Sunday, December 4, 2011

Fabric Challenge - Kimono silk wedding dress - part 3

Thanks to everyone for the wonderful comments on my previous posts.  This kimono silk wedding dress was so much fun to create and I did wonder if the unusual fabric and color would appeal, but the response has been wonderful and I appreciate it very much.

I will tease you with one wedding day photo of Susan and her mother.  More photos to come of the wedding in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco.

Once I had the bodice assembled, it was time to figure out how to do the skirt.  When making the muslin, I seamed together 14" wide lengths of the pink cotton, in order to be working with the same type of yardage as when I used the silk, and then gathered it into the waist.  Recall that Susan wanted to be able to bicycle to her ceremony, so the skirt needed to be full.  Once she tried on the muslin, we both thought she wasn't really the gathers or ruffles type, but reserved judgement until we got to that point in our collaborative design process.  By now I had underlined the whole bodice in the silk organza and it gave the fabric such a nice weight.

This fabric was interesting to sew, and had some quirks that added to the fabric challenge aspects.  The silk is so tightly woven that it was almost impossible to get a pin through it.  I generally use long pins, probably a bit too big for fine fabrics, so I knew I would need to pull out the silk pins from my stash.  However they would not even pierce the fabric.  Amazing.  At the fabric store I bought a package of each type of extra-fine pins and tried them all out, finally found one that seemed sharp enough to get through the fabric.  On the sewing machine I used a Schmetz Microtex Sharp Needle 70/10.  My metal thimble was absolutely necessary for the hand stitching, or I would have had a punctured finger in no time.  In doing some research online I learned vintage kimonos made from this type of fabric are unstitched, completely disassembled to be cleaned and then re-sewn together.  I thought that seemed unlikely but now I understand that despite being very thin and light this fabric is unbelievably strong.

Which is a long way of saying that this fabric would not gather.  Have you ever tried to gather some heavy fabric and it would not cooperate?  Despite its light weight I tried and gave up. At that point pleats seemed the only option, so I played around on the dress form with various size pleats. Final version had the center front smooth and then large pleats taking up the fullness around to the center back.
This also served to hide the seams of the 14" panels and gave the dress a hint of kimono styling which seemed fitting.  

I had basted the skirt with pleats onto the bodice and at that point realized that it needed a bit more oomph, so I underlined the whole skirt with silk organza as well.  This gave the skirt the perfect fullness and body without being too stiff.  I can't wait to try this technique again on another dress. 

For the hem I machine stitched the organza to the pink silk, inside the seam allowance, and then turned up the hem and hand stitched it to the organza so there is no hem showing on the right side.  I didn't press the hem or the pleats to keep the soft look.  The dress was completely lined in pink bridal satin, a very heavy lining that gave it even more body.  Clothes that feel good are so nice to wear, and this dress has the added treat of making that swish-swish sound that only silk on silk provides.  Lovely!
Finished dress on the form.  This photo is the best of the bunch, when I finished the dress it was a gloomy day and the lighting was less than ideal.  As it happens, I had it about 75% percent finished when my back problems struck. I did finish the dress but I wasn't working at my full speed, in fact I stopped working on it entirely for about 5 weeks. Consequently the photography was less than ideal.  But the important thing - finishing the dress - that was accomplished.  Whew!  And Susan was as sweet as could be, considering she was anxiously waiting for her wedding dress. 

Next post, photos of the wedding.  And yes, there are bicycles!

Link to the first post on this dress, how it started,  Kimono Silk wedding dress.
Second post on this dress, design and initial construction. Kimono Silk wedding dress, part 2.

Thanks for reading.  Happy Sewing,  Beth


  1. I love this dress , the colour is so delicate. It reminds me of sugared almonds ( They are used in the UK in Bridal favours and are pink and other pastel shades )

  2. What a lovely project! I am really enjoying reading about it :-)

  3. Again Beth, such a beautiful job! You had so many challenges with this dress and you worked them all out superbly. Love the first pic of the bride and her mom. She looks so happy!

  4. Wow, what a wonderful, special dress. I really really hope she was able to keep it clean and free from gear oil on her bicycle!!! I look forward to seeing pics of the special day!

  5. You did such a beautiful job on this dress. The dress is gorgeous and it suits the bride so well.

  6. So gorgeous! I love the pleat solution for the skirt.

  7. Wow, what a challenge!! I love this dress!

  8. Just love that first picture of the beautiful bride; and I can't wait to see the shots of her in the dress full-length!

    A work of art, Beth; Congratulations!!

  9. This is beautiful, you really did the special fabric justice!

  10. Amazing and so lovely. The raincoat fabric I am sewing is impenetrable too and a big pain to hand sew. Looking forward to more photos...

  11. Gorgeous dress and you did an amazing job.

  12. Beautiful! I'd write more but just came from dentist...drooling :-)

  13. This is so interesting and it looks fantastic on your client. I am bookmarking for future ref if I need to work with this fabric.


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