THE SEWING DIVAS sewing, design, fashion

January 4, 2009

Vogue 1073 – Chado Ralph Rucci pintuck samples

Filed under: couture sewing,Couture Techniques,Designer,sewing,sewing couture — phyllisc @ 7:47 pm

Today I spent the afternoon with Ann at the Gorgeous Fabrics Studio; we had wonderful time together.   Ann worked on a muslin for Burda 3477  (a pattern with a really great draft BTW that is obvious even in a flat pattern stage) that I helped her fit, and she helped me figure out how to make the pintucks for my Ralph Rucci dress.

Mentally I’ve been going back and forth between two techniques to figure out how Rucci does these.  The obvious choice is a pintuck foot, and another idea would be pintucks basted from the right side and stitched with a walking foot.  I made a sample for each technique, and one came out a clear winner over the other.  Both samples were marked on the right side with a water soluble marker in a zip-zag shape much tighter than the tucks on the Rucci pattern.

Pintuck Foot Tucks

This sample started off well, however as soon as I started to turn my wool jersey into the curves disaster struck:  the fabric got sucked into the feed dogs, which ripped a hole in the  jersey.

What a mess

What a mess



This idea was clearly problematic and while  it occured to me that I might be able to avoid this problem with a light stabilizer; I had to ask myself, “What would Rucci do?”.   Based on what I know about his construction methods, I have a hard time believing he would use something as mundane as a pintuck foot and stabilizer, so this idea was scrapped.

Hand Basted and Sewn with a Walking Foot

This method, along with a consult with Ann, gave me the result I was looking for.  Here the tucks are hand basted from the right side, and then carefully sewn with a walking foot.  

Laid Flat and Hand Basted From the Right Side, Not Yet Stitched

Laid Flat and Hand Basted From the Right Side, Not Yet Stitched

Not bad, but not quite the right effect.  As I looked at it on Ann’s ironing board I noticed her new gravity feed iron quietly heating up next to me.   Eureka!  Steam shrink it!

I removed the basting and  steam shrunk to remove the ripples.  Ann agreed this must be what Rucci does and she added a final steam blast on her ham to set the ridge of the tuck.  I think we got it!

Stitched, Basting Removed and Steam Shrunk - the Winnah!

Stitched, Basting Removed and Steam Shrunk - the Winnah!

14Stream shrinking is used quite a bit in bespoke and haute couture , and the fact that the pattern envelope recommends wool jersey offers an additional clue that steam shrinking is part of making the tucks; this process can only be done with wool fabrics or silk/wool blends.  One last clue in the pattern itself   covinced me that this is what Rucci does;  the shaping bust darts are hidden in the edges of the bust pintucks, and I believe it would be impossible to sew those shaping darts if the tuck was stitched with a pintuck foot.

A last consideration was whether or not the tucks are corded, and I don’t think they are; the original runway version of this dress is really drapey, and corded tucks would add quite a bit of weight.  I also don’t think Vogue Patterns version uses cord, rather that fabric just happens to be a much heavier wool knit than the one used by Rucci (and I think my fabric actually comes pretty close to the weight he used in the runway version.)

So – I need to practice this technique a bit more, and then proceed to  the question of whether this pattern can be adjusted via a vis an FBA and/or for a petite – I think it can, but not in the usual way we might think. 

Stay tuned! 


  1. Thanks for the great tutorial on the pintucks. I would have never thought to do this. I bought this pattern when it first came out and have been completely baffled as how to work in a FBA.

    Comment by Erica B. — January 4, 2009 @ 8:31 pm

  2. Impressive detective work. Can’t wait to see the finished garment.

    Comment by dei — January 4, 2009 @ 9:26 pm

  3. So, if you’re having to steam shape the fabric, will you do that before or after you cut the pieces? i.e., will you rough shape the pieces, do the tuck and steam, and then cut to final pattern shape?

    Comment by Karen — January 4, 2009 @ 10:00 pm

  4. Well, if you can call “Try steaming that on the ham to see how it shrinks” and “Ooooh! Take a picture of that fabric stuck in the feed dogs!” helping, well okay then! I earned my kibbles. 😉

    Comment by Gorgeous Things — January 4, 2009 @ 10:13 pm

  5. We’ll have to start calling you the “Sewing Detective”! 🙂 Excellent problem solving! You’re incidents reminds me that “Steam is our friend”.

    Comment by Elaray — January 5, 2009 @ 6:08 am

  6. I guess I’d wonder if this dress is really worth it. Without a lot of swing I’ll bet it will be too bulky with the tucks and the wool. Cording is an interesting possibility, and I’d think something lightweight would add interest and swing to the final product.

