Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Low Marks but High on Cheer: Holiday Dress 2015

Last minute sewing for special occasions has dominated my 2015 RTW Fast...all the way to the end.  

In October, I picked up a beautiful purple paisley silk from Kashi with a simple holiday shift dress in mind.  Two nights before flying home for the holidays, I cut out view B of Simplicity 2586, only to discover the next morning that I had cut out two bodice front pieces instead of one bodice front and one bodice back.  

Don't ask how I did that!  I have no idea...

Don't look too closely.  

This is not my best work.  Even the gathering is wonky and uneven in the front.  And, don't get me started on the late night cutting mistakes that led to a bodice lining that is only 6 inches long.  Two things I am proud of:  I did a great job on the very narrow hem and on using bias binding for the armholes.  

This was my second time cutting out silk and the first time I tried to do so without laboriously hand basting the silk to medical paper before cutting.  The silk shifted while cutting. The next time I work with silk, I will try to just baste along the selvedge and 1 cut edge and sandwich the fabric between medical paper before cutting.  

In spite of the low marks on sewing, I received numerous compliments.  And from people who had no idea I had made the dress myself...Go figure.

For the holiday weekend, my brother and his girlfriend came in from Ohio and my sister made the trip from Raleigh.

There were many people to visit,  several parties to attend and still enough time for a family run and lazy afternoons dozing on the couch.   I love being home with my family.

We sure did eat well this year!  Champagne, torchon de foie gras, truffled pecorino, coq au vin, quail, mousse au chocolat, blinis and smoked salmon, les salades de Maman and so much more.  I am now eligible for a serious January diet..

Iles flottantes fait maison!!  


  1. Now I'm hungry! Your dress is beautiful- nothing wonky that I can see! When I cut silk, I just lay it out on top of muslin. It sort of sticks to the muslin and makes it much easier to deal with. I cut single-layer and I just re-use the same muslin, even with cuts in it. :)

    1. Thanks Sonja!! I will try the muslin trick next. Really appreciate the tip!

  2. Hi Sonja,
    We all make mistakes no matter how long we have been sewing. I usually briefly swear and then reframe them as a challenge to overcome. I love Tim Gunn's phrase - make it work". Project runway helped me see that you can redesign anything. You can see buy the response to your dress that most people will accept whatever modifications you can do to make it look okay so long as it looks intentional. It's a design feature! Ta dahhh!
    You dress is lovely and you made it work well. You have chosen a very flattering colour and the sillouhette works for you.
    Rotary cutters are invaluable for silky fabrics.
    The other trick is to use spray starch which washes out. You would have to make sure it doesn't stain you silk though.

    1. HI Maisy! I have still never seen Project Runway, but i definitely subscribe to the "make it work" mindset! My problem is remembering to be patient and take my time to be a more deliberate sewist. New year, new goals...Thanks so much for writing.

  3. Oops spellcheck mistake in the previous comment.

  4. Claire: You look lovely in your dress! A couple things - I was told once to NEVER cut anything out after 9 pm, and I find that advice has been really helpful to me - better to just go to bed and start up early but well-rested. Can't tell you how many cutting mistakes I made with late-night layout and cuts, and they're more challenging to recover from than stitching mistakes.

    Second, I understand from a few articles I've read that you can iron the (slippery silk) fabric to butcher paper, and it sticks a bit, but not enough to cause a problem, so it acts like a stabilizer. That plus the ever-useful rotary cutter might be a way to go. I haven't tried it yet (most of my sewing is draperies and alterations for my boys' clothes - no silk there!), so if you do, please post as to whether it worked well or not.

    1. Thanks so much for writing Christine! Yes, 9pm should be the rule for me...it's hard to impose though because I don't have time to sew until after the work day and after a workout/dinner. I did use a rotary cutter to cut this out, but it still was a bit too slippery for me to make the cut exact. The rotary blade and mat was probably the best sewing investment I made in 2015. Thanks for suggesting the iron on technique with the butcher paper. I will report back!