The Allure of Silk, Part 3: Finishing Touches for a Fancy Frock

In planning for my ‘50s-inspired silk party dress, my original intention was to use a red sash, just as shown on the original dress which I first saw on Pinterest.

Blue taffeta:silk dress - originalWhen I sent off for swatches of silk taffeta from Emma One Sock Fabrics, however, I requested reds and yellows, just in case I might change my mind. When the swatch card arrived, there were clearly two obvious choices – the clear red and the vibrant yellow.Allure of silk - cummerbund picture

Then a funny thing happened. I ordered the red, which was out-of-stock temporarily. The owner of Emma One Sock (who, I might add, is one of the pleasantest and most helpful people from whom one will ever order fabric!), held up the order, at my request, while I thought about it some more. By the time I went to Baltimore to start my dress in Susan Khalje’s Couture Sewing School, I had just about decided to switch to yellow. With Susan’s hearty endorsement and the additional approval of my classmates, the decision was made: the sash would be yellow, not red.

When the yellow silk taffeta arrived, I knew the decision was the right one. All I had to do then was figure out how to make the sash. Easy, right? With lots of time to think about this while I finished the embroidered organza top and the sapphire blue skirt – and the dress lining – I gradually came up with a plan. I decided a more structured cummerbund and bow would be the best look. First I went in search of a cummerbund pattern, which I found in an early 1960s pattern in my collection:

Allure of silk - cummerbund picture-1

I decided to loosely pleat it instead of gathering it, so it would appear smoother around my waist. Because I had underlined it with silk organza, I had an anchor upon which to secure the soft pleats:

I used a loose catch-stitch to secure the pleats.

I used a loose catch-stitch to secure the pleats.

allure of silk final

And I folded in the two ends, ready for hooks and eyes.

Then I lined it with silk crepe de chine.

Allure of silk final

Now –  I really love a beautiful bow. And I knew just where to go to get the perfect bow pattern. I made this Butterick pattern in the early 1990s, and while I still like the dress I made (I’ll feature it sometime… it’s still in my closet!), I love the bow. I have used this bow pattern numerous times, always successfully.

Allure of silk - bow picture-2

Here is a close-up of the instruction sheet, showing the simple but effective construction of this bow.

Allure of silk - bow diagram-3

I increased the width and length a bit, as I knew it would need to be a focal point of the dress. I attached the bow to one end of the cummerbund, and used a snap to secure it in place on the other end.

All of this took more time than I could have ever imagined! The event for which I made this dress is next week, and I’ll get proper pbotos taken then. But here is a sneak peek, first of the shoes I found which really seem to be the perfect pairing for this dress:

allure of silk final

And here is the dress on my dress form:

Allure of silk final

Allure of silk final

I thought I'd include this photo of the dress lining for anyone interested in seeing it.

I thought I’d include this photo of the dress lining for anyone interested in seeing it.

I am very pleased that I decided to "V" the back of the outer bodice!

I am very pleased that I decided to “V” the back of the outer bodice!

A close-up of the bow.

A close-up of the bow.

One of my favorite fashion quotes is one from Madeleine Vionnet: “The dress must not hang on the body but follow its lines. It must accompany its wearer and when a woman smiles the dress must smile with her.” Will my dress put a smile on my face when I wear it? Yes, if only for the fact that it has been finished just in time!

Details:

Blue silk taffeta:  Britex Fabrics

White embroidered organza:  Waechter’s Fabrics (now out of business)

Yellow silk taffeta:  Emma One Sock Fabrics.

Under bodice and outer bodice pattern:  Vogue 8766

Cummerbund pattern:  Vogue 5234 (vintage)

Bow pattern:  Butterick 3582 (vintage)

Shoes:  Butter, sold by Simply Soles

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Filed under Cocktail dresses, couture construction, Mid-Century style, sewing in silk, Shoes to make an outfit complete, Uncategorized, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s, Vogue patterns

The Allure of Silk: Sewing with Susan Khalje, Part 2

Whoever knew there could be so many valuable tips to be learned about sewing with taffeta?   The second “part” of my dress, which I began under the tutelage of Susan Khalje in early June, was simple compared with the embroidered silk organza overlaid bodice. However, it proved to be an excellent opportunity to learn about some of the peculiarities inherent in silk taffeta.

