Saturday, September 24, 2011

Ceil Chapman Cocktail Dress, Part 3

There is something so satisfying about cutting into beautiful silk yardage.  And while mocking up the muslin and making a corselette is definite progress on my dress, until I am working with my real fabric, it does not feel like I have started on the dress.

So instead of working on the fit of the bodice, I went ahead and started on the skirt.  It does not require any real fitting except the waist, but that is easily altered within the tucks should there be any problems later on.

The first step was to hand baste my newly dyed organza to the underside of the dupioni.  The pattern calls for skirt “lining” but the instructions treat it more like an underlining.

My first impression was that the skirt was two separate layers - an underskirt and a half-circle overskirt with scalloped edges.  Upon inspecting the pattern pieces, however, it was clear that there was no underskirt. 

I was concerned that the half circle skirt and the scalloped half would allow a crinoline to show with any movement or a gust of wind.  However, Ceil Chapman was smarter than that.  Reading the directions carefully, it is clear what a brilliant designer she really was.  The scalloped edges are faced with self-fabric, trimmed, clipped, and turned right sides out.  The facings are then sewn to the other half of the skirt (a bit more than a half-circle) and the facing gets folded back under and stitched at the waistband creating a six inch scalloped flap along the length of the skirt front and back. 

I adore this manipulation of the skirt pieces.  When I get a chance, I would love to use them to make a skirt.

That being said, cutting the massive pieces out was not the easiest thing to do.  I am thankful that I was working with muslin and not paper or tissue – that helped quite a bit.

I love how different lighting makes this iridescent fabric change colors!

Next up is my corselette.


  1. Ooh, that fabric is gourgeous. I've used silk dupion and it's so satisfying to see a finished article looking so rich! I can't wait to see this finished dress.

  2. Excellent documentation, can't wait to see the finished project. The fabric looks beautiful.