Monday, June 18, 2012

Burdastyle Flapper dress: Fabric Selection

continuing on the topic of delicate fabrics, today's post will cover fabric selection for my flapper dress. I am making it as a part of my Burdastyle Couture Challenge series in June.

I settled for the combination of navy-color silks:

  • crepe-de-chine for the underdress fashion fabric
  • charmeuse for the underdress underlining
  • chiffon for the skirt 
  • chantilly lace for the top


As I move forward with the couture challenge, I am really glad to notice that I am slowly developing some kind of intuitive confidence with regard to the choices I make. And so, this time I was sure I needed to use silk charmeuse to underline the crepe-de-chine underdress. Don't ask me why... Or actually, I can explain it. Silk organza - the workhorse of underlining - was too stiff for this project. I could imagine it for a full skirt, or more fitted piece (depends), but here I wanted soft and sumptuous drape, with some weight to it, similar to 3-ply silk... I am glad Susan Khalje (who very generously acts as a mentor of this self-imposed couture undertaking on Burdastyle) approved of it.

"Charmeuse would be lovely as an underlining, and it can almost serve as a lining as well.  Organza would be too stiff - too unlike the charmeuse in drape and movement." 


As you can see I haven't mentioned lining. And even though I initially considered to use lining for this dress, I was not sure. Somehow, it seemed to me that the dress will have too many layers for no obvious reason. Susan confirmed this doubt and suggested not to use lining as well.

"I think the crepe de chine and charmeuse would be enough, unless for some reason you want things to be heavier, in which case you could always use the matte side of a heavy charmeuse instead of crepe de chine,  but I think that would be too much.  It's a light dress."


Selecting chiffon turned out to be more challenging than I initially thought. I bought crepe-de-chine and charmeuse at Mood Fabrics. But I could not get chiffon that would be lustrous enough to match the silks on the underdress and the lace on the top. All navy chiffons I checked were in a way 'milky', somehow not quite as transparent as I wanted them to be. Maybe I was too picky, but I decided to try elsewhere as well. So, at B&J I found two types of chiffon, Korean (similar to Mood's selection) and French (twice the price of the Korean). But, readers, you should see that French chiffon - it is just perfect - lustrous, bright, transparent, deep - you name it. I did splurge on French chiffon, readers. There was too much difference between the two to hesitate. The morale of the story, shop with all the fabrics you use for the project and compare. Never settle for the first best thing.


Now, since I splurged on chiffon, I decided to be super frugal with the lace. The magazine suggests purchasing 1.5m (1.6 yard) of 90cm - wide (appr. a yard) of lace. Of course, I did want to get a good French Chantilly lace for this project, but 1.5 meters was just out of question. 

I could only get half the length with the money left for the dress, so I had to think where I can save lace. I needed scallops on the hem only, because the armholes and the neckline are going to be treated with matching organza bias tape. The navy lace that B&J had, is 120cm wide (appr. 47"), and has scallops on both sides, so I can position the pattern pieces on 'crossgrain' to be able to make use of it. The only problem was the width of the lace, as I needed additional 20 cm to accommodate the finished length of the top. 

The answer was piecing at the top portions of the lace top, the last 10cm between the neckline and the armhole. I will need only four small pieces of lace which I will invisibly attach following the pattern and using tiny fell stitches. Bias binding will give the top additional support to compensate for the loss of the lace strength where it is pieced.  Yes, it is extra work, but is it worth the money I saved - absolutely! And, remember, I got that gorgeous chiffon, so...


  1. cool post darling!
    so useful :)

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  2. I love following your couture challenge. I'm dying to try making something in a completely couture way, but need a little more time/ cash to do so. I bet this dress will be stunning in the navy. I have had my eye on this pattern from the magazine as well!

  3. I'm glad you mentioned underlining - that's become one of my favourite sewing methods. Can't wait to see the rest of your progress - I'm always learning from your posts. Many thanks!!

  4. Looking lovely, and I'm totally impressed you plan your projects out, fiscally and everything! I'm also loving the new blog look too :)

  5. Wow, that is such an undertaking. You have my admiration for doing such challenging projects. Due to my having such an incredibly busy schedule I just don't have the time to do something like this once a month. I do love learning about the construction, though.

  6. I'm grateful you described underlining - that's become one of my preferred regular sewing techniques. Can't delay to see the relax of your advance - I'm always studying from your content.

  7. Ohhh can't wait, it's going to be beautiful!! And I have a particular hankering for all things navy at the moment, in fact some navy silk arrived on my desk just today :)

  8. Great to see how you getting on and the choices you're making. Looking forward to seeing it done!



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