Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Pink Portrait in 4 Ply Silk

Have you ever used 4 ply silk? If not, don't start now. It creates a very expensive addiction.

I decided I could use some more basic blouses, and the portrait-neckline blouse from Vogue's New Book for Better Sewing fit the bill. I had already made it in a somewhat casual linen eyelet, and thought it would be fun to try in a dressier fabric. Since it only requires one yard, I decided to splurge on a 4 ply silk from Mood. Here's another picture where you can more clearly see the released darts on the blouse:

This fabric is, in a word, amazing. It has a really nice, substantial drape. It's opaque, even in light colors. It tailors beautifully. It's even fun to cut into.

Now that I've gotten a taste of it, I can't stop thinking of all the other things I'd like to make in 4 ply silk. I suppose that of all the things to be addicted to, it could be worse--right?

I took a dressmaking class last year with a wonderful teacher who was such an enabler when it came to expensive fabric. He talked me into buying this gorgeous red double wool crepe at $25 a yard. It was Italian. I had never spent that much on fabric. Now, I bought it to make a sheath dress that only required two yards. My teacher's reasoning was that if one were to buy a dress made out of fabric of that quality it would cost over $300, not $50. Sure enough, that red dress turned out beautifully. I have worn it more times than I can count, making it worth every penny.

Now, let's hear from you. How much will you spend on a really high quality fabric? What fabrics do you think are worth it?


  1. I have never sewn on 4 ply but dream of it. The pink is so lovely on you. And I think, the blouse being one yard makes makes it money well spent!
    Since I stay home with the kids right now, I don't like to spend too much on my everyday stuff. I did spend $25. yd on a wonderful pink/cream tweed for a winter coat last year, and about the same for the lining! It was money well worth it.
    I guess, I would try not to go over $25.yd, and only for one of the kind, dressier items. I have a big wedding in 6 mos.and will spend for the dress! It is just hard to go back to the $2.99/yd afterwards!

  2. I confess to buying european knits ($20-25 yd), and japanese prints (up to $18 yd) but only on occasion. And mostly for the kid's dresses since I need so little. I agree totally though, if you get really good fabric, you will get so much more use out of the garment -- and I've found it's worth it for kid's clothes as they hold up so much longer!

  3. Beautiful top! Love teh lines on that pattern - I will be keeping my eyes open for a copy.

    I try to only sew on quality fabric - I figure my sewing time is worth more than the garbage fabric offered on most $2/m tables. Besides, as you have found, good fabric sews up nicely, presses easier, looks better and lasts longer. I have spent up to $90/m on good cashmere and I could see spending more if the fabric called my name. Typically I spend between $10-30/m and I don't regret a penny of it!

  4. 4 ply silk is my absolute hands down favorite. My wedding dress was made in an Italian 4 ply silk charmeuse and it remains the most beautiful thing I've ever made. Your blouse is gorgeous, that pink is one of my favorite colors!

  5. This shirt is amazingly beautiful! Do you think you could write up a tutorial on how to make your own?

  6. That is such a gorgeous outfit!!! Where did you get the 4ply silk?

  7. So incredibly beautiful! I will spend every last penny on wools and silks because I feel as though those are an investment, but I'm a bit cheaper with my cottons (and while I love the feel of the double gauze, I find it is so clingy in a dress that I can't fall in love with it yet).

  8. Thanks, all! I agree that with wool and silk especially, there is such a difference in quality between the various price ranges.

    Rachel, I got the silk at Mood in New York. They have it in a rainbow of colors for $25/yard. This is actually a great price--I've seen it at B&J for upwards of $100 a yard!

    Sarai, I want to see pictures of your wedding dress!

    Paulina, I used a vintage pattern to make the blouse so it's not really something I could do a tutorial for. It's Vogue 7630, and it's very simple to make. I've seen a couple copies around for sale--keep your eye out!

  9. Gertie, here are a few pics of my wedding dress. It was made with an old (OOP) vogue badgley mischka pattern I'd had since the 90s that I modified slightly. I loooove that dress.

    full length shot
    another one
    neckline detail
    hemline detail

  10. Gasp! Your dress is beautiful, Sarai!

  11. wow! gorgeous outfit all together!

  12. girl, that 4 ply is so dreamy! I had something similar to an orgasm first time I touched it! LOL

  13. I just purchased brown 4ply silk based on your review. It feel sooooo wonderful! I think I'm hooked!

  14. I'm coming way way way late to the party but I just wanted to say that another name for 4-ply silk is "4-ply crepe" or "silk faille", and Dharma Trading Co sells it, undyed, for about $17/yd. (If you haven't heard of them, they are a huge warehouse full of primarily tie-dying and textile art supplies, but they sell a wide variety of ready-to-dye fabrics, paints, and all kinds of dyes and textile-processing chemicals, for fantastic prices. Their descriptions and reviews are also very honest so it's easy to tell whether something will work for you or not.
    I can't read a pattern to save my life but the detailed pictures you post have been so helpful to me in figuring out how to make myself clothing-- I have an impossible-to-fit figure (32JJ with tiny shoulders/ribcage and a big ol' belly/hips = I look FANTASTIC in retro fashions and like absolute dog crap in anything ready-to-wear) and learning to sew has saved my self-esteem entirely. So thank you for being awesome on the Internet.

  15. You've got me falling for vintage patterns! *sigh*

  16. do you need to wash the 4 Ply Silk before you sew with it? what about dying it? should I dye it before I sew with it?


Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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