Fabric, thread, wax, a hand sewing needle, and my hands. These are items used to create my latest design. No machines used here! Get an insider look at the design elements and finishes on this fully hand sewn top. And no I did not sew by candle light on this one.
I plucked the silk charmeuse and leftover lace right out of my fabric bins. This whole process started off as a lace demo for clients then I decided why not make it into a wearable top.
As you already know from the introduction, this top is fully hand sewn- no machines involved. A basic no dart bodice front and back block where used to create the pattern pieces. Simplicity was key as all the attention was on the hand sewn details. Below I go through each integral design element that makes up this lace silk top.
Attaching Lace to Silk
As I am writing this, I realize I need to do a tutorial on how to attached lace onto silk (or another form of fabric) flawlessly. This was an extremely time consuming part as tiny 1/16" stitches where sewn along a pathway in the lace. Peek below at the interior view. It gives you an idea of how many stitches are required to hold the lace in place. After sewn, any excess fabric from lace and silk are trimmed away ever so carefully.
Thread Bars & Buttons
Sewing on the thread bars and buttons was the last step. First the buttons where placed evenly along the center back seam. The buttons reach far enough down the center back to cover my bra line.
Once the buttons where secure, it was time to sew thread bars (threaded button loops). It is difficult to get a super macro shot of a thread bar, but you hand sew a ton of button hole stitches around a carefully placed loop. I lost count of how many button hole stitches it took to sew just one. My guess is around 60 per loop.
Bias (cut on 45 degree to grain) strips where pressed to a narrow 1/4" width bound tape. Then sewn onto armholes in a two step process. 1- Right sides facing sewn along a pressed line. 2- Wrap around armhole raw edge and slip stitch in place.
I was able to cut away the mesh part of lace just above the elastic cording to create a cut-out look following a path in the floral motif. How I love lace that has a solid pathway, so easy to finish!
Narrow French Seams
When I think silk charmeuse, I think of narrow french seams. Side seams and shoulder seams where given a narrow french seam.
For the remaining exposed raw edges, I decided a simple fold twice in at 1/4" and slip stitch in place was the best finish for silk. I think a hand rolled hem would have been lovely too.
Something really surprised me about this top when I was ready to try it on. You can wear it TWO ways! All of the sudden the endless hours spent on this top melted away.
PS- My bust is smaller then the dress form, so the buttons 'button up', unlike the photo above.
Written & created by Sheila Wong.