Thursday, May 17, 2018

Upholstering the Body

I was given this length of upholstery fabric a few months ago, and immediately knew that I wanted to do something special with it.

Then Gertie released Butterick 6556 and I knew I had found the perfect match . . . if only I had enough yardage.  And by some miracle, I did!

The Royal Wedding Sew-Along that McCall is hosting was the motivation to get started!  I also thought I would step up the look with a couple of rhinestone pieces since this was a more fancy schmancy occasion.  The smaller of the two pieces is a buckle; the larger is actually a shoe clip, but I am missing the matching clip.  The idea was to add one to a belt and use the other for some kind of hair accessory.

With such a large scale print, I though it would be a good idea to match prints as much as possible.  And I had enough fabric to make my center back bodice line up nicely which was the spot I was most concerned about.

I am beginning to run out of solid colored cottons that I hoard from past projects to use for sew-in interfacing.  I have plenty of little pieces, but facings are often strangely shaped and take up more real estate than you might think.  This beige would not normally be my first choice of color for this print, but it means I am sewing with stash fabric, and that has become a bit of a mission around these parts.

Other than a bit of time and energy spent on pattern placement, this project went together very smoothly.  I gambled that the pattern would be a good fit with my standard adjustments, and everything turned out great.  In fact, this is a fabulous design, and if you think you might like the silhouette, grab yourself a copy because it's a keeper!

Then it was just a matter of finishing everything nicely with a little rayon seam binding.

I know a lot of people avoid quilting cottons and upholstery fabric for garment sewing, but I have really had amazing results with both.  For upholstery fabrics, I make sure to launder before sewing since some of them are treated with fire retardant chemicals that I would just as soon not have next to my skin.  And just look at the fabulous volume on the pleated skirt with no petticoat!

I also managed to eek out a bodice lining from some leftover bemberg rayon.  Hooray for stash busting!

I do wish that the lighter colored bemberg was not quite so sheer, but it is a lovely fabric to work with, so I continue to use it.

The neckline treatment on this dress is wonderful, and I wanted to get that center front notch just right, so I marked my stitching line with a fabric pen.

And while it may be a bit of a pain to match up every pleat with its corresponding dart or seamline, it is worth the effort.  I am beginning to think I need more pleated skirts in my life!  Gathers are fun, but pleats are so very chic!

I hand picked a lapped zipper for this dress.  The fabric is just a little too thick for me to be comfortable using an invisible zipper - those things can be super finicky with bulky seamlines, and I did not want to chance it.

And then, of course, the remaining raw edges get hidden behind a lining, or bound with seam binding.

I am quite pleased with how this one looks, inside and out.

And I will definitely be making another version at some point in the future.  There are quite a few finished dresses popping up on the internet, and I anticipate there will be many more of Butterick 6556 appearing in the near future.  This pattern is definitely a winner!


  1. I love the way the skirt sits in this fabric - I have a reasonably heavy/stiff fabric that I have been wondering what would work for it. Lovely attention to detail here, very pretty innards on your dress as well as the outside ;o)

  2. Thank you Laura, I love to have a really good look at the insides of your garments. You inspired me awhile back to buy a couple of reels of Snug Hug - not the something to find around here, but definitely worth ordering. Cheers from Nova Scotia, Kathleen

  3. Very lovely dress; I look forward to you modeling it for us. This fabric is so perfect for the pattern. It takes lots of experience to make those choices so well.

  4. Hold it...are your walls palest lilac???

  5. This upholstery fabric makes up into a surprisingly lovely dress but much of that is your excellent pattern selection choice as well as your high skills. Always wonderful seeing your makes, can't wait to see it on you with the rhinestone pieces.

  6. Quilting cottons..........well, I'm not a big fan of them for garments but home dec/upholstery fabric.....bring it on! I usually wash and dry mine to eliminate all the finishes put into home dec and that turns the fabric into a nice, malleable garment worthy find. Love your dress and look forward to seeing it on you. The color is so lovely.

  7. The facing and lining are perfect colors and weight for your fabric. It is so strange how if you look around in your stash that you find notions that work better than a trip to the store. The end result is a dress that is better made than anything you could buy and a joy to wear.

  8. I made this one this spring and I agree, it’s a lovely pattern! I love how sculptural the skirt looks in your upholstery fabric. �� which reminds me, I need to get blog photos of mine...

  9. What a wonderful dress!

    I also want to let you know that I have nominated your blog for a blogging award! See it here - I hope you accept because you really deserve it! I have been following your blog for 6 years now and love every post!

  10. Absolutely stunning both inside and out. I must remember to include upholstery fabric in my searches. Such great structure. Looks amazing!