My Totally Unnecessary Cocktail Dress is made from a polyester/elastane satin, and as I wish it wasn’t stretchy (I’m shopping from stash here!), I’m underlining it with organza to make it stable. The Burda version (#125- 11-2007) uses silk duchess satin which has zero mechanical stretch, and I’m hoping I can make my fabric behave in a similar manner by underlining with silk organza, which also has zero mechanical stretch.
Silk organza is brilliant for underlining – I use it a lot in wedding gowns, hence the ivory colour I’m using here! It is lightweight, crisp, and is easy to cut, sew and press. It even makes a great press cloth! Underlining adds body and stability to your shell fabric, and allows you to catch stitch hems and seam allowances invisibly. Here’s how I did the bodice:
- To ensure the pieces are identical, I cut the fabric and organza together – lay the organza on top of the satin, chalk around the pattern, and cut both layers together. It is less accurate to cut both pieces on the fold, especially when using fabrics of different thicknesses, as the fold itself takes up millimetres. I am always careful not to cut silk duchess satin on the fold, as the foldline can leave a permanent crease – not great down the CF of a gown!
- Sew the organza to the satin, and then treat as one layer. You can hand baste if you have the time, but I like to machine it like above. I stitched with the stretchy satin underneath, so any stretching that occurred when sewing was counteracted by the feed dogs. I always work from the centre out. First sew the fold line of each dart, starting exactly at the apex and sewing to the edge. Sew the edges within the seam allowance, and cut the threads at the end of each seam for easy removal. After each pass check that the fabrics lay flat – if not unpick and resew. You can see I had to do a slight adjustment here:
- Some fabrics require slight ease in the organza, and some fabrics require slight tension in the organza. This is something that is decided by trial, error, luck and experience. For new fabric combinations do an experiment – cut a couple of 20cm squares in each fabric, baste the fabric and underlining together, then sew the two squares together with a seam. Press and examine – does any bubbling/puckering occur? Sometimes one layer needs an extra millimetre or two, so gauge the percentage and adjust the amount of ease/tension in your underlining accordingly. I allowed some ease in my underlining because the outer fabric is stretch, it seems to be working so far… just need to fix that top left…
- So now the front, back and sleeve gusset panels are all underlined and I’m ready to proceed with the rest of construction. I sewed the darts next – I think it is easier to sew darts while the panels are still flat, Burda instructs you to do it after the sleeve gussets are inserted, I’ll let you decide!