Shifting Chiffon

Working with Bridal dresses and bridesmaid dresses doesn’t give me enough practice working with chiffon.
This magical winter wonderland time 3 ladies found their way to my doorstep with an airy-fairy request.

You see, they are life-long dancers with ballet and modern dance backgrounds who give performances in our community and beyond.
They wanted new costumes for a winter solstice production and had something in mind…you know this will be good and you know that the fabric will be from everyone’s fabric nationwide chain store -Joann’s.

First let’s say these woman are almost my age and are 3 different heights and sizes but all will be performing quite liquid moves and contortions while giving the impression they are floating and drifting…you get the idea?

The idea for the shape of the costume came from this sad looking t-shirt:P1150584 You know the type…part rayon, loosey goosey, one size fits all and then the bottom edge has been cut away and a very loose weave chunk of something else has been added on with all raw edges of it’s own…the stuff dreams are made of. When I first meet the ladies, they all try on this little grey number so I can see how different their bodies mold to the soft drapey knit.I try to explain that knit is NOT chiffon and will not stretch crosswise or lengthwise and drape over curves, nor can I just “use the t-shirt as a pattern and cut around it” as most clients think is possible. That works in crafts but NOT in real clothes.

Two of them have the basic ballet dancer bodies, straight up and down, but one will need some darts in her costume:side view I make up a tank top pattern from my favorite landscape fabric from Home Depot and let them try on the sample. Sure enough darts will be the right idea as the fabric they have chosen is that Halloweeny costume stuff…good old polyester chiffon with glued on dots that you dare not run through a serger unless you want to replace the blades and even when running it through your sewing machine the needle hits these little metal blobs and break off chunks to deposit in the bobbin case for later…delightful. I have worked on this fabric before and have shared the results in my bobbin case in this post.

Once the ladies had been for their initial try-on I can cut out the fabric and decide which seams get to be French and which are pressed open flat and which hems are narrow rolled or top stitched. Here we go:P1150581 The fabric is 60 wide so I can bring the selvedges to the center and cut both fronts and backs on the fold. Can you see the triangular cutaway portion? Instead of cutting each one on the bias, I decide to just cut them straight and trim away later.P1150582 Now we have all three layers pinned together and ready for the chop. I use serrated scissors to help me get clean edges. The rectangular piece that attaches to the bias edge is 42 inches by 13 inches also in that chiffon but with the metal dots. The ladies return once these are basted and are pretty happy with the shapes and flow of the fabric and one starts dancing and doing her movements around my sewing room and I have to grab her to pin her in…I can see her exuberance. All the neck and armhole edges are bound with self bias binding (is there anything more tedious? )and here is the result:3-hanging Let’s call them the 3 Graces…they will be wearing grey unitards underneath. Each one has a different colored safety pin attached so I know who is who. And here is a single one with the skirt portion pulled away for better viewing:1-hanging

My last chiffon project of the year is that peach bride…remember her and her dress from China? She was so upset with whoever took her measurements on her internet order and tossed them and sent that poorly made, poorly fitting rag with it’s mis-matched lining etc and was afraid she would never wear her dress to her Jan 5 wedding. Well, here she is with her groom with their faces and tattoos blocked out for privacy:008-small-2

I’ll be taking a break from all this client sewing for a couple weeks and trying to get some things sewn for me and my granddaughters (very late Christmas presents!) but I wish you happy sewing and mention that Anne at Prttynpnk is running her January Jungle extravaganza and you might like enter something animal print from your stash and join in the fun. I entered a jungle jacket already made from scraps.

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19 Responses to Shifting Chiffon

  1. prttynpnk says:

    How gracious you were to the 3 graces! I like your end result- very solsticy!

  2. mrsmole says:

    Imagine how much cooler they would have been in an animal print??? Oh, the possibilities!

  3. The peach bride’s dress looks like it was made for her, very good fit for a strapless dress so you are a miracle worker. enjoy your time off.

  4. mrsmole says:

    Thank you, Beth. I have enjoyed looking through your wrap blouse adventures inside and out on your blog http://sunnygalstudio.blogspot.com/ !

  5. BeaJay says:

    Those chiffon tops are so beautiful – no wonder there was exuberance. And you did a great job on the peach bride dress. Enjoy your break.

