So yesterday I made mincemeat of nearly five yards of black lace. As you may recall, I'm working on a cocktail dress that will be a cross between this:
I don't own either pattern, but I do have an image of the back of both pattern envelopes so I can see what the pattern pieces look like. The lace overlay will be in the form of a redingote, something like a full-length belted coat, with 3/4 kimono sleeves. That's what I worked on yesterday and I hope to complete it today.
My $2/yd. lace is surprisingly easy to work with and very sturdy. It doesn't shift (much) or ravel, and a single stitched seam feels very sturdy. Nevertheless, I've used French seams for the main construction. I picked up a few useful techniques along the way.
I stitched the seams first at 3/8" wrong sides together, then I lay the seam on white tissue paper atop my self-healing mat, so I could see the seam allowance clearly, and trimmed it down to roughly 1/8" with my rotary cutter.
Then I turned the garment inside out and stitched along the enclosed seam at 1/4". The French seams look like this:
Friends, I so badly wanted these seams to be just 1/8" but I couldn't manage it. The lace doesn't press and the only way to enclose the seam and trimmed allowance was to feel the bit of bulk with my fingers as I stitched. It's fine and it's mainly going to be invisible as the underdress is dark taffeta.
The downside of kimono sleeves done in lace is that there's both a visible top and bottom seam (as opposed to a single sleeve seam). The upside is that there's no shoulder seam. It's a trade-off.
I will probably trim those vertical back darts, though they're not much thicker than the French seams along the sides. I trimmed the front darts and they're barely visible. (Are you following me?)
Here's something else I learned: with transparent lace like this, you can trace the darts atop the pattern piece, which makes things oh, so much easier. I traced mine in white chalk.
I thought this lace was really going to be a nightmare and it so wasn't.
I also experimented finishing edges with bias strips. This will be the finish along the neckline and the front, which I envision closing with hook and eyes. (My strips will be made from some black polished cotton I have lying around. Poly satin is too heavy.) I may add lace trim if it's not too expensive -- I see a strip of little black lace daisies or the like, don't you?
Now the question is the underdress: Simplicity 8270 has a bodice and attached skirt; 8243 has just a slip.
I think I'm going to go the one-piece slip route so I don't have to match the waistlines of two separate garments: the redingote will fit over the slip and be belted. The slip will be taffeta underlined either with thin cotton or another layer of taffeta (I have 5 yards). Believe it or not, I'm adapting the slip from this:
It's the only princess-seamed pattern I have and the pieces are nearly identical. Obviously the bodice will be cut like the top of a slip and I'll add straps.
What do you think? I didn't want the redingote to have a dirndl-style skirt as the gathers would look thick at the waist. I think it's full enough -- it will have to be. Down the line, I may want to experiment with something fuller.
OK, it's time to get to work. I was delighted to discover yesterday how many of you are lounging around all day in satin smocks and velvet smoking jackets -- actually, just how many of you were lounging at all!
I'm a native New Yorker and self-taught sewing fanatic! I've been sewing obsessively since 2009 and today make all my own clothes using mostly vintage patterns and vintage sewing machines. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!