Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Colette Chantilly & Liberty silk chiffon

The seed of this project was some Anna Sui chiffon plus bemberg lining.  6 meters of all this stuff, collected while I was in New Zealand.  I was rightfully scared of the project.  Which led to me dithering over it, and thus moving all six meters of fabric with me to the Switzerland...and finally slowly collecting supplies, like extra fine silk pins (which are amazing.  Now I have nice pins, but still own no pincushion.  Ah, the vagrant life.) 

I just did not know whether I would like this dress.  But what I did finally admit is that I hated the chiffon.  So I got rid of it on some terrible muslins and thought I would mix and match using this super expensive Liberty chiffon (georgette?)  which, don't laugh, is my favourite Liberty of all time but I bought the wrong silk because I didn't know better when I was in New Zealand and now I can't think of anything else I would ever do with such light silk, plus a matching striped Liberty lawn for the skirt.

But then you know, I was playing on the floor and realised I had enough chiffon to make the whole thing.  It's very crinkly and doesn't look like enough, but it was.  So then on with the hesitating, the gelatining, and after much procrastination, the cutting.  And more procrastination.

An aside: the mauve silk twill (silk twill is my favourite fabric of all time seriously.) has been a favourite in my pile - I got it in Frankfurt last September and was planning to make the Vogue 1395 with it, which would have been stunning, but anyway I was worried about whether I would mess up the Vogue too much so I didn't use it.  

Change of scenery: I had already given my ironing board back to the hospital so I had to make due with a different corner of my flat.  Which actually provoked me to heights of creativity usually not seen in front of the camera. 

I completed the lining dress in one day and realised a discrepancy.  When you are using sheer chiffon, you need the lining outside to also be the outside (I mean you aren't putting wrong sides together, in this case wrong faces right.)  What that means is that you end up with a bunch of gathering on the inside of the dress, hanging out bothering you, plus there is a set of gathering in between the two layers which is annoying.  I really got irritated by this fact.  I wondered if I should have sewn the two layers together instead of keeping the lining and dress separate.  This discrepancy was also present around the zipper.  I guess it ends up not mattering because I zigzagged and topstitched the lining innards into submission, and between the two layers not much is actually visible even though the silk is transparent.

In the meantime, I carried on. I made a size 4 and I french seamed everything that I could.  The final dress construction was like the holy grail of moving: I started cutting this project out in August...and it is the last thing I sewed prior to dusting off and boxing up the borrowed Singer.  Yes indeed, I started it on the Pfaff and thought very seriously that I ought to finish it there too, but I ran out of time and had to see how the cheap machine would gobble up my silk.  The truth?  I don't think it did any worse.  I pinned a bit more but the slippiness of the machine was made up for by other little things that I HATED about the Pfaff like how it would slide off the side of zippers or how it was always gobbling up the starts and finishes of things. 

And after so very much tribulation, I have a wearable dress.  A bit silly in the chest area (looking down at it is worse than in photos) but I could reasonably wear it to like, picnics, weddings, the like.  The chiffon actually makes it feel sumptuous despite what I consider rather imprecise sewing.  After all this suffering I certainly WILL wear it to such events.  Let's not even talk about the zipper side and how it's not matched up by 2 inches because the first half of the zipper was accidentally put in a bit too high.  Let's just skip that bit.  It's in my armpit anyway, no one cares.  


  1. wow that is gorgeous, what a great use of the fabric. and I like the shape on you. rarely do I think colette patterns fit well on most people but this is great. you will be ready for a spring wedding.

    1. Thanks so much Beth! It is true that in this case the fabric makes the dress. I am also really happy how comfortable it is.