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.
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.
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!
Stream 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.