Sunday, 17 August 2014

A slippery vintage fix

When it comes to sewing I am a cotton girl. Even though silk chiffon is the stuff of my dreams, it just gives me nightmares. It's a bit trixy, slippery, sheer and fragile. Add draping and that's a whole month of hair ripping. So when I saw lovely chiffon dress in need of alteration, I fancied it as a good introduction to working with slippery fabrics.

This beauty of a mid to late 1960s dress in turquoise silk chiffon is by Blanes. Here she is fixed up and ready to sashay off my tailor's dummy towards some posh bar replete with blue cocktails.

It's all about Elizabeth Taylor.

But when I got it that midriff was a mess. I mean, what is happening here? It looked like someone had tried to alter it.

 Midriff madness

I opened up the lining to have a look. I couldn't tell if someone had in fact altered it but I was not going to wear that baggy mess.

The doings:

First I tried it on and pinched out the excess, then pushed it through to the inside securing with pins. Then I marked out my new seam on the outside using tailor's tack stitches. These stitches are short and open ended so they whip out easily rather than get bunched up under the seam. I did one side in black the other in orange. 

On the inside my marking stitches are visible but I still have room to adjust. Because of the all the folds in the midriff I needed to do some fiddling to get all the fabric to sit right.

Before sewing and trimming it, I re-enforced the new seam with a strip from my precious half a metre of silk organza.

Major surgery

Silk Organza; the queen of fabrics

Quick word about silk organza; this stuff is so good every sewer should have a piece. It's light yet strong, very versatile and widely available. It comes in different weights, mine has a bit of body but it isn't the really crispy kind. It would make a good lining fabric for a really posh dress, or used in place of tape or interfacing when working with a lighter fabric. I am planning a voile dress with a sweet heart neckline and I will probably use a strip to help the neckline sit properly and prevent gaping.

When I read that people use it as a pressing cloth I though it was bit extravagant! Then I tried it. The sheerness prevents you from putting creases where you don't want them, and its got a great heat tolerance so you don't ruin your lovely garments. I use smallish patch for pressing but it does the job. That and it's myriad other uses make it well worth a ten quid note.

Anyway, happy hour is here. Chin Chin everyone!


  1. Blanes dresses are always worth fixing, and that one is a beauty. You did a great job on the waistband;m I am frankly terrified of thin slippery fabrics!
    I had no idea that silk organza had so many uses, that's useful to know. xx

  2. My, you have no fear when it comes to just diving in and ripping seams apart! Looks great too, a beautiful dress in a very pretty colour. Thanks for the silk organza info, very interesting.

  3. Goodness me, that looked like an intricate job and you did it brilliantly! xxx