Spring silk shell top, Simplicity 1467

The soft shell top in this Simplicity K1467 pattern really appealed to me.

I recently went to Shaukat & Co Fabrics for the first time, with London-based dressmaking meet up The London Dressmakers, and was overwhelmed by the place!
From the entrance, the shop doesn't look that huge. But as you wander in further, and then descend downstairs, you are met with room upon room of beautiful printed fabrics, piled up to the ceiling. Every corner I turned I expected to finally get to the edge of this fabric world, and would always find myself in just another little fabric cubby-hole! They are not cheap, but they have pre-cut lengths of hundreds of things and I couldn't help but scoop up a few items. One of them was this 100% silk print in gorgeous blues and greens. It was only a metre or so as a piece, so I knew I would only be able to get a top out of it.

Silk print fabric
There were a few staple techniques outlined well in the pattern instructions for this project.

Silk print fabric gathering stitches

TECHNIQUE 1: Gathering. 

The pattern instructions were really good at describing this method of gathering, but stitching two parallel lines of wide machine stitch that you can pull to gather up the fabric finely and evenly. This was really easy with a slippery silk - I imagine it would be tougher with a heavy fabric though.

TECHNIQUE 2: Under-stitching. 

This is a great technique for preventing facings from rolling and showing on the outside of the garment. Essentially, press your seam flat after sewing, with all the seam allowances pressed to the facing side. Keeping it out flat, stitch along the facing side of the seam, as close to the seam as you can go while keeping neat, through the facing and both seam allowances. It seems strange as you do it, and then when you finally press along the fold of the seam, it will pull the fold slightly off seam to keep the facing well inside and the yoke edge crisp. There are loads of great tutorials on this, the best being at By Hand London, Sewaholic and Coletterie!
This fabric was beautiful but, as with many silks, a bit of a pain to work with. A few lessons I learnt (or already knew but reminded myself of!) along the way...

Understitching fabric neckline facing

LESSON 1: Cut single layers.

I guess this is not as absolutely true as it sounds - for example, I did cut on the fold with this fabric, but I spent a long time pinning the two layers together first. Luckily, this repeating geometric print really lends itself to easy lining up. I think it would be trickier with a more abstract or irregular pattern.

LESSON 2: Stay-stitch ASAP!

The pattern instructions called for stay-stitching along certain edge, for example the top of the back piece, but by the end of the project I wished I had simply stitched every single edge, and if repeating this project in this kind of fabric I would definitely start with this. And this idea leads me on to...

LESSON 3: Handle as little as possible.

As soon as you cut silk, the edge will start to fray in places, so I handled this as as little as possible during construction. The ideal way to keep your edges clean would be to stay stitch close to the edge as soon as you can after cutting out. Then only once you come to sew a seam, stay stitch just inside the seam allowance, and trim up close to this line only once you are ready to immediately seam or fold-and-finish (if sewing a hem). If you really must pause between cutting and sewing, hang on a hanger somewhere carefully and don't move the project around until you're ready to continue!

LESSON 4: Baste, baste, baste.

This is something I do with many projects. Although it is tiresome taking out the basting stitch afterwards, particularly if you have had to sew over it (for example on a fine rolled hem), it is always well worth it when your seams and hems have ended up in the right place and your pattern matching has really worked well.

Silk print shell top Simplicity 1467
I deviated from the pattern in a couple of ways, for this project.

MY HACK 1: Ditch the back seam/ closure option.

The pattern is set up to have a backseam which is open at the top for a button closure. As this shell is actually big enough to slip over the head, and I could (and preferred to) cut my back section form a single piece of cloth, I ditched the opening and sewing this as a puled-over-the-head top.

MY HACK 2: Alter the facing.

Being a fairly good weight silk, I decided to finish the arms with a simple, fine rolled hem, instead of using the extended facing recommended by the pattern. So my facing ended up being the same shape as the outer yoke. Instead of leaving it loose inside, I hemmed under the free edge and then hand stitched it secured to the inner seam line, therefore hiding all the seam allowances inside.

Silk print shell top Simplicity 1467


  1. It looks lovely. And great pics too.

  2. Hey! I want to do the same pattern and the idea of removing the back opening is great, just I wonder, did you remove the sewing allowance from the back pattern piece? Otherwise it will be 3 cm bigger isn't it? And what about the back facing ? Did you just join together at the back of the neck ? It's my first project with slippery fabric and I m pretty nervous ;-) thanks

    1. Hi! Thanks for the message!

      Yes, if you want to take out the back opening you can just fold under the centre back seam allowance (avoid cutting it off, as you might want to make it up WITH an opening in the future!). Then trace and cut your pattern piece on the fold.

      You can manipulate a split facing in the same way, or draw off a new facing using your adapted back pattern piece as a template.

      In terms of using slippery fabrics, take things slow and use lots of pins to get things stable before running to the machine! I wrote a post for Seamwork magazine just recently on delicate and sheer fabrics - you might find it useful :)

  3. Hey! Thank you so much for your kind reply! I might give it a go and maybe do a test with a different fabric before ;-) thanks for the article link too, it's full of very interesting tips!!! I ll let you know how is it going ;-)

  4. Hey, sorry to bother again, I made a Muslim test tonight, ( and I m glad) I think I got something wrong with the yoke pieces, do I have to cut the back one on the fold too ? And remove 1.5 cm? Maybe it s better if I stick to the original pattern before making alteration ;-(

    1. Hi, why don't you send me a quick email and tell me where you got stuck with the yoke? Maybe I can help! nowtrythisblog@gmail.com