Silk Strata Top
Hello! I was about to post this shirt on instagram and thought to myself, I can’t miss an opportunity to talk about sewing with this silk!! It felt a little ridiculous to do a blog post about a tiny little shirt, but there was so much to say! I will briefly go through the pattern as I usually do and then give a few tips on sewing with this silk!
The pattern is from Sew Liberatedand it is called the Strata top. There is not that much information about this top online; therefore, I thought I would provide a little insight. I kept seeing Meg McElweepost pictures layering beautiful me-made pieces with her Strata top! I was like, "what is this pattern and where can I get its beautiful simplicity!?" The pattern can only be obtained through Taproot Magazine; Make: Volume 1. I purchased the magazine online and it shipped to my house quickly. It had so many other articles in the magazine that I appreciated as well! Knitting patterns and everything!
I will briefly discuss fabric choice, pattern layout, pattern construction, modifications, pattern fit, and then in more detail, notes on working with silk, notes on slippery fabric and styling your garment!
For this shirt, I don’t know what possessed me to use silk, but I wanted a simple, yet chic garment! I had beautiful Mulberry silk crepe de Chine (100% silk) that I had purchased from the Sewing Studio. I think any fabric with drape would be appropriate (viscose, silk, voile, silk noil, double gauze, etc).
The pattern layout is super simple but make sure you have enough fabric to cut a bias strip for your neckline. I did require slightly more than the stated fabric requirements which was 1 1/2 yards. This was likely because my fabric was about 41 inches wide. I recommend paying attention to the width of your fabric and having two yards just in case.
It is so simple! Sew the shoulder and side seams, and then attach the bias binding to the neck! Hem the sleeves and bottom and voila! The beauty is in the shape of the pattern pieces that are drafted! There are not any sleeves to set in! However, if I could make this top again, I would do French seams.
I did not sew the bias binding together into a circle before attaching it (as instructed by the pattern). I knew it had stretched quite a bit larger than the neckline, as I had cut it out a long time prior. I started attaching the bias binding starting 1 inch from the edge and then when I got to the end, I folded over the end that had not been sewn from the beginning, and put the end piece on top of it. This sounds very confusing but here are pictures.
If I could go back, I would add a little length to the front as it comes up higher than I would like it to. It has a lower back than front. I just pulled up my skirt a little higher and it was fine. I DO have a long torso!
Working with silk- Now for the meaty part!
Now typically, for this kind of silk, you should dry clean only. But, I know myself and what I will and will not do! So I put it in the machine on cold hand wash and hung it dry. It barely lost a little sheen but still looks beautiful! If you are not sure, wash a test piece!
I know a lot of people say for slippery fabrics you need to pin pin pin!!! I don’t agree! I think it depends. Each pin leaves a hole that sometimes doesn’t go away.
I used sharp and thin pins for delicate lightweight fabric that you can purchase at your local fabric store.
When pinning, I try to stay inside the seam allowance at all times. I typically pin sparingly, as opposed to others. I use the pins only as a guide, and I use my eyes and hands to align the fabric very well before sewing slowly. Unless you leave the pins in as you sew, I find that they tend to move the fabric around when I take them out.
You do whatever you think is best! If your fabric is extremely slippery, you may just need to pin generously anyway!
Sometimes you can gently hand baste the seams together. This is a simple method of hand sewing by going into the seam and out along the length of it with a very long and loose stitch length to help the seams stay still. I believe I may do this when I work with some extremely slippery fabric coming up soon!
You can also use other methods such as clips and adhesive spray (discussed below).
I used low heat on the silk setting (level 2) on my iron. It took a little bit of patience to get wrinkles out and I did not push the iron back and forth very much. I lifted and pressed gently.
Finishing seams vs French seams:
I did not realize how much this fabric does fray so instead of finishing my seams with a serger, I wish I would have used French seams!!
I have used Odif 505 before with success! This can help the fabric edge stick together. Make sure you test it on a scrap piece! You can use this in the place of pins or in combination with them. I found this on amazon.
I used a sharp needle to avoid leaving a blunt hole. I wanted the sewing needle to leave as little a hole as possible! I also used a 70/10 because the fabric was very lightweight and delicate.
Be careful not to stretch the silk as you sew! A lot of these pieces are bias cut, meaning they are prone to stretch and warp. I definitely stay-stitched the necklines as recommended.
Also, I use a regular stitch length and am mindful of my tension. You may need to adjust your pressor foot pressure as well, if you are able to do that. I had my tension what it usually is (3.5), my stitch length 2.5 and my pressor foot pressure normal.
I have a Pfaff passport 3.0 with the IDT technology that functions as a walking foot. If I did not have this, I would pull out a walking foot.
As you sew, you will be stopping your machine to pull your pins out. Leave your machine set to leave the needle in the fabric when you stop sewing. Be careful not to pull on the fabric when the needle is down, because this will easily make a bigger hole than you would like!
Since the fabric easily frays, make sure your notches are cut very shallow and definitely within the seam allowance. If you mark them by any other method, marker or chalk, make sure you test this before as well.
Let's take a moment to talk about darts and tailor's tacks, even though you won't need this with this pattern! If you have any darts to mark on delicate fabric, you can try a tailor’s tack (basically a very loose stitch in the fabric- see pictures of a tailors tack** made with doubled up contrasting thread!) or a light chalk mark (test this first!).
**Here is how you can mark two layers of fabric, as if you are cutting two mirror images. Double up contrasting thread on a needle. Pass the needle through both layers and the pattern at the point you want to mark. Leave a small tail. Pass it through again and leave a loop. Do this one more time. First, detach the pattern piece from the thread. Then pull the fabric pieces apart and cut through them! If you don’t pull them out, they should stay!
Hemming with this fabric was a bit difficult, but I have to say that it was still doable. I think learning to do a hand roll hem would have been useful for this! Maybe next time!
I think that this shirt is so versatile! If you just look at Sew Liberated instagram, you will see how she styles her pattern in so many different ways. You can layer it over a dress. You can tie it in the back and wear it with pants or a skirt. Its just amazing!