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Indulging in Silk

February 26, 2011

I’ve been commissioned for two new projects, one a dress and jacket ensemble and the other a flower and sash accessory for a wedding gown. I’m so tickled to be doing each for different reasons. What they each have in common is they will be done in silks. The dress and jacket in silk dupioni, and the accessories in silk organza and complementing silks with body.

The first one – the dress and jacket – is a request to recreate a favorite outfit she already has but not in the correct color or size. This makes the project all that much more interesting as I am creating the muslin from a finished piece but sizing it up a tad. This part is now done, and the muslin is ready for the first fitting to size and make any alterations to the design required to match the original pieces. Tomorrow we fit and mark. With that I will carefully cut apart the muslin “garments” and use them as the pattern pieces.

The fabric chosen is a wine colored dupioni silk. Our intentions are to wash it first. Silks are in fact washable. There can be considerable shrinkage – up to 5″ per yard for the dupioni – and the dyes can become irregular. I will wash a sample first to see what the outcome is. If there is discoloration, I may hand wash without detergents and try again. The goal is to have a washable dress that is soft to the touch. Next up: The results of the fitting, and how the dupioni turn out.

The flower accessory is a request from a bride to be who is also a designer and loves fashion. She selected her dress from J Crew and saw a flower and sash on another but cannot order them. She asked me to make them. In my research I actually discovered the source for the flower and now have a good picture of what she was viewing. I shared the source with her and she opted for a custom made one! Yeay! I love that attitude!

I’ve ordered samples of silk taffeta in a range of hues to match to her dress. We are going monochromatic in an off-white/ivory shade. It’s funny that I’ve been obsessing on how to do the flower to achieve the results I’m after to the point that I not only thought about it in the shower (a regular activity for me – hubby says it’s because I’m massaging my brain cells while washing my hair) but I also got through my four mile run by walking through all the options for turning a 2 dimensional fabric into a 3 dimensional flower.I’m going with curved. scalloped strips, gathered slightly and layered.

One aspect of this project I cannot wait to get started on is the various techniques for finishing (or not) the petal edges. I will burn, singe, cut, and fray the edges of a number of silk types to see which one provides the look I’m after. The two most promising — in my mind’s eye — are cut and fray, and singe. My plan is to use organza and taffeta at a minimum, and perhaps a touch of dupioni for texture. We’ll see. Next up for this project is the sample techniques – can’t wait to get started! I’ll let you know how they turn out.

In between these commissioned works, I am also making a skirt and safari type top from a raw or nubby silk – the kind that almost feels like suede with your eyes closed. Of course, I washed it first which gave it a beautiful drape and tighter weave. For the skirt I decided to underline it for body. I chose a sheer cotton and it works wonderfully. The pieces are all cut, joined, and interfaced. Next up is assembly and final fit. This is always more interesting as I am fitting myself. While I have a dress form all measured and padded in all the right places, I still prefer to try on my work as I go along just to make sure it’s a perfect fit. (I read in’s blog comments that a number of people sew in their underwear for this very reason – makes me wonder why I keep getting dressed in between…) Once this outfit is complete I will post photos, along with each of the others as well!

This month’s projects are divine because they are in silks – my favorite fabric type with which to work. This time around it’s taffeta, nubby, and dupioni, and I’m feeling quite indulgent! On top of that, I also inherited a couple boxes of imported silk hand sewing thread. I have already looked for the colors I require and will see where they will apply.

More on the projects as progress is made on the dress and jacket in silk dupioni, the flower and sash accessory from silk taffeta, and the skirt and safari style top from nubby silk.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Darlene Sperber permalink
    February 26, 2011 7:46 pm

    Hi, Just finished reading your blog on making the outfit and flower with silk. I have a wonderful book by Yvonne Porcella that is chock full of techniques that would fit this flower project wonderfully…It is called Colors Changing Hues…She teaches how to treat silk and organza with burning, her favorite way of finishing…Would love for you to see it…When is your project due…or are you interested in the book at all…Love mom

    • February 27, 2011 9:11 am

      Wonderful. I always enjoy sharing ideas and doing reviews. I look forward to seeing it.

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