Friday, August 1, 2014

Vogue 7693 dress in two versions: silk jersey and linen

For the last week I have been working with a very slippery silk jersey, and as I said yesterday, "we wrestled and I won." Silk jersey is slightly maddening but oh, so luscious. The color and the texture is gorgeous. Check out that bias cut skirt just moving a tiny bit in the breeze, so lovely to wear. I will show you the finished dress and work my way backward with some of the details.

Alice blue dress front

Yes, that is my friend and neighbor Alice who has appeared here before. She is going to a wedding this weekend in San Luis Obispo and asked me a while ago to make her a dress. She had a vibrant blue in mind and luckily we found this fabric (at Stone Mountain in Berkeley) which was perfect. Although when we were at the cutting table the woman asked what I would be making, and I showed her the pattern. She got that "better you than me" look. Like how are you going to get that neckline to stand up just right. I said I would figure it out (hoping for the best).

Here is the pattern I used. Not sure how old it is, I bought it and never made it but several years ago Alice was looking in my patterns and came across this - she thought it was just her style. Fast forward to now, I suggested this for her new dress and just like that we had an idea in search of a fabric. I was hoping for something easier to sew but that jersey was the very best color. 

Vogue 7693 pattern env

Rewinding again, I did make a muslin because she is very slim and yet very tall with a narrow waist and broad back. So sometimes I have had to add in bodice length but this time it wasn't needed. Which shows why if I start with a size 12 for me I have to shorten the bodice, particularly in the back (as I am about 4 inches shorter than her). Started with a size 12 and mostly took it in at the sides of the bodice and upper sides of the skirt, as well as some down the center back.

However, after the first muslin I was contemplating remaking the bodice in muslin again just to be sure. and she pulled out some very nice drapey linen that she had bought ages ago to use with some lessons from me on jacket-making. That never happened so why not a wearable test version?

Alice grey dress front

Which despite the rather somber color, actually is a great and wearable dress. I would not wear a dress in this fabric or color but I can see the appeal. 

How about some sewing details? This pattern is really confusing. Ok, I said it, I almost tore my hair out and I don't do that very often. Why? The front pieces are designed in a clever way so that the right front (on her right side) which wraps over the other side is not attached across the waist, and has a portion that is connected to the skirt but it is not very intuitive and I messed it up on the first muslin. But suddenly it made sense on the linen version which was very nice as I didn't want to make a mistake on the very expensive silk! I really didn't take any construction photos as I was just concentrating on finishing this in time and with the temperatures we have been experiencing I wanted to get my sewing done and get away from the steam iron. Even with air conditioning sewing is kind of hot work, don't you think?

Somehow in that very top photo it looks like there are ripples along the edges of the neckline but in person there are not. I think it is to do with the reflective properties of the silk, it has a satiny charmeuse look.
Here are a couple of late night dress form photos, no ripples although the color looks darker. I don't think the skirt lining has been sewn in at this point.  Sharp eyed readers will note my bulletin board in the background and get a hint at one of my Summer Pattern Repeats coming soon to the blog :)

                     blue silk on form2blue silk on form

Here is a look at the inside of the linen version. The bodice front pieces, which are different for right or left are self lined, which the pattern calls for. Plus there was plenty of fabric, and they kind of need to be as the ties show both sides. I put a black batiste on the back bodice, and then Bemberg rayon in grey for the skirt lining to keep the slippery quality a skirt lining needs. Another point, the skirt pieces are cut on the bias. The only way to get that fantastic drapey look in a fabric like that.

   Alice grey dress front and back lining

For this linen version, I put strips of fusible interfacing on the lining pieces around the neckline and down to the ties. That worked really well and gave the collar and edge a nice crisp finish (along with some serious pressing and under-stitching). 

For the silk version I tested, tested, tested. I usually play around with interfacings, stitch length, and other details with scraps before I get going on the real deal, so for this one I tested out some fusibles, and to see how the silk pressed, if it would give sharp crease. Yes, it pressed like a dream. Fusible just didn't work so I used silk organza for the edges on the silk version. I sewed it to the lining, after pinning it on and then placing the paper pattern piece over to make sure it hadn't stretched or distorted. I did use the Bemberg rayon lining in the entire bodice of the silk version as two layers of silk in the front seemed like it would be kind of warm and also maybe not hold the shape as well as I wanted. For the tie portion I put an overlay of silk on the side that was lining fabric to solve that issue. 

silk iinterfacing tests
1. testing super lightweight fusible with zipper
2. testing medium weight knit interfacing. 
3. testing how the layers sewed and pressed on the edge
4. Testing a hem option, 1/4 turned twice.

