Sewing with Brushed-Back Satin

auntiegeekSeptember 8, 2006

My Darling Niece chose a pretty brushed-back satin for a gown. Very pretty!

I'm urgently looking for tips from others regarding washing instructions, sewing tips, i.e. what to watch out for, needle types, caveats etc.

I'm an intermediate sewer, but have not used this kind of material's 83% polyester, 17% cotton. Wondering if I really need to prewash it. I normally do, but am hesitating because it's going to be for a formal gown and I realllly don't want to blow it! :-)

I plan on using fabric sizing to stiffen the pieces up a bit while handling and sewing them. Anyone else do this before? Also, any problems with fraying and finishing the edges?

PLEASE any hints you can forward will be GREATLY APPRECIATED. I am sewing it this weekend. 09/09

oh, it's pattern M3681 McCall's, the "red" view.


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I definately would NOT wash the fabric first.It's for a formal,so she'll probably only wear it that one time,after she wears it she can send it to the cleaners if it needs it.Use a size 12 needle,a sharp,and be sure to press as you go,I would not use any sizing either.Do you have a serger?? If not you can do french seams or pink them or overcast them.Without seeing the fabric,it hard to say how much it will ravel.

Also be sure to test the temperature of your iron on a scrap,and you may also need to use a press cloth.Hope i covered everything.Good luck,and if you have more questions,come back here,there's always someone around.

    Bookmark   September 8, 2006 at 5:24PM
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Thanks so much, I really(!!!!) appreciate the tips!

The gown will be worn often at her group's meetings, after her initial installation this October. I was hoping it was machine washable, but didn't want to guess. The material came on a bolt but had no care instructions. I ck'd on the internet but only found pj's made with this, and the care instructions varied. Otherwise, no info for this particular fabric at all, just info for "regular" satins.
I normally overcast raw edges with a zigzag stitch but was worried about "iron-through" impressions. Definitely will use a press cloth. No sizing since we're not going to use the washing machine. whew.

I don't have a serger, (yet!) just my trusty Singer that I've had since the 80's. I probably won't be able to do French seams since there may be some last-minute alterations done...

Thank you again for your tips and recommendations. I am looking fwd to putting this together(except for the gathers, but I'll manage!). She will look so cute!

Any other tips appreciated, keep them coming!!!

Thank you !!

    Bookmark   September 8, 2006 at 8:18PM
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To avoid "iron-through", cut strips from brown paper bags and place the strips under the seams as you press them open.

Good luck! It sounds gorgeous!


    Bookmark   September 8, 2006 at 8:28PM
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Brushed back satin is used mostly for pajamas, nightgowns, and lingerie. You can't kill this fabric, it's mostly polester, so steam press with moderate heat to your heart's desire. Your niece chose the wrong fabric for the pattern and should have gone with another choice of fabric in the satin line if she wanted satin or any of the other suggested fabrics on the pattern envelope.

You should do a sample test swatch to see how the fabric reacts to water, use the same sample for stitch tests, and test fabric finishes before getting the pattern out. I would not use fusible interfacing because of the fusing temperature. The fabric is too bulky to do french or mock french seams.

You might get away using the present fabric for the skirt and have a soft, drapey skirt to wear with other tops for further wearings. The top you may not be able to use the fabric because the top has to be boned and lined per the back of the pattern envelope (although I think it is overkill considering it's a top and not a dress supporting weight) so another choice of coordinating fabric would be a good thing to do to get some wear out of the skirt.

Your niece should be able to use many other fabrics for different skirts from the's a basic gathered skirt. Later after the installation would also be a good opportunity to spend some aunt and niece time to teach her to sew a gathered or elasticized skirt, the second thing we learned to sew in Home Ec.

    Bookmark   September 9, 2006 at 8:10PM
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Thank you for the info...I did try to talk her out of this particular material, but it was the shade she wanted, and I thought since the pattern allowed for peau de soie I might be able to get away with it. Well, at least for the skirt....I agree re the top, don't think we can do it with this material. I got delayed this wknd so only managed to cut out the material. I am considering inserting a layer of sew-in interfacing to see if I can salvage the top. Even with the underling and the lining, the fabric won't hold up in the way it should for this top.

