A Silkier Slip

A gift slip

You may recognize this as the slip I teased about a little while back. Now that the gift is sent, I can talk a bit more about it. Ada, who has been one of my best friends since High School, is getting married.

Unfortunately for me, she decided to do it in Mexico, and between family and THESIS obligations and the eternal (lack of) money, I couldn’t go. This is the woman who came to prenatal classes with me, who was there when my kids were born. And I can’t be there for the most amazing day in her life since, oh—at least since she got her Master’s degree. POOPY!!!!

On the mannequin. Even padded out, the fit on my duct-tape-double is mediocre, but hopefully the real-life fit will be better.

But I could (attempt to) make something for her that would be, if not as awesome as she  is, at least really, really neat. And as soon as Sherry came out with the Ruby Slip pattern last Christmas, I knew what I wanted it to be.

Unfortunately, I also knew exactly what I wanted it to look like. Teal fabric with orange lace, her signature colours—a pairing as unique and awesome as she is.

The problem with having the exact image in your head is, nothing you look at in the store ever quite matches up. I even found silk charmeuse in the perfect slightly-burnt-orange shade, but couldn’t find a lace that was a worthy match. I bought four metres (!) of teal stretch lace (with sequins!) but while it has a certain coolness, it’s also tacky as hell, and I couldn’t bring myself to use it. This time. No promises for the future.

So, in the end, I settled. Despite being 100% polyester, this fabric feels just as nice as the above-mentioned silk (seriously, with my eyes closed I couldn’t tell the difference), and was a fraction of the price. Not that I was going for cheap here, for once. And while the print isn’t quite what I envisioned, it is very her. I think. Oona should be proud—I have such a hard time wrapping my head around prints. The lace is the same thrift-store stuff as my blue slip—as I said, I haven’t found anything nicer.

In theory, having just made the blue version, I should avoid making all the mistakes I made the first time around, right?



Sometimes that works. Other times, I just seem to end up paying less attention (because I totally know what I’m doing, right?)

So some things are better in this one (my bias side-seams, for example). Others… were not quite so smooth (some of my seam-matching on the bodice, eg.)

The fabric was slithery and slinky, as is to be expected. However, it mostly went together well. I think the most alarming thing about sewing on the bias is how the lovely 1cm seam allowance (my favourite seam-allowance width) can shrink to half or billow wider, all depending on how much tension you have on the fabric. Sherry suggests sewing the bias with a slight tension on the fabric, which is what I tried to do, but it’s still a bit alarming and fiddly. I didn’t have much trouble with riplling seams, though, except a bit around the bottom of the bodice that probably have more to do with the stretch lace and the clear elastic I added in there (probably not necessary) than the bias.

Now, those of you who just like to look at pretty pictures can probably go on with your lives. Those of you who actually enjoy obscene amounts of construction detail, read on. 😉

The shoulder straps

An adjustable strap

Not having the recipient available for fitting, I wanted to do adjustable shoulder-straps. Naively, I headed off to Fabricland to pick up little rings and sliders. I knew they had some bra supplies—underwires and formed cups and bra-hooks—so I assumed they would have little sliders, too.

You guessed it. Nary a little slider. There were two styles of complete, ready-made straps, with sliders on, one of which cost $12.95, one which cost $2.50. Of course, I didn’t want pre-made straps—I wanted gorgeous slinky silky matching straps—so, I went with the cheaper ones. Which means I basically spend two-fifty on the crappiest, cheapest plastic rings and sliders ever. I’m sorry, Ada. My bad. I promise I’ll replace them when they fuck up. I should probably have just bought a junk bra from the thrift store and scavenged off it.

Back loop

Other than that, making the straps wasn’t too hard, especially since I could compare them with the crappy pre-made straps for how the loops needed to loop together. I wanted the straps to fit the sliders (at least more or less) so I didn’t make the straps as narrow as I could have. I will say, turning spaghetti straps in this kind of slinky fabric is insanely easy. I would’ve used the bobby-pin method, but I couldn’t find my bobby pin, so I used a small safety pin instead, and it worked just fine, although it’s not quite as slick as the bobby-pin method. Stitching the little loops wasn’t too hard, although I initially tried to attach them entirely by machine, which basically flattened my slender bias straps into fat wads of ugly thread. Fortunately the straps were super-extra-long so I was able to just cut off the booboo and re-stitch by hand. Not exactly the flawless finish I was hoping to give Ada, but pretty enough.

The Hem

The Good

And then, when I had everything together, had hung the whole kaboodle, adjusted the length to be a bit more even (hopefully), I got a little crazy.

I decided I would try and do the hem with my rolled-hem foot.

Rolling the hem

Judging by the comments on my teaser, I am not the only one who has a love/hate (or hate/hate) relationship with this damned, deceptively simple little attachment. It’s not coincidence that Sherry, for the sewalong, advised sewing the hem in two passes. Not that that method doesn’t require skill, either ;). I’m not quite sure what possessed me to try the foot this time, either, except bloody-mindedness. And I was going to go into a bit of detail here on my history with this insidious foot and the things I do to (attempt to) master it, but it was getting really, really long so I think I’ll throw it up as a separate post. Gotta milk my sewing woes for all they’re worth. 🙂

The bad: messy seam area.

