Tutorial 2. Review of Materials Used.
Let us talk about the fabrics that can and will be used for sewing the given dress model.
The base of the dress will be made of stretch satin. It’s not the most robust and not the most expensive fabric but it’s perfect for sewing such dresses, especially those with a lace overlay. You can also use crepe-back satin.
The main fabric is easy to work with provided you have cut it correctly: all seams are easy to press open and they don’t produce those small ugly tucks. You could choose more expensive fabric of course – it all depends on your client’s budget.
I’m going to use the sheen side of the stretch satin as the face because it will be covered with lace. But you can also use the matte side.
I have chosen soft delicate lace with no beads or sequins because it’s comfortable in sewing and great for demonstrating our dress model.
You can also use luxury embroidered lace but make sure to remove any beads or sequins from the seam allowance area on each dress piece. If you’re skilled in bead or sequin embroidery or if you have studied my Professional Corset Decoration tutorials made in collaboration with Victoria Boyko, then you can embroider the lace with beads or sequins by hand once the garment is finished.
The lace I’m going to use is somewhat resilient. However you shouldn’t stretch it too much or else the pattern might get deformed.
Here’s another essential detail: you must hang your lace fabric before working with it if it initially features bead or sequin embroidery. Fold it a couple of times, put it on a clothes hanger and leave it like this for several days to prevent it from stretching out later when on the garment.
Nevertheless this method doesn’t provide any ironclad guarantee that the patterns won’t ever stretch out. There is another handy trick. If your lace is heavy enough, I suggest pinning lace patterns onto the dress while it hangs in the air. How to do this properly? It’s really easy to pin them... to the curtains: you secure each pattern made of main fabric with a couple of pins and then pin the corresponding lace pattern over it. Make sure to spread the lace accurately – trust me, you will see where to pull tighter and where to loosen it. It’s easy to pin patterns together when they’re hanging like this and it’ll help you sew their princess seams later, too. You’ll avoid those wrinkles that might appear under the weight of the lace fabric. I will demonstrate this method in the corresponding tutorial later.
The lining of our dress will be made of the same main fabric – stretch satin. I don’t like using too many kinds of fabric in one garment. It’s quite acceptable to use the same fabric for the face and for the lining unless your face fabric is extraordinarily expensive. Just be careful not to make it too thick.
What fabrics in general are suitable for sewing such dresses? If you plan to make a smooth surface dress (i.e. without a lace overlay) with no decoration or appliqué above the hip line, then you’d better carefully choose the degree of fabric transparency – especially if your fabric is white – to make sure the border with the iron-on material doesn’t show through.
We are going to duplicate all pieces of the lining and the face of the front and back with iron-on batiste down to the hip level.
You can see my iron-on batiste in the picture below:
This batiste is very thin – you can easily see my hand through it. Heavy muslin used for collars would be too rough in this case. There’s also iron-on flannel and knit. All iron-on materials I work with have been selected by trial. I always focus on the result I wanted to achieve and the function the fabric needs to perform. If you have troubles finding a certain type of fabric, feel free to ask for tips from members of the Corset Academy Online Forum.
I am going to use hard iron-on fabric to give additional support to the cups.
Its crosswise thread is rather thick and easy to pull out, and its lengthwise thread is thin.
I always cut this fabric cross-grain, i.e. along the crosswise thread. The non-flexible thread goes vertically from the top to the bottom of the garment. The fusible layer of this fabric is thicker and coarser than on iron-on batiste and, frankly speaking, it doesn’t adhere as well. I will show you how to deal with this in the corresponding tutorial.
The skirt will be made of tulle.
This fabric is one-way stretch. It is normally 3m wide and used for bridal veils. Tulle can have different degrees of density or stiffness. I recommend that you choose very fine netting to make sure it holds the shape better.
Other supplementary materials include wide and narrow Rigilene bones.
Let me mention something else about duplicating fabric with iron-on batiste. If you’re sewing a ‘clean’ dress of any color with no draperies, appliqué or lace overlay, then your face fabric shouldn’t be see-through or semi-transparent because you will need to duplicate the dress with iron-batiste down to the hip level. You want to conceal the border or the difference in shades between the duplicated and non-duplicated parts.
The lining will also be duplicated down to the hip line. The lining is duplicated in order to prevent Rigilene bones and other protruding elements from deforming it and to make the corset stiffer. We reinforce the lining to achieve the desired tightening effect. The face of the dress is duplicated to prevent the inner construction from showing through. Besides it provides additional strengthening to avoid wrinkles and deformation when you lace it up. The dress should hold its shape and all seams should be smooth and pretty. And that’s why you need to duplicate the face fabric.
Please be particularly careful with taffeta. This fabric is usually translucent. When working with taffeta, you often have to either use another (third) decorative layer without duplication or duplicate the face parts from top to bottom. By the way iron-on batiste doesn’t stick well to taffeta.
To sum it all up: please make sure your face fabric is not too see-through!
And, last but not least, let’s talk about mock-up fabric.
What is mock-up fabric? It is any fabric that doesn’t stretch in all directions. I recommend using cotton or linen fabric of a single neutral color because then you’ll be able to see the stitches when sewing and it won’t get washed out with time. It shouldn’t glide and shouldn’t be shiny. For instance acetate lining won’t do as mock-up fabric.
A perfect width for mock-up fabric is 2-3m – it makes it really easy to drape the skirt with the help of pins and experiment to find the best way to arrange them.
I am going to sew my mock-up with white cotton fabric. My mock-up won’t be that detailed, I’m making it just to double-check the pattern.