Good thing I have time till the event, because I am going to try to talk her into a taffeta-type of fabric for a second attempt. Her mom is not a taffeta fan so that influenced our original choice, hmmm.

Thanks again and keep them coming...this is a really great board!!!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2006 at 12:44PM
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May I ask what occasion this is for?

Before you cut into any fabric, do a fitting muslin so you have your alterations and discover rather quickly if this pattern is a good style for the person.

I think you might be able to do the top if you do a looser fit and eliminate the boning (definite overkill). I would line and not bother underlining or you will have a stiff garment.

I'm assuming this is a teen and wouldn't do a taffeta because taffeta spots too easy.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2006 at 7:38AM
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Ok here's the update! :-)

Success! I used a sew-in interfacing on the top. It worked! (whew) I also put the boning in, figuring I could just remove it if necessary. I used the underlining as well, since we needed body for this top. All worked fine...she loves it!

Other info: to cut down on fraying, which both the lining and the fabric were wont to do (haha understatement) I stiched around each edge 1/4" with a straight stitch. Helped a lot. My pinking shears were out of commission and zigzag was a non-starter both fabrics. Not a perfect solution but working fine for now.

I used spray on starch to firm up the pieces of the lining fabric only (that dreaded acetate stuff) It was a really lightweight lining. Worked perfectly.

For the waistband, I used the sew in interfacing and lining again. I needed to firm up that piece since I knew it was going to stretch out. Excellent results.

The BB-Satin gathers and drapes beautifully. I have a lot left over so am going to sew a little wrap and a bunch of hair scrunchies for her friends.

So now we're waiting for her new crinoline so I can get the skirt hemmed. (hints for this?)

Now for the "bad" news. Even tho I measured and re-measured the top is an inch too small from under the bust to the bottom. Top and bust are perfect. I didn't have time to do a muslin model but you can bet next time I definitely will. My solution will be to add lacing instead of buttons so it can be adjusted. (and she prefers the lacing idea anyway.) I'll turn it inside out, rip out the straight seams on the back pieces (the ends) and insert loops and a strip of material. The loops will be taken up in the seam. Before I do this I think I'll make up a model to test. Any suggestions welcome!

I haven't sewn lacings before, so I'm off to Joanne's or Hancocks to look at patterns. I'll get the instructions and read them over for technique.

Thank you to everyone for the most excellent information. It is turning out to be quite an adventure!

    Bookmark   September 20, 2006 at 5:23PM
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more update: well Hancock's was having a 99 cent pattern sale and so I just bought a pattern that had the lacing options (yes and a bunch more too). we'll probably use it soon anyway, with 2 nieces in Rainbows now! I pulled the pieces out, adapted them to her dress, and voila, we're in business!

the back turned out great with the lacing and the backing, which I sewed into the seams. everything's done except the hem...still waiting on that new petticoat!

hopefully if I can get a picture we'll post it for you. thanks again everyone for the assist!


    Bookmark   September 26, 2006 at 4:31PM
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I had a college friend in Rainbow in Wisconsin; as memory serves it was affiliated with the Moravian church? Or am I having a senior moment?


    Bookmark   September 26, 2006 at 8:10PM
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Rainbow girls is part of Eastern Star and the masonic lodges.

The only time the girls dress up is when they have installation of officers when the girls are going through the chairs or are an officer or director of something. Everyone wears street clothes at monthly meetings...I know, I was one, and I double checked with one of my friends who is in Eastern Star...any revealing formal wear is highly frowned upon, you will be told about it, the key word is "modesty". Teens like to push the envelope, this is not the time or place to try it.

That said, and since you have plenty left, I would make an additional simple non-revealing blouse or top to go with the skirt.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2006 at 7:23AM
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They can actually wear spagetti strap formals now. (CA) No strapless gowns. Many of the girls buy strapless dresses and then add 1-2" straps over the shoulders. She also cleared the pattern with the advisory board. But! I'm making a small wrap anyway just in case.

The girls wear long dresses at their meetings, except for "informal" meetings when they can wear casual dresses or skirts. You're right at installations and initiation they dress up in more formal attire. You can see their dress code here:

Boy times have changed huh, I have a pic of my mom at her installation and they are All wearing strapless 50's dresses!

    Bookmark   September 27, 2006 at 1:47PM
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