Despite living in Texas my entire life, I own very few sheer dresses. I have a dusty blue silk organza that I made years ago that as of last summer, I finally had to put away due to it no longer fitting. That was about the time I made the star dress. A few months prior, Paula and I each bought a length of barred cotton organdy from Pure Silks. Paula bought the green color and I bought blue. I started making up the skirt but got distracted with the star dress and put it aside for later. After August, it got much cooler than expected so I ended up not making the organdy gown and wearing a silk instead. And I haven't thought about sheers until mid-May when I realized I needed to get something together for Liendo in June. I ended up wearing the star dress again, making a new collar and undersleeves for the dress instead. I figured I would get the organdy done for August then be done with sheers. (That didn't happen either.)
Well, for the last nine years, I have spent July in Ukraine doing missions. Sadly, between teaching summer school and getting a job in a new district closer to home (having to completely set up a new classroom!!), I wasn't able to find time to go this year. It's a hard thought, as this would have been ten straight years of mission work there, but next year is promising and I do have a lot of things to get accomplished this summer so in a way, it as a blessing.
Well, to compensate for the fact that I don't get to go 'home' this summer, I bought a length of silk organza to make a new sheer gown. And I've also always wanted to try dying fabric in the washing machine so I figured it was a good time to try. I got my silk organza and dye from Dharma Trading-I absolutely LOVE Dharma!!! They have an excellent range of fabrics and dye AND they have fantastic customer service. Not to mention unbeatable shipping times. I ended up buying an acid dye in the Cabernet color. After it was all said and dyed, the color came out a bit more purple than I was expecting, but it is beautiful and I don't have anything like it so that was a nice surprise. Dying in the washing machine worked perfectly! I've never had good success dying silks-especially dress lengths but it came out flawless. I never got a picture of just the fabric, but Elara decided she loved the silk as I was sewing so I got a picture of her playing in the fabric. Close enough, I guess.
It's been a while since I've worked with silk organza-I forgot how difficult it can be to cut straight in long lengths such as a skirt. But it worked okay. The skirt was a little wonky, but I managed to hide most of it in folding over the waist. I did normal skirt treatments-8" facing in white to blend with petticoats, large white pocket on the right side, and gauged at the waist.
I ended up double lining the top with 200 thread count cotton because with my colored corsets (1 blue and 1 red), they tend to show through single layers without a corset cover and I'm tired of wearing one. I made the lining half high and finished the edge with a bit of lace to fancy it up. I ended up using the same lace as edging on the collar, undersleeves, and matching handkerchief.
The sleeves are sort of modeled after Simplicity 9761's bell shaped sleeves (I don't have the pattern, I just went with general shape). I also shirred the sleeves such as in these originals:
|Private collection of K. Krewer|
|Collection of Chester County Historical Society. Photo by A. Bethke.|
The undersleeves are made of cotton voile and trimmed with lace. I did the same with the collar and handkerchief. It was a nice, cool way to spend my first Texas July in ten years!