Monday, December 31, 2018

Made by A Fabricista: A Little Black Velvet Dress For the Holidays!

Poly/silk black velvet dress made with pattern New Look 6049

Hi everybody! I hope you are having wonderful Holidays, taking some time off and spending quality time with family and friends (and sewing too, of course)!

For me, the Holidays also mean that there must be some sparkle in some way, somewhere, and when I saw this fantastic poly/silk velvet on FM's website I knew it was my ticket for that little black dress!

I ordered this fabric as soon as I saw it and created this dress for my December 25th gig I had in a very nice hotel in the beautiful region of Charlevoix, Quebec. I was there to perform a set of jazzy Christmas classics, and the audience is mainly tourists, couples as well as families with kids; they all gather in the restaurant and enjoy the jazz while having a drink or having dinner by the fire. I thought a little black dress would be unfussy to wear, and would be chic without being too formal.


The pattern

When it comes to special occasion fabrics, I think that simple lines are the best, so that's why I chose New Look pattern #6049, a shift dress. I made view A (sleeveless version); that dress features bust darts as well as front and back bodice darts and it closes with a CB zipper.




I made a size 10, and my alterations were the following: took off 6/8'' at the outer shoulder and gave it back at the inner neckline seam to keep the width of the shoulder intact, redrew the waistline 5/8'' higher 'cause it was too low for me, and added two small back neck darts to deal with a gaping CB seam. I also added 6/8'' at the hem, and still this dress is very, very short!


I added two back neckline darts to solve a gaping neckline


The fabric:

This fabric is an unusual mix of poly and silk (in unknown proportions) and it is a bit like rayon/silk velvet, although I think the poly makes it less fragile. It is just gorgeous, has a liquid drape like rayon/silk velvet, and a wonderful shine. I think it qualifies as a lamé as it has metallic thread woven in. It is now sold out, but this rayon/acetate velvet would be an excellent choice to make a similar dress.

One word for this fabric: challenging! Which is alright with me 'cause I always love a good challenge, you learn something and it improves your sewing.

The main difficulty with this fabric is that it shifts like crazy when you sew it. The vertical darts were reasonably easy to sew, but the horizontal bust darts were surprisingly difficult to sew as the 2 layers of velvet only wanted to shift. I probably could have used tissue paper in between the fabric layers, but I didn't have some on hand. The invisible zipper was also something to sew, as you have to pull the velvet every couple of stitches otherwise it shifts against the zipper and forms puckers, which just looks horrible (ask me how I know!).


This picture captures well the beautiful shine of this velvet/lamé. I cut the fabric with the pile going down.

I decided to line my dress with some Bemberg lining I had on hand, not because the fabric is sheer, but because A) a lined dress is so much more fun to wear, B) it looks better and C) it wrinkles less!





Cutting, finishing and pressing the seams

That fabric is the messy type! This is just from manipulating the fabric on the ironing board...


Here a couple of tips regarding working with this fabric if you have it, or a similar type:

1- Cutting single layer is better; serrated shears (like Kai 7240AS scissors) work great in this type of fabric.

2- Use fine pins, like silk pins, and a sharp needle like a Microtex Schmetz needle.

3- That fabric ravels and is very messy! Yes, there will be black and silver specks all over the place, on your sewing machine, on the floor, on the ironing board, on the serger and even on your face! 

The vertical seams will ravel so you can choose to serge them prior to assemble the garment and press them open, or you can serge them once the seam is sewn. I recommend using fine serging thread like Gutermann Mara 120 to avoid bulk, you want to keep the seam as light as possible. Test the differential feed on your serger to keep the edges of the fabric very flat.

4- It is difficult to unpick a seam (sometimes impossible) in this fabric, and unpicking a seam can mean creating a hole. Choose a pattern you have tested before as this is not a 'fit as you go' type of fabric!

5- I found it was easier to sew the seams with the pile going up than with the pile going down. You can always put tissue paper in between the fabric layers to minimize the shifting.

6- This fabric can take a good steaming. The pile is very, very flat - if you rub your hand against the pile it feels rough - but I found that you can steam the seams lightly (the iron must never touch the fabric), on the wrong side as well as on the right side,  and in fact steaming the fabric actually lifted the pile a bit and made it look better!









I will leave it there for now; I will probably wear my little black dress again tonight for my New Year's Eve gig!


I wish you a very Happy New Year and lots of sewing in the year to come!


Virginie
from

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