Tuesday, March 3, 2015

On My Sewing Table: Chantilly Lace Skirt

I can't have enough skirts - they are just the most versatile pieces in my wardrobe. You can dress them down or up, you can never get bored with skirts.

Prada, who is a truly skirt designer,  said  in an interview with New York Times:
"The skirt is a feminine symbol, and it's also something you wear every day. It's my T-shirt."
I could not agree more, and so, even though I am planning to focus on tops this year, skirts are still high on my agenda.

This project-in-progress is a simple straight skirt, with the lace being the main attraction.

I bought this Chantilly lace at Komolka, my favorite fabric store in Vienna since my student years in Austria. It has been waiting to be sewn for a year now, and, finally, I am ready to cut into it and plan to use couture sewing techniques to make the skirt. I love good planning, and so here are some thoughts on the construction:

To begin with, I will back the lace with silk organza. I have done both, organza and double muslin-charmeuse backing on skirts and find that organza can withhold tension quite well. And I'd really prefer lighter feel to a skirt like this.

Since I am using a different, brighter hue of blue for organza underlining to bring up the lace, I may run into some issues with darts when several layers of fabric in dart intake create areas of a different tone. Now, I can treat this as a design element, or I can conceal that dart intake  by sandwiching a piece of lining fabric in-between. At this point, however,  I am not even sure whether that's going to be such a big problem, the lace pattern may conceal the darts on its own... but potentially this is something that needs to be checked before finishing the skirt.

I need a center back seam to be able to accommodate a slit, so the zipper will be inserted into that seam as well. I would have picked an invisible zipper (not a very couture treatment I am afraid), but the lace motifs are outlined with a very fine cord, and I am pretty sure that every now and then this cord will get caught in the zipper. In addition, the pattern is quite prominent, so even if I wanted to overlap it (you can see a fine example of this technique on Leisa blog) it would not turn out well. That leaves me with the only other option - hand-picked zipper.

Navy blue silk crepe-de-chine will be used as lining, making the skirt very wearable in hot summer months in Nicosia.

Finally, I will again make a faced couture waistband, with lace on the face side, and silk crepe-de-chine on the wrong side. Grosgrain ribbon will be inserted in the waistband to add stability to it.

I will try to document some steps, and if you are interested in one of these techniques I will be happy to make a tutorial, just mention what you are interested in in a comment here. I would also love to hear from you about your experience working with Chantilly lace. 

Getting back to the subject of skirt...
"...Ms. Prada says she never gets bored with the skirt, and maybe that's because she does see it, in the end, as your basic rock concert T-shirt, to be dyed, printed, embellished. In the last few years she has experimented with prints made from digitalized images, and the results, when combined with lurid color or draping techniques, testify to her vision, as well as the skirt's surprising power."


  1. I have never sewn lace, but I remember my mom, who was a meticulous and talented sewer making me a beautiful lace prom dress and tearing her hair out over the difficulty. She did all her sewing on a little Singer Featherweight machine that sewed only a straight stitch and she laboriously overcast all the seam allowances by hand. I wish I still had it- it was a labor of love.

  2. Would love a full tutorial on your faced couture waistband treatment.
    Cant wait to see this project taking shape................your are always so meticulous and its a delight to watch.

  3. I would love to see a step by step process or full tutorial. I don't have experience with these techniques as yet.

  4. I want to learn all your techniques for sewing with this gorgeous lace. I took note of the store where you bought it. In late May and a few days in June I will be in Europe with my daughter before I drop her in Rome. I hope you or some of your readers can direct me to some fabric stores in Belgium, Switzerland, Germany or Italy. We are meandering down starting in Brussels. I would like to know how you would sandwich a piece of lining to cover the dart; and of course, would love to see a tutorial on the faced couture waistband. Marysia used the word "meticulous" to describe your work and tutorials--exactly my thoughts, too.

  5. I agree with the others - I've never tried such a creation, so any tutorials would be great!

  6. hallo Marina, Ja, es wäre sehr interessant ein Tutorial zu haben. Vielen Dank im voraus!

  7. Looking forward to following this project since I have a beautiful piece of lace myself, waiting to be turned into a pencil skirt.

  8. Would love to see your waistband technique.

  9. I know this will be another incredible piece :)

  10. I look forward to all of your posts and especially appreciate everything I learn from your wonderful tutorials. My skill level is not ready to tackle such a project now but with your help, I continue to get a little better. Thank you!

  11. hey, you do PIPs too!! i call them in-process, but i think i like your in-progress better ;)

    i would love to see any and every little bit you care to share. i love being a voyeur with your stitching!

  12. I was just thinking this weekend that my true comfort style is the skirt. I love skirts too - they are my uniform. I can't wait to see the finished project - I've contemplated a lace skirt, but haven't found a lace I truly love yet (for that purpose).

  13. I would love to see how you work with lace! Since I am Viennese ,I know Komolka very well and could not live without it. If you come next time, I would be delighted to accompany you. Best Bettina

  14. Looking forward to everything and anything you might share.
    The lace is exceptional, your plans sound wonderful.

  15. Look forward to your tutorial.. love your posts and perfection.



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