The last of the four dresses from our feature in Sew Beautiful magazine (August/September 2013, issue #149) is this orange silk shantung Croquet Dress (View A).
For this dress I was inspired by a Chanel ready-to-wear spring 2012 white leather dress with translucent, shimmery ribbons cascading down the front. This effect is so pretty and playful; I thought the technique would translate really well to a girl’s dress.
We chose an orange silk taffeta or shantung for our version of this dress. We altered the pattern, eliminating the separate skirt and lengthening the front and back bodice to dress length. (We just extended the A-line shaping of the side seams, so this was a really easy change.)
To make the front of the dress, we first cut a panel of fabric large enough to accommodate the new front pattern piece and traced the cut line for the front, marking the center front. (If the fabric is likely to fray, as ours did, finish the raw edges with a serger or a zigzag.)
We used two shades of 1/2″ wide orange polyester organza ribbon in a darker and a lighter shade of orange than the dress fabric. The poly organza has a shine and thickness that worked better than silk ribbons, and the colors were more appropriate for our needs than some of the more expensive silk ribbons we considered. I never thought I’d use polyester ribbon on a silk dress, but in this case it worked really well.
Following our inspirational photo, we pinned the ribbons to the whole length of the front dress, twisting and folding it as if it were cascading down the dress. It took some fiddling and adjusting to find just the right placement, and we found that taking photos to check out the result was more effective than just looking at the fabric with the pinned ribbons. (I do this a lot; somehow a photo helps me to look at things differently.) When we were happy with the placement, Giulia machine topstitched one ribbon at a time in a matching thread color, as closely as possible to the ribbon’s edge, lockstitching when necessary (where ribbons were overlapping).
Once the ribbons were sewn, we cut out the front dress and constructed the dress as written in the instructions, omitting the skirt.
This dress was sewn by our wonderful Giulia Tissi. She does gorgeous work, doesn’t she?