Friday, January 3, 2014

Maid of Honor Dress: New Look 6643 with the Chris Palu bias chiffon shred

When my best friend asked me to be her maid of honor, I had no idea what I was getting into!

Really, it was fantastic. A lot of work though-- and not just the dress! Shower, bachelorette party, the toast... I had no idea.

I digress... onto the dress! Of course I had to make my dress. Fortunately my friend went with the super-awesome idea that us ladies could pick any dress we wanted, as long it was the right color and cocktail length. I briefly entertained the idea of buying a dress, but I have a hard time buying RTW to begin with and the choices were limited. Forget about buying one of those made-for-bridemaids dresses that you order in any color... those poly-satin confections are just not for me. If she had insisted I would have spent the $$ on it, but it just would have gone right to the Salvation Army after the big day, what a waste.

Ever since watching Chris Palu create those gorgeous shredded chiffon designs on Season 10 of Project Runway, I've been dying to try it. I figured this was the perfect opportunity!

I'm not quite bold enough to design something as risque as Palu's designs, so I chose a simple sheath dress pattern: New Look 6643. I couldn't find anyone doing a bias shred tutorial online other than this very cute version in knit, so I sort of had to make it up.

I added a center front seam to the pattern so that I could get a chevron effect. Other than that, my adjustments were standard-- a sway back adjustment, and a tweak here or there on the muslin to get it to lay right on my body. 

My fabrics were totally lux. The base of the dress is stretch silk charmeuse. I know it sounds crazy to have chosen a stretch fabric, but I love that extra bit of comfort in my clothes and it really didn't give me any trouble. The overlay is silk chiffon, a beautiful floaty, delicate fabric. It was a bit difficult to work with- very shifty, and easily damaged.

I couldn't get anything to mark it without damaging it, and it was difficult to sew anyway, so I basted the two fabrics together then basted a piece of tracing paper over the chiffon. The chiffon cut on the grain, just like the base fabric of the dress. The fact that my cuts would be diagonal across the body meant they would automatically be on the bias.

I made my diagonal lines on the tracing paper and sewed through all layers with thread that was the closest match I could get to my fabrics. I considered using a silk thread, but in the end I ended up using regular all-purpose guttermans because that was the best color match.

Next, I then tore off the paper. This took forever, longer than sewing! The paper was perforated where I had sewn, but little pieces got stuck under the stitches. A thinner tracing paper might have helped-- something more like what commercial patterns are printed on.

I was worried that the chiffon would fray too much, so I held off on cutting the chiffon layer until the dress was sewn. I sewed the seams on the bodice with french seams, sewing the charmeuse and the chiffon as one piece. But when I had to transition to the skirt, where I wanted the charmeuse to flow freely, it was a bit of a trick figuring out how to transition. I ended up clipping the seam allowance where I wanted the skirt to start and then finishing the seams separately.

Oh, and one other change-- I did an all-in-one facing instead of separate armhole and neckline facings. I did it in silk charmeuse (same fabric as the main dress)- it just feels great next to the skin! And no worries about armhole facings getting out of place. 

The pattern called for an invisible back zipper. I interfaced and tried my best not to shift anything, but I kept getting the dreaded bubble at the base of the zipper. It looked terrible, this little bump on my but! So I carefully undid it all and went for a side zip instead. This worked beautifully! I'm totally a side zip convert.

As the very last step, I cut the chiffon lay in between the lines of stitching. It actually took quite a bit of effort to rough it up and get it to a good fray. It was sort of disconcerting, mistreating a dress that I had worked so hard on!

I absolutely love the dress! It is totally comfortable, and it fits really well. I've worn it several times since the wedding already.

The necklace was the one I wore for my own wedding. It was another DIY, I'll blog about it sometime- it is crocheted silver wire with pearls.