The skirt pattern for which I had made a muslin (toile) in preparation for class was actually a full circle with 4 seams. I wasn’t so sure I wanted anything quite so full, and as I only had 3½ yards of 35” wide taffeta, I also wasn’t so sure I had enough fabric to make such a skirt. But what really put the kibosh to those plans was Susan’s observation that silk taffeta does not perform well with seams cut on the straight of grain (seams sewn thus, apparently do not lie flat and drape well.) She suggested a three-part skirt, with one panel centered on the front, and the other two joined to the sides of that front panel and then seamed together up the back. All cut edges would be on the bias, with the straight of grain being down the center of each panel. So we took one prepared muslin piece and made these changes to it:

This is one of the original 4 panels.  We redrew the side seams, adding enough to the waist to compensate for reducing the skirt to three panels, and by doing that, also reduced the width at the bottom of the panel.

This is one of the original 4 panels. We redrew the side seams, adding enough to the waist to compensate for reducing the skirt to three panels, and by doing that, also reduced the width at the bottom of the panel.

Here is a close-up, with the new straight of grain going up the middle rather than down the side.

Here is a close-up, with the new side seam lines and straight of grain going up the middle rather than down the side. Both are marked in black.

Once I had my new pattern piece, cutting it out was easy and took every inch of the sapphire blue taffeta I had brought with me. Here is what it looked like when the seams were stitched:

All the basting lines are still visible.

All the basting lines are still visible.

The next surprise I had was about the silk organza underlining. I am so used to catch-stitching seams to organza underlining in couture sewing. But with taffeta, it’s better not to do so. With the impressionable finish of taffeta, such catch-stitching could “shadow” on the front of the garment. So I left the seams unsecured on the wrong side:

Blue taffeta skirt

Ironing those seams also took special attention. Susan had me iron them over a seamroll, taking care to “spread” the seam so that the tight stitching actually would show in front of the point of the iron. This was to get a crisp seam. Once ironed, taffeta does not respond well to changes in your intent (like some people we all know), so it has to be done correctly the first time.

Because the center back zipper would be applied onto the bias, Susan had me use a little fusible interfacing to reinforce that seam. Luckily, Becky, a classmate, had a bag of all kinds of high quality fusible interfacings with her! (Thanks, Becky!)

The interfacing was sandwiched between the fashion fabric and the underlining.

The interfacing was sandwiched between the fashion fabric and the underlining.

I certainly did not get to the hem of the skirt before I left for home, but Susan gave me tips on how to sew that wide and curved expanse. I cut a 2½” strip of silk organza to use as a hem facing. I turned it up with a very narrow strip of blue taffeta exposed on the wrong side. Then I used a very short straight stitch to secure the organza facing to the organza underlining:

Blue taffeta skirt

I haven’t pressed the hem yet, but Susan has instructed me not to press the edge of the hem flat. It should have a little softness to it, which is the French way! I’m all for that.

The hemmed skirt

The hemmed skirt

The lining, which will be the full expanse of the skirt itself, will be out of silk crepe de chine and will hang loose.

In the past, I have always thought of taffeta as kind of stiff and a little too structured for my taste, but now I am a fan. I like the slight rustle to it, and when constructed properly, it drapes and moves beautifully. The secret is to work with very fine quality silk taffeta – and know the tricks! Thanks, Susan!

 

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Filed under couture construction, sewing in silk, Silk taffeta, Uncategorized

The Allure of Silk: Sewing with Susan Khalje, Part 1

Any week spent in one of Susan Khalje’s Couture Sewing School classes is a week filled with opportunity. This past class was my third one taken with Susan, and I have come to expect that I will learn unexpected things! My first class with her was the Classic French Jacket; the second class was when I started my color-blocked coat; and this class saw the beginning of a silk formal dress which I need for a black-tie event in early July.

