I’ve often seen vintage saris for sale on eBay , even bid on a couple unsuccessfully, when I saw this one it was so beautiful I was determined to get it. I loved the colours and the design, I put a bid on for £20 and won, I was so chuffed! I’m almost embarrassed to say I paid £6.70 including postage from India, for 5 yards of stunning vintage silk, it almost put more pressure on me to make something beautiful out of it to prove how much I valued it.
When I bought it I thought it would be quite drapy, as I always imagine saris as very drapy, it is actually more like a soft but crisp silk, maybe like a silk muslin. I even took it in to work to show a colleague to check it hadn’t been starched, I didn’t want to sew a garment, then have it cleaned to discover the fabric completely changes. She loved it and confirmed that was the true feel of the silk. Someone asked her to put it on, a quick tie, a couple of tucks and in 10 seconds she was wearing it, it looked amazing. It still had a cotton strip along one edge which is obviously to protect the silk from wear and tear around the waist, the pattern was distorted in places and it certainly felt more fragile around the edges.
The sari is in peacock colours, with a check pattern for most of it, then for the last yard the silk has a more detailed pattern. I decided to cut the bodice out in the patterned silk and have the skirt in the check. It was quite tricky to cut out, it’s light as a feather so it moved a lot, the pattern is also distorted from wear so matching patterns was nigh on impossible, I would have liked the pattern across the front to match but it just wasn’t going to happen, particularly as I wanted to avoid the delicate edges. The pattern I chose must be 20 years old, it used to be my favourite dress pattern, I love the neckline and the shaped waist, I’m now 2 sizes bigger but luckily I also made it for a friend in a larger size, so I had a bigger pattern to make it from. The silk was clearly going to fray without even touching it, so I decided to cut the skirt out in one piece, one reason I chose this pattern is I remembered the skirt was all rectangular pieces, so I cut them out as one piece, I’ve only got the one side seam!
The bodice went together really easily. I fully lined the dress, as not only was it a bit see-through, but I also felt it would give the silk some support. I made an identical bodice in lining and then pinned them together along the neckline. I decided to still use the facing as per pattern as I didn’t want to interface the actual silk, so by interfacing the facing, the neckline and more importantly, the button holes got the support they needed.
The skirt is very full with lovely soft pleats, I didn’t want the same fullness in the lining, so after much thought I cut a circular skirt out of the lining, cut a side seam down one side, then pinned it round the waist. I was making it up as I went along but that bit worked really well, as most of it was bias cut, it followed the curve of the waist without any problems. Once I had pinned all the way round the waist, I just trimmed off the excess circular skirt. The bottom edge of the lining is a bit more of a mish-mash, the length was limited by the width of the lining and therefore was a bit short in places, luckily I had left it square, so I just added some extra pieces on the bottom!
Last month I decided I was going to make a concerted effort to master concealed zips by using them when ever possible. As this was one of those colours that standard zip colours just don’t match, this was an ideal pattern to use a concealed zip. I’d invested in a concealed zipper foot for my sewing machine and I must admit, it makes all the difference, definitely worth it, it automatically finds the stitching groove. The waist line seams are no where near even on the dress which was disappointing, but I decided not to stress about it as the pattern is such that I doubt anyone will notice, especially as its a side zip. Part of me does wonder if the silk is going to struggle with the concealed zip, if it will get snagged in the teeth, I’m being very careful with it…
The pattern had big puffed sleeves which did look very 80’s, so after much discussion with daughter, I decided to use a short cap sleeve from another pattern. it went in fine, but it’s one thing I think I would change if I was making it again as I think a slightly longer sleeve may look better.
I stitched the buttons on with contrasting embroidery thread, just to add a bit of interest, the bottom one is a false buttonhole, it’s just stitched on, as I know how awkward the bottom buttonhole is to stitch and I thought it would help the bodice to hang neatly.
I’m really pleased with my dress, it is so light to wear, it’s definitely a special occasion dress! As I’ve got a big birthday next weekend, I might just wear it!
I’ve still got about 2 yards of silk left, so I’m trying to decide whether or not to make a skirt, or more tempting is a quilted jacket…