I am working right now on what I call my “Laura Bennett Dress”, named in honor of Laura Bennett, the Project Runway Season 3 finalist and all around fabulous lady. I am basing it (rather loosely, if the truth be told) on McCalls pattern 5269. The fabric I’m using as the main dress is an embroidered, sequined and feathered netting. The pattern calls for a lining, and when I started planning out my sewing of this dress, I spent a very long time thinking about how I wanted it to look. With this fabrication, there were a few options that I contemplated. First was a straight interpretation of the pattern instructions, using a stretch silk charmeuse as the lining. The problem with this is that the sheer mesh will show both seams (mesh overdress and lining):
The moiré patterns alone would be incredibly distracting. So I eliminated that possibility immediately.
Diva Phyllis and I talked on the phone several times about construction techniques. She opined that a baby French seam would look nice, but I was afraid that a French seam on a princess line dress would be lumpy and bumpy over the bust. Plus, it just looked heavy, even on the straight seam test that I did:
The eye would be immediately drawn to the seams, and it would ruin the airy effect of the mesh.
So I came back to my original thought, which was to use the charmeuse as an underlining. Between cutting this fabric and underlining it to the stretch charmeuse, I took several days to get ready to sew. It was worth it. I would like to say, that if you are going to underline a fabric like this, do it by hand.
Notice my underlined piece. This is the left back. The basting stitches are very long, and there is no puckering. Had I done this by machine, I can guarantee that there would be puckering and grain shift going on, with unpleasant, or perhaps even disastrous results. I used a plain cotton basting thread, and I used 1 1/2 inch long running stitches in the seam allowance, about 1/4 inch away from the cut edges. This gave me the control that I needed to keep the fabrics together properly during stitching.
While stitching the seams, I used my Pfaff, which has a built in differential feed. I think my industrial Juki would do a good job too, but I didn’t want to chance the fabric slipping around, so the Pfaff did the trick. Here’s a picture of the seam from the wrong side:
And here’s what the seam looks like from the right side.
The seam is much less conspicuous, and the allowances are all well hidden. Underlining is a couture technique that is well worth the effort. When it’s finished, this dress will be quite spectacular, and it won’t have any of the seamline distractions that might be there otherwise. Watch this space for the finished dress.