Saturday, September 4, 2010

Silk Dress Binge

I'm on a bit of a silk dress binge. I like the intensity of the silk colors and the crisp feel of the fabric. This first dress is a copy of 'Eloise' which was featured on the cover of AS&E #87. The original dress was made from a beautiful tropical weight men's grey flannel suiting. It might be one of my favorite dresses I have ever made.

My new version is apple green silk. It was sold as dupioni but it really feels and behaves like silk taffeta.

There are a few things I have learned along the way when working with this silk. It seems to work best to interface the area to be smocked prior to pleating the fabric with a very lightweight interfacing. The stuff I'm most partial to at the moment is the 'Baby' interfacing you can get from Sally at Farmhouse Fabrics ( It seems to add just the right amount of body and stability to the outer fabric. You will have a hot mess on your hands if you try to just pleat the silk on the cross grain without adding the interfacing. Trust me on this. The second thing I have discovered is that this silk does not gather very nicely (really not very nicely!) on the cross or lengthwise grain. Areas that required gathers such as the skirt back to the bodice back presented a big problem. I got around this by softly pleating, big 2" pleats, the skirt back to the bodice back.

I really like the formal, almost bridal look this gives to the back of the dress. The next problem was the sleeve which required gathers on the cap and at the cuff. I found that cutting the entire sleeve on the bias solved the problem. For some mysterious reason the silk gathered beautifully across the bias. This dress is for a class I'm teaching at the Children's Corner in Nashville Tennessee in October.

This next dress is another color version of the silk dress Jorden was modeling in a previous post. The fabric is the ivory silk taffeta trimmed with lavender and smocked with Mill Hill seed beads.

I quite like the strong contrast the darker lavender provides. The Mill Hill beads add just the right amount of bling. I think both these dresses would be prefect for flower girls in almost any color combination. I'm thinking about a lime green/hot pink combination next. This project is also for a class at Martha's Pullens in February and July of next year.

Matt (5th child) moved away to college last week. The house is achingly quiet. Who would have thought I would have missed all that piano banging, viola plucking, guitar strumming, loud singing, craziness already. If you want to check in on him look at - maybe this is mom bias but I think he is quite an interesting writer.

Teaching Schedule for 2017

March 22-25
t of St Louis SAGA
St. Louis,
contact: Diane (

April 5-9
Children's Corner
Nashville, Tennessee
contact: www.children'

April 28 - May 2
Chadwick Heirlooms
Richmond, Virginia

May 22-26
Birmingham, Alabama
Fiming new vidoes for Classic Sewing magazine

June 8-11
Private class
Fernlake, Tennessee

June 22-24
Huntsville SAGA
Huntsville, Alabama
contact: Abbie (

June 26-28
Private class
Huntsville, Alabama

July 6-8
Prairie Bell Smockers (SAGA)
Lincoln, Nebraska
contact: Jenny (

July 18-23
Private class
Becky's Barn
Grinsley, Tennessee

August 7-11
Private class
Wenatchee, Washington

August 21-25
Farmhouse Fabrics
Beech Island, South Carolina

September 7-9
Low Country Smockers (SAGA)
Charleston, South Carolina
contact: Sallie (

September 22-24
Yankee SAGA
Boston, Mass
contact: Kathy (

October 12-15
SAGA Regional
St. Louis Missouri

October 16-19
Private class
St. Louis, Missouri

November 7-11
Private class
Medford, Oregan

For teaching information, a current class list, and available dates, contact