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Foil Scuba Occasion Dress

I was very pleasantly surprised upon receiving this Scuba Fabric. It looks even better in person than in the photos! It’s a lighter weight than a lot of scuba fabrics I’ve used, but still a medium weight with a slightly spongy yet firm feel. The gold is lovely and shimmery. It’s clearly a good quality fabric and the pattern doesn’t break apart when you stretch it. It has a good recovery that would make it ideal for bodycon dresses and wiggle skirts. 

I knew with such a beautiful pattern, this would have an occasion dress. I settled on using the surplice bodice from Gertie’s Ultimate Dress book with a self-drafted pleated skirt. The scuba sews up beautifully. I used a jersey needle and a normal straight stitch for all the seams except the waist. As I omitted any zips or closures, I used a lightening stitch here to allow for the extra stretch needed. The pattern repeats are quite small making this ideal if you want to pattern match. With all the gathering and overlapping on my bodice though, pattern matching was pretty pointless! 

The scuba doesn’t fray so seams do not need finishing. I did find I had to grade all my seams as they can get very thick and bulky. A quick tip, leave the seam that is against the outer layer alone and grade all others. This makes your seams less visible from the outside.

When cutting the fabric, I used a rotary cutter and self healing mat. I did find that, even with a brand new blade, the fabric would not cut cleanly. You may find that scissors do a better job. 

For the skirt portion of my dress, I made a pleated skirt. I didn’t want to distort the pattern by making a circle skirt. Pleated skirts still allow you to have a full skirt but without lots of extra bulk around the waist. If you want to make your own, it’s easy enough to calculate how much fabric you need. This method can be used for both skirts and dresses.

I used separate measurements for the front and back but the method is exactly the same. 

I measured the waist seam on my bodice front. This was 15”. Multiply this by 3 to find the width of fabric required for your skirt panel. (Pleats are 3 layers of fabric. If your finished pleat measures 2” wide, it will contain 6” of fabric). The length of fabric required will be your desired skirt length. We will add all seam allowances later. 

Using my numbers, my fabric needs to be 45” wide (15” x 3) and 23” long. Decide on how many pleats you would like to calculate how wide each one will be. I went for 6 pleats for my skirt. Divide your fabric width (45”) by how many pleats you want (6). So each of my pleats will use 7.5” of fabric (45 ¸ 6 = 7.5). The finished pleat size will be 7.5 ¸ 3 = 2.5”. 

Add a seam allowance to the top and both sides and the hem. I used 0.5” on each side and at the waist and 1” at the hem. So my skirt panel needs to be 24.5” long by 46” wide. 

Once you have your skirt panel cut to size, you need to mark each pleat placement. Starting at one side on the waist seam, mark your seam allowance. From here, mark each finished pleat size. As mine are 2.5”, I marked 2.5” across the entire width of the skirt. Once you’ve marked all your pleats, you should just have your seam allowance left at the end. 

Make each pleat by folding your fabric into an ‘S’ shape and pin in place. Work your way along the width of your fabric until you have all your pleats pinned in place. Baste the pleats then sew as normal. Your pleats can face either way. I chose to alternate the direction of each pleat, which results in a box pleated skirt. (If they all face the same way, you have knife pleats).

In summary, a lovely fabric that would be perfect for a whole range of garments.

Thanks for reading,

Sarah

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