Saturday, October 1, 2011

Ceil Chapman Cocktail Dress, Part 7

Working with silk just makes me happy.  Don’t get me wrong, it can be a bit challenging, but the finished product is well with any extra aggravation.

Because I am a finishing freak, I am binding all my edges with Hug Snug rayon seam binding.  I just love the vintage feel it gives to my sewing.  And if I bind off seams as I work, I do not have to worry about massive amounts of fraying (which the dupioni and organza has a tendency to do).  I also ended up finishing off all of the facing edges.

I have spent a lot of time hand basting with this project, and I have come to the conclusion that couturiers really know what they are doing – I have so much more control over fabrics (especially when basting two different textures together) if I avoid the sewing machine.  Also, silk thread really does make a difference and is worth the extra money.

I am curious as to the original fabric suggestions.  It is hard to tell from the sketch, but the dress is, for all intents and purposes, a strapless garment – the shoulders really do not hold anything up.  Boy am I glad I made that corselette!  My dupioni, even when underlined with organza, would not have been sturdy enough to stay up without boning of some kind (which the instructions do not suggest). 

There is an under-bodice (the pattern calls this bodice front/side front and bodice back, etc.).  The under-bodice front is constructed separate from the back, and the bodice (called waist front and back) is laid on top and then basted together before the side seams are sewn up.

The “wings” on the back bodice pieces actually pull forward when attached to the sleeve and open out while the upper back folds down with the help of the upper back darts.  I also decided that the facings needed a bit more body, and underlined them with some cotton.

I am very surprised that the instructions do not suggest reinforcing corners before clipping them to set in the sleeves.  Was this just understood, or did a seamstress in the 1950s not concern herself with that sort of technique?  What would keep the clipping from continuing to tear into the garment?

Those sleeves gave me quite a bit of attitude, but they are now set in.

Because my corselette is only going to be attached to the front bodice, I finished the back upper edge with my emerald silk.  It obviously will not show, but I like the way it looks. 

I have more work to do, but the end is in sight.  I cannot wait for the Gala on Sunday!


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