One of my most beloved clothing pieces is a slinky slip that I got at GAP in the first semester of my PhD for… 14 dollars, on sale. It’s made of polyester but is very comfortable and is cut on the bias, so it is very flattering. If there was one piece of clothing I’d want a second copy of, this is it.
Way back when I bought it, I even looked for another one like it, but it had vanished faster than a genie after the third wish. Now that I know how to make dresses from scratch, it’s the perfect thing to re-create. Here is a picture of this beauty.
It is constructed very simply (which makes the price I paid somewhat understandable). Aside from a back and a front piece cut on the bias, the slip just has a facing and spaghetti straps, as well as some piping:
I’ve never sewn on the bias and have never made spaghetti straps. To think about it, I’ve also never cloned any clothing and have never created my own pattern, so we’re in for some new challenges. I decided to go without piping because, frankly, I didn’t have a fabric that matched my deep teal habotai silk in an interesting way. I’ll list the fabric source at the bottom of the post.
Fast forward a shockingly small number of days later, I made my teal slip! It is chic and comfortable, and because it’s habotai, it’s very lightweight. Perfect for the obnoxiously hot weather we’ve had for too long.
I started by laying down the original slip on paper and tracing the outline of the back and front pieces. I also copied the facing pieces and made spaghetti straps (they weren’t as hard as I expected! I used a crochet hook to turn them inside out). Here is a snapshot of the inside:
Now, for a few tips about how I made this. First, I traced the outline of the original slip on some tracing paper. I added a 5/8″ inch seam allowance, since I’m used to having that in commercial patterns by now.
Before cutting this slippery silk on the bias, I starched it with some Niagara ironing starch (the original kind, found on Amazon here. “Premium” Niagara starch might not make the fabric stiff enough). This prevented the fabric from stretching and collapsing as I cut and sewed it. Fabric cut on the bias looks beautiful in garments precisely because it has this property of stretching out of its rectangular shape. But if it leaves the perfect rectangular shape while you sew it, the final garment can become crooked and unflattering.
After starching the fabric, I carefully folded the fabric into a triangle to get a fold at a 45 degree angle from the selvedge. Here is a photo of the way I arranged my facing pattern pieces on the bias fold, right before cutting.
The next step was to pin the pieces together. Since this fabric is very thin, I used Dritz silk pins (they can be found on Amazon here) and Clover wonder clips, which don’t pierce the fabric at all. Here is a pic, again:
But before getting this into the machine, I basted the seams. Basting didn’t take long, but it prevented bunching up of the fabric. Importantly, it prevented the slippery, fluid silk fabric from leaving its perfect shape and resulting in a crooked, unflattering garment.
Once the basting was complete, in the sewing machine the fabric went! Change the needle in for a new one before doing this, though. I used a 70/09 Singer universal needle for this project, but you can also use a sharp needle, such as the 10/70 Schmetz Microtex. By the way, I have a Brother sewing machine, and the Singer Universal needles worked perfectly well.
As you can (kind of) see, I used a regular sewing foot and didn’t need a walking foot or any tissue paper. Starching the fabric before cutting it really took care of a lot of issues.
That’s it! Again, the special supplies that made sewing with slippery, thin habotai silk a breeze were:
– Original Niragara ironing starch found on Amazon here
– Dritz silk pins (found on Amazon here)
– Clover wonder clips (they can be found here)
– A 70/09 Singer universal needle
The fabric I used here is the Deep Teal Habotai silk from Mood Fabrics. Dharma Trading Co has a habotai of the same weight at nearly half the per-yard cost, here. However, the Dharma “teal” habotai is a lot closer to green than the blue-green ocean of color that I found in the Mood Fabrics habotai. It’s a matter of personal taste.
Ta-Da! My next project is a peach silk/cotton wrap dress.