She asks her students to come with a prepared muslin (toile), ready for fitting.  I have so many vintage patterns for long, lovely, fancy dresses, that it was difficult to focus on just one. As it turned out, I found myself drawn repeatedly to a dress which I had pinned to one of my Pinterest boards, and it is this dress which became my inspiration:

Blue taffeta:silk dress - originalI say “inspiration” as I knew I wanted to make certain changes. I decided I did not want to go completely strapless. Instead I envisioned a strapless underbodice, covered by a lacy, semi-transparent, sleeveless overbodice, both in white. I had already purchased a silk-embroidered organza (from Waechter’s Fabrics, before they closed their business), and I had also already purchased 3½ yards of sapphire-blue silk taffeta from Britex Fabrics. Those were my fabrics of choice for this project.

A Noisy Spring

I started with the strapless top and the sleeveless top from this current Vogue pattern:

Blue taffeta:silk dress - bodice pattern

Here’s what happened when Susan fitted the muslin on me:

The pattern for the strapless under bodice consisted of a front panel, two side princess panels, and two back panels.  However, Susan divided the side princess panels into two, giving me 7 bodice pieces rather than 5.

The pattern for the strapless under bodice consisted of a front panel, two side princess panels, and two back panels. However, Susan divided each side princess panel into two pieces, giving me 7 bodice pieces rather than 5.

The pattern for the over bodice needed major adjustments.  Here is the front . . .

The pattern for the over bodice needed major adjustments. Here is the front . . .

. . . and here is the back.  I wanted to make the back into a V-shape, which was a minor adjustment to the pattern i was using.

. . . and here is the back. I made the back into a V-shape, which was a minor adjustment to the pattern I was using.

One of the reasons I wanted to start this dress under Susan’s tutelage was for the opportunity to learn how to add boning to a structured bodice. I knew the fashion fabric for the strapless underbodice would be white silk crepe de chine. What I did not know is that the channels for the boning would be cleverly made out of two pieces of silk organza, with parallel stitching strategically placed every couple of inches – making the perfect slots for the pieces of boning.

Lotsa of seams!

Lots of seams!

Click on the photo to see the channels for the boning.

Click on the photo to see the channels for the boning.

With the boning inserted.

With the boning inserted.

Then the shocker came: in order to keep the boning from showing through to the right side, I needed to add another layer of … something. When Susan suggested white flannel – flannel! – I was skeptical, but trusting (I think!).  I kept thinking of the bulk that flannel was going to add to this very fitted underbodice, but Susan assured me it would work. She consoled me by telling me that we would be able to cut away the seam allowances of the flannel, reducing much of the added bulk. But the real surprise was the wonderful softness the flannel added to the finished underbodice. The flannel not only camouflages the boning on the right side, it also adds an amazing smoothness to the appearance of the underbodice.

Once the underbodice was complete, I set about to start the embroidered silk organza overbodice. We played around with the placement of the motifs, making sure that two big “daisies” would not be right on top of the bust.

The Allure of Silk, pt 1

 

Small daisies close to the bust seemed to be okay.

Small daisies close to the bust seemed to be okay.

The back of the over bodice

The back of the over bodice

And this is what the embroidered silk organza would look like over the strapless under bodice.

And I wanted to see what the embroidered silk organza would look like over the strapless under bodice.  So pretty!

Interior seams were finished by hand, and darts were left as is, with no additional finishing. The neck and armhole edges were another story, as they would need to be bound in bias-cut crepe de chine. I found this very tedious and time-consuming and appreciated Susan’s suggestions and tips to help make these delicate finished edges as even as possible. First I practiced, then I sewed, then I took out stitches and started over again, carefully clipping away noticeable bulk from the embroidery in that narrow edge.

Practice!

Practice!

Working on that narrow binding. . . .

