I went fabric shopping this morning for Cathy's 1940's dress with the gathered bodice and skirt front, Simplicity 4856. I needed something with a beautiful drape and some weight to it. At first I looked solely at solids. I saw some gorgeous silk failles and satins, but nothing really wowed me.
I considered polka dots -- classic but maybe too safe.
Finally, I looked at prints. I sort of liked this but did it have enough of a period feel?
And then I saw IT.
My heart started beating rapidly, like it does at the flea market when I see something I must have. This fabric didn't just say "Forties," it shouted it from the rooftops. I was in love!
I'm not sure if these are parrot tulips or carnations, but whatever they are, I love this charmeuse. It has a gorgeous drape and a nice weight to it. And that palette. It reminds me of those beautiful wartime prints, which were often rayon since silk was being used for parachutes.
Parenthetically, did you know I have a Pinterest board devoted to 1940's fabrics? You'll understand why I love this print when you look through my board -- dig those over-sized florals, rococco flourishes, and surreal prints, often on the verge of being too much.
I was even thinking of adding matching piping to the seam where the skirt and bodice attach (Thank you, Bill J. for the idea). I bought some pre-made piping at Daytona Trim, but also some cord to make my own silk piping from my fashion fabric. Have you ever made piping before? I think all you need is a zipper foot and a dream.
I also got Gutterman thread -- one spool of poly and one spool of silk (for hand-basting) .
I'm reading up on sewing with silk today, my primary reference being Claire Shaeffer's authoritative "Fabric Sewing Guide."
Coincidentally, this morning I happened upon a photo of this Claire McCardell dress on Pinterest. Couldn't you see adding button loops to the side of the dress with the gathers? (They wouldn't have to be functional since there's a zipper on the opposite side of the dress.)
Anyway, readers, I find myself with my work cut out for me once again. I'm very excited, though: I love the pattern and the print. Cross your fingers!
In closing, any tips for sewing with silk charmeuse? I've heard conflicting things about difficulty cutting it: some people say it's shifty, some people say it's not so bad; I guess we'll see. As far as cutting goes, I may try that sandwiching-between-tissue-paper method. Can you use spray starch for added stability?
I'll use my fashion fabric for the facings (there's just one around the neckline). I have silk organza on hand if anything needs to be stiffened -- perhaps a strip to reinforce the zipper seams? Since there's a surplice bodice, two layers of the fabric are already atop one another across the front for added body. I don't want to compromise the drape.
Do you believe in fabric love at first sight? Ever been smitten and lost all reason?
I'm a native New Yorker and sewing fanatic! I started sewing in 2009 and today make all my own clothes using vintage sewing machines and vintage patterns. I also sew for private clients. Welcome to the warm and whimsical world of Male Pattern Boldness, where the conversation is sewing, style, fashion, fabric, and more!