silk saltspring camisole

i have been wanting to add a few silk camisoles to my wardrobe for layering. i figure a silk cami is far more grown up and/or sophisticated than the ratty tanks i’ve been layering with. i picked up some silk charmeuse, and planned to make the bias cut camilla camisole by tessuti fabrics. what i didn’t notice when i bought my silk was that it has width-wise stretch to it. i imagine the stretch would mess with the bias drape, so i had to shelve my pattern plans and figure something else out.

ps. sorry about the lame photos… this fabric is super hard to capture so i couldn’t be picky as far as choosing photos that didn’t make me look stupid… i’ll get over it 😛

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i looked around for a pattern, but remembered that my sewaholic saltspring has the exact neckline shape i wanted. instead of starting from scratch, i went with what i had and modified the bodice. this was really just a matter of extending the side seams, and making sure i had enough width so that it would graze my hips.

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i had a long think about how to finish the neckline, and in the end determined that a facing was the best route. bias binding or bias facing was pretty much out of the question, as the top stitching would have been a nightmare. i know people get hung up over facings, but seriously—it’s the easiest way to finish a neckline cleanly. drafting it was as simple as tracing off the neckline plus 2″ or so. i interfaced the facing with a lightweight fusible, then pinked the edge to reduce any show through.

as far as construction goes, i strayed from the pattern’s instructions because i find stitching all the way around the neckline in one pass to be stressful—all those up and down curves! so what i did was attach the facing to the front piece, then attach the facing to the back piece, then sew up the side seam of the shell and facing all in one pass. since i’m making straps with a fixed length (as opposed to the ties as per the pattern) it’s a little less fiddly this way. and don’t forget to trim, clip, and understitch that facing. you can use this same order of construction for lining the dress bodice too, btw.

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after trying the top on, i went back and shaped the side seams in by 1/2″ (2″ all around). i couldn’t go too fitted since there is no closure, but it was looking a little tent-like otherwise. then i decided to finish the hem with a blind catch stitch. i planned to do a rolled hem, but the stretch of the fabric was making my test scraps (yes, i was good and tested first!) look all wavy and unattractive. i’m still not completely happy with the hem. this fabric is really not holding a press very well, so not long after pressing it starts to look a little bubbled. ah well, win some loose some.

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i would like a couple more camisoles in my wardrobe, so i’ll make sure to get a non-stretch fabric so i can try a bias cut. i’ve never done a bias cut garment, and i feel like a camisole is good practice. however, if you don’t think you’re up to a bias garment, this saltspring mod is a nice compromise. it would also be nice with lace trim at the neckline and hem; i definitely want to try that sometime. so far i really like to wear it with my knit blazer or a cardigan and jeans.

i know some people get all worried about using and wearing silk fabric, but i say why not have a little lux in your everyday life? i pre-wash all my silk (with a color catch sheet if it’s a print) and sometimes even put it in the dryer on air dry. you’d be surprised how resilient this stuff is! but, i also don’t wash my silks after every wear; letting it hang to air out is sufficient for a few wears. then when i do want to wash it, i use the delicate setting on the wash and line dry. moral of the story… don’t be afraid of the beautiful silks in your stash. sew and wear them!

—lisa g.

here’s the post on my blazer, if you’re interested!

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46 thoughts on “silk saltspring camisole

  1. Noelle says:

    Beautiful. You’re far braver than I am…I don’t think I’ll attempt something that slippery for a while yet!
    I absolutely love the colour and it looks so smart with your jeans and blazer!

  2. lisa d says:

    What would you think about a silk charmeuse tank for those of us too old and lumpy for spaghetti straps? Your top is lovely on you, sigh! I don’t mind that hem at all–looks hand done and I like that look.

    • lisa g says:

      oh yes, that sounds perfect! i believe the Sew Over It silk cami (tank) is made that way, i’m tempted to try it too! glad you like the hem, it looks miles better than the machined version anyways.

    • lisa g says:

      thank you! the straps are super easy. all i do is cut 1 1/4″ bias strips and sew the sides together at 1/4″. then leave a long thread tail, tie it to a bobby pin, and turn the strap through the inside of the tube. once you get it going they turn super fast!

  3. poppykettle says:

    ooh la la! I love this. Like you say – very grown up! And such a great way to incorporate a little luxe 🙂 Like you I love how well silks wear for everyday use – as long as you treat them the way they need to be treated, they can be surprisingly durable! I do hope you’re going to try the bias cami though – mostly because I’m so curious to see how it turns out for you 🙂

    • lisa g says:

      thank you! i can get silk pretty inexpensively at my local shop, so even though it’s “special” it barely costs more than a cheap-o ribbed tank! i will definitely be trying the bias cut, mostly because i would like a closer fit. that and i’m itching with curiosity about bias cut. so intriguing!

  4. Susan (moonthirty) says:

    That is beautiful, and thanks for the great construction deets. I’ve been thinking I need a good cami TNT lately, as well… Largely because of wanting to make tops from sheer fabrics without lining them, but the camis are useful for sooo many purposes. And it’s always nice to see that blazer, my fave!! 🙂

    • lisa g says:

      thank you susan! i’m all geeky about construction, so i’m happy to share 🙂 i hear ya about the sheer tops, i love them but never have anything nice to wear under! hoping to change that… one cami at a time!

  5. Kathi Giumentaro says:

    Your cami is beautiful. It’s nice to splurge on silk especialy when you only need 1 yard to make a beautiful camisole.

  6. CraftedbyCarrie says:

    So beautiful! The color is so gorgeous. And I agree with you about sewing with silk…if you know how to sew you might as well use the nice stuff! I rarely wash my silks, same as you I just let them hang for a while and then consider them aired out and new! Then again, I don’t really sweat much so it’s usually not an issue…sorry TMI haha

    • lisa g says:

      thanks! i sewed my first silk a year ago and have been hooked ever since. they just feel so good against the skin! and glad it’s not just me who airs and re-wears… ha!

  7. Kelly says:

    So very, very pretty! I too want some grown-up camisoles and have been thinking about it for a long time while taking no action. Of course, the saltspring with a facing is the answer!

  8. Heather says:

    This beautiful on you Lisa! I love the colour too. I like how the facings look and they must stay in place well because of the way you constructed this gorgeous piece. Thanks for sharing how you did it!

    • lisa g says:

      thank you, the color is even more beautiful in person if you can believe it! forgot to mention that i also tacked down the facings at the side seams, but yes they do stay in place perfectly!

  9. MsMcCall says:

    Beautiful idea, and beautifully executed! I often try to analyze what makes the fancy ladies I see in my office sometimes so fancy, and I’ve come to the conclusion that they have nicely fitting clothes made out of good materials, usually in pretty simple styles. I think this checks all the boxes – I’m really inspired to do something similar.

  10. crab&bee says:

    Mmm, that color is lush! I also wash and dry silks before I sew with them – I worked for a textile artist doing shibori on silk and learned early on not to be afraid. I think what really damages them is sweat.

  11. Tasia says:

    Really beautiful and what a great way to use the Saltspring pattern for a completely different garment! I’m with you, I’d get so much use out of a silk camisole like this under jackets and cardigans. I’ll have to try using the Saltspring pieces as a starting point! Your straps are so delicate and narrow too and don’t look home-sewn at all.

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