though so may have to try it!
    Sian xx Rebel Angel

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    1. O I really do recommend this pattern for Liberty silk! It does eat up quite a bit of fabric because of the wide kimono style but if you have enough go for it! I have also heard good things about the Buchanan Robe from Gather which looks like it would be lovely in silk. A slightly more classic style

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  4. gorgeous! what a lucky friend - I can see why you would have been reluctant to hand it over!

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    1. Thanks Tamsin! I almost didn't! Luckily it was enjoyable to sew so I can make myself one

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  5. I think that Almadas (I always want to call it Alamanda)make perfect gifts because the sizing is quite loose and they look beautiful. In fact I'm planning on making one for my sister in law to be as a pre-wedding gift. She loves Liberty so I might have to consider some special Liberty fabric, although if I was looking to not spend quite so much how do you think the lawn would go instead of the silk? Possibly too stiff or not?

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    1. My thoughts exactly Charlotte, the unique style makes them feel more of a luxurious treat to give as a gift. Something that bit more special. It would be the PERFECT pre-wedding gift, swanning around in Liberty on the morning of your wedding would be such a treat! I think the lawn would work beautifully. It would have a slightly different effect than the silk, you're right but it would be equally lovely to wear. I think it would drape in a similar fashion to the double gauze used for the Seamwork sample

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  6. Absolutely beautiful....and a perfect gift! I would bet your friend is delighted with it.

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    1. She does seem pretty chuffed! Thank you!

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  7. Ahh I've been dying to make this and it looks amazing Fiona! You have some seriously lucky friends. I bought some of that Liberty in Goldhawk a while ago for pjs. I'd forgotten all about it until now. I'll have to dig it out, I hate the amount of paper wasted on Seamwork patterns I printed the Geneva pants and some of cloth habits pants and Geneva had like 10 pages more! you've inspired me to print this out and assemble it though, I think it looks work it!

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    1. I was kind of glad I found a reason to make one as it hadn't made it to the top of my personal sewing queue! Its amazing to hear how many people have snapped up a bit of this silk from Classic, although I'm not surprised as its such a bargain!
      I'm with you on the PDFs, if it was the first PDF I had tried it probably would have put me off them for life. Totally worth it though

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  8. Ooo! This is gorgeous, hope your friend loved it.

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    1. Thanks Lynne! I did get a very excited thank you!

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!