Clever Charlotte

Emergency Formal Wear

In the Workroomcarla macklinComment

Happy Holidays to all the Clever Charlotte fans out there.  

Erin and I have been hard at work to bring you all a shiny new present next week, but in the meantime I wanted to share with you a new creation, or really a re-worked creation that I needed for a holiday party this weekend.  

This is the original dress I made a couple years ago.  I wore it to a party and promptly spilled something oily straight down the front.  Rats.

While I've never been much of a draper, I decided to use this beautiful silk chiffon I picked up in NYC during Fashion Week to rework the original dress. The picture does not do this chiffon justice... the ethereal pattern is reminiscent of a celestial nebula, don't you think?

Here's what I did:  I began by pinning the middle of the 2-yard length of chiffon to the bust, leaving several extra inches above the original dress. I tried to keep the grainline of the chiffon horizontal to the dress form, but only had moderate success with this.

I began pleating the bodice, eyeballing the depth and placement of pleats.  This step took some trial and correction, but wasn't that difficult.

After the pleats were pinned in place around the front and back, I removed the dress from the dress form and hand-tacked them down with stitches that are nearly invisible from the front. I then folded the raw edge on the bodice towards the inside of the dress to create a finished neckline.  There is a separate row of stitches inside the dress to keep the chiffon from peeking out.

Can you see the horizontal lines of pinpricks at the top of the bodice, the waist, and under bust?

The original dress had an invisible zipper, which I had to rip out in order to sandwich the chiffon between the zipper and original fabric.

I hand sewed the zipper back in because I felt I had more control this way than running it through the machine and risking the machine pulling and stretching the chiffon. I did use the machine to finish off the center back seam below the zipper.  Holding the threads as I began sewing, I was able not to stretch the fabric out of shape too much along this seam.

These steps only took me about 2 hours... much less time than having to create a new dress for my event. The hand-rolled hem took another 2 hrs to complete, but I accomplished this step in front of the TV, so it hardly counts as time spent on the dress!  I didn't snap a photo of my hand-rolled hem because it looks so darn awful, but I with the movement of the chiffon, I don't think anyone at the party noticed.

Here's the final look.  Not too shabby for one of my first attempts at chiffon (as long as no one looks too close).  Does anyone out there have tips on dealing with chiffon?  Any classes/books that tackle this impossibly slippy shifty fabric?  I'd love to hear about them.

Happy holidays and stay tuned for your holiday surprise!

Happy Sewing,

Carla