  6. Nothing like sewing for people who think you could ‘just use this as a pattern’. It has happened to me many times – and I wish I had a £ for every time I have explained the difference between woven and knit fabrics. Despite all that you have made lovely tops for the ‘Graces’ which I am sure they will enjoy wearing.
    And the wedding dress – miracles do happen! Well done.
    Enjoy your very well earned break.

  7. jan says:

    Lovely work. I enjoy reading about it as I learn something and I will never get around to working on such daunting projects.

  8. symondezyn says:

    You’re a champion!!! I dance, myself, but as I make my own costumes I would a) never subject someone else to having to do so, and b) I really enjoy the process of creating exactly what my imagination concocts. I can relate to the ladies having airy-fairy dreams, but I truly sympathize with you having to make costumes work for three different body shapes; I’ve seen so many examples of that concept looking like disaster on stage; they’re often much better off wearing variations made from the same colour palette/selection of fabrics. :)

    I’m so impressed with the final product of the peach wedding dress – who would have thought! You did an amazing job! I’m sure she’s incredibly pleased ^__^

  9. Mitch says:

    I sew costumes for the local dance studio which my girls go to. During the dance sewing season, I have glitter, & sequins all over the house – even if I keep it all in one room, it always escapes. And I completely sympathize with having someone who has no sense of what it takes to make it all work – in one case, having them buy fabric with no lengthwise stretch for bodysuits.

  10. mrsmole says:

    Well Kim and Mitch, you both warm my heart with your comments. Every time I get a client who thinks I can just whip up a garment using an old raggedy piece of clothing, I want to have them lay down on my floor and pretend to make snow angels in the snow and I would trace around them…that is about as accurate as it would be. They balk at me taking measurements as it will take too much of their time and they do not want to know about fabric, stretch or otherwise, in fact I get most calls from women who have “a bag of fabric”and all they need is a seamstress. Who buys fabric with no pattern and no seamstress in mind? The answer is: most people and they have it around for YEARS waiting for the right moment to spring it on us!

    • Mitch says:

      I honestly think that the “you don’t need my measurements” comes from a deep seated fear of finding out their true measurements – they just want to go on thinking that they’re still a size 12 – even though RTW sizing has increased over the years. They’re so shocked when they see their “sewn” size that they argue over it. And I always say size doesn’t matter but fit does and I can’t fit a pattern without measurements.

      • mrsmole says:

        It is scary for a client to be measured…they swear they are a size 12 but when the tape measure says 44 inch waist and 54 inch hips you wish you could ask, “how do you do that?”. Then we lie to the lady ad say that pattern companies use their own numbers and don’t even think about it and we alter a size 20 to fit her.

  11. Bunny says:

    Wow, the peach bride looks beautiful, thanks to Mrs. Mole!

    I can just see the ballerinas wafting around your studio, visions of smoky chiffon swirling t hrough the thread filled air! Great job, Mrs. Mole!

  12. As a dancer myself, I understand the challenges with dance wear. Because unlike other clothes which just has to look good and be comfortable, A dance costume has to be able to MOVE. That is a whole new challenge. Looks good so far, best of luck!

  13. Pella says:

    What a great result with difficult fabric. They look lovely! The last floaty dance costume I made used the lightest habotai (dyed). I’d take this over chiffon any day, at least you can press a turning on it.

  14. I am always in awe of your skills and sense of humor. How do you do it? I am very interested in the landscape cloth you use and went to the Home Depot site and could not pin down which product you work with. Could you remind us of that?

  15. Oh, thank you so much! For decades I have used vinyl sheeting, it comes in 10×100 ft rolls, as patterns. One of the perks is that you can see through to the fashion fabric very well, but it is bulky at has permanent creases in it. I am seriously considering trying something else that is a bit more like cloth, and takes up less storage room. I always trace my patterns and make any alterations to that.

    • mrsmole says:

      The cool thing about Soil Separator is it is cheap and see-thru and light enough to roll or fold up. The only drawback is writing on it, you need to slap a piece of masking tape on it to write your words but otherwise it is great for copying things, re-tracing patterns so you can keep the original clean and neat. Thanks for checking in Patricia!

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