Friday, December 2, 2011

Fabric challenge - Kimono silk wedding dress - part 2

Sometimes procrastination is my friend.  I can tell you now that I very much procrastinated when starting and then making this dress. Sometimes there are technical issues that I seem to work out in my mind and this fabric created a lot of them. So I let my thoughts marinate, or percolate, or just stew until I come up with some solutions. 

The overriding issue in this fabric was the pattern, which was large, boldly colored and repeated every 14', which was the same as the width, so it was tricky to lay out the floral elements as a design motif in the finished dress shape.  At first I tried to cut around the floral design for the bodice pieces, so that it would not be uneven or have any bull's eye effect on the bust.  After playing around with it for what seemed like hours, I finally realized that I needed to use the floral design as a focus, in fact choose where to put it instead of trying to avoid it, and then everything flowed from that. The largest single pattern piece in the bodice was the center front, so I placed the floral element in the center front, where it would be folded into the pleats and give a symmetry to the whole dress.  Even though the bodice was composed of smaller pieces, I wanted the overall look to have the same spacing in the flower pattern as the finished skirt, so I cut the midriff pieces in mostly solid pink areas of the fabric. 

Here is a look at the side, the yellow flowers on the front and back ended up matching so well at this point, with a similar match on the other side, partly due to placement when I cut out but also just luck at the size and shape of the pattern pieces. 

Lest you think that things always go well here at Casa SunnyGal, I had a moment of horror when I had the entire dress basted together for a fitting.  Something I didn't notice when I was cutting out the bodice pieces, but there was a very slight color difference between the first yard of the bolt and the silk further inside the roll.  Maybe inside the roll it was completely protected and the first part faded over the years.  In any case, when I started the dress I was trying to conserve yardage since we weren't sure how full or long the skirt was to be, so I cut the bodice pieces from the first part of the roll.  I cut out the entire bodice, hand stitched each piece with silk organza underlining, and then sewed 5 lengths together to make the skirt.  As soon as I had finished the bodice (including basting in the zipper) I noticed that the midriff portion was a bit yellowed.  No one else could really see it, until I pointed it out, and then everyone could see it.  (everyone being my usual gang of style consultants, including sis, mom and assorted friends).
It may not appear that horrifying here, but look at how yucky and yellowish the piece on the left is, especially where it was seamed to the upper bodice and skirt.  I could see it miles away, just taunting me.  And to think that this was the first time I did a silk organza underlining.  All hand stitched.  So much work.  Sob . . .       The silk organza was lovely to work with, I ordered it from Fashion Sewing Supply, and you will see in the next post I ended up using it for the entire dress.   
That is the pink satin lining you see peeking out at the top of the strap. Since the fabric was 14" wide something had to give, so I pieced the top of the shoulders together with the pink silk fabric.  Call it a design element or something. In the scheme of things it worked out fine.
So I did the fitting.  Did not mention it to Susan.  She did not notice at all.  Anyway I knew I was going to take it all apart and re-do the midriff portions.  Which I did. So much better . . sigh of relief and lesson learned, scrutinize those vintage fabrics carefully in all types of light.
Next post, skirt portion and finished dress.  I will try to post this weekend and I do have some fantastic wedding photos to share.  
I am currently working on about a zillion (only slight exaggeration) projects but making great progress on a silk charmeuse shirt - with hidden button placket that is turning out very nicely :)

Happy Weekend Sewing,  Beth

Here is a link to the next post in this series.


  1. Wow, what painstaking work! But it's really worth it, Beth, because the dress is LOVELY. Just breathtaking.

  2. ohhhh, it's perfectly lovely Beth. And with all the silk underlining, and hand stitching you are doing, a work of art as well. I hope you get a picture of Susan wearing it to show here; she is one very lucky lady!

  3. This dress is going to be so beautiful, unique and well made when it is finished. I have several antique rolls of kimono fabric in my stash, and discoloration and edge deterioration is a problem. But they are such gorgeous fabrics. There are several web sites that feature wedding dresses made from old kimonos. They are amazing. The monthly issues of Lady Boutique Japanese pattern magazine contain dress patterns for using the 14" wide fabric and the sometime large motifs in lovely and creative ways. You did a wonderful job of print placement. I especially like the floral motif in the bodice.

  4. I've been waiting to see photos of this dress! It is more beautiful than I imagined. Wonderful job!

  5. So much work is going into this dress. I can't wait to see the final version. I am so amazed at your ability to work with this fabric and its challenges. I know the dress is going to be gorgeous.

  6. It is looking lovely - I can't wait to see the skirt and the wedding day photos! I think the central print placement works really well. It is fun using fabrics like this where there are several possibilities!

  7. I love the placement of the print and look forward to seeing the bride in this. You do such beautiful work.