While waiting on the availability of my photographer to capture Look #1, which is finished, I thought you might enjoy taking an inside look at the construction of the silk tank. Although fairly simplistic in design, some of these details reveal why a well constructed garment takes a lot of time and thought. I’ll focus on the straps here, which seem fairly straightforward.
First, you might be surprised to see that the strap is not a straight line. It has to follow the shape of the body. Otherwise it would gap and pucker and look very unprofessional. I purposefully draped it as a single piece, rather than including a seam line at the shoulder since I wanted to keep the look as sleek as possible. Shown above is a single finished strap, next to its original pattern piece.
Let’s rewind to the beginning though: Shown above is the upper layer of the strap before it is sewn to the under layer. Eventually you sew the upper piece to the lower piece and turn the two inside out. Before you can do that however, the upper piece needs some support in the form of bias strips. The bias strips give the strap a little more strength and structure (the charmeuse on its own is very lightweight and rather flimsy). Bias strips also help draw in the shape of the curve to prevent puckering. These strips are made from one of my favorite interfacing materials: the very lightweight yet extremely stable silk organza.
Now the top layer can be attached to the under layer with an additional row of stitching. There is still some work to be done however before the strap can be turned. The seams must be graded. In other words, the seam allowance must be trimmed down to eliminate extra bulk. On the right side of the strap above, I’ve trimmed down one side. The other side must also be trimmed.
Extra fabric must also be clipped away from the outer curve in a triangular motif, an additional measure for eliminating bulk and facilitating the smooth look of the final strap.
Both sides are now trimmed and the strap is finally ready for turning.
Above is a look at the under layer before turning.
Ta da! The finished straps, looking pretty good. Experts may recognize from this photo however that I made one small, but arguably important, mistake in the pattern. A hint is that it has to do with the proportion of the under layer to the upper layer. I cut both the same size… But you know what? That whole process we just walked through? That was way too much work to start back at the very beginning. In the end, I’m hoping that this hiccup won’t be too noticeable — probably not to the average individual anyway. And this was a good reminder that details matter (!) — from the pattern to each and every step of construction.
Next, shown above, is a quick look at the blouse body which also benefits from the addition of a bias strip. Shown here is the top portion of the blouse without the straps and before the ruffle is in place. This bias strip, again, adds structure and support to the bodice — made entirely of fragile silk chiffon — and will help hold the shape of the blouse around the body.
Now we are ready for the ruffle! A very exciting step when the whole garment really comes together. But, lest you get too excited: my work is far from over. You see that ruffle there? Once attached, the whole outer circle requires a hand finishing stitch called a rolled hem. In other words, that’s about — let me calculate — about 47 inches of hand stitching! Let’s just say: this will take a while.
I’m very excited to show you photos of the finished blouse, along with the green “petal skirt” later this week. Do stick around!