Working on that narrow binding. . . .

Once both bodices were completed, I basted them together at the waist. The only other place they are joined is at the back seam where the zipper will be inserted.

It surprised me that no other joining of these two bodices would be needed, but once again, I have found that the unexpected often makes the most sense when it comes to couture sewing!

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Filed under couture construction, Mid-Century style, sewing in silk, Uncategorized, underlinings

A Noisy Spring

The chatter is endless and getting louder. Whenever I walk into my sewing room, I hear it, and there is no avoiding it. All those lengths of linen, most of it vintage Moygashel, are vying for my attention, hoping they might be selected for a starring role in my sewing agenda for Spring and (now, mostly ) Summer of 2015. Is there any fabric I love more? Probably not, although of course I love woolens, silks and cottons, too. However, there is something about linen, with its crispness, its durability, its versatility, and its ability to evoke a summer day in the midst of winter that totally captivates me.

There is linen that looks serene:

Lovely pale blue

Lovely pale blue

And quiet pale yellow

And quiet pale yellow

There is linen that looks a bit wild and crazy:

This piece is actually a linen/rayon blend, which has lovely hand to it.

This piece is actually a linen/rayon blend, which has a lovely hand to it.

Big, bright daisies!

Big, bright daisies!

There is linen that says “Look at me!”:

Walking in a field of flowers!

Walking in a field of flowers!

There is linen that is demure:

A very early 1950s' linen, petite black flower silhouettes on a pale ecru background.

A very early 1950s’ linen, petite black flower silhouettes on a pale ecru background.

There is linen that is happy:

Navy, rust and brown - perfect for early Fall.

Navy, rust and brown – perfect for early Fall.

There is a lot of linen in my fabric collection! Last year I was able to complete three linen dresses (1; 2; 3)during the warmer months. This year I will not be so productive, for a number of reasons, although I haven’t given up hope of making a linen coat and a coordinating dress. The question then becomes, which piece (or pieces) of linen do I choose for such an undertaking?

While contemplating the answer to that question, I am starting another project out of necessity: a dress to wear to a “black tie” event in early July. It’s an exciting project for me as it is my focus while I spend another week in Baltimore, Maryland with Susan Khalje and other dedicated dressmakers. The start of our week also began with lots of “chatter”: Alice Wildes of Mendel Goldberg Fabrics arrived on Sunday (the day before the official start of our class) with bolts and bolts of gorgeous and glorious fabrics. Did I succumb to any of these delights? What do you think?

A Noisy Spring

A Noisy Spring

An amazing silk charmeuse . . .

An amazing silk charmeuse . . .

. . . with all the inspiration one would need!

. . . with all the inspiration one would need!

Among the projects being started in our class are: a wedding gown for a daughter; a fancy dress for a grown daughter; a dress reminiscent of something Myrna Loy would have worn mid-century; a suit; shift dresses and “day” dresses; cocktail dresses; a dress and jacket; and, of course, my own dress, to be made from silk taffeta and embroidered silk organza.

A Noisy Spring

Those aforementioned noisy linens will just have to wait a little longer – and share some of their space in my fabric closet with newly acquired silks and wools. There is always room for fabric!

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Filed under Linen, Moygashel linen, Uncategorized, Vintage fabric

Mellow Yellow

How did I go from this . . .

A collared overblouse.

A collared overblouse.

to this?

Mellow YellowIt all started about a year ago when I saw this fabric – called Devonshire Cream Geometric Cotton Eyelet Batiste on the Britex Fabrics website. I sent off for a swatch and then ordered enough for a “blouse” although at the time, I wasn’t so sure what kind of a blouse it would be. I knew I would want sleeves in it. While the body of the blouse would need to be lined, the sleeves could be unlined to show off the gauzy design in the eyelet.

