Like Noel, I was feeling quite intimidated at the thought of cutting into and sewing the beautiful silk sari that is to become the bridesmaid's dress that Erin will wear in Jonathan's wedding. But I got some advice from a veteran seamstress, read a bit online, talked to the knowledgeable ladies at Mary Jo's, and summoned up my courage!
First was the cutting. This is usually my least favorite part of making a garment. I was worrying a bit about cutting into that silk, but like Noel, I had plenty to spare. There are about six yards of fabric in a sari so even if I totally muffed it the first go-round, we'd still have plenty. But I didn't want to muff it. I did what my expert advisers suggested and cut each piece separately instead of cutting two at once on a folded piece of fabric, as you normally do. I was careful to make sure the nap on all the pieces went the same way. I measured several times. I held my breath when I made the first cut, but it went well.
Before starting on the silk, I had made a sample dress. Erin and I decided, though, that we didn't like the cut of the skirt, so I pulled this wonderful book on drafting skirts off my shelf, and worked out how to do an A-line skirt to attach to the bodice. A bit of figuring and more careful measuring, which was the key. Making the A-line was actually easier than the skirt on the original pattern. I decided to made the lining piece first, to make sure I was happy with the drafted pattern, and then moved on to cutting the silk again.
Oh, speaking of lining....our pattern is actually not for a lined dress, so that was another thing to figure out, how to make a lined bodice instead of using the facing pieces from the pattern. The trickiest part of lining the bodice was getting it just right at the shoulders. Poring over the instructions from another pattern and practicing on a sample dress with that pattern gave me the confidence to go at it with the silk. Erin was right there helping me figure it out, too, thank goodness.
Once the lined pieces were all put together, it was time for the zipper. We chose an invisible zipper, which I've never used before. Again, I felt intimidated. I haven't put a zipper in anything in a very long time. I've never done an invisible zipper. So, I am very thankful for online tutorials. I watched a couple on Youtube, but this one, from a sewing blog, was the most helpful. It even had pictures of the exact invisible zipper foot recommended.
What was I worried about? It went in like a charm. I don't think I'll ever use a regular zipper again.
With the zipper in, the only thing left for now was stitching down the lining. This evening, I spent a happy half hour hand sewing the lining down all around in the back along the zipper and all around the waistline. And now the dress is ready to send off to Erin to try on.
We still have to decide how to use the exquisite border embroidery. Sash, waist band, border around the bottom??? Decisions, decisions. But the hard part is done. And we have plenty of silk left. I think Clara's going to get a pretty silk dress to wear to the wedding, too!
It's been a real learning experience, making this silk dress. My sewing confidence has grown greatly in the process as I've learned a couple of new skills and gained a greater understanding of dress construction. I'm not afraid of sewing on silk anymore, either.