Pattern: Vogue Patterns V9355, with alterations using McCalls M7279.
Fabric: Dress: silk dupioni from Hi Fashion Fabrics in Sacramento, CA; underlining is silk organza from Thai Silks, Mountain View, CA; lining is Bemberg rayon from the Sewing Place. Flower shaped buttons from Bolt Fabric Boutique, Portland, OR.
I bought this fabric in Sacramento about 20 years ago. It’s been aging in my stash, waiting for the right project. I fell in love with V9355 when it first came out in 2019, but the pattern presents a problem: the asymmetric front drape is created by sewing the skirt front pieces wrong sides together, exposing the wrong sides as the drape. Not only does the wrong side have to be beautiful, it must be soft enough to drape beautifully, while also possessing sufficient body to avoid lining. In May 2020, I finally delved into my stash --- part of my determination to only “sew my stash” during quarantine --- and rediscovered the silk; it suited the requirements perfectly.
The top of V9355 is actually a standard darted block with an off the shoulder cap sleeve. Since my figure requires a host of alterations, I started by creating a “muslin sandwich.” First, I spread professional sized waxed tracing paper on my cutting table (large scale waxed tracing paper is available from Susan Khalje’s website or from Richard the Thread in Los Angeles.) Next, I spread ironed muslin over the tracing paper. Then, I aligned my M7279 darted block muslin on top of the ironed muslin, and overlaid it with the bodice pieces of V9355. I used my tracing wheel to copy the V9355 sleeve cap and neckline, but traced M7279 for the darts, waist and side seams. This resulted in a muslin which was very close to my figure, although I decided that the offset asymmetric neck seam line needed to be changed, as it was very uncomfortable.
This dress has a lot of exposed stitching. Not only is there visible stitching securing the asymmetrical front drape, the dress and drape are hemmed with a narrow machine hem. Choosing a thread color presented a host of problems, as the silk was woven in one direction with teal threads, and the other direction with magenta! The front drape also presented a problem with lining this dress. The bodice is underlined with silk organza, and edge-to-edge lined with rayon bemberg (also from my stash, leftover from another project). The bodice lining is hand understitched at the neckline and armscys, so that none of the lining is visible. I opted to underline and line the back of the skirt. Underlining the front was not possible, so I merely lined the front of the skirt with a free hanging lining which stops just above the front slit. I slip stitched the back lining to the back seam allowances at the side seams, and hand overcast the front seam allowances to prevent fraying. The dress hem and waterfall front both have narrow machine hems.
I’m fairly happy with this make, although the curves of my strapless bra fight with the dress’s darts. Really, this dress wants a long-line Merry Widow with seamed cups. Maybe I’ll shop for a pattern, while I’m waiting for a grand occasion to wear the dress!