In short, I finished the slip, wrapped it up, and sent it off with a friend who was flying down for the ceremony.

So now my main fear is that it’s not going to fit. Ada gave me her measurements (high bust and full bust), and as she’s a rather well endowed lady, I did an FBA following Sherry’s method which I *hope* will be adequate. Part of it is that Ada’s lost weight since I last saw her (and probably more since she gave me the measurements after Christmas) so the Ada in my head is not the same size as the real-world Ada.

I seriously don’t know how people sew wedding-dresses. The hardest part of this make was that perfectionism (which I usually confine to areas of my life outside of sewing)  reared its nasty head. How can I send my BFF a wedding present with a wonky hem? With less-than-perfect stitching? That might not fit? That has cheap crappy strap sliders? Aaaaaaaaaah!!!

Breathe, Tanit. Breathe.

So that was my weekend. How was yours?



Filed under Sewing

37 responses to “A Silkier Slip

  1. Oh what a wonderful friend you are. The time and thought you have put into this is true love! Interesting point about polyester feeling the same as silk with your eyes closed. I am not so snobby nowadays. If it feels and looks good, doesn’t matter if its natural or synthetic! have a pet hate for the rolled hem foot too by the way. Can almost manage to do it in a straight line but have you ever tried to do corners?!!

  2. puu

    so glad i am not the only one who is baffled by the rolled-hem foot. but the overall product is lovely, and i feel sure that your friend will notice only the effort that went in to making her a wonderful and personalized gift, and not the aftermath of the battles with the rolled-hem foot.

  3. It’s beautiful; I’m sure your friend will love it. Your finish is more than comparable to RTW. I am almost tempted to have a go at underthings myself now!

  4. Anne

    What a wonderful gift! Something I’ve found that helps me with the rolled hem foot is to hold the fabric up in the air, instead of almost parallel to the sewing machine, when I’m feeding it in.

    • LinB

      Yep. That’s about the only way to get it to work. Forgot which one of the multitude of books/videos I consulted for instructions told me to do this, but I am forever grateful that I finally figured out that essential technique. Mostly I forgo the “joy” of using the rolled hem foot and just do a two (or three) pass baby hem.

  5. Oh, this will be a wonderful gift because it was made by you! Handmade gifts are the best.

  6. So pretty! I don’t think she will notice the little imperfections – seriously, it will be a gorgeous gift.

    Rolled hem feet are baffling, and yet I find I use mine a lot? Though not well by any mean.

    As for the strap sliders – funny you should mention having a problem finding these. I buy cheap bras for sewing into my skating costumes, and I always have the straps and hardware bits leftover. I held onto them despite not using them for anything, and now I know why! I think I will keep holding onto them, for my eventual theoretical slip-making endeavors.

  7. Assuming she’s not nit-picky and she doesn’t sew, she’ll be thrilled with this and for good reason. It’s beautiful, the colors are fabulous, it was made a dear friend, and did I mention it’s beautiful?

  8. What a beautiful and thoughtful gift for a friend! I’m sure she will be thrilled with it, even if there is a wonky bit. I totally understand the rolled-hem foot feelings — it’s like that little girl with curl; when it’s good it’s very good, but when it’s bad it’s very very bad.

  9. Doesn’t the selection at Fabricland just blow? I have bought a lot of those little findings from sew sassy because Fabricland has a pitiful selection.

    I think it is a beautiful slip, lovely colours and I don’t think a print like that needs to line up at the sides. I just got a narrow hem foot for Christmas, haven’t had a project yet to use it on. In practicing, I was using a sheer poly fabric, scraps from the outfit I made in September. It looked better sewn twice and a bit of spray startch seemed to help keep it from getting away from me. “The Good” photo looks perfect and even the little messy area won’t be noticed by anyone but you.

    Your friend will be totally thrilled, I am sure of it.

  10. Sherry

    Ooh that is pretty, I always liked the idea of doing this in a print! I love the vibrant print too – gosh it is hard to believe I used to be a black on black girl…
    I am sure she will love the fact it is made by you, and that little hem bit is just part of the love!

  11. I think it’s beautiful, and I’d rather have something sewn with love (mistakes and all) than something purchased — which causes the same problems with fit, lemme tell you. I got so many slinky things at my bridal shower that fit me for maybe a week or two after my wedding…and never again. I am not as small as I look, people!

  12. It totally sucks that you can’t be at her wedding. Really really sucks.

    However, the ruby slip is beautiful and I am sure she will love it and cherish it. That fabric is beautiful, is it a recent purchase from the Land of Fabric (aka Fabricland)?

  13. Redrockcity

    That is a beautiful slip. The fabric is gorgeous and the colors are just great. She will treasure it!