Eyelet overblouse - fabric

Inspiration finally struck a short few weeks ago when I got a small catalogue from J McLaughlin clothing company. Pictured in it was this “Lotus Blouse”:

Eyelet overblouse - JMcL #2-2

Eyelet overblouse - JMcL #2-3

As soon as I saw the “square” design in the fabric, I thought of my eyelet – and then it did not take long for me to decide to make my own version of that blouse. The construction details? Well, I knew I would have to make those up as I went along. I started with the pattern shown above, a classic early 1960s short overblouse that zipped up the back. What could be better? It really didn’t matter that the neckline would be changed, sleeves added, inches added to the length – the basics were there and so I made a muslin/toile.

I cut an underlining for the body of the blouse from a lightweight linen/cotton blend that I always keep on hand. I marked the seam lines of that underlining with waxed tracing paper and then used it as my “pattern” for the eyelet, which allowed me to make sure that all the lines and corners of the eyelet matched across seams. I hand basted the underlining and the eyelet together which made machine sewing the darts and seams very precise.

In order to put a sawtooth edge on the sleeves and the bottom of the blouse, I knew I would have to cut fabric on the bias. But first I had to decide how deep to make this self-trim. I did some experimenting to figure that out:

Should it be this narrow?

Should it be this narrow?

Or would a wider trim be   better?

Or would a wider trim be better?

I decided the wider trim was necessary to make the proper impact.  Here it is pinned onto one sleeve.

I decided the wider trim was necessary to make the proper impact. Here is a sample of it pinned onto one sleeve.

Once I decided the proper width of the trim, I set about hemming it by hand.  Here is a photo of that “hemming” process.

On the right you can see one "peak" already stitched.

On the right you can see one “peak” already stitched.

Having the trim cut on the bias gave me flexibility in attaching it to the sleeve and bottom edges. Then finishing the inside raw edges provided its own challenge. I had already used Hug Snug rayon tape to finish the interior seams. The soft, non-bulky nature of this wonder tape gave me the idea to use it for finishing the armscyes and the interior sleeve edges.

I made a bias tape out of the underlings fabric to bind the neck edge.  Seam edges are encased in Hug Snug.

I made a bias tape out of the underling fabric to bind the neck edge. Seam edges are encased in Hug Snug. Click on the photo to see more detail.

The actual hem on the blouse presented me with three edges (the fashion fabric, the underlining, and the bias trim) to control and hold together. I used Hug Snug again, this time flat and sewn with a catchstitch (a fabulous idea I just got from Lilacs and Lace blog, which I will use again and again! Thanks, Laura Mae!)

The catch stitch is done across the width of the Snug Hug tape.  It is the perfect technique for this application.

The catch stitch is done across the width of the Snug Hug tape. It is the perfect technique for this application.  Again, click on the photo for more detail.

I had some difficulty finding an 18” separating zipper that was lightweight enough for this blouse. I still think the one I finally ended up using is a bit heavy, but until I find another one, this one will have to do.

Mellow Yellow

I still need to add a hook and eye at the top!

I have always loved overblouses. They are comfortable, classic, versatile, and just a little bit different of a look. I think this one fits that description well – I like it!

I could not resist styling this blouse with a hat!

I could not resist styling this blouse with a hat!

Mellow Yellow

Mellow Yellow

Mellow Yellow

Pale yellow shoes help complete the outfit!

Pale yellow shoes help complete the outfit!

After Mellow Yellow, where do I go? My next project is anything but mellow – or yellow, for that matter.  June will find me thinking – and making – fancy, but not frilly. Details soon . . .

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Filed under Blouses, Eyelet, Mid-Century style, Uncategorized, underlinings, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1960s

An Easy, Breezy Dress

On a recent windy day, I was thinking about Christina Rossetti’s poem “Who Has Seen the Wind?”

Who has seen the wind?

Neither I nor you;

But when the leaves hang trembling

The wind is passing thro’.

I did not remember it verbatim, coming up with this instead:

Who has seen the wind?

Neither you nor I;

But when the leaves go to and fro

The wind is passing by.

