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Sewing and Binding a Slippery Top!


This weekend I decided it was time to get on with some more of my PhD work, and officially there is only one left out of my list of six,  the pink net petticoat.  However, on top of that I have added two more projects to my sewing pile.  One is the linen waistcoat I have made to decorate with heirloom embroidery, the other is a top to go with my satin pajama bottoms.


Back in March I finally replaced my old pyjama bottoms by reverse-engineering the original pants, as one of my “Projects Half Done”.   Then it occurred to me I had enough of the black polyester satin left to make a matching top, and it might be a good idea to try as I would then have my very own go-to pattern for a complete set!


I found this pattern (New Look 6949)  in my bottom drawer, and thought it would do to get the basic shape I needed.  I traced out my size on Swedish tracing paper, basted it together and tried it on.  I changed the arm holes and neckline, exchanging that shaped front for a simple scoop. Then I made a muslin using some old sheeting. as a result of which I moved the darts from the side to the arm scythe, and then altered the paper pattern accordingly.  Then it languished in my sewing basket as other things took precedence.

So I finally dug out the polyester satin and cut out the pattern pieces, including new facings.  I had forgotten how badly it frayed!  I tried using  my overlocker/serger to neaten the outer edge of the neck facing and had thought I would use it for the seam neatening, but it did not work well.  So instead I turned the edges under and stitched them down for the shoulder and side seams, as well as the long outer edge of the facing.  I pinned and fitted the new neckline facing, and top stitched round the neckline 1/4″ from the inner and outer edges to hold it in place.

unruly fabric

The armhole edges needed bias binding, so I decided to make my own.  The problem is this fabric is unruly to start with, and I would have to piece some of the fabric together to make binding long enough.  It stuck to the cutting board and slipped out of shape and place when I tried to seam it.  I did say it was unruly!  

So I decided to “fix” it by:  

  1. 1. starching the strips

  2. 2. using my Collins wash away double sided tape to make it stay in place.

You can see the starch worked!

lining up ends

When it came to joining the strips, I turned the seam allowance back and pressed it on both ends.  Then on one end I added a piece of Collins tape (the white or shiny looking bit).  I butted up the ends, ensuring the tape continued in a straight line.

ends stuck together

Then folded the end of one down on to the other and the sticky tape “fixed” it.  

Now it won’t shift!

ends ready to stitch

I folded it into place and sewed it together.  A drop of water removed the sticky residue. I pressed  the seam open and flat and trimmed the tape flat.    Now I could run the assembled strips through my Clover bias binding maker and it is tamed.

attaching binding

I opened it up and pinned it in place around the arm hole, starting at the under arm seam, with my seam join in the tape at the back.  When I came back to the beginning I cut it leaving enough to turn the raw edge under and overlap by half an inch.

turning under raw end

Again I used the Collins tape across the raw end and turned the tape back over it to get a nice crisp edge.  You can see what I mean more clearly in the samples above. 

slipping raw end in finished end

This neat edge then slipped under the other raw end and I finished sewing the seam line (you can see how above).  I turned the bias tape to the inside of the armhole and stitched it in place. It never occurred to me to I could have used my binding foot out until I was half way round, but this gave me good control.

That said, I still messed up and had to re-do the second arm hole in one place, but otherwise it all went well.  You can see it matches the neckline top stitching quite well.

I had already neatened the edges of the side slits when I did the side seams, so all that was needed was to finish the hem.  This time I set my overlocker/serger up for a rolled hem.  I suppose I could have threaded it up with wooly nylon and had it as a hem but I wanted to match the top stitched finish, and I wasn’t confident my finish would be good enough, so I just used it to neaten the raw edge.

Then I turned it up and top stitched it.  Finished.  No, it’s not perfect, I certainly wouldn’t win The British Sewing Bee, but it is perfectly wearable and feels very nice on.

I wore it in bed last night and I must say I am very happy with it.  I could perhaps add some hand embroidery around the neckline, but all in all I am pleased.   I have a cool and comfortable top, which is decent enough to lounge around in.  So I hope sharing how I managed my slippery fabric might help you tackle something similar!

More slippery fabric sewing and cutting tutorials and tips:


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