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Silk Charmeuse
Questions about stabilizing and washing silk charmeuse
bettina77
bettina77
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Date: 7/22/14 11:16 PM

Okay, so here's what happened. My fiance got nominated for an Emmy, and I decided to make a dress for the event. Now, I'm not exactly a beginner at sewing--I've even done some professional work--but I have never worked with silk charmeuse. Nonetheless, I got a little over-excited at the fabric store and bought a whole mess of it for the dress I intend to make, and now I'm sitting at home wondering how the heck I'm gonna cut this pattern out accurately without ruining the darn stuff.

So I've done a search here and found the gelatine and starch suggestions. Those sound pretty keen to me, and I think I will go the starch direction. However, I am concerned about washing the silk afterward. Will it change the hand of the fabric? The shine/shimmer? Can I just dry-clean out the starch after I'm done sewing? Help me, pleeeeeeease! I have a very limited amount of time in which to make this dress!!!

Catina
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In reply to bettina77 <<
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Date: 7/22/14 11:38 PM

Congratulations to you and your hun!!!!!!!!

I'm the silk charmeuse queen... and no stranger to making "red carpet" gowns.

If the only thing you are worried about is the cutting process, I'll give you the industry insider method.

You can buy some yardage of "underlay" paper from several vendors in the LA Fashion District It is the same width as your fabric. Roll the paper out on the table. Then lay your silk charmeuse on top (or chiffon, or any other tricky fabric you are using). Then roll another layer of paper on top. You WILL need to check and make sure you have laid your fabric nice and square and on grain/crossgrain. This will protect your fabric from being disturbed and give it a support system while you are cutting. From there you can plop down your pattern pieces, tape 'em down in some places, pin down in other places. Some of the interior pieces you will not be able to pin down until you have cut some of the outer pieces to have some slack. Using weights as you cut helps a lot too.

I have a video of me working the process. Just turn your volume down if you watch it, I have annoying workroom noise going on, and the downtown LA commotion.

I'm not excited about starching and such... I worry that it will "freeze" the grain all wobbly in places, then when you cut it, sew, it and wash it loose again you might see where the grainline ripples happened. This method DOES work for many on PR, I'm just not one of them.

There is also the possibility to just hire a cutter to do the cutting if you feel like this piece is too special to be caught up in your learning curve.

I DO wash my silk charmeuse often, but not for reasons of needing to wash out starches or anything. Sometimes I just like the look of "washed/sueded" charmeuse that's not so slick and shiny/satin. Then there are times I want the full blown sheen. If you want the sheen factor, try to avoid the washing route.

Please remember to turn the volume down if you watch this video... it's just something raw and random I posted.
I have a layer of brown paper on the bottom, then the silk, then another layer of brown paper on top. In my case, the top layer happens to be a printout with the pattern already on it that I did on my plotter. But in your case, you would just plop your pattern pieces on top of the top layer of brown paper.

video: cutting silk, sandwiched between two layers of paper.


------
Your "Pattern Hack Fairy",
Catina Ferraine

www.PatternHackFairy.com


JDpenelope
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Date: 7/23/14 6:36 AM

Catina — Thanks for the detailed description and the video. All info was quite helpful to me and should be to bettina77. And bettina77 — Congrats to your fiancé. I hope you will share your finished gown here.

------
aka Joanne. (Penelope was our cat. RIP.)
"What mother nature gives, father time takes away."
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RMJ
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In reply to Catina <<


Date: 7/23/14 8:22 AM

Catina, I've been told that cutting paper dulls scissors. In your experience, is that true? Or is that a myth?

Catina
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Date: 7/23/14 8:51 AM

Quote:
Catina, I've been told that cutting paper dulls scissors. In your experience, is that true? Or is that a myth?


Good question! Yup, cutting paper dulls your scissors....so does cutting fabric. We just sharpen then every now and then. I heavily use my Gingher scissors every day, with and without paper. I sharpen mine about once every two years. In the factory setting, they use the longer shears... but same thing, the cut through paper almost every minute of an 8 hour day.

I do understand that there are many who would like to be gentle with their tools, so in that case one might have two pairs of scissors- one for "fabric only" and one for "paper/cloth". The truth is, with the paper sandwich method of cutting fine silks.... you can actually use a crappy pair of scissors and have no trouble cutting the fabric. If you tried to cut the fabric on it's own with the crappy scissors- it would just chew up the fabric.

I have one pair of scissors that I use exclusively for cutting beaded and sequined fabrics. Now those are a mess!!!

------
Your "Pattern Hack Fairy",
Catina Ferraine

www.PatternHackFairy.com


RMJ
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In reply to Catina <<


Date: 7/23/14 10:29 AM

Thank you for all of your useful information!

ThreadsofFaith
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Date: 7/23/14 12:09 PM

Honestly, Catina, we are so fortunate to have you here on the PR forums! You are so generous with your knowledge. Thank you!

bettina77
bettina77
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Date: 7/23/14 1:16 PM

Catina,

Thank you so very, very much for your detailed reply. Total Godsend! I'm trying now to find vendors for this paper, and can really only find one who sells by the yard, and they only sell small, apparently very heavy rolls, because the shipping (even just as far north as San Francisco, where I live) is absolutely outrageous! Can you clue me in to some other possible vendors? I'm currently looking at ids-la.

Thanks again!

solosmocker
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Date: 7/23/14 1:26 PM

You can also try a medical supply place for examining table paper.

FWiW, you don't need to wash the garment heavily to get the starch out. Just soak in cool water, drain, soak again, till clear, minimal handling and dry flat. Iron while still damp on the wrong side with a press cloth.

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http://lasewist.blogspot.com/

Catina
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In reply to bettina77 <<
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Date: 7/23/14 1:28 PM

Right now you can get 10 yards of dot paper on sale for 50% off with free shipping from Goldstar , which puts you at $15 for your total order including shipping.

It's 48" wide which should be fine as I'm guessing your silk charmeuse is likely 45" wide.

The dot paper is thinner than the brown paper I use, which is not to say it's any less effective- they both work the same. I just use the brown paper because I have a big roll of it and the dot paper is usually more expensive than the brown, but with this sale it's a GREAT price!

The other advantage of the dot paper is that the dot grid will help you get your fabric nice and squared up. The leftover paper will also be great for tracing off you pattern pieces that are "cut two". REMEMBER: it is better for you to cut everything out as a single layer of fabric... none of that "cut on fold" business.

------
Your "Pattern Hack Fairy",
Catina Ferraine

www.PatternHackFairy.com


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