I have been craving a white silk camisole since forever.
Ok, at least since May this year.
My red silky Diana cami was in heavy rotation in 2018. So I felt there is definitely room for more such tops in my life and my wardrobe. I love my burgundy Diana, but it’s 100% polyester and felt I should treat myself to the real thing, i.e. some luscious, wonderful silk.
But what pattern to choose this time?
Now, I am a very contrary person. Whenever loads of people rave about something, I just tend to dig my heels in and refuse to jump on the band-wagon. I’ve never seen Titanic. I refused to read Harry Potter for years (luckily, I have seen the light since). I never owned Ugg boots.
And I never bought the Ogden cami pattern. Nor do I want to. Not that there is anything wrong with it, I’m sure all these people can’t be wrong, but not a day goes by when I don’t see someone wearing it on IG. So I’d rather not add my pics to that as well.
The Diana cami was the result of my rebelling against the Ogden the last time I wanted to make a cami. I think it’s a great pattern and I was half tempted to reach for it again.
However, the Kate bias top from Just Patterns came on my radar and I really wanted to try it out. This was because I read really good reviews about it, but also because I am a massive fan of Delphine personally and of the brand and her ethos and incredible transparency. Read this very honest post from Delphine and you will understand what I mean.
As to the fabric, this is one of my best finds of the year. In April, I was invited to a Bloggers’ Event at Fashion Capital, a very interesting organisation in North London. They have a production line for brands and designers looking to produce small runs. They also run a fantastic training facility for people who want to learn industrial sewing skills, helping young people to train and get ready for the workplace. And lastly, and this is the best part, they also have an end-of-line fabric shop where they sell fabric leftovers from the work they do for their customers. The prices are great but more importantly for me, this is overstock or deadstock fabric, so it’s a more sustainable source of fabric. Check out this great article on Indiesew to understand more about why it’s better than new (milled) fabric.
Why you need a silk camisole in your meaningful wardrobe
If we go back to my list of what a meaningful wardrobe is, a silk camisole, made by you or even a very good quality shop bought one, pretty much ticks all the boxes. And it looks and feels awesome too!!
Quality and durability
Silk is a very long lasting material. It’s the strongest natural fibre, so properly taken care of, you would be able to enjoy it for a long time to come.
Silk has high resistance to deformation, therefore maintaining its shape even with regular use.
In the case of my me-made cami, I have ensure I used the best techniques, such as French seams, to also ensure it will last a long time without fraying.
In terms of emotional durability, its classic shape will not be subject to fads of fashion. In a plain colour, it can be easily mixed and matched with a lot of items in my wardrobe, so it always feels like a new garment.
Also, as a me-made item (if you end up sewing one), I hope there will be a lot of emotional attachment and therefore I will hold on to it for even longer.
Silk is a little bit of a diva when it comes to maintenance though. I have hand-washed this cami with a mild detergent a few times now, though I had pre-washed the fabric in the washing machine on a low-spin programme. Be aware that it looses 20% of its strength when wet. And of course, especially for light colours, make sure to wash with similar colours.
Choose to add a silk cami to #ameaningfulwardrobe because it’s a timeless staple that works with loads of other pieces, silk is very durable and it’s really nice to wear against your skin. Check out Alex’s version on Sewrendipity.
A camisole is such a staple in any wardrobe, and can be worn in any combination, on its own under a jacket, or almost as underwear in winter.
As I have already experienced, it is extremely pleasant to wear, especially in a bias cut that moulds to your body without being too constrictive. Silk has good insulation properties. It’s warm in winter, cool in summer (as I have discovered during this summer’s heat wave). I am planning on wearing it under jumpers in the winter to test the warming properties as well.
As you will see when I reveal the 10×10 outfits very soon, a white silk cami pretty much goes with anything. Culottes, skinny trousers, skirts, not to mention as a layering item under jackets and blazers, and even jumpers and cardigans in the colder weather. So I am not worried at all about my rule of matching with at least 5 other items in my wardrobe. Nor are the 30 wears under question, as I have already wore it 7-8 times since I finished it in July.
As to how much I love it? I would say a 9/10, because I think the ties are a tiny bit too long. But guess what, I’m a sewer, so I can fix that in a giffy and make a 10/10.
As I mentioned above, this was made with an overstock fabric, so although it was new to me, it was not milled new, but reused and hopefully saved from landfill. This is for sure not the most sustainable option – I could have shopped my stash instead – but I did not have any silk and I think the wearability and longevity qualities will make it a more sustainable garment in the long run.
