flocking bird silk shirt with sleeve tutorial

My next post as a member of the Britex Fabrics Guest Blogger Team is up today over on the Britex Blog, and I’m sewing with SILK!  This gorgeous navy and ivory flocking bird print was completely irresistible to me, and I was so excited to make a beautiful flowy top out of it for my sister Laura.  I’ve never sewn with silk before so this was quite a challenge – I had a lot of research to do before I started.  The result is completely worth the extra effort I think!

flocking bird silk shirt (sleeve tutorial)

I started with one of my favorite adult patterns, the Wiksten Tank.  As I’ve done before, I decided to add three quarter sleeves, which gives the shirt a bit more substance and slightly more formal look, while maintaining the ease of the pattern.

flocking bird silk shirt (sleeve tutorial)

Today I’ll show you my method for adding the sleeves.

First of all, if you’re working with silk, here are a few general tips I picked up.  You’ll want to sew with silk or cotton thread, using a microtex sharp needle, so make sure you have those.  Next, you’ll need to reflect all of your pattern pieces so you’re not cutting on the fold, but just a single layer of silk.

When you’re ready to cut, head over to my fellow Britex Guest Blogger Jen from Grainline Studio’s tutorial for cutting silk.  It worked amazingly well!  I cut between two layers of Swedish tracing paper with a rotary cutter and it was a frustration-free experience.

flocking bird silk shirt (sleeve tutorial)

Now, to create the sleeve pattern.

flocking bird silk shirt (sleeve tutorial)

1.  Lay your pattern on the right side of your tracing paper and trace around the armhole curve

2.  Lay your ruler down at a 90 degree angle to the pattern grain, mark a line as far as you’d like the sleeve (use another shirt of yours for length reference)

3.  This is what your pattern will look like so far

4.  I added a little extra loft to the shoulder curve to give myself room for a puff sleeve and to add a seam allowance.  Draw a slight S to finish the arm curve, then draw a slanted line to the same length as your top line, connecting them with a vertical line (the lighter curve is my original tracing, darker line is my final pattern)

flocking bird silk shirt (sleeve tutorial)

If you’ll be cutting silk, trace out your sleeve again with plenty of room to reflect the pattern so it’s just one piece.  If making this out of cotton, you can just use the pattern on the fold.   Cut notches where indicated to guide gathers (on your silk, mark these with chalk).

flocking bird silk shirt (sleeve tutorial)

Sew two rows of gathering stitches between your markings, then sew the long sleeve seams together.  I chose to serge each side of the seam allowance and press them open, as I thought french seams might be too bulky.  Set each sleeve in, gathering what’s needed to match the armhole opening and sewing inside the tube.  I then serged the seam allowances together to finish the armhole.

flocking bird silk shirt (sleeve tutorial)

Finish the tank per pattern instructions – for the silk, I used a baby hem and navy cotton batiste bias tape to finish the neckline.  You can either choose to hem the sleeve with a baby hem, or a wider one and thread some elastic through to hold it at your elbow.

flocking bird silk shirt (sleeve tutorial)

Enjoy your pretty new silk (or voile, or batiste, or vintage sheet, or rayon) shirt!  Thanks for modeling, Laura!!

Head over to the Britex Blog to see my post and leave some love over there if you’d like, and while you’re there be sure to peruse their sale section.  The drape and beauty of this silk just can’t be beat (it goes on sale Feb 1).

**Britex Fabrics is a sponsor of this blog and graciously provided the fabric for this project.**


41 thoughts on “flocking bird silk shirt with sleeve tutorial

  1. Shell says:

    Beautiful top & thanks for the tutorial … now I’ll be able to add sleeves to my grainline tiny pocket tank, having already done the bodice fitting – great idea!!!

  2. Thimble & Cork says:

    Ah! I just ordered this fabric last week! I’m so excited to see how beautiful it is in your top. I was planning on making a skirt, but you might have convinced me to try out a blouse pattern with it. Also, thanks for the great tips on sewing with this silk. I’ll have to keep that in mind when mine is delivered.

    • Avery says:

      That charming flocking bird silk has been one of our favorites too! Once you’re done with your project, we’d love to post a photo of it on our blog. Just send us an email.
      Avery, Britex Fabrics

  3. Cirque Du Bebe says:

    This is SO AWESOME! I love everything about it from the fabric choice to the shape of the tee and the little pleats in the sleeves. Will definitely be using this tutorial. Your sister must be pretty special…I would have kept this for myself!

  4. rachel says:

    wow, this is so stunning. what a beautiful top! gorgeous fabric, with great drape and your sister’s beautiful, too! lovely all around. people ask me sometimes why i don’t want to sew for myself and it’s because i don’t really want to wear quilting cotton (and haven’t had the best luck with knits). this is something i would wear — that is, if i didn’t have four kids who would get it dirty in about 2 seconds flat. 🙂

  5. Delia says:

    Perfection! I could use that word to describe everything you do. You sew with such precision and intention. I adore this top and am impressed with how thoroughly you researched your fabric. The three quarter sleeve was definitely the right choice. I really like the versatility of this top. It looks great with jeans but could easily be dressed up with a pencil skirt. And yes, your sister is adorable – about as adorable as you. 😉

  6. jennifer says:

    I have the Wiksten tank pattern but absolutely do not wear tank tops other than under things (it’s an armpit thing) and have been wanting to draft sleeves for it but don’t want to draft sleeves for it. But now I see yours and it makes me want to do it! It’s a beautiful top Kristen!!

  7. Cass Can Sew (@cass_can) says:

    I just bought the wiksten tank pattern last week and now I’m even more excited about it! Those sleeves make it gorgeous… so I’ll definitely be having a go at this in the near future 🙂 I’m in love with that fabric too!
    Thanks for sharing xx

  8. anna says:

    um, basically I want to rip that shirt off her body and wear it. it’s amazing kristin!!!! seriously, I’m drooling! that fabric, oooo la la!! 🙂

  9. girllikethesea says:

    Seriously, SO PRETTY. The color and design on that silk is perfect. I love it and would totally wear this shirt. Must feel amazing on the skin!

  10. Jane says:

    this shirt is stunning…the flowing silk, the birdies…this pattern really looks great with sleeves too! awesome job i’m sure your sister loves it!

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