  14. Sorry you can’t be with your friend, but this present will be memorable, i’m sure. It is really gorgeous ! So pretty and sexy without being sleezy– I think it might become a heirloom (hem and all).
    And I can totally relate to the bit about making mistakes the second time around. the last fly I made I was so sure that I knew whatIi was doing that I put it in backwards AND did the topstitching before I caught my error.

  15. It’s a beautiful slip! Thanks for posting all the construction details! I never could make my stupid !(@*#&^$* rolled hem foot work on ANY fabric, even a stable cotton on the straight grain, for pete’s sake. I’m sorry you can’t go to the wedding, but your gift is beautiful, and every time she wears it, it will remind her of your friendship, and that’s important! I like your idea of cannibalizing a thrifted bra – I’ve done that for underwires.

  16. A handmade gift is the best kind of gift. I’m sure she will think it’s absolutely fabulous– which it is!

  17. I’m sure she will treasure this beautiful gift. You are a very sweet friend, and the best!

  18. This is beautiful! It’s like a sunset! I totally appreciate how yucky it is that you cannot join your wonderful friend on this occasion. But you will be in her heart -especially when she sees your fantastic gift. I can’t tell if it will fit her, but I can say that it looks very well FBAed. If you look at the two I made, you can see a similar kind of length in the lace bodice – a necessity when adding the extra fabric to go over the bust. Great job T!

  19. its gorgeous! I’m sorry you can’t make it down, that does stink.

    I’ve never tried the rolled hem foot, and masochist that I am, I kind of want to now…..

  20. Maya

    What a beautiful gift! We also had a missing best friend (one of my husband’s closest friends) at our wedding- he was at his brother’s wedding instead…

  21. Delicious choice of fabrics! I think she’ll adore such a beautiful present. And don’t we all focus on the less than perfect bits especially when it is a gift? And the truth is It’s only gifts to the person that taught you to sew ever get any kind of scrutiny ( thinking of a nightdress I made for my mum!!)

  22. Despite it’s flaws, it looks really lovely and is such a sweet (in a sassy kind of way) gift. I think we scrutinize our own sewing way too much. I’m sure if you studied a RTW slip, it would have just as many little flaws. I bought an expensive silk camisole top a few years ago and discovered when I got home it had an unsightly join in the binding right in the CF. If I had made it, I don’t think I could have let it go but because I bought it, I just forgot about it.

  23. Lucy

    Ooooh, it is beautiful.

    That is all.

  24. femmeelise

    Dear Tanit,
    Truly a lovely gift. She’s a lucky ,friend !
    Good Weekend,

  25. It sucks that you can’t be with your friend at her wedding. The slip is lovely despite a few parts, the fabric is just beautiful.

  26. O damnit about not being able to get to Mexico for the nuptuals. I do think the slip is gorgeous, despite the things you wish had stitched to perfection. It is beautiful and she will love it and love that you went to the effort just for her.

  27. I once made my sister a costume (a genie outfit) and told her that she couldn’t gain or lose more than 5 pounds from the measurements until I made it. A week later I had the costume done (much earlier than we both thought I’d be done with it) and she had bet her boyfriend that she could lose weight faster than he could and was 8 pounds lighter and 3 inches smaller around her waist – not to mention her other measurements. It was so frustrating.

  28. I love my rolled hem foot. Pure awesomeness, if I’d known of its existence I’d have sprung for it years ago. I use it to finish all inner seams now. Love, love, love. I’ve put together a little pdf (removed all the other languages) of the instruction manual and can send it to you if you like.

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  30. Sufiya

    LOVE the fabric; so colourful! But did you say “1 Cm” seam allowance..? Hmmm, I understand that bias sewing requires a MUCH LARGER seam allowance (as in “1 1/2 inches) because the fabric edge E X P A N DS when cut on the bias and so one has to move IN, AWAY from that too-stretchy/stretched ‘blown” edge or you will get RIPPLES galore! I seem to have read this (truth to tell I have not sewn many things on the bias so I can’t say if this is applicable in all cases) in the Threads’ Charles Kleibacker bias sewing articles..

    • Interesting! Sherry doesn’t have you hang it until *after* the side-seams are sewn, so that may be the difference. I didn’t find it to be a problem with either of these fabrics, anyway… (I don’t sew much on the bias either, however.)

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  32. Okay, this comment is just about two years late, but I, apparently, missed this incredible blog entry. I feel like I need to respond by saying three things:

    1. The slip fit PERFECTLY. And it felt like I was dressed in a soft, silky cloud.

    2. This slip is the reason I got pregnant with my gorgeous daughter during my honeymoon. She is about to turn one and is the love of my life.

    3. I love you so much Tanit-Isis….aside from your incredible talent and loyal friendship, you are such a beautiful person. While I so wish that you could have been in Mexico celebrating with us, I felt your presence with me…and thanks to you and your sewing gifts, I have my little Q.

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