I have saved all my scraps and I am contemplating what to do with them. If you have any ideas, please let me know in the comments. I hate waste, but the pieces are very irregular and small (I only got 1m on purpose).
Silk does not pose particular sustainability concerns, but it does raise ethical issues. Vegans avoid it because it is of animal origin. Also, usually the silk worms are killed to extract the fibres. I don’t really know much about where my fabric comes from, so that’s another minus.
So, about sewing this silk camisole…
If you have not sewn with Just Patterns before, they are not anything like regular indie patterns (or Big 4 for that matter). They are aimed at experienced sewers who do not need hand holding and very detailed instructions. I’ve seen a few industry instruction sheets for productions at work and that is what the pattern reminded me of. They are not even called Instructions, but Information. Everything you need to know is included, but there are no step-by-step diagrams.
This is a very simple pattern so the only reason for checking out the information sheet was to make sure of the seam allowance, as they differ from step to step. This is again a very industry thing to do, as for efficiency and to remove the need to reduce seam allowances, they tend to work with much narrower seam allowances.
If you are more of a beginner, there are resources available on their website, for example, if you don’t know how to sew a French seam, there are a few links to tried and tested tutorials.
Top tip when sewing Just Patterns Kate Bias Top: remember that is has NEGATIVE ease when choosing your size. Finished measurements need to be SMALLER than your body measurements.
This is one of the very few fabric pieces I bought this year and I feel it was a fantastic choice. It was £8/m for real silk! I mean, that’s a no-brainer! It feels amazing against the skin. And one meter was more than enough to sew this pattern. Thought I have to say, garments on the bias feel incredibly wasteful, so I will be bearing that in mind. I was left with a lot of little pieces that will be really hard to use. Btw, if anyone would like them, I’m happy to ship (or meet if you are in London) if they want to cover the cost.
The construction was very straightforward. I had some fitting issues because I cut the wrong size (2 sizes too big, duh!) so bear in mind my tip about the negative ease. Had it not been for Delphine picking up a random comment on IG, I would not have figured it out.
I ended up cutting it back to size 38 (instead of 42) and it worked perfectly. I would also advise basting the lining together first, to make sure you got the fit right before sewing the French seams. I would definitely not want to be unpicking that if you need to make tweaks.
The construction is very straight-forward, but because the cami is lined, you will need to sew everything twice, which is a bit tedious. I will be posting my top tips for sewing with silk soon, so I will not go into too many details just now. I followed the instructions and French-seamed the sides, as well as doing a baby hem on the bottom.
BTW, I did not have any issues with sewing silk at all. I’m not sure if this particular one I used was not too slinky or it was my machine’s walking foot, but I might as well have been sewing with quilting cotton…
Also, remember this is a bias top, so don’t forget to let it hang for a bit before sewing the hem.
As you may have noticed, I made the spaghetti straps into ties, as inspired by a top I had seen in Cos (my friend dragged me, I am still not shopping). I also took a bit (0.5 cm) out at the armpit as it still felt a bit too gappy in that area.
Wear and style
I wore this at least 5 or 6 times already since finishing it at the end of July and I did not find anything to tweak, which is always a plus (though not something I take for granted). I wore the straps straight a the first time, but I didn’t like that they tended to fall off and I had to keep readjusting them. So I thought about crossing them and that is definitely my preferred option. This makes them uneven, but I don’t think it’s an issue when they are tied. I want to experiment with some other ways of tying them, well, because I can…
On the silk side, I have to say that it is definitely all that is cracked up to be. IT IS AMAZING! I am not a polyester detractor by any stretch of the imagination, I love it for many reasons (not least of all the crinkle free part). But the silk on my skin in this very very hot summer was something else. It kept me cool and I felt fresh all day long.
In terms of styling, this cami is part of my 10×10 capsule that will be revealed next Thursday (you can see daily outfits on my IG if you just can’t wait). I wore it loads with these culottes but I especially like the combo with my midi skirt. To be honest, that was one of the reasons I wanted a silk cami, to pair them together.
Silk camisole | Details recap
HAVE YOU SEWN WITH SILK? DID YOU FIND IT DIFFICULT? WHAT ARE YOUR TOP TIPS THAT PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW WHEN WORKING WITH SILK? PLEASE COMMENT AND LET ME KNOW.