12:00 AM

Silk Crepe de Chine Soft Pleated Maxi Dress, a tale of last minute struggles

So before I get into this garment, I need you to know I spent 10 (yes 10) days home with this fabric.  I took a mental staycation from work and just did a bunch of nothing with kid time sprinkled here and there.  I woke up Superbowl Sunday morning to a phone call.  It was my best friend that asked what I was doing for the day to which I responded "I need to sew something, anything today".  She responded, "what did you end up doing with the green silk"?  Yup.... I forgot this dress was due this week.

The fabric used 4.5 yards of  kelly green silk crepe de shine from fabricmart which I snagged during the sale a couple weeks back.  It is no longer available, but check out these alternatives (HERE), (HERE), & (HERE). My plans were to make some sort of maxi with pleats, so I had a good starting point.  This dress will be one of many garments I am making for my upcoming birthday trip to Guadeloupe.  I didn't have much time to play around, so I flipped through my pinterest for some bodice ideas.

I came across a simple yet effective top with spaghetti straps and thought.... hmmmm I can do that!  I draped the bodice on my dress form, cut my fabric and began to assemble to pieces.

Somewhere between all this and the final construction, it all fell apart.  Too many adjustments were needed, my patience was short, and I didn't have time to go back to the drawing board, so I trashed it.  Fail #1

While I pondered what bodice I would make with the remaining yard of fabric, I began to work on the skirt.  I cut 2 panels that were 45" (the fabric width) x 50".  

There a several techniques that you can find on pleating.  You can make a pleat board, or something as simple as measurement marking.  Because I was working with silk, I had to get creative.  The difficulty involved was keeping silk stable. 

I laid out my measuring mat on my cutting table which is the ONLY surface that could accommodate 50 inches of fabric in length.  Next I had to determine the method of pleating I would use keeping in mind, I could not put anything on this fabric (i.e. starch,).  I used my drafting ruler to measure out my pleats.  While this method would have proved to be beneficial for sturdier woven knits, I quickly realized this was not going to work.  So in the spirit of time, I decided to freehand pleat from top to bottom.  I used my pattern weights (thank God) to hold the pleats in place until I was ready to press each one down.  

After these 7 pleats, I knew it would be a long day..... 

This is one panel completed.  I measured 15 inches exactly #winning.  Looks like I heading in the right direction right?  I put masking tape along the ends of the top and the bottom to keep the pleats in place.  A little tip I learned (HERE).

In the end, I had 30 inches for my 29 inch waist.  With freehand pleats, this worked out better than I could have imagined as I did not have to cut off any extra fabric or re-adjust any of the pleats #wonthedoit. 

Now back to the bodice.....  

I scrambled through my patterns which I recently reduced from over 200 down to less than 20 and found V1524.

Using silk for this pattern bodice is NOT recommended for this pattern, so I knew there was a potential for fit challenges.  I omitted the stand up collar, self lined the bodice with silk, and added Pellon fusible knit interfacing & underlining to the pattern pieces that served as the lining.  This was my first time using this type of interfacing, and I happen to have JUST enough for this project in my stash.  This interfacing was very soft and a great option for this type of fabric as it does not take away from the natural drape. 

I constructed the bodice, attached it to the skirt, added an elastic band to the seam to also serve as a facing for the back, and hemmed the skirt.  

The last thing I did was adding the hardware.  In this case, it was the invisible zipper on the skirt, the one inch metal release buckle I ordered months ago for this pattern found (HERE), and the metal zipper used for the upper back.  I shortened a zipper I already had for the upper back which was the first time I actually took to the time to do so.  I pulled out my tools searching for the right pliers to removed and replace the stopper.   I found out I had a leak under my basement sink while looking for tools and got rusted tool water ALL over my bodice top while discovering the tool kit I was pulling out was full of water.... WHY LAWD?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?  Fail #2.  I quickly removed the bodice from the skirt, hand rinsed the bodice and threw it in the dryer on delicate.  At this time, I just sat down in time to watch the halftime show.  By the end of the halftime show, the bodice was dry.  I reattached, finished the zipper, and had hand sewn the metal buckle on.  Finish at last and I was beat!

Moral of the story... plan better!

I hope you enjoyed my last minute struggle, until next time, Happy Sewing!


  1. All I can say is, "wow!!". You did a fantastic job on this dress. The color is beautiful and I love how you improvised. Thanks for sharing. Hope you have an awesome time in Guadalupe.

  2. OMGosh! Girl, you did an amazing job on this dress! Considering all that you went through to get this end result, I say you are ONE BAD CHICK! I LOVE everything about this, EVERYTHING!

  3. Love the switch to a skirt. I may have to move this up in the line.

  4. so so beautiful!

    but... where the rest of them patterns at?!

  5. Your dress is beautiful. I snagged some purple silk crepe du chine. I had taken mine to pre dry clean, to help me square it up. It is 56" wide, and I love my cutting table that accommodates it. I have a formal night time wedding to go to, and I am going to use your pleats. I do have a suggestion, from a problem I actually had. Your pattern weight look to be large washers. If they are, I am sure you have either put them through your dishwasher, or washed them by hand with a grease cutting soap. I didn't the first time I used them. Fortunately, I only got the grease on some Muslim and I didn't ruin any fashion fabric. I decided to go a step further. At an estate sale, I picked up yards and yards of velvet ribbon. I decided to cover my weights. So one night while watching TV, I covered all of my weights. An added bonus, they don't slip while on slippery material. Thank you very much for the suggestion of the pleats. I am making a dropped waist boat neck dress. It is going to have 3/4 trumpet sleeves, sheer from purple printed chiffon. I have already machine embroider flowers using matching rayon thread to give it some depth. The pleats will be the final step, as I was not happy with a circle skirt, or an a-line,

  6. Hi!! This piece is a showstopper. Please tell me. How did u learn how to draft?

  7. This is beautiful! The fabric is totally gorgeous and the color looks great on you.

  8. Bomb!!!!!!, I'm learning a lot from your you tube channels... The color looks amazing on you.

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