Questions… questions that need answering

So my mom kindly picked up the Vogue pattern that I’m hoping to use for my brother’s wedding when she went to JoAnn’s yesterday. I think this has some definite potential to be a very gorgeous dress. Which would be perfect, since his fiance is hoping for an elegant wedding (and I will be seen, most likely, since it’s looking very likely that my involvement will be as a musician.) But after looking at this pattern more closely, there’s a lot of detail involved, and I think in order to do it justice, there’s a lot of questions I need to figure out before I start it. (Good thing I have until October.)

#1: The prepwork. There’s a lot of really funky-shaped pieces in this pattern, as you can see! I did some research yesterday and saw that I should probably cut the charmeuse out while laid out on top of some tissue paper to help tame the slipperiness of it. (Probably wouldn’t hurt in terms of protecting the fabric from the table too, since my usual cutting table is a ping-pong tabletop on the pool table, and the surface is a little rough!) But there’s some other things I need to look into as well. Like how to best pin it– or if I should even use pattern weights instead. And whether I’d be better off attempting a rotary cutter rather than scissors, to keep it flatter. But I’d probably have better control with the scissors…

#2, the structure. The charmeuse I got is very lightweight– in fact, the pattern calls for charmeuse for the lining rather than the outside. But I liked the color, and I wanted to go with a natural fiber since I think it would have a better chance of keeping me warmer for an outdoor fall wedding. Due to that, though, I’m questioning whether I should consider underlining the fabric to give it some additional strength. There’s two main difficulties here. The first one, as you can see, is the pleated section. I didn’t realize until folding out the instructions yesterday that those aren’t gathers– they’re very specifically placed pleats! A lot of pleats. Both front and back. But they’re kind of soft pleats, so I don’t want to stiffen up the fabric too much. But at the same time, I’m not sure that side panel could hold them all without some reinforcing help. The second is the assymmetric drape in the front of the skirt–if I underline it, I’m going to have to choose the fabric carefully, because the wrong side will show. I emailed Ann at Gorgeous Fabrics for some advice, and she was very helpful– her suggestion was that if I underline it, I may want to consider using silk organza for that side panel where the pleats go into, and chiffon for the rest since it’s softer and wouldn’t affect the drape much, though it would be a lot of work to underline it. But I think I might want to put that work in– I know silk is a strong fiber, but I have this fear of going to all this work and then the seams pulling out the first time I wear it! My other thought is, the hem might look better if I do underline it, since then I can just hem it to the underlining and it won’t show on the outside. I know that charmeuse will show everything. Or would I be better off just sticking with that narrow machine hem, with that irregular hemline?

#3– I’m not sure yet what on earth to line this with. I guess I can just go for one of the nicer lining fabrics at JoAnn’s or something– though do I really want to wear a polyester lining with silk? (The lining won’t show on that wrong side of the fabric, since the dress isn’t fully lined.)

#4– how to handle the zipper, due to that aforementioned lightweight fabric. Though if I do go the underlining with silk organza route, that might help since I can probably use a strip of that to reinforce it. The pattern calls for an invisible zipper– I’m debating whether I’d be better off attempting to hand-sew that in, since I haven’t quite mastered exactly how to get the invisible zipper in without the bottom of it getting all puckered and leaving gaps when the rest of the side seam is sewn. Not to mention sometimes I have trouble getting it close enough to the teeth. But would a hand-picked invisible zipper even hold?

#5– how best to hem this. Though I already talked about that, so I won’t elaborate again.

I am trying to do my research here–looking through my old saved Threads articles, and the Couture Sewing Techniques book for ideas. And I definitely plan on doing a muslin for this one– debating whether I should even try a lined muslin, since the lining isn’t even the same shape as the dress! It’s going to have to wait, of course, since the first priority at the moment is my summer wardrobe type stuff. But hopefully that will give me some time to find some answers.

p.s. Any advice welcome– it’s not like I haven’t sewn formalwear before, but it was always with polyester satin and stuff. I’ve never sewn on silk. And I’ve never underlined anything. This one’s definitely going to be a skill-stretching project!

Edit, as of Saturday: Got my latest BWOF in the mail today. Woohoo, I have a backup plan!!


6 thoughts on “Questions… questions that need answering

  1. Regarding the hem- if you have access to a good overlocker/serger that does rolles hems – and can get a matching “woolly nylon” thread – you may like to roll hem it. I would of course test this out first to make sure the hem was stable on the fabric. But it does make anice edge to material, and with the stitches really close together, it looks like satin stitch


  2. Cheryl Designs

    GORGEOUS pattern…..I suggest….and you won’t like this…..Buying a HEAVIER fabric. A lightweight silk but HEAVIER than your charmeuse. Something you won’t have to underline ..PLUS line…. I think ALL dresses need a full lining….

    If you have the extra time to fully underline AND line your fabric..COOL šŸ™‚

    Hope I helped…


  3. I agree with Cheryl Designs about a heavier silk, like a 4-ply silk, and then line it. I think it’s very good that you are doing your homework on this. Definitely use a technique like tissue paper for cutting. Check out PatternReview for techniques. You’ll need to carefully pin in the seamlines (pin marks show) and use weights. Good luck and keep us posted.


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