Either version seems to fit my new Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress – it reminds me of a breezy Spring day:

Easy, breezy dress

The pattern itself is shown here in diagram form, for those of you who have never seen, nor sewn with, a DvF Vogue pattern. As you can see, there are minimal pieces.

Easy, breezy dress

I don’t believe you get the sense of how long the ties are from this diagram. Each tie is 50” long, giving the wearer plenty of length to go around her waist, doubling up for part of the front, and still have enough to make a bow or loop with long ends.

I made two minor changes to the pattern from my first version of this dress three years ago: I cut the shoulders in about an inch, which I think is a more pleasing and up-to-date look. I also added ¾” to the bodice in length. For some reason, I find that wrap dresses tend to be either short-waisted or they do not allow for the fact that the ties are going around the waist twice, pulling up the skirt a small amount.   Whatever the reason, the extra ¾” seems to fix the problem. I also decided to try finishing the interior seams with Hug Snug rayon binding – and it worked beautifully. I love the clean, neat finish on these seams, and the soft tape helps to keep the seams from curling in.

Easy, breezy dress It was fun and rewarding to sew with genuine DvF fabric from the mid-1970s. Although I have never been a fan of sewing with knits, this knit was lovely to work on. It sewed like a woven fabric, but cooperated in easing just like a knit should. Very well behaved! I found this quote from Diane von Furstenberg especially apropos: “ Fabrics are key, since they’re like a second skin, and should always be soft to the touch and breatheable. Colors should be beautiful and harmonious, and silhouettes simple, allowing the body to move freely…” (The St. James Fashion Encyclopedia: A Survey of Style from 1945 to the Present, by Richard Martin, Visible Ink Press, Detroit, MI, c1997, page 403)

I might need to put a snap at the top of the under skirt panel to hold it even with the hem...

I might need to put a snap at the top of the under skirt panel to hold it even with the hem…

Easy breezy dress

DSC_0504

Easy breezy dress

I made one last addition to this project: a simple hand-inked label to indicate when this dress was made, sewn onto one of the pocket selvedges. With vintage fabric and made from a vintage pattern, this dress could be mistakenly attributed to having been made in 1976. This label will help to insure that that never happens.

Easy breezy dress

Every Spring deserves one easy dress, but now it is time to move on to something a little less breezy, and a little more complicated. What will that be?

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Filed under Diane von Furstenberg Vogue patterns, Vintage fabric, Wrap dresses

The Diane von Furstenberg Formula

Has there ever been a more iconic cover for a pattern/sewing magazine?

Instantly recognizable in her classic wrap dress, Diane von Furstenberg was featured in this September/October 1976 issue of Vogue Pattern Book Magazine. Her dress dynasty had begun in 1970, driven by her “dedication to dresses that fulfill a woman’s fashion needs from career time to cocktails…” As her business grew over the next few years, it seemed that everyone wanted one of her dresses in their wardrobe. I was no different. You can only imagine my surprise and absolute delight when my husband gave me a DvF dress for Christmas in 1975. Although I have, over the years, discarded most of my dresses from earlier times, this one still hangs in my cedar closet:

Long sleeved and with a separate tie belt.

Long sleeved and with a separate tie belt.

There is a center front seam to this dress which helps to make the skirt flow beautifully.

There is a center front seam to this dress which helps to make the skirt flow beautifully.

The label gives some fascinating information. It gives the composition of the fabric, – 50% cotton and 50% rayon. Interestingly, it includes an “umlaut” over the “u” in Furstenberg, which seems to have been dropped shortly thereafter. And the size 10 would now be a size 6 in USA standards!

DvF label

By 1976, Vogue Patterns had entered into a partnership with DvF, with exclusive rights to offer her dress patterns for sale. This was such a smart thing to do for both Vogue Patterns and the Princess – as they referred to her. Even better was when Diane von Furstenberg-designed printed fabric was available in bolts at your local fabric store. I remember having a difficult time finding these yard goods – they sold out so quickly as home dressmakers rushed to make their own genuine DvF wrap dresses. Vogue Pattern Magazine summed it all up quite nicely:

“Almost as important as the designs are the Diane-designed prints which turn her very flattering basic designs into that very special Von Furstenberg look. That is why, we are doubly pleased to tell you that, thanks to Cohama, you can make your Vogue Von Furstenberg in authentic Von Furstenberg prints.” First available in October 1976, many of these prints are still recognizable today as DvF prints, and they still look fresh and stylish!

