The Taming of the Challis

Remember the EVIL fabric of last week? Well, thanks to my intelligent and capable commenters, I figured I could whip it into shape with a long weekend and a whole lot of spray starch. This is the pattern I decided to use:

New Look 6096. I made View A with the flutter sleeves, in a size 8. I normally would sew a 10 thanks to a small high bust measurement, but all the ease in the pattern convinced me to go down a size. I’m glad I did; I think a 10 would have been too large. As it is, this dress veers dangerously close to maternity territory.

Here is the end result:

Pretty much exactly like the pattern envelope. Ignore my expression, it's been a long day. Look at the adorable cat in the background instead.

First off, I used Magic Sizing on the fabric and it was still WAY too slippery. So then I used Faultless Heavy Starch — which helped, but the material was still more slippery than I would really prefer. It shifted all over the place while I was sewing it. I could probably have done with a second (or third) coating of starch. Secondly, I wanted to make peasant sleeves with elastic but a look at the pattern convinced me to go with flutter sleeves because there is no armpit seam — the sleeve ends basically tuck into the bottom part of the armhole. I am not a fan of this style because it puts bulk in the armhole, but my fabric was lightweight enough that eliminating the sleeve elastic eliminated the bulk. Overall, this was a test of both the fabric and the pattern and while I like the fabric, I’m not sure under what circumstances I’d make the pattern again. I have a large rib cage and really need the elastic to hit a little lower so that I don’t look like a fence post. I’m tempted to hang on to the pattern and lengthen the bodice a bit because I want to try out the long sleeves….

But hey! I conquered my fear of challis, and I have three more yards of this stuff for the next time inspiration strikes. Now, anyone with tips on sewing silky charmeuse? Spray starch is a no go, as it seems to permanently change the hand of the fabric. Twenty yards in my stash is waiting for your help!

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Posted on February 21, 2012, in sewing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 17 Comments.

  1. Very very cute dress!! It looks great on you. I don’t know anything about material, et al. but I think you did a great job with it, at least as far as I can tell from the picture. I think those types of dresses are very flattering usually. Good job!

  2. If you plan on hand washing (or machine on delicate) your silk, you can use spray starch on silk as well. I have done it in the past (a looonnng time ago). Of course, test and retest.

    • I machine or hand wash everything….but I tested a swatch and hand washing did not remove the spray starch. Will have to try the machine, I guess….

  3. So rude of me, I forgot to say I love the dress! My excuse is morning. And a headache.

  4. KITTEH!

    Oh, sorry, I was suitably distracted by cat.

    Very cute dress, the random print looks nice on the full dress. Bet the light weight will be good in the summer.

    20 yards of charmeuse? Seriously? That’s a lot of fabric. At least you’ll have a lot for testing. Spray starch is my go to. Oh… isn’t there something about freezer paper… I’m not crazy http://sewing.patternreview.com/review/review/2161 (I have not tried this myself)

    • Ooh, I have freezer paper! I might have to try that. Although, it seems like it would be awkward with a larger area like the skirt…hmm…

      Thanks for the compliment on the dress!

  5. It is a cute dress and you don’t look anything like a fence post. I mean, they have wire, moss. lichen etc on them and are most definintely not shapely : nothink like you at all. So, I think you can do this style as is. T’would be good to lengthen the bodice to get the sleeves as they are lovely. I like peasant sleeves a lot.

    Wow 20 yards of charmeuse …. I’m assuming you don’t want to use all of it at once though. That’d be amazing!!

    • I forgot about the moss and the lichen! Maybe if I dye my hair green?

      Yes, I think I’ll lengthen the bodice and the sleeves just a tad so I can do the peasant look for next time. Thanks for the compliment!

      I just had a whole bunch of patterns that needed charmeuse and decided to do some experimenting. They’re not all in the same print/color, though — that would be excessive!

  6. I predict you’ll wear this dress A LOT. It looks comfortable and functional and the pattern/style is very all-purpose-y. Excellent work!

  7. OK, so my question is: where do you PUT all this awesome stuff you make? Do you have an extra wardrobe house? This is amazing. I need to get into making stuff that you can keep. The only stuff I ever make is beer, and sometimes soap, and I don’t do that very often, and it all gets consumed real fast.

    • I do need an extra wardrobe…or two…but mostly to store fabric. My clothes wear out, my fabric stash just keeps growing.

      Beer and soap are practical! I can see we’ll have to keep you on retainer for the zombie apocalypse.

  8. Wait, I’m sorry, what was this post about? I was distracted by your good looks.

  9. Haha, thanks! Are you sure it wasn’t the cat distracting you? We’re both gray, brown and fuzzy.

  1. Pingback: The Coachella Shorts « lazysubculturalgirl

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