crafts · Sewing


Well, true to my nature I’ve managed to deviate from my plan immediately – but with a good reason!  I got out my fabric for Simplicity 1877 and discovered a problem – the website says it is dry clean only.  I didn’t even check, as I assume any rayon/linen blend will be at least hand washable in the machine.  I decided to test out a swatch in the machine to see how it reacted.  The answer?  Poorly.  Very poorly.

Above you can see the sad mangled swatch (which was rather large prior to washing) atop the unwashed fabric.  Now, I could serge the edges to stop the crazy ravelling, but I also note that the color seems changed, and the sheen (presumably from the rayon) is gone.  So what should I do?  I don’t dryclean things more than once a year, so I try not to make dryclean only garments.  And if I did, could I use the fabric untreated without it shrinking at the first cleaning?  Because I refuse to pay to have fabric pretreated at the cleaners.  I know linen doesn’t shrink like wool, but I am uncertain.  Sigh.

I was at Joann’s, buying the new Butterick patterns for 99 cents in the sale, and came upon a linen print I liked.  Since I was depressed about my green fabric, I bought enough to make up the other view of 1877, so that’s what I’m working on now.  To refresh your memory, here it is:


I’m making the printed version – it has no hip flounces, but it does have little ones on the sleeves.  So far the pattern is pretty clear, though not for beginners I would say (the instructions for flounce attachment aren’t the absolute clearest, but if you have sewn them before it makes sense.)  Here is the fabric:

This is a (machine washable) rayon/linen blend.  It’s actually a charcoal gray, not plum as it looks on my monitor.  And yes, I am now using weights as pattern weights – hey, it works and saves me from pinning!

Hopefully this will be finished soon – it is not too complicated, I just have to find some time!  It’s spring break this week, so while all my 20 year old classmates are in Cancun I will be sewing… and working my regular job.  Ah well!  It’s nice to be sewing springy clothes!

11 thoughts on “Progress

  1. I hate going to the dry cleaners. My solution is that at-home dry cleaner stuff like Dryel. It works fine unless you have really bad stains or odors. I have to wear suits for work, so drycleaning can get really expensive. I find that I can dryel my suits 3 or 4 times before I have to have them cleaned and pressed professionally.

  2. u could rinse it in plain water then hang it to dry… i know linen shrinks quite a bit so that would be best done in hot water

  3. I like your new choice better, actually. Maybe this is your fabric’s way of telling you to use it for something else, like a jacket and skirt instead, which would be drycleaned anyway. 🙂
    Happy Sewing!

  4. I resisted the urge to buy that exact fabric yesterday for that very reason, so I’m kind of glad you tested it out and posted your results for us. I don’t do drycleaning either, so I have to pay extra close attention to the tags/labels. I think the other fabric is a good choice though, so it’s not a total loss. 🙂

  5. That’s a beautiful green fabric! Too bad about the cleaning instructions. I wonder if you could make a jacket of some sort out of it instead? Then it wouldn’t need cleaning as much as a dress.

  6. If you’re worried about it just hand wash it. An easy way is to fold the fabric along its length till it is as wide as a plastic chopping board. Then wrap it lightly around the board and immerse in a tub of water. If you’re worried about colour bleed dissolve a couple of tablespoons of pure salt in warm water, let the water cool and wash the fabric in that (the salt ‘fixes’ the dye; this works well with natural fibres, may not be as good for synthetics)-still wrapped around the board then ‘rinse’ in cold water and line dry. You could try the ‘hand wash’ option on your washing machine but don’t spin it dry (or spin dry on the lowest setting if you can’t opt out of that step) just shake it vigorously (like snapping wet sheets) and then line dry. The weight of the water should straighten out the fabric, if it doesn’t use a gentle steam iron while the fabric is still damp. Make sure all subsequent washes of the fabric are in in cold water with colour protecting/ wool-silk detergent. Best of luck.

  7. I love your plans for spring! I didn’t see them until today. If you’re interested, Leanne Marshall has done some short “how to” videos for Simplicity on how to complete particular details in her patterns including the one you’re sewing up 1877.

    Here’s the link:
    Even though the videos I watched might be too basic for you, there might be a nugget for you and some of your blog followers. Personally, I liked them. It amazed me to see her use some huge scissors when I use a rotary cutter and thread snips.

    Looking forward to seeing your version of 1877 and the others as they develop.

  8. As someone who refuses to dry clean about 99% of the time (my wool winter coat being the exception to the rule) I will say this: never judge the swatch until you’ve pressed it. Often, the drape/sheen returns to normal. If it doesn’t, I ask myself: is the new result bad? Would I still have bought it that way off the bolt? Usually, whatever minor changes have occurred aren’t big enough to make me want to bother with dry cleaning.

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