Charmeuse sencha, deconstructed

16 Oct

Thank you so much for all your lovely compliments on my Sencha blouse! As promised, here’s a photo post detailing all the steps… well, most of them, anyway 🙂 It’s hard to remember to stop and photograph when you really get going!


This is going to be a pretty picture heavy post, so let’s put it behind a fold, shall we? All the photos are up on Flickr, so if you want to just browse through those, click here. Hopefully all the photos will show up.. I had to rotate a few and that caused them to be “temporarily unavailable”…but if you’re having trouble, go check them out on Flickr!

After doing a muslin of my sencha with the pleated neck variation, I decided that the pleated neckline wasn’t really very flattering on my frame. It draws a lot of attention to the bust, which I don’t really need help with! I also found the neckline a little close-fitting… I like my collar bones, so I made a very small alteration to make sure they showed.

So I took the lessons learned there and applied them to the keyhole neck. I shifted all the darts, and graded it up one size, to allow me to do french seams without worrying about having enough room in the allowances. I also decided to do the darts last of all, just before the hemline. This was a good decision, because it meant that I could try on the nearly complete garment and get the positioning of the darts just perfect.


I had already traced all my main pieces onto this fabric tracing “paper”, but I had to trace the facings still and the ties, so I did that on this awesome roll of tracing paper I got from Dick Blick…

So I started with my rotary mat and cutter… laying out the silk, doubled over, and then placing plates all over it to weigh the pattern down and keep it from slipping. I also made sure to true up the fabric as much as I could, so it would be on grain.

Here’s the fabric and the organza I used for interfacing…

I also decided to go with a single dart in front, rather than the double darts. This worked better with my lumpy tummy… I could have adjusted the pattern and done a double dart, but I decided I liked the single dart.
<a title="PA130137 by velokitty, on Flickr" PA130137

Before I cut anything, I did my tailor’s tacks. I didn’t make a hole… just did them through all 3 layers.

Cutting was easy, as long as I used pattern weights. in my case, these were ceramic plates that bore no nonsense from slippery charmeuse.

Here is the back bodice, all cut out:

Before I started sewing, I played around with a few scraps, to build up my courage. It is here that I would learn that my technique — known as “pin the crap out of it” — was well justified with this slippery fabric.

I made sure I had the right needle for sewing Charmeuse (thanks More Fabric Savvy!):

Then I held my breath and started sewing… and it was easy!

Here’s the same seam after pressing. As you can see, silk is ravely!

You can see the seam from the right side.. I know there’s a technique to counter that when pressing, but I didn’t feel like getting out another book at this point!

cutting out the organza was easy by comparison… it’s kind of like paper!

When I pinned the organza to the silk, I found that the pieces I’d cut so carefully were different sizes. That’s because the silk got all wobbly across the bias. So I smooshed it back into the shape of the organza, and deployed the PTCOI technique mentioned above. Smooshed is a very technical term.


Then I sewed the interfacing to the silk, and then trimmed away the excess organza, because I knew I was going to fold the silk over on the edge.

Then I sewed the front and back bodices together — again, PTCOI…

I’m doing a french seam so I sewed wrong sides together first, then flipped it and did right sides together.

After pressing on my ham, I sewed the interfacing together and then to the bodice.

There’s a bit of bulk around the neckline that you have to just go slow and ease out

I am TERRIBLE at sewing in a straight line when it comes to darts, so I cheated. I used the original pattern to mark the dimensions of the dart, and then used blue painter’s masking tape on the wrong side of the silk to create a straight line I could follow while sewing. What? It works…

Follow the little blue road, follow the little blue road, follow follow follow follow follow the little blue road!

Were you worried? You needn’t be… the fabric is fine!

Then, it was time to sew the hem under 1/4″. That took a LOT OF PINS. I use glass head pins, so they will never melt onto my fabrics when I get near them with an iron.

The rest of the shirt was just hand sewing. Lots and lots of hand sewing. I had to roll the sleeves under and then blind stitch them in place. Then sew the two back pieces to one another. I eliminated the buttons in the back because I couldn’t find any worthy buttons in my button box and I was determined to finish the shirt today. Also? It didn’t need them. It slides over my head really easily.


If I do this shirt again, I’m not going to bother with all the blind stitching. In my opinion, the arms would look better without the bulk of the folded under fabric in there. I’d rather just do a little rolled hem on them, which I might blind stitch, or I might just do like I did the hem with a nice and tidy top stitching. For the back, I will definitely do the overlaps, if I’m using buttons, but like I said they could be eliminated and you could just make a pretty back seam and it would look lovely.


All in all, I’m really happy with the sencha, and I’ve already got plans to modify the design and try something new with it!


Posted by on October 16, 2011 in creations, new skills


2 responses to “Charmeuse sencha, deconstructed

  1. Chris

    October 27, 2011 at 10:44 am

    wow – thanks for the tutorial – haven’t had the courage to try sewing with silk yet – this will help!


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