Slow Sewing

My inspiration for this top was taken from the cover of Vogue Australia in November 2005, which my computer insists upon showing side-ways.  Most of all I loved the colour and I kept my eye out for something similar over the next few years.  I thought this piece of silk charmeuse was similar, but away from the flouro lights of the shop, it is greener than I wanted.

The original dress is backless, but I made a shell top with cut-away armholes, hoping for a similar effect in a more wearable form.

I started with out-of-print Vogue 2683, a DKNY shell top, cut on the bias with princess panelling.
- I eliminated the back zipper and made a front slit, bound with bias strips. 
- I made the neck wider and lower
- I changed the shape of the armholes to be more cut-away
- I inserted bias strips in the princess panel seam-lines and added an extra bias stripdiagonally from the top of the back princess line to the bottom of the front princess line.
- I added a flounce at the front.  First of all I wanted to use 2 flounces.  Then I decided that wide bias strips would be better, but I didn't have enough fabric left after making the flounces.  Then I modified one of the original flounces so that the width of the flounce changes from top to bottom.
- the bias binding on the neckline is not turned under and extends to form a tie.
- I used a narrow hem on the bottom edge.

I was expecting this to be a tricky project, what with slippery charmeuse, bias princess seams, bias-bindings, narrow-rolled hems, etc etc...what I was not expecting was fit issues.  I have made this pattern before.  As with other bias tops, I never had to worry about fit too much, because the bias just seems to fit in around body curves.  Not so this time.  I'm not sure if it was the added bias strips or just the heaviness of the charmeuse, but the top hung lower than my previous version and there was a lot of gaping at the back arm-hole.  Eventually, I put the top on my dressform and used the bias bindings to pull it in.  I managed to sew one of the bias-bindings on the inside of the top instead of the outside, but rather than re-do and risk more stretching, I just used my bestest hand stitches to slip stich down the binding on the outside.

The dress also gaped at the centre back neck.  I had this problem last time, and so did many of the pattern reviewers, but I always thought that it was a result of not stabilising the CB edges properly before inserting the zipper.  Apparently not.

Meanwhile, I am getting gaping issues on the neckline of my couture dress.  This didn't show up on the muslin.  I'm not sure if the stay-stitching stretched the seam line, or if it didn't show on the muslin because I didn't turn under the seam allowances.  I am still thinking of the best solution to this problem.  A tip in a SewStylish magazine suggests making a casing of catch-stitches and threading beading elastic through this casing.  Elastic never lasts too well in the tropics and this dress is supposed to last a long time.  I thought maybe I could reduce the length of the neckline on the lining and pull the dress in a little when I attach it to the lining.  I would love to hear any other suggestions. 


  1. the words "silk" and "bias' always fill me with dread .. though the colour of the top is just stunning!

    I have had the same issue of neckline gaposis on a wide "v" myself. In my case, I just ran a small dart into the neckline. for a modest fix up job it works well, but I'm not sure how elegant a solution it is for your dress.

  2. Its a beautiful top. Re the fit issues, I think it may be in the charmeuse. I'm making a dress at the moment from a trusted pattern but it is tight across the hips. Perhaps it is just unforgiving.

  3. the top looks gorgeous, but I understand it's not easy to work with silky fabrics, I'd never be sure of the result. You have a lot of time consuming details and the colour makes it look precious.

  4. I'm awed by the creative sewing of that top, with it's bias inserts in the seams. I love that type of unconventional sewing. As for the gaposis problem, I would take the shoulder seam out, and ease the "v" neckline in with sheer tape.

  5. I always use Stay tape (available from Punch and Judy website). It is a sheer, strong tape which prevents stretching. Measure the length off the pattern and then ease the neckline into it by placing the fabric between the tape and the feed dogs of the machine.

  6. I am prepping for making a bias-cut Marfy evening gown from satin for my daughter's prom dress - the pattern calls for a deep V neck. When I ran across this posting, I thought I would share what I found: KLEIBACKER
    This is an exerpt from a Threads article - part of it speaks directly to the issue of the gaping neckline. I imagine this method will last forever. Hope it helps.