The fabric is a lightweight satin with a polyester composition; it is a non-stretch woven fabric which comes in four different colours; blue, grey, purple and pink.
As soon as I received the two metres of fabric, I popped it into the machine. It can withstand a 40-degree wash, but I placed it on a quick 30-degree wash. It dried in a matter of minutes on the washing line. The fabric then sat for a couple of days, so I could admire it, touch it and drape it and think about what it would become. I knew that I wanted to make a dress, but I just wasn’t sure of the style. Another factor I had to contend with; the fabric is quite sheer when you hold it up to the light, this isn’t a criticism on my part, it just meant that any pattern I did choose it would need lining for it to be wearable.
It took me a further couple of days to find the perfect pattern; New Look 6263, I opted for Version A. This is a style I have used before, but as a top (in heavy cotton), not a dress, so I knew this would work with my body shape. When I saw the suggested fabric list on the back of the packaging; silky types, I knew my fabric of choice was going to be perfect.
The Tricky Part
I have only worked with one other slippy fabric (a georgette) during my time sewing, so armed with some tricks from the previous venture I knew I was on a good footing. I started by spraying a fine mist of starch on my cutting board so the fabric would stick and not move around. I used silk pins for fixing the pattern pieces to the fabric, these are extremely sharp, and they protect the fabric from becoming snagged. When cutting, I find I tend to lift the fabric when using scissors, but this wasn’t going to work with this slippy fabric, so I opted for my rotary cutter instead. During cutting, I decided to alter the front and back piece length by over three inches; this is just a preference on my part, I like dresses either sitting on the knee or just below.
The lining: I was going to go for a silky fabric, but in the end, I went with a lightweight 100% cotton in black, that I had in my stash. Armed with all the bits and bobs I needed I started constructing some of the lining features and then jumped to place the same features on the floral fabric; bust darts, stabilising the neckline front and back with a row of stitching and overlocking all the seams. I then pinned the lining and front piece of the dress together to put in the cut out ‘v’ in the neckline, but then I changed the pins to tailor's tack as the fabric kept slipping at this crucial stage. From this point onwards the dress came along really quickly. I did change the needle size to a finer size 60, and I also placed a piece of tissue between the feed dogs of my machine and the fabric. On too many occasions I have wound up with the fine fabric being sucked into the machine and becoming tangled with the bobbin. This technique stops that from happening, and once you tear the tissue away, you are left with an undamaged piece of fabric.
The Finishing Touches
The dress is sleeveless and asks for a bias binding finish, a half inch wide single fold cotton tape to be precise. At the onset, I thought this would be too small for the finish, but it actually looks very elegant. This finish also dictated the collar for the dress; I opted for the black cotton instead of the floral fabric, and I’m so glad I did because it makes the floral fabric stand out more. At this point, I have a confession to make I forgot to cut out one of the pieces of the pattern, the piece for the button loops because I was too excited to finish the dress. I used folded over bias tape to make them. I know, but honest, it does look good.
The lining and the dress hems are both hand sewn using the blindstitch method, to make the stitches on the right side of the garment inconspicuous. Both hems were then pressed for a smooth finish, the floral on a cool silk setting and the cotton, on the maximum iron setting.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the drape and the feel of the fabric. Yes, it was slippery to work with, but boy, the finish of this dress is beautiful. It’s smooth to the touch, silky and luxurious and I can see myself making a version two in the purple colourway very soon.
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