Ginger Made: Chloe Dress

Why, hello, everyone, and a happy Monday to you!  Hope you all had smashing weekends!  After what feels like decades, I finally have a finished object to show you!  I guess it hasn’t been THAT long, but I spent four solid weekends working on this dress.

This is the Chloe dress from Victory Patterns.  I really like the lines of this dress– it feels very classic, but also kind of mod.  I wanted to keep things very clean and simple, but also a bit dressy, so I used silk taffeta from Mood.  I love the body and weight of taffeta– it’s so luxe!  I’ve never sewed with silk of any kind before, so it was really exciting to use something so fancy!

Pockets!

Silk does present a few challenges.  I hand-washed it prior to cutting out the pattern, which softened it up quite a bit, but also made it CRAZY wrinkly.  Seriously– I spent an entire evening pressing out the creases in the fabric!  Fortunately it’s not crazy slippery or unstable, so it wasn’t that difficult to sew.  It’s tough to press the seams sharply with your iron on the low silk setting– my seam allowances don’t want to lie flat, and the seams aren’t quite as smooth as I would like.  Worst of all, after the dress was assembled, I serged the seams, and the seams got so puckery and wrinkly in the back that I almost gave up and threw out the whole project!  I’m still not sure what I did wrong– I checked the tension and tested it out on scraps of taffeta with no sign of trouble, but after I had serged everything, I noticed that the seams were all bunched up and uneven.  This didn’t happen to the seams in the front, or to the separate bottom band– wha?!  It looks OK when I press it like crazy, but after wearing for a little bit (read: minutes), it wrinkles up and looks terrible.  Ugh!  Any suggestions for what I could do to fix it?  I’m planning to just rip out all the seams and restitch them, but since I’m not really sure what went wrong the first time, I’m not sure what I should avoid the next time around!  I wish the copy of Claire Shaeffer’s Fabric Sewing Guide that I ordered on Oona‘s suggestion was here already– I have a feeling it will help to clarify what’s wrong.

I can’t believe I’m showing you guys this horror. Every part of me wants to delete this picture, only look at myself from the front, and pretend like this sh*tshow isn’t happening behind me!

The dress is fully lined with silk crepe de chine, which feels amazing, but it’s a complete bear to cut and sew.  I spent FOREVER cutting out the pieces, and I have no idea if they’re on grain or not as the fabric kept shifting and wiggling, even with tissue paper and pattern weights to stabilize it.  But it feels great against the skin and is nice and light– perfect for lining a summer dress!

As far as the pattern goes, I really like how this turned out.  Everything went together smoothly and I didn’t have to make any adjustments other than lengthening the dress by 2″ (this sucker is short!).  I really should have raised the armscyes, but I didn’t notice how low they were in the muslin stage (whoops!) and I didn’t want the dress to be any shorter, so I didn’t raise it at the shoulders.  I may go back and add a little wedge of fabric under the arms.  Ha!  I guess this dress isn’t a finished object after all!

I wanted to add a little more of the contrast color to this dress, so I drafted a bottom band.  It’s really simple to do, but I would be happy to explain it in greater detail if anyone is interested.

124 responses

  1. That’s one of my favorite victory patterns! Your Chloe is super cute – but I’m so sorry about the back! It’s hard to say what happened. Just a tip though – I always press my silk on the highest setting ( I press everything on high) and with steam but always always use a press cloth. I have faith in you though, you’ll figure it out!

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  2. I see the back as a cool design element – though it does undercut the dressy factor. In my experience, silk can handle a higher amount of heat and pressing than we think it can (using a pressing cloth on right side). I bet, with some manipulation, and a lot of elbow grease, you could get rid of them somewhat. I’ve had this happen to silk before and I did what everyone’s saying: use a sharp, change the stitch length and press the crap out of it as you go. At least you’ve got a great dress that fits excellently.

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  3. Use sharps for silk. Always. And when the fabric starts to pucker (i.e. the first pucker you see) change to a new needle. Also you a size 60 instead of 70 (even in sharps). If the puckering continues use seam tape (fusible, washaway from Clover) to iron the seams together, then sew. The tape stabilizes the fabric and prevents it from pulling downwards into the cogs. Also, adjust upper thread tension. Silks usually prefer 2 or 3 rather than the 4 you’d use for cotton or wool… Hope that helps.

