You guys, I finally checked off one of my sewing bucket list projects. I’ve been wanting a sleeveless silk popover for years! Years! I am so, so glad I finally took the plunge! I LOVE this shirt. The style is exactly what I wanted and the fabric feels absolutely dreamy to wear. Seriously, multiple times while wearing it, I blurted out pure admiration for it. It was over 90F and yet, it still felt cool because the style is so breezy and the fabric is so lightweight (the jeans were a somewhat different story 😉 ). I’ve never worn habotai as anything other than a lining and that was obviously a mistake. This definitely goes in the “so comfortable I feel sneaky wearing it out of the house” category. And yet it’s silk, so everyone else thinks I’m dressed up! HAHA!
In case you can’t recognize it, the base pattern I used for this dream top is the ever-loved Grainline Archer. Can you believe this is my first one!? I muslined it last year before the intense Christmas cocktail dress took over… but that’s a story for another day. Obviously, I made a few modifications, but it turned out they weren’t so complicated. I knew I wanted a popover with a tunic collar, and while Googling to see how long others had made their plackets, I came across Andrea’s tutorial for changing the pattern to a v-neck and knew I had to follow suit! I never wear my shirts buttoned all the way to the top, so why not tweak the neckline to make it lay nicer?
I didn’t quite follow the tutorial, in part because it was for a full-front placket, but instead pulled out M6702 for a starting point for the placket and ended up with something quite similar, except with a slightly curved v. For mine, I removed 1 3/16″ from the CF neckline and curved down 8″, with the placket extending 4″ beyond that. I removed the same 1 3/16″ from CF of the collar band, redrawing the curve, slightly shallower, at the new edge. The concern was that collars are generally drafted to fit over one’s shoulders and clavicles, so removing the excess from CB would have moved that drafting to the wrong part of the body.
Then, to avoid the “torn-off sleeves” look that my better half finds so unflattering, I brought in the shoulder line by ~1″, then tweaked the shirt back piece by 3/8″, per Grainline’s tutorial. I finished my variations by simply inverting the back pleat to encourage the shirt to lay in my back, rather than billowing away. In total, the alterations took me less than an hour.
Construction, on the other hand, took a fair bit longer, but, you know, silk. And really, it wasn’t half as painful as I expected. To start, habotai is definitely more stable than other common silks, like crepe or georgette. In fact, my first thought was that it would be a good choice for sewists new to working with silk. To make things go even more smoothly, and I mean that literally, I used Stitch & Ditch tear-away stabilizer under every seam. This prevented my machine from eating, stretching, or puckering the silk. It was my first time using it and I probably won’t sew silk without it again. (If you’ve tried tear-aways before, but had trouble with them pulling stitches or not removing cleanly, give this one a try. It’s for heirloom sewing, so it’s perfect for delicate fabrics.) Another staple in my silk-sewing arsenal is cotton lawn. Underlining silk with a lightweight cotton is a great way to make it full more hefty and luxurious, but also more stable. I actually auditioned several interfacings for this project, but fusibles weren’t suitable as the glue dots showed through the white spots, and honestly, just didn’t give it the same feel. To make things easier to manage, I cut the lawn the same size as the silk pieces, for the collar, yoke, and plackets, hand-basted it to the silk, sewed everything as normal (with the stabilizer under the silk-only piece) and then trimmed the lawn back to the stitching line to remove the excess bulk. I expect this to be standard practice for me when making silk shirts in the future. Oh yes, there will be more!
To finish the shirt, I made nude silk double-georgette bias binding for the armscyes, used a double-folded baby hem, and attached two [functioning – seriously terrifying-to-sew] smoke mother-of-pearl buttons to the placket. And now I have a new favorite shirt. And a new addiction to silk ;D
So, tell me, are you addicted to silk, and the Archer, too?
Happy sewing! x