Stiffening Slippery Fabrics with Gelatin

Well, I turns out I actually do sort of love my second Ogden Cami, sort of being the operative part of "love". I have a very sloped right shoulder due to my scoliosis, so despite how comfortable this camisole has turned out to be, it will never 100% be my favorite because the right shoulder strap slips off my shoulder frequently. Realistically, this is merely an annoyance, but the point of sewing my own wardrobe is to have clothes that fit my body and don't annoy me. One of my favorite things about this top though is that I took the time to hand sew the entire garment. I love the tiny rolled hems, I love that it is loose and flowy and comfortable without looking baggy. I love that it feels well-made, even if it doesn't fit perfectly.

I liked having a hand sewing project to bring into the tv room at night when I was working on my Ogden Camisoles. Summer is too hot for me to knit, but a light silk cami doesn't fill up my lap with hot fabric, and I get to keep my hands busy during TV time. Watching TV without a project of some sort makes me feel fidgety and indulgent.

I've been thinking about ways I could alter the Ogden Cami pattern so it fits my shoulders better, but I've been hesitant to make what feels like such a large alteration to the pattern, and then spend many hours sewing it out of slippery silk. What happens if I don't like the alteration? Is it wasted time and effort? Is it a learning opportunity? It is probably a little bit of both. It could turn out well, but I didn't want to chance it. I could make a muslin, but even if I make a muslin, slippery fabric is still a bitch to handle.

I was scrolling through the indie sewing pattern website Rad Patterns, looking for a very specific underwear pattern and I came across the Camisado Cami pattern. (For the record, I ended up buying the Camisado pattern, the Lucky Booty Undies, the Men's Boxer Briefs, the 25K Bralette (you can get a code to get this pattern for free by following the link on the pattern website page and joining their facebook group, at the time of this writing), and the Kid's Cosplay patterns.) If you have never heard of this designer, definitely check them out. The website looks very minimalist and basically designed, but I really think they put a lot of thought and effort into their patterns and that is what matters the most. They present each pattern with photos from real customers in a variety of body shapes and sizes so you can get an idea of what the finished product could look like on your body. Even though we don't need accissbility clothing, I absolutely love that they also offer 6 patterns that are based on accessibility for differently-abled bodies in mind. This is the first pattern company I have come across that has so many accessibility options available.

Okay, so I downloaded and printed my Camisado pattern right away, and got it into the sewing lineup. Maine is really only "hot" for about 4-6 weeks per year, but a camisole can be worn year round, not just in the heat of summer. What I really needed was the time to deal with that darn slippery fabric, and then one day, I was scrolling through Instagram when a solution presented itself in regards to the slippery fabric problem. I learned that you can stiffen slippery fabrics with gelatin dissolved in water. I saved the link, as I was several projects away from getting around to working with silk again, but I knew that when I was ready, I wanted to try the gelatin trick. The day finally came when I was ready to try. I went through my fabric closet and found two cuts of silk satin that I wanted to try.

By the time I was wrapping up my Scrap Busting Cushion Project, and getting caught up on batch-typing blog posts (yep, like, right now lol) I was thinking about what I want to sew for the next few weeks. It's currently mid July, the heat of summer is scorching most of the United States, the temps in Maine are finally crawling past the upper 70's and into the 80's. Which means it's time to sew some small clothing things. In my case, I am going to be sewing a batch of boxer shorts for my partner, and tackling my camisole dilemma. Will the Camisado live up to my expectations? I don't know yet, but I have prepped my fabric, and it's pretty cool!

I followed the directions from the Stitch Collective, except I was a little over-enthusiastic and diluted the concentrated gelatin with tepid water too soon, before the gelatin had a chance to fully dissolve. I didn't realize my mistake until Iw as removing the fabric from the water and found little beads of undissolved gelatin all ove the place. This doesn't really seem like it is going to be an issue. The fabric was soft, silky and slippery going into the gelatin bath. It came out feeling like, well, wet silk. Which is to say it felt "crisp". I gently squeezed as much water out as possible, shook out the gelatin residue, and hung the fabric up on my clothes drying rack to dry. The next morning the dried fabric definitely had a crisp and stiff hand to it. It still feels like silk, but like crisp silk. I still plan on stay stitching around all the bias edges just because it'll take me 2-4 weeks to hand sew the camisole and I don't want to stretch it out picking it up and putting it down over and over. Once I have made my Camisado I will have a blog post about it so I can tell you what it was like to make the pattern, and what it was like sewing with gelatin-stiffened fabric.


48 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All