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      • No problems. With the dress you have now, you could probably try a slightly hotter iron with a little bit of steam (try it over a test piece on a scrap of the same fabric and use only if your iron doesn’t accidentally spit etc -‘cuz it’s silk) over the seams. Put a press cloth between (a scrap of voile or silk works) the iron and the dress. Reduce the heat over the zipper tape to prevent warping. Best of luck.

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  4. oh my god, i’m late to the party but i surely hope someone suggested you call the back a design element and forget about it… because the front? SHE IS ROCKING.

    and did anyone say to sew the seams from skirt bottom to waist (wide to narrow)? it’s counter intuitive but TOTALLY helps bubbling.

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  5. I have never really thought that I needed this pattern until seeing your version. HOLY SMOKES I just love it so much. I love the addition of the bottom band – it works so well and is a fabulous design element. I don’t have much guidance in the way of the back seams, other than to say “don’t give up.” It’s a great dress and can probably be fixed if you decide you can touch it again. Sometimes I avoid projects if I’ve messed up on them – it just kills all motivation to try and fix the issue. Take a break from it and then revisit it – with a glass of wine in hand. It will make you feel better, I think :) Or that might just be me!

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  6. I second the suggestion to re-do the seams from widest to narrowest. It can make a much more noticeable difference on a tightly woven fabric such as taffeta. Also, why did you serge if the dress is fully lined? I’d leave it off. If you use swing tacks between the fashion fabric and lining, the raw edges won’t get exposed during laundering, so any potential fraying should be minimal at best.

    Liz

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    • Thanks for the suggestions! I shouldn’t have serged at all, but I was worried about the long-term durability of the dress. I’ll redo the seams bottom to top and see what happens!

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  7. It almost looks ruched in back—kinda pretty actually….though I know it must have given you major heartache. When you find out what happened, I’d love to know, since I’m pretty new at clothes sewing. Chin up friend :)
    Looks amazing in front. ♥

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  8. Hi Ginger, the dress looks so good on you. That’s some crazy puckering going on there. I’d like to see if I can help you to save it. You say that the puckering occurred after the serging, but it looks like it’s taking place due to stitch tension of the main seam. I could be wrong, but here’s a few things you can try… stitch rip the main seam, leaving the serge stitch in place. Iron out the fabric edges and see if the serge is causing it to pucker. If it lays flat, then the serge tension is fine. If it still puckers, then you’ll have to rip out the serging, adjust the tension and re-serge. Oooor, you can clip the serge stitch to release the puckering, but you’d have to use fray check at each clip. This is the lazy solution, as ripping out serging is about as fun as waiting for a kettle to boil. If you find that the problem is not with the serge stitch, then it’s occurring due to the regular stitch tension. In this case, sew the pieces together again, but give a little tug to the fabric as you sew, all while making sure it’s feeding into the machine at a regular speed. It will give a little bounce and resilience to the stitch. I sincerely hope that helps! You’ve done a nice job, and I love the colour blocking. Oh, and as for the armscyes, I realize it’s a bit low. It’s due to the fact that when the sleeve from the other version is sewn in, it raises to a regular height. When I drafted it I didn’t find it to be an issue, as I like low armscyes. But I’ll look into making adjustments. Good luck!!

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    • Thank you so much for all the suggestions! I really appreciate it! As soon as I get a little free time, I’m anxious to sort out my issues because I can’t wait to wear this dress!!

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  9. I won this pattern in a giveaway some time ago, but when I printed it out, the parts looked very baggy, so I went online to see the finished versions, but couldn’t see a single one on a slim girl, so I chucked it out, but now I am thinking of actually trying it as your version looks fab. Sorry about the seams nightmare- did you ever get to change it? if not- I’d just keep it as if it is meant to be. I just saw a dress in a boutique all pluckered like that and it was meant to be a fashion statement ))) well we know what it is called (bad needle) , but the rest of the world doesn’t!

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  10. I like your version of this dress! I’ve had my eyes on the Chloe pattern for a while now, but have not bought it yet as I wasn’t sure about its sizing. But I think you’ve sold this to me! P.S. I can sympathise with you re sewing with silk – the result is always lovely but oh it just makes life so much more complicated, doesn’t it?!

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  11. Pingback: Top 5 of 2012: Misses! | Ginger Makes…

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