One thing I do when cutting out a fabric that looks the same on both sides is mark each piece as soon as I cut it out so that the whole garment is sewn with the same side of the fabric on the outside. On this silk I looked and looked and could not see a difference but wouldn't that be annoying if they were just slightly different in color or weave. I would notice an errant piece and it would drive me crazy. Better to be safe but that requires marking the wrong side of each piece.

silk markings
The green arrow shows the tiny chalk mark on the wrong side. For this tricky fabric I put the chalk marks in the top edge seam allowance of each piece. When I mentioned about that I wrestled with this fabric it is because it is so slippery. You can imagine how it goes, lining and fabric are sewn together and every time you put it on the worktable and let go it slips to the floor. Enough to make me crazy and resort to pinning it down in order to press portions of the bodice. 

Back views

Alice blue dress backAlice grey dress back

A closer look at the bodice front.

Alice grey dress closeup front

I think this is a beautiful color on her, pool blue is a perfect shade for a SoCal native and former competitive swimmer.

Alice dress front bodice only

I don't think I had sewn with silk jersey before, plenty of other silks including charmeuse and stretch charmeuse but jersey knit is so nice. Now I will be on the lookout for another one. Unlike a poly ity knit or rayon knit this has just enough heft so that you don't see bumps/ elastic / strapsetc under the fabric. Very nice!

Next up, something easy. T-shirt time or maybe I will finally make that swimsuit I keep yapping about.

Hope you are having a great summer and stay cool. You can see that my lawn is on its way out - not water to spare here for lawns and I have to water the good stuff like hydrangeas and gardenias. 

Happy summer sewing, Beth

Today's SunnyGal garden photo - these gladioli are long gone, bloomed a few weeks ago but such a great color while they lasted. 

purple glads


  1. Wow! This is stunning! The linen version is great, too. I'm not anxious to tackle silk jersey anytime soon, but this looks so lovely on Alice!

  2. That dress (and fabric) is gorgeous!
    I have only been following your blog a short time, so I am not familiar with many of your previous projects. I do hope that Vogue pattern pinned to the board is coming up soon - I bought that pattern to sew for my daughter and got side tracked. It would be lovely to be inspired by what you do with it!

  3. Both versions are beautiful, I love how it drapes.

  4. Beautiful work! Wish I were your neighbor!

  5. These are such beautiful dresses! The fit/style/colors are perfect for her. And I really like the boring color of the linen dress - it's a great neutral

  6. I have this pattern. Pulled it out more than once and then put it back. This looks fabulous...I really should just do it...

  7. Success is so sweet! Both dresses are perfect and I especially like the linen one and can see it with ethnic jewelry and funky heels. It helps to have a beautiful model who would probably look good in a potato sack. We just dug up our front lawn and replaced it with bark chips and gravel paths and irrigation drips for the few rose bushes and ornamental grasses...have to think this is not the only drought we West coasters are going to have to deal with! It may become the new normal.

  8. Both dresses ARE. JUST. BEAUTIFUL!

  9. What beautiful dresses. I like the collar detail, it's a bit different. Don't envy you putting a zip in the silk jersey!

  10. Love how the neckline turned out! Thanks for the tips! Mine always turn out wonky

  11. Actually, I think the linen version wins out over the silk! It's a really sophisticated neutral color that, along with the subtle interest of the dress, can be worn in pretty much every situation, with the right shoes/accessories.

    Also, a question:if silk jersey is a knit and you cut it on the bias, isn't the stretch now running at an angle, instead of around the body? How do you correct for this?

    1. I think it depends on the fabric but I didn't have any trouble with the silk jersey, it is stable in all directions so it works fine. I think a lightweight rayon jersey would stretch too much. I have another knit dress cut on the bias, Vogue 1351, here is the post.
      for that I also used jersey three times and the bias gave no problems. On another dress ( a Michael Kors pattern, can't recall the #, that one has a pleated skirt that ends up being on the bias in parts, and I made it in a rayon knit which grew. I had to re-hem twice.

  12. I was happy to read about your experience sewing silk knits. I have some aging in my stash, so beautiful, expensive and a bit intimidating. Your client looks wonderful in both versions of the dress. I have this pattern in my stash and was pleased to see it made up. A nice sleek wrap around style that can be made in a woven.

  13. Both dresses are lovely. The muslin is definitely wearable. Thanks for explaining the challenges and how you overcame them. Sewing means lofelong learning, doesn't it!

  14. Both dresses are stunning on her - what a great job!

  15. The blue version looks so luxurious, however I also love the linen version! They are both beautiful!
    Thank you for going into detail about the construction! I always enjoy reading about your projects!

  16. Beautiful. I love what you did here. Looks wonderful on her. Isn't it funny that of all the gazillion patterns and many with the wrap...I recognized this dress (Vogue pattern) immediately so it was of benefit for me to read about it. This pattern holds a certain appeal for me...and I think it must be the neckline that comes up. Very flattering. I'll pull it out and look for the "perfect fabric"!

  17. these are gorgeous - I adore the linen version - that collar - be still my beating heart! ;) I love your details of construction, thank you so very much.

  18. I love both versions. They are both so stunning on her.