One of my younger sisters is graduating from high school this weekend, so I’ve been working on packing for our trip. This seems like the perfect opportunity to wear a dress I bought last summer but haven’t worn. However, I need some sort of jacket or shrug for it, since it just has very thin straps and late spring evenings in MO can be fickle. Sounds like the perfect chance to put some black silk georgette in my stash to good use. Taking advantage of a $3.99 Vogue pattern sale, I picked up the stylish V8622 pattern, and decided to make view C.
The pattern recommends for crepe or chiffon—in other words a sheer, flowing fabric. Georgette is a crepe fabric that is just a hair more opaque than chiffon, but has the same type of flowing, draping hand and is a little stronger, so I think it’s a great substitution.
I purchased five yards of 45″ black silk georgette a while ago with plans to make a little black dress. Since it’s been sitting in my stash for a while on account of my not having any suitable lining material (it’s just barely too sheer to self-line), I decided to sacrifice it for this project. The pattern calls for 3 1⁄8 yds. of 45″ fabric for the large size. The body of the pattern doesn’t use much more than 1.5 yds; most of the need is due to the bias cut for the pleated upper and lower parts. I managed to use closer to 2 5⁄8 yds. by slightly modifying the layout and cutting the cuffs separately instead of as part of the cross-folded main layout.
It was an adventure to cut out the pieces—the fabric was sliding all over the place and I don’t own a cutting table or rotary tools (soon, I hope, soon). When it came to the sewing part though, the georgette was surprisingly easy to work with. It wasn’t sliding around at all, although it did require some fussing with the machine tension and careful feeding so that it didn’t pucker along the seams.
The pattern and construction
This pattern is rated Average by the Vogue people, which is only one step down from their hardest patterns. I’d rate this particular view as Easy. It is by far the easiest of the three styles in the pattern, though. For the most part, the instructions and process for creating the pattern were very clear. The instructions even step you through creating the french seams needed with the sheer fabrics they recommend using. The pattern pieces clearly mark the pleats needed, and the instructions not only have you baste the pleat lines for easy pleating, but also clearly step you through the easing needed for the pleated section attachment.
The one major problem area in the instructions are the cuff attachment steps. The instructions tell you to create another french seam, but are ambiguous as to the proper side on which to sew the seam. I’m not 100% sure how they intended the seam to go, so I used my best judgment: sew the cuff seam on the opposite side of the garment than the other seams. This hides the seam inside of the cuff, which is blindstitched to the sleeve. Doing it in this manner helps the cuff hang correctly, and ensures you don’t have a pesky seam trying to fold down to the outside of the garment.
Unfortunately, since the instructions were so ambiguous, I started doing the first seam the same way as the others. Because I didn’t feel like ripping the start of the french seam out, the seams where the cuffs meet the sleeves are currently unfinished. I plan on overlocking those seams as soon as my machine is fixed (it refuses to pick up the bobbin thread of the needle is moved to the left, so I can’t do zigzags or overlocking stiches). Because that seam is well hidden by two layers of fabric on the front, an overlocked seam will be sufficient by my estimation. If I were sewing the shrug for someone else though, I would have removed the seam and put in a french seam. But hey, time is money, and I just wanted to finish at that point.
Also, don’t forget to pull out your basting stitches when you’re done. The instructions don’t bother to remind you.
The completed project
The result: a versatile black shrug/jacket thing in silk, which can be dressy enough to wear over a cocktail dress or casual enough to go with a strappy tank and nice jeans.
Project time & cost
I didn’t care much about cost in this project, since I was making the shrug mainly to keep from having to go clothes shopping (*shudder*), and to clean out some of my stash. But it ended up being a relatively cheap project:
- $15.21—~3 yards of 100% silk georgette fabric that cost me $5.07/yd inc. shipping.
- $ 3.99 + tax—Vogue pattern on sale.
- $ 2.39 + tax—Gütermann silk thread (orig $3.99, but I had a 40% off coupon).
- Total: ~$22.00 give or take a few cents for sales tax.
The entire project took me about 3 hours from start to finish, which wasn’t too painful.
Can sewing your own clothing really be cost-effective? is a question I’ve been mulling over lately. The answer is entirely relative. Is making my own stuff cheaper than buying clothes from places like Walmart/Target/Steve and Barry’s/Gordman’s (which is where a lot of my wardrobe is traditionally from)? No, not really. But it is cheaper than buying high-quality clothing. A quick internet search for a similar item turns up things like these:
The first shrug above is from Saks Fifth Avenue and retails for $150 online. It’s made of silk georgette and satin, and looks like it has nice french seams. It’s a decent substitute for the pattern I made, but costs almost 7 times more. The second image retails for about $40 from JC Penney. It’s made of a Rayon/Spandex blend and probably has overlocked seams. It’s on sale for $15 now, so cheaper than my cost, but I doubt the quality is very high. Not to mention, you can’t get silk at that price point. If I ever make this pattern again, I might take a cue from the Saks shrug and add the contrasting satin cuffs. Leaving off the pleated section and finishing that edge with a rolled hem would also be simple.
So is sewing my own clothing worth it? I think so, at least in some cases. I’m very tired of buying items, wearing them once or twice, and then having them fall apart from crappy quality. When I make something, I’m well aware of the quality of my product. In this case, my seams are french-finished, not serged, so I’m not going to end up with raveling seams. A cheaper shrug would surely be overlocked. Additionally, I know that stress points are reinforced. And best of all, I know it fits me without any additional modification, since I made it and fitted it to start with. That’s a lot more than I can say for most of the items I can purchase in stores.