December 26, 2014

A Red Silk Taffeta Christmas Dress

About three years ago my best friends gave me a length of red silk taffeta for my birthday--real silk taffeta! I quietly determined that I wanted most of it to go towards my first Civil War ballgown (which, sadly, has yet to materialize) but couldn't help wishing for a vintage-styled Christmas dress.


The design was heavily inspired by Audrey Hepburn's 50s dresses and some vintage pattern covers. I used a 1950s mail order pattern from the stash (my grandparents found it in the dumpster!) for the princess lines, drafted the yoke myself, and shortened the sleeves from the jacket in the pattern. The pattern was just my size and fit perfectly, no adjustments. I love vintage patterns!

This dress was a dream to sew up. I had never worked with silk or silk taffeta before so I was a bit nervous starting out, not knowing how the fabric would react to my handling, cutting, marking and stitching. If you've never sewn with silk taffeta before, I would highly recommend it! The taffeta gives it a subtle texture so the pieces aren't slippery at all; it cuts precisely, presses neatly, doesn't wrinkle badly (at least mine didn't) and has a lovely sheen and rustle.

Four cautions: the silk does show pin/stitch marks (I would recommend silk pins--also, this does make ripping/resewing a bit of a stresser); don't get water on it (it will spot, so watch that steam setting on your iron to see that it doesn't drip!); the fabric does fray, so you will need to finish your seams; and if you wash it, I am told it will lose its crispness.

Eventually I hope to add a large bow to the back waistline, redo the zipper and make a headband or hairbow to go with it!
I wish I had pictures of me wearing the dress; I actually didn't get to wear it the past two Christmases so it has only seen the light of one Christmas Day and a couple of swing dances. Maybe next year I can get together a photoshoot!  That would be so fun.

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