Male Pattern Boldness is proud to be the world's most popular men's sewing blog!

Jun 30, 2010

Almost...but not quite

Readers, this Twenties dress -- which seems to have been so long in the making I was in my Twenties when I started -- is nearly done.  The sleeves went on without much trouble and the belt was easy to make, though still needs tweaking.  Need to hem, too.

The sleeves are not underlined, and the seams at the armsyce are delicate, particularly where semi-sheer chiffon sleeve meets sheer chiffon yoke.  I stitched the armscye twice but haven't serged the seam allowance because I don't want a thick seam that might show through the fabric.  I thought about using bias tape to reinforce it and then pressing this under to the sleeve side, but decided against it -- too bulky.  Stitching can strengthen a seam but can also weaken a fabric.  No one's going mountain climbing in this dress, after all.

I'm not sure how a seam like this would be finished on a commercial garment; some garments are delicate and that's that.  I'm used to thicker, more durable fabrics.  Chiffon deserves a chapter all its own.

Meanwhile I am still recovering from the high drama that is "Susan Slade," a little-known  (never released on VHS) tearjerker from the early Sixties directed by Delmer Daves, a sort of second tier Douglas Sirk.

If you enjoy tales of teen romance, unwed mothers, and family secrets (grandmother posing as mother) and love movies where the female characters wear matching stiletto heels with every outfit, you'll love "Susan Slade."  Great early Sixties fashion and Troy Donahue too!  And did I mention the sumptuous cinematography and Max Steiner score?

I could write a blog about old movies but you know, I'd rather write about making things myself than about what others have made -- much more fun.

Today I return to pattern drafting, hopefully, and pulling Cathy's ensemble together for our next shoot.  Never a dull moment.

Cathy took a red-eye from Los Angeles last night and is in a deep beauty slumber as we speak.  The life that girl leads...  Thank goodness for concealer is all I can say.

Have a great day, everybody!

For those who missed it the first time...


  1. I can't wait to see Cathy in the dress. It shall be glorious!!!

    Ah Susan Slade...such a tramp...What was she thinking sleeping with someone she met on a boat?

  2. Maybe he "rocked her boat" ;)?
    Re: the armsyce seam (I'm only guessing here) but I wonder if grading (trimming) one side of the seam-allowance shorter than the other, then folding the longer side over the shorter one & stitching it down neatly by hand would work? I guess there might be a "proper" name for that idea - or maybe there's something in a couture technique book somewhere that might help you?

    Either way Cathy will look superb in her dreamy Watermelon confection!

  3. It looks fantastic, Peter! Hm. Haven't seen that movie on the movie channels lately....

    Now, I must go get some distilled water to iron the antique christening gown for this Sunday. My sister is getting it done this weekend fairly locally, so it's for sure that I'm not making the christening-gown-of-doom!

  4. Chiffon, if "coutoure-ly" (is that a word?) finished, would have French seams. To make French seams, you sew the two pieces together using 1/4" seam allowance, wrong sides together. Trim seams to 1/8" or less. Unfold with the right sides up, and press the seam and edges flat and to one side. Fold material back with right sides together, wrong sides out. Press the seam again, and then stitch just outside the existing seam. This puts the seam in a little "pocket," and the sewing and loose edges don't show. For a better, step-by-step tutorial, see

  5. Sue, I use often French seams on my cotton shirts. French seams on this poly chiffon didn't work because I couldn't get the chiffon to take a crease. They're also hard to do on an curved armscye. Maybe next time!

  6. There is an article on the Threads site that might help here. It details a method for sewing seams on sheer fabrics. Should give you some ideas on how to handle this next time. Here's the URL:

  7. "Susan Slade"-types of movies were all you could watch on TV if you babysat in the seventies and it was past midnight and the parents were out at key parties. I'm sure I've seen it.

    Love where the 20s dress is heading!

  8. I admit I was originally a bit dubious about that frock, but now I love it. In fact I want it! But I don't have Cathy's willowy figure so I'll content myself with enjoying the photoshoot. Re seam finishes- as you pointed out it will only be worn for genteel and ladylike activities, and delicate seams will be fine.

  9. ok. blogger just ate my freaking reply.

    I think Seemane is right. This would be my first choice using an eighth inch seam and I would do it by hand. A machine stitched finish would add too much bulk.

    My second choice would be self bias bound again with a baby seam - eight inch and applied by hand.

    I think Couture Sewing or Sewing Secrets of the Fashion Industry has stuff about this.

  10. This is my favorite period next to Pre-Code. Can't wait to watch this movie!

  11. Hi Peter, My friend Armelle showed me her vintage French patterns and thought not quite the right period, if Cathy needs a slip for her new dress, this one might be suitable. I can arrange to have it copied and you already have the instructions.

  12. It looks gorgeous! I can hardly wait for the photo shoot. Well done!

  13. When I stitch sheer fabric and am worried about bulk I use a technique that is used a lot in theatrical sewing - we call it the stitch/zig/trim. It finishes the seam and adds some structural strength that is needed in delicate fabrics. You sew your seam like normal, then 1/4" or so into the seem allowance you stitch another line at a smaller stitch length (1.5 - 2). On top of this second line you zig-zag on a really small stitch length and with (Like satin stitching or button hole stitching). After the zig-zag is down you trim away the excess seam allowance. Its quite easy and fast and WAY less bulky than serging or french seaming. French seams are lovely but can take forever on slippery fabrics and serger can really tear them up too.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Related Posts with Thumbnails