What to do with Polyester?

Anyone else mistakenly order fabric? I am usually good at assessing what I need, choosing fibres, ordering the correct quantity (often a bit less!) but I had completely misread the description of this fabric. I thought it said it was medium-heavy weight (it’s lightweight), and I also thought it said it was a viscose/cotton blend with some elastane for stretch (it’s polyester!). I know that my imagined fabric blend sounds really specific so I can only assume that I was looking at another fabric with that composition and I mistakenly got them confused?!

So, in my head I had ordered a medium-heavy weight stretch viscose/cotton jacquard with which to make a stunning Papercut Patterns Axis Dress. What arrived was a lightweight polyester. They say necessity is the mother of invention (my favourite saying) and this was definitely forcing me to get creative!

Now, like many of you I usually avoid sewing with synthetic fabrics. Mostly because of the environmental impact of releasing microplastics every time they go through the wash, therefore I wanted to be mindful of choosing a pattern that would hopefully not need washing with every wear. Polyester also has the unfortunate characteristic of not being very breathable, which means it makes you sweat and retains smells. This means that it’s important to be choosy about what pattern to use polyester for, something close fitting with covered underarms would probably not be ideal! I thought I would share with you the ideas that I came up with when trying to decide what to make with this fabric.

Something sleeveless (like the Axis Dress) would be a great shout – no sweaty underarms! However, I didn’t think that this fluid lightweight fabric would suit the Axis Dress, which I think looks better with some structure. Another good option would be for use as a lining fabric for a tailored coat or jacket. It would be unlikely to touch the skin as one would normally wear layers under a coat, and it would certainly make a durable option for lining. If I had a coat planned when this fabric arrived I think that would have been what I used it for, it would have been lovely as an interesting lining.

I also think it would make lovely nightdresses, lingerie, or pyjamas. I have this lovely shorts pattern (pic below) from VikiSews that would make a cute set paired with the Ogden Cami. Another good option would be a robe, a lovely swishy silky garment that would be a fab use for polyester as it would only need to be washed very infrequently.

I can’t find what this pattern is called sorry!

Finally I decided it would make a gorgeous blouse to wear for work, if I could make it loose fitting enough not to feel close or sweaty. I’ve been watching Ted Lasso and Hannah Waddingham’s character Rebecca wears gorgeous blouses and workwear. I was definitely channelling this vibe when I decided on this top. (also if you haven’t watched Ted Lasso, it’s amazing – and I don’t even like football!) Anyway, I decided to make the Wilder Top made with the M7969 sleeves which I think looks smart and stylish while remaining loose fitting. Both the Wilder and the M7969 have raglan sleeves so it was easy to hack the patterns together.

Look at how adorable Hannah Waddingham is with her biscuit! And her gorgeous blouse! Her whole wardrobe in this show is gorgeous.

I don’t know why but I thought this pattern looked difficult, I was pleasantly surprised when I realised just how simple it is to make! I made the M7969 sleeves, sewed the front pieces together and topstitched, sewed the front to the back and attached the sleeves all in one evening. Then the next evening I hemmed the top, sewed the channel at the neck and made the tie. It was such a fun pattern to sew.

One thing I was pleasantly surprised by was how stable this fabric is. I know that sounds contradictory when talking about a lightweight and slippery fabric, but it behaved well under the needle. There was no pulling or puckering of the stitches at all, which is something I would expect to have to navigate with a lightweight silky fabric. There is a line of stitching directly down the centre front of the top and that line of stitching has a line of topstitching either side of it. There is minimal pulling or puckers on any of those three lines of stitching – colour me impressed!

I think I made the best of an unexpected fabric purchase and I hope I’ve given you a couple of ideas for what to do with polyester sitting in your stash, after all it’s best to use fabric already in existence than buy more! Many of us already wash and wear polyester as it is what most activewear is made from, so if you are worried about microplastics in the wash you might like to know about GuppyFriend which is a laundry bag used to catch micro plastics before entering the waterways.

I am not sure I am going to rush out and buy more polyester any time soon, but I do think I’ll be returning to the Wilder top! It’s lovely!

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