1940s dresses have a very distinguished look, that’s all about gathers and puffy sleeves. The Simplicity 8686 pattern isn’t an exception, and I was looking forward to using it since the moment this reproduction was announced.
I used to have a couple of ready-to-wear dresses that were made out of silk crepe de chine. One was a vintage one that lasted for decades and I inherited it in perfect condition. It used to be one of my favourite dresses for quite a while but unfortunately, some time ago it started to show some signs of age. Another one was a modern dress that was made out of poor quality fabric - it started to lose the colour too quickly and on top of that ripped during the last attempt to put it on (it had no zipper). When both of my dresses lost their original state I planned a new one. But it had to be a me-made one, of course.
Crepe de chine is a tricky fabric since it can tear and break easily. But it’s so luxurious and comfortable against the skin! It’s thicker than chiffon, but it doesn’t have that overly festive appearance of satin. It can be used for many garments, both for special occasions and casual wardrobe. The only true downside of silk crepe de chine is its price, but a good quality one is truly worth every penny.
I picked Lady McElroy Floralnova silk crepe de chine for my dress because of it’s gorgeous, yet subtle print. It’s a very pastel floral one with none of the colours standing out too much. The quality of this fabric is amazing. It was fine after pre-wash and it was very easy to press it, which sometimes can be tricky with certain types of pure silk.
I really loved the pattern too. I didn’t adjust it at all. The only thing I’ve changed was the length and the zipper location. I put it in the back seam, so I can step into my dress. All of the seams are finished in the neatest way possible, which in this case were the French seams and the flat felled ones. The back one was bounded with the bias binding I made out of some beige colour viscose lining fabric.
This fabric did appear a bit sheer to me so I started the project with sewing a beige colour slip out of some viscose lining from my stash with a McCall's 6696 pattern. I’m really happy with this decision, even though the dress isn’t really a see-through one. But the slip definitely makes it fit so much better by letting the dress drape.
I can highly recommend both the pattern and fabric to all the seamstresses that love 1940s style and high-quality silk fabrics.