In February, I went to see Cats with my mother. Naturally, this was a perfect excuse for me to delve into my excessive silk collection.
In my lifelong fabric acquisition project, there has been far too much emphasis on the silk buying category for a person who spends most of her free time at the sewing machine. The particular fabric that I chose was from Montemarte, Paris, 2010, so it had been hanging about in the fabric wardrobe for long enough to mature properly, and had lovely holiday associations besides.
Having selected my fabric, the next step (for me) was to find the
right pattern. Some, sensible, people whom are mysteriously resistant to
the allure of beautiful but completely inappropriate fabric for their
lifestyle, find a pattern first, then buy the correct amount of an
appropriate fabric as recommended by the pattern designer. I cannot seem
to adopt this behaviour.
As silk chiffon is not the easiest fabric to sew, I prewashed it, then soaked it in a gelatine solution, as described in this post . This technique involves ironing the silk, which I was a little uncertain about because of the fabric texture. The untreated fabric was crinkled,a very pleasing effect, which I've seen described as Yoro chiffon (although Yoro chiffon is usually rayon), and naturally when I ironed the fabric, this texture was removed. However, fabric with a crinkled texture is very fiddly to sew, so I decided to leave the fabric in its newly flattened state and to cross my fingers that nothing disastrous would happen to my new dress when it was washed again.
With the last remnants of my self control, I did not start with the silk chiffon, but first made up this pattern, Butterick 4978 in a quite-nice drapy rayon print, which I felt had enough similarity of drape to silk chiffon to provide an adequate test.
I completed the dress, other than the back zip, not having one in the right colour at the time, and tried it on with the back pinned closed. This was my first mistake.
I was reasonably happy with it after shortening the upper bodice a little and squaring the shoulders. I liked the upper bodice gathering, I was pleased with my addition of the bias binding neck and armscye finish, and the slight bubbling over the hips was, I felt, due to the pattern sticking out more at the sides than my figure in this region, and easily fixed by trimming a bit from the pattern before cutting out the real dress.
The skirt is cut on the bias. I left the practice dress to hang before working on it any further and gleefully started on my chiffon. This was my second mistake.
I would not say it went like a breeze, as in fact the breeze from my fan caused some cutting out problems, but with judicious use of every portable object in my sewing room as a fabric weight, I managed to squeeze a full length dress, with bias skirt containing only one little joining seam, from my precious 3 metres of silk.
I decided that, instead of lining the dress, as instructed in the pattern, I would make two full slips, using the lining pattern, one in a dark brown, and one in a deep purple, so that I would have two different dresses from the one patterned, translucent chiffon. This was my third mistake.
This also meant that all my seams had to be enclosed, and I chose to use french seams.
Sewing went well, and I finished the neck and armscye with self fabric bias, then I put in the zip, by hand.
UURGH. Now a truly dedicated blogger, would share a photo of this horror, but I have spared you the experience. Remember that not only is this a wadder, but in a transluscent fabric for which I had not yet made a petticoat and you will be grateful!
No matter how I tweaked, trimmed and painstakingly hand sewed the zip after stabilizing the fabric with silk organza selvage, the zip stuck out at the bottom, giving a tail-like effect that I found very displeasing. In addition, the side seams did not fall smoothly over the hips, but insisted on protruding like wings. Also, my carefully hand sewn bias bound armscyes rippled! (that bit, I blamed on the crinkle effect of the fabric). It is possible that by separating the lining from the dress, I had lost some much needed stabilisation of the bias cut chiffon.
Another possibility was that I had lost all my sewing skills, and needed more practice, I put the zip in the rayon dress- the appearance of the seams was much the same. The bias centre back seam of the skirt in a drapey fabric was not at all compatable with the zip, and this was affecting the drape of the side seams of the skirt too, despite there being plenty of ease in the skirt.
I cut most of the skirt off the rayon dress. I threw the chiffon dress in the bin.
Score : pattern - 5 metres of wasted fabric. I couldn't even get a scarf out of the skirt as it was cut on the bias and full of seams.
me - a learning experience and a cut down peplum top in rayon that I might possibly wear once or twice completely tucked in (i.e. I will never wear it). All zips in lightweight drapey bias cut fabric must only be applied to straight sections of the body in future. :(
I wore something else when I went to see Cats. (Burda Style 12-2008-102 from 2009!) I could sew it better now, so that made me happy.
I really enjoyed the night out with my mum. Who needs a new dress! :)