It’s all about the fabric

My friend Candice got married yesterday in a beautiful ceremony – and almost as important – in a beautiful dress. It was really stunning. Later in the evening as the reception really got swinging she changed into something special. A little dress I made for her. When she asked last summer if I’d make her evening attire for the wedding, I was thrilled and we went through lots of ideas but eventually settled on the one you’ll see below. It’s been so hard to keep it secret as it was so challenging yet fun making it. So today I thought I’d do a post about  actually making her dress. And let me tell you: it is all about the fabric.

The design of the dress is relatively simple, bringing together the yoke from Deer & Doe’s Datura blouse, combined with a main body  drawing on Colette’s Laurel. The exquisite fabric is what truly does it (I’m not sure I’ve ever used exquisite in a sentence before): pale gold silk satin, matching lining and a silver lace.The fabric was so delicate I felt I should be wearing little gloves to handle it. But that’s not terribly practical is it? So I made sure that my nails were nicely filed and my fingers as smooth as a baby’s bum.

bits-and-bobsIn terms of haberdashery, I’ve used my large washer-cum-pattern weights for cutting out, Merchant & Mills entomology pins for holding pieces together, silk thread for most of the sewing, complimented by metallic thread used to hand stitch the lace on the yoke and on the machine I’m using a Microtextil Sharp needle 60/8 and the three sole walking foot.

I started with the yoke. Instead of cutting the pieces on the fold, I first cut half of the pattern piece, then carefully flipped it over to cut the other half. I did this for the yoke’s main fabric, lining and lace. Then I very carefully  hand stitched the lace onto the fabric  (about 35 stitches on both the front and the back), and then basted around the edges. You’ll see the on the back, the lace is about 1/2″ shorter than the  yoke fabric. As the seam allowance joining the yoke to the dress is 5/8″ I want the edge of the lace to be just over the seam. At a later step I’ll hand stitch it over the seam.

I joined the yoke and lining together , and the back to front as the Datura blouse instructed. But that’s when I went off on my own. Once they were joined at the shoulder seams, I then sewed the front and back together at the side with the lining and yoke open and pressed the seam open. This means that this seam will be totally hidden when the yoke and skirt are joined. I also then sewed a lining of basting stitches in  5/8″ from the bottom of the lining, making it easier at a later stage to fold the  up.

Moving onto the skirt portion of the dress, I cut each piece of fabric as I needed it. Time consuming but it reduced the exposure of this gorgeous fabrics to the elements in my living room: dog, dog hair, coffee, the giant mud puddle monster waiting to jump on me (I do love my Robert Munch). You get the drift. The skirt came together beautifully – I made sure to use the iron on the silk setting, with no steam, and all the ironing was done through a large piece of lawn I had in my stash. While it was particularly time consuming, especially for the french seams, the fabric remained unmarked and looked great when finished. The skirt lining however was more tricky than the silk. It wanted even less heat, but less heat was ineffective. As a result there are a few iron marks on the lining, much to my horror. Once both pieces were done, I  was gratified to find that they fit together perfectly and I basted them together at the top, wrong sides together.

Then came the fiddly bit. I joined the skirt to the yoke, making sure that the lining was free. Having pressed the seams of the yoke open, it created less bulk under the arms where the pieces were joined. I had to be extra careful not to catch the lace on the back into this seam. And I must confess that my first attempt I attached beautifully but back to front! In my defense I have quite the cold at the time. So I spent an hour unpicking and then doing it correctly. Phew. Once the skirt was attached, I then hand stitched the lace on the back over the seam, so it wasn’t visible. I then set about hand sewing the lining down, along the fold line I had previously based.

Candice came round and we checked the length before I did the hem. On the lining (which was cut 1.5″ shorter anyway, I simply folded it up half an inch, then folded it up again. On the main dress, I used an invisible stitch, and took it up about 1 1/4″.

I must say it make out quite beautifully and I’m rather proud of it! It fit Candice perfectly and really suits her and she was happy with it! I’ll post photos in a few weeks when the wedding photos are back so you can see it in action.



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