A sampling of some DvF fabrics.

A sampling of some DvF fabrics.

Here is the editor-in-chief of Vogue Pattern Magazine, Judy Espinar, with Diane von Furstenberg.

Here is the editor-in-chief of Vogue Pattern Magazine, Judy Espinar, with Diane von Furstenberg.

Another beautiful print!

Another beautiful print!

I might not have been able to get my hands on any of that Cohama fabric back in the 1970s, but thanks to this blog and one of my readers with unused DvF yardages, I have been able to fulfill a long-held wish, having purchased two lengths of the Cohama fabric a number of months ago.

A DvF wrap dress seemed to be the perfect follow-up to my last complicated project, and so I retrieved this fabric from my fabric storage closet:

Cohama blue DvF fabric

I washed it in cold water, gentle cycle, and it came out fresh and like new. I was struck by the quality of the knit fabric, and of course, wanted to know its composition. This is another time when the vintage Vogue Pattern Magazines come in so handy. Each featured pattern is pictured in thumb-nail size in a detailed Patterns Guide in the back of the magazine, giving information on fabrics, accessories, yardages needed, etc. Quickly I was able to determine that the Cohama fabric is Avril II rayon/cotton knit. This fabric is lighter in weight than my “store-bought” DvF dress. It is tightly knit, silky soft, and, like my “store-bought” dress, it cannot be “seen through,” making it easy to wear!

Along the selvedge - the mark of an authentic DvF print!

Along the selvedge – the mark of an authentic DvF print!

I had already made a dress from this pattern three years ago. I have enjoyed wearing it, although the fabric is a bit heavy for the design. So I thought it would be good to make it again, this time in my authentic DvF print.

Decisions #3

I also determined that I had just enough fabric to squeak out this dress in the short sleeveless version. These wrap dresses take an enormous amount of fabric! It makes sense when you think about the overlapping necessary to make the dress wearable. When I spread out my fabric, I thought to myself, “Oh, I have lots of this – no problem!” I should have learned by now not to think such things! It quickly became apparent that I would have to be creative (again!) in my lay-out if I were to be able to make this dress.

First I made a muslin pattern with separate pieces for the reverses. This was so I could lay the pattern pieces out singly, not folded. Ever since sewing with Susan Khalje’s couture techniques, this is how I like to cut my fabric anyway, so I am accustomed to this extra step. But this time, I cut off the seam allowances (except on the long belt pieces), just as you would do when you are making a classic French jacket.

Showing a partial lay-out

Showing a partial lay-out

With a French jacket, you are leaving huge seam allowances (usually as much as 2” all around). With this, my seam allowances had to be much smaller and in some cases a bit less than 5/8” in order to fit all the pieces on the fabric. I had to really concentrate when I was cutting out the pieces, remembering to add seam allowances by “eyeballing” them. Now I am in the process of thread-tracing around each piece of the muslin pattern, to set my sewing line. This seems like a lot of extra work – and it is – but I determined this to be the only fool-proof way to make it work! (I did not want to using tracing paper and wheel to mark the seam lines, as I would risk markings showing up on the right sides.)

The back bodice piece, ready for thread tracing on the sewing lines.

The back bodice piece, ready for thread tracing on the sewing lines.

I am excited about this dress! Since I have already made this pattern once, I know what needs to be tweaked. And – I am excited that I do not have to line it, it has no buttons or buttonholes, and I know it will be easy-wearing. That, to me, is a formula for fashion sewing success.

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Filed under Uncategorized, vintage Vogue Designer patterns, vintage Vogue patterns from the 1970s, Wrap dresses