Peacock progress

Work on the peacock dress is moving at a good pace, despite the ridiculous amount of hand sewing and preparation to get a couture finish.

So far I am enjoying the techniques as I can see how they will provide a finer finished item, although I am looking forward to rustling up a couple of cheap-and-cheerful unfinished garments.

I am interlining the dress in organza, and the organza layer serves as a pattern so there is no need to mark the fashion fabric. I cut out all the organza pieces (with generous seam allowances) and marked all the pattern info on them. Then it was time to lay them out.

Blocking the hallway with my fabric

I had to go outside and use the landing outside my flat, and I am so glad I could play with the layout as there was only just enough fabric. I adjusted the pattern as it had a seam down the centre of the front skirt – the fabric was too narrow to cut this on the fold, so I created panels at the front.

I spent at least an hour fine-tuning the placement of the pattern pieces, measuring the distance from the grain-lines to the selvedge to the nearest millimetre, resulting in a rather sore back the next day! However the bonus of this careful preparation was that it took less than five minutes to cut up all the fabric. One of Susan Khalje’s key techniques is to ignore 5/8″ seam allowances and cutting lines, and just focus on the stitching lines (which are transferred and basted everywhere). This means, as long as the stitching lines are clearly marked, you can cut the fabric however you want, leaving generous seam allowances = super speedy cutting as you don’t have to be mega accurate.

Once all the pieces were cut out it is time to carefully hand baste the interlining to the fashion fabric. This takes time. A lot of time. Especially when you have to re-baste the same line four times because it isn’t quite smooth. (I must confess I have only done the bodice and midriff pieces so far, as there was only so much I could take at once).

Next, more basting, but this time actually attaching pattern pieces together, before finally getting the sewing machine out to sew some seams. The seams are all carefully pressed and catch-stitched to the interlining, without a mark appearing on the right-side of the garment.

Hand-basting, pressed seams and catch-stitching

Due to the cross-over detail of the bodice I had to attach the lining to this section and finished it using my new best friends…

My couture best friends

When I made this dress before, I top-stitched around the bodice neckline to keep the lining in place, but it really wouldn’t look right on this dress. I am wondering about hand-stitching some seed beads every few centimetres to keep the layers in place – is that too much detail?

Oh, I almost forgot to mention that I have also sewn 879 beads and 462 sequins on the midriff band so it is now ready to attach to the bodice. I have left a little space until I know exactly where the zipper will go, if I ever find one in an acceptable colour!




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