Google Thewallinna and other creatures: A silk dress fit for a princess!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

A silk dress fit for a princess!

Every girl wants to be a princess sitting in a castle in a beautiful dress and waiting for her prince to come. As I grew up, I came to understand that such fairy-tales were nonsense (look at what happened to Kate Middleton), but a beautiful dress never did anyone any harm! A proper ‘princess dress’ should be made of gorgeous silks and flowing through the air.

Like many of you, silks inspire nothing but fear in me. In October, I’ll attend a week-long workshop with Susan Khalje and my main goal is to become friends with silks. But before the workshop, I intend to work on some garments and get used to these nasty creatures. During one of my recent trips, I acquired this beautiful crepe-de-chine with the idea of transforming it into a princess dress. Also, a friend’s wedding was approaching and so the pieces of my challenge came together. Now I only had to take it on!



This Burda dress was the winner of my ‘princess dress’ contest for many reasons. 1. I had always wanted to own a silk maxi dress. 2. Due to heart surgery in my childhood and a huge scar crossing half of my back, I was scared of dresses with open backs and hardly owned any. 3. Any princess would die for it!

Fabric: 3.5m of crepe-de-chine
Size: 36 for the top and 38 for the skirt
Cost: $18 (yesssss, I scored some great fabric on sale)
Modifications to pattern: none

What I learnt from this project: patience!I Besides spending two weeks to complete the dress, I discovered not only how to tame silks but also myself. But let’s start from the beginning!




Challenge #1: cutting on bias. Silk should not be cut folded in half, but as a single layer of fabric to prevent slippage or distortion. You can see from the technical drawing that the main skirt piece is quite large. None of the tables in my apartment is big enough for cutting, so I had to lay the fabric on the floor. Did I sweat or have cramps? Oh yes, I did! All of the pieces from the fashion fabric and lining were cut on the floor. Holy Moly! How happy I was when it was over!

Challenge #2: thread and needle. Most of the sources that I’d consulted before starting the project suggested using cotton or polyester thread for silks. But for some reason, none of it worked when I tested it on swatches of the fabric beforehand. Silk thread worked much better. The Mircotex needle which I used performed miracles; no complaints!

Challenge #3: assembly. I assembled the dress in two stages: the bust pieces, and the skirt with godet. Once the skirt had been sewn together and the godet attached to it, I let it hang on a mannequin for a day to stretch and adapt to its new shape. In fact, having read Marina’s article since, I should have let the skirt and the godet hang separately before assembling them. I will definitely do so next time.

Challenge #4: zipper. As a result of being lazy and not wanting to attach the zipper by hand,  I had to rip the seams and re-attach it three or four times. Bad idea! In some places, the fabric got stretched and puckered a little bit.

Another issue I faced with the zipper: a piece of fabric in the middle curls over and I have no idea why. I shortened the top of the skirt from both ends of the zipper, but the issue remains! Do you know what could have caused it?



You can see on this photo how the fabric curls over ;(
I picked black batiste as lining, which was one of the materials suggested by the experts. The end of the skirts were serged. I used three threads on my four-thread serger and the lower dial. This technique curled the hem and I achieved the desired ‘princess dress’ effect.  Since I don’t like wearing skirts too long, I made the dress so that it just reaches my ankles.

Lastly, when I tried to play around with the bust pieces, I came up with an alternative way of wearing the dress. Instead of tying the straps behind the neck, I let them go over my shoulders, cross over on the back and tie a knot in front.






New Look :P

Having conquered this challenge (despite a few hiccups along the way), I would say, sew with silks and make yourself princess dresses!

P.S.If you happen to be in New York mid-October and feel like going fabric shopping together, let me know! I could be fun!

29 comments:

  1. Wow, this really is a dress fit for a princess! You look lovely! Great job mastering a tough fabric!

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  2. girl, you are definitely a princess in this dress! Who says your prince charming isn't on his way?

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    1. hehe :) The prince was taking pictures ^.^

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  3. Fabulous dress! I'm envious of you skill

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  4. Your dress looks amazing, I love it crossed at the back. Oh and I'm so jealous of your week long workshop!!

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  5. OMG yours looks way better than the bs version (also you're looking very art deco-y in these shots)! I'm not tall enough for maxis (I made one yonks ago) but I do have an awesome silk dress that I made up (what two years ago now?) that I haven't worn yet because one of the sleeve edges is a bit off. Time to fix it - thanks for the inspiration XD

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    1. Don't hide the dress! Fix it and show us!

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  6. This is fabulous! You have slain the dreaded silk monster like a kick butt princess! Love how it has all come together and that such rad fabric was a bargain. Well done!

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    1. Thanks a bunch! Monsters, here I come!

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  7. Eeek! Love it! That's a great colour combo - makes for a really bold dress! I like how you can tie it multiple ways... Are you looking forward to the next silk project, or looking forward to some reliable cotton?

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    1. Definitely more silks!! Once you've put a silk garment on, you are addicted. Although I am always happy sewing cotton :)

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  8. Ooh. Oooh ooooh! Kudos to you for sewing with lightweight silk... I can't help with the folding over issue (take it to class and I'm sure Susan will be able to diagnose the root cause!). I love the versatility of the straps on this dress though :) how does one hang a godet... By the pointy end?

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    1. They might hang it by the pointy end. If I had to do it I'd pin the end to the mannequin.

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  9. Just had a squiz at the Burda version - yours definitely looks better made! The sillouette looks gorgeous on you :)

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  10. WoW! Gorgeous and super sexy!!!! I love that you can wear it in different ways. Definetely, it´s a dress for a glamorous lady ;-)

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  11. You'd outshine any princess, even the duchess. Gorgeous dress and kudos on taming the silk monster.

    moushka

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  12. Fabulous dress and great princess!

    I can't find other words ......

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  13. Major wow!!! What a stunning dress. You look incredible. Congrats on conquering the silk.

    As for a fabric meetup, there were a few of us discussing a New York spree sometime soon. This may be the perfect opportunity/excuse to actually plan it. What are your available dates? I'm local but my only sticking point may be family obligations during that time. Let's keep in touch.

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    1. It would be fun! I'll email you for more details :)

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  14. Fabulous dress! I can't believe you will be taking Susan's workshop. that it so great. You did a great job on silk. I also found Microtex needles are great for silks. As for the zipper, I was wondering if you stabilized the fabric beforehand.

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    1. Yes, I've stabilized the fabric before placing the zipper as well as adding stays around the top of the skirt to avoid stretching.

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  15. Found your dress when I was searching "halter dress" on burdastyle. This is so lovely and suits you well. I was skeptical about the dress pattern because the fit on the model seems bad (the bust part). Do you have any advise? Did the bust part fit you ok? It seems like the dress has a great fit though. :)

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  16. Thanks for the lovely comment! I think in my case the fit for the *ahem* bust was OK. It would have been better though if I had more ... in there :) I'd like to see what you'll do with this pattern!

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