    Comment by Aunt Michelle — January 5, 2009 @ 6:46 am

  7. Oh trust me – I saw the jersey Phyllis is working with and the techniques she’s trying out. It will TOTALLY be worth it. I can’t wait to see the finished version. The jersey is very lightweight. It’s not like old wool jerseys that used to be heavy and stiff. It’s got great swing to it.

    Comment by Gorgeous Things — January 5, 2009 @ 7:39 am

  8. Thanks Phyllis. That was really interesting.

    Comment by cidell — January 5, 2009 @ 9:31 am

  9. Thanks for already solving the problems I will be facing once I find the right fabric for that dress! (Woolen Jersey that is not stiff and standing on it’s on… such a thing exists?)

    And I m longing to see how an FBA can be done! Already thanks in advance…

    Comment by nowaks nähkästchen — January 5, 2009 @ 9:48 am

  10. Thank you for showing your pin tuck technique (the good and the bad). Looking forward to future blogs on your sewing adventure in making this Ralph Rucci dress.

    Comment by JK — January 5, 2009 @ 11:34 am

  11. That dress is gorgeous. How Miss J wishes she could make something so beautiful.

    Comment by Miss Janey — January 5, 2009 @ 2:26 pm

  12. Um, okay, I’ll file that away for “someday land”…I’m still proud of myself for getting zippers in properly!

    Comment by Erin — January 5, 2009 @ 3:19 pm

  13. Phyllis – thanks for sharing this journey with us! It will be interesting to watch this garment come together because there will be so many decisions to make to get the best outcome!

    Comment by Carolyn — January 5, 2009 @ 4:29 pm

  14. Interesting and well worth the time to make the samples. Yikes, the machine really did suck the fabric in, didn’t it? I think you’re going to have a stunning dress when completed – can’t wait to see it.

    Comment by Summerset — January 5, 2009 @ 5:24 pm

  15. I plan on making this dress sometime in the future, so I appreciate you sharing your experience with us!

    Comment by Tany — January 6, 2009 @ 3:32 pm

  16. Hi Phyllis,
    I have worked for Ralph as a patternmaker for the past 15 years. I admire your enthusiasm for sewing. I thought I’d offer some comments to let you know that you are on the right track. I have not seen the commercial pattern that you are working with, but I can tell you how the samples are made in the workroom. the pattern allows 3/16″ for a 1/8″ pintuck. You are constructing the pintucks correctly, and you are right, there is no stabilizer or cording in the pintuck. The knit that was used for this dress is not jersey, it is actually interlock, which is a different knit construction. If you are a knitter, you will recognize jersey as having a flat side and a bumpy side, like stockinette stitch. Interlock is a double knit construction, it makes a beefier, more stable cloth, it is flat on both sides. I hope that this is helpful. Good luck on your project!
    Gail Gondek

    Comment by Gail & Fog — January 13, 2009 @ 12:31 am

  17. Woo hoo Phyllis – validation straight from the source! Alright!!!!

    Comment by Gorgeous Things — January 13, 2009 @ 9:45 am

  18. […] a little verklempt when I read her comment is putting it midly.  You can read all of Gail’s comment here (scroll to comment […]

    Pingback by Vogue 1073 - Chado Ralph Rucci, Parsing the Pattern Pieces « The Sewing Divas — January 13, 2009 @ 11:17 pm

  19. You are my sewing surrogate! I loooove Ralph Rucci, but I haven’t the skills or the time right now to do a proper job. I’ll follow along and enjoy the scenery from behind your shoulder-

    Comment by kathi s — January 21, 2009 @ 12:02 am

  20. I would sew the pin tucks by hand. And yes, thread trace everything– this should be done for all garments– it takes extra time but it makes a difference. More preparation and hand sewing=a better finished garment. Thank you so much for sharing this process with us!

    Comment by Jane — January 30, 2009 @ 5:18 pm

  21. […] going out of business sale. We both left without purchases. I am trying to find material for this Ralph Rucci Vogue Pattern 1073. I’ve settled on a stretch sateen fabric, but have no clue on what color I want. Finding […]

    Pingback by KatyRenee · Spring Break — April 14, 2009 @ 12:18 pm

  22. thank you so much!

    I’ve always wanted to purchase that pattern, but definately way out of money for it!

    I am going to merrily sew away on my machine now. ❤

    Comment by fashioncontagious — March 19, 2010 @ 10:36 am

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