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Silk Baby Pants

Here's the description I posted to alt.sewing when I made baby pants out of
silk doubleknit, a truly grand fabric!!! A big lesson is that 2-ply cotton
embroidery thread is great for fancy machine stitches that lay down a lot of
thread. With the small diameter, the seam does not get bulky even with lots
of backstiching. This is important for those of us trying to get "flatlock-like"
seams with a regular sewing machine. -MM, November 9, 1995
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To: alt.sewing
From: Margaret Minsky
Date: August 1994
Summary: I have started making silk knit baby clothes, they're great,
instructions for a comfy seam and elastic application on the Pfaff 7550, several
questions for alt.sewers about silk knits and baby clothes.

Silk is cool when it is warm, warm when it is cool, feels good against the skin,
easy care if pre-washed, and is very stong. It seems like the pefect material for
baby clothes, but I am not surprised that we don't find silk baby clothes in the
stores because we think of it as a luxury dry-clean-only fiber.

I bought some ultra lightweight silk doubleknit (at Thai Silks) and made a
pair of baby pants for my 8 month old. I drafted the pattern off a pair of cotton
knit pants from Israel that are somewhat like Hannas but have a clever cut
with no side seams. Self-fabric cuffs rather than ribbing. Also the back panel is
set up to stretch in the same direction as the rest of the pants, though one
could put the fabric stretch the other way there if you want.

I pre-washed the fabric a couple of times in Tide and sent it through some
vicious dryer cycles, since that's what usually happens to the baby clothes.

I am very happy with how they came out, and they were easy to make. The
silk is somewhat slippery so watch out for baby on slippery surfaces. Also, at
least when washed in Tide, the silk holds dirt better than cotton so don't
count on white staying pristine.

I made a great imitation flat serged seam which is completely comfortable and
stretchy. I tested pulling it VERY hard and it is strong. I used cotton
EMBROIDERY thread (Metrosene brand this is the stuff that conventional
wisdom holds to be too weak to sew with, it is a 2-ply thread (2/60).

Instructions for the Pfaff 7550:
Use OVERLOCK foot, the one with the little wire on the right. It comes with
the machine
USE 2-PLY COTTON MACHINE EMBROIDERY THEAD
Top tension 4 for this fabric.

1)
Seam wrong sides together
stitch #34
length = 12
balance= -3 (This supposedly lengthens the stitch pattern a little more)
IMPORTANT: Place fabric so that the seam line is on the right (on the wire,
with seam allowance on the left.) This is a little stange but that's the direction
the stitch goes. I had left a 5/8 allowance but next time I will probably use less,
like 3/8. The ovelock foot isn't doing a lot until the second pass later on.

Trim very close to stitching.
Press seam to whichever side is appropriate

2)
Stitch seam from right side, with needle starting exactly in ditch and overlock
foot wire on the right, seam line at needle.
stitch #35
length = 5.5
width at default setting
This will lock down the seam allowance and make a beautifully flat seam.

Press.

It looks and feels great!

For the waistband I used 3/4" ply woven elastic, a rather gentle one. After
choosing a comfortable length, I applied it to the inside top of waistband with
the so-called elastic stitch (#3, very wide), stretching elastic to fit. Then I
folded the fabric and elastic over and stitched the raw edge down with pass 2
(stitch #35) as above for the seams.

Now for questions:
1. Is there anywhere to buy ready-made silk baby clothes (washable), especially
knits?
2. Silk jersey might be better than the doubleknit, as it would be more
stretchy. Anyone know where to get it in nice quality and colors? Britex has
some in a minimal color selection (orange, beige, brown, cream); I sent for
swatches but didn't dare ask price.
3. Anyone know where to get appropriate silk wovens, I am thinking of
seersucker type of fabic for the summer?

Also, if any one tries this seam on other fabrics or with other threads, let me
know how it works; I won't have time fo a while to see if it is useful for other
situations.


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Addendum Nov 9, 1995. In the preceeding notes I mention silk jersey from
Britex. I did receive it. It was of the highest quality and beautiful color, and I
have done some interesting things with it that I will write up eventually.