The last few weeks have been rather busy but I have been trying to ensure I spend a few minutes every day doing some sewing or knitting. As a result I have moved several projects on even though I haven’t had the time to complete any of them.
Last Sunday for the first time in a while I had a full day to myself and decided to spend it making a party dress for Christmas. I have been planning this dress since I bought some Marc Jacob’s silk crepe de chine on eBay in July but I’ve been putting off making it as all the horror stories about how difficult silk is to work with made me rather nervous. It would have been more sensible to finish off an existing project than start a new one but Christmas is nearly here and so a new party dress seemed appropriate.
The pattern I used is the Easy Kimono Dress from Pattern Runway. I’ve made this dress up twice before and both times it’s been very successful. It’s also very simple, without much in the way of complicated shapes to cut out and only takes a few hours to put together.
Cutting it out proved remarkably easy, certainly much simpler than cutting out the polyester georgette I used for my work dress. I have a very sharp pair of shears and used some Merchant & Mills entomology pins. Have you tried these pins? They are absolutely beautiful, spindly and long with black shafts and little gold round heads. Perfect for use with fine fabrics and looking different enough not to get confused with my ordinary pins (my pin cushion holds a mixture of silver ordinary and silk pins and I am never sure which is which). I also put a brand new very fine needle in my sewing machine – which proved next to impossible to thread!.
Although the pattern doesn’t call for it I decided to line the dress and used some black silk I bought on Goldhawk Road. I must admit I hadn’t realised quite how much static a silk shell and a silk lining give off and I will probably stick to man-made fabrics for linings in future. Rather than fiddle around with attaching the facing pieces to the lining as I did last time, I didn’t bother with the facing and just cut the lining to match the outer shell pieces.
Bodice seams were pinked before I sewed the waist seam, as this joined the inner and outer layers the seams are completed hidden. Normally the skirt would have two pieces with seams at the side, but as I didn’t want to disrupt the large pattern I decided to cut it as one and put a French seam down the back.
I realised my normal method of hand stitching a hem would pucker the fabric so I spent several hours on the internet investigating ways of hemming crepe de chine. It turns out there are as many ways of hemming silk it as there are people on the internet. I watched a you tube video showing one lady using a machined zig-zag and then burning off the whispy ends in a candle, this clearly worked for her but I’d be terrified of burning my almost completed dress. In the end I found a simple tutorial for hand sewing a rolled hem and used that; I think it’s turned out rather well.
I can’t imagine that I will use this pattern again but I really like the three dresses I have made out of it and in particular the fact that they look so different and have such different uses that no one is likely to think they are the same dress. Just to remind you here are pictures of all three; my summer dress made out of easy poplin, my work dress made out of polyester georgette (never again) and my party dress made out of crepe de chine.