From Inspiration to Garment – Part 3 – With a commercial pattern

Dear readers,

It’s the third part of my little serie and I want to talk about those times when you feel too lazy to draft or drape the pattern! For several years now (yes, several), I have been thinking about slip dresses. I was a teenager in the 90’s so I will always be convinced that calvin klein epurated slip dresses are the coolest. Kate Moss and Rachel from Friends shaped my idea of style (for the best and the worst!!)! Twice a year, when the idea of making a bias slip would sudden become urgent, I’d frantically research patterns meant to be cut on the bias, take note of linings in some Vogue patterns and forget about it. Until next time. But not this time! Let’s look at the inspiration first, all collected on Pinterest, with of course, queen Moss:

As stated before, some Vogue patterns include a slip which is meant to be cut on the bias. Carolyn of Handmade by Carolyn made a beautiful version. I myself own New Look 6244 but it’s at my parents’ house… in France… I actually made this dress 10 years ago but purposefully ignore the bias for the lining (so stubborn) because I did not see the point. Ahem Ahem… I have to admit that in my early sewing years, I was (still am) very stubborn and I did not see the point of many things . Those things included seam finishes, easing sleeves, aligning the grain, wearing ease and many more… Slowly but surely I integrated them in my sewing for the better!Bias silk dress by SewingTidbitsOne detail, I dislike in current Vogue slips such as 1287 is the bust dart. I was convinced I could get away without one since the bias could do the minimal shaping I require. I finally decided to go with the lining of Lekala 2021. It doesn’t not specify that it’s meant to be cut on the bias, (at least Google Translate does not say so) but since I got to start with a pattern customized to my measurement, so I figured it was worth it.Bias silk dress by SewingTidbitsMy first step was to do a toile. I used regular muslin even though my silk was going to be behave differently. I figured a “skin” tight fit on my form (slightly bigger than me) in muslin would result in appropriate amount in and the 2 layers of silk would have appropriate wearing ease on me. It was a bit risky but it worked! I also used the toile to check the neckline and position and measure the straps. I had to take in 1/2″ from each side at the bust and waist, tapering to nothing at the hips and I made no changes to the neckline.

Toiling a bias slip dress today. Can't cut into my delicious silk until I sharpen my scissors… Sigh… #sewing #isew

A photo posted by SewingTidbits (@sewingtidbits) on

The most challenging part for me in working with with silk is cutting, especially on the bias. It takes forever and I’m always tempted to cut corners. However, this time I did not. I lied my 23mm silk crepe from Calamo New York on a first layer of paper, aligning the selvage with the straight edge of the paper to prevent distortion. I created a “marker”, which is another layer of paper with all the pieces to be cut drawn in their cutting position. I added my “marker” on top and pinned between the pieces to avoid marking the silk. I then cut through the 3 layers.
Bias silk dress by SewingTidbitsBias silk dress by SewingTidbitsI have an important piece of information that some of you may resist. It’s OK to cut through paper with your fabric scissors! Yes… I know what the home sewing police says but really, you’ll be fine! And it will actually dull your blades a lot less than cutting wool or tweed!!Bias silk dress by SewingTidbits
I stabilized both layers of the neckline with fusible strips and attached the sides with french seams. For a reason I cannot explain, sewing went well for the first pass of the french seam but my industrial Juki refused, yes refused (!!), to go through the second one with a repeated mess of skipped stitches. I was confused and about to cry but I decided to add a layer of paper on top of the seam and tear it off after stitching and it did the trick!
Bias silk dress by SewingTidbitsFor the straps I used the method described by my friend E. on her blog. The only thing I would add would be to not be afraid to use a rather large strip of bias, such as 2.5 or 3″ as the allowance will “fill” the tube. For the hem, on top of providing the tutorial, E. gifted my ban-roll. I don’t know why I never tried before. Actually I do know why (see stubborness mentionned above) but I regret it deeply. This thing is absolutely AMAZING: perfect baby hem on silk. Every. Time.  No need to say more. I actually want to try it to hem shirts with it too!Bias silk dress by SewingTidbits
That’s it for my notes. I love love love the final dress and I wore it for my birthday (30… yikes). We went dining and dancing and I felt very comfortable in this simple yet dressed-up silhouette. I am now thinking of making a single layer one out of thicker black silk crepe. And tank tops, a lot of tank tops, I may have opened the pandora box of bias project! Do you have favorite patterns for bias cuts ? I would love to see what you recommend!

35 thoughts on “From Inspiration to Garment – Part 3 – With a commercial pattern

  1. Ines August 19, 2015 / 7:43 pm

    Totally beautiful. The 90’s eas full of biad skirts and dresses which is a universally flattering shape. I have been fishing patterns eith a biad cut !

    • Sewing Tidbits August 19, 2015 / 7:50 pm

      Thank you Ines!! Surprisingly patterns made for bias are relatively rare!!

  2. Hila August 19, 2015 / 9:06 pm

    Such a lovely dress so chic and elegant. I have been looking for a bias cut dress pattern so am keeping a keen eye on this post comments for reccommendations.

    • Sewing Tidbits August 19, 2015 / 9:51 pm

      Thank you Hila!! I do hope we get some nice recommendations otherwise I’ll do a follow-up post!

  3. Caroline August 20, 2015 / 12:30 am

    This dress makes me so nostalgic for the 90’s as I was obsessed with this silhouette and love how it still looks so modern and fresh on you! Great work! thanks for sharing!

    • Sewing Tidbits August 20, 2015 / 1:44 pm

      Thank you Caroline!! I was totally obsessed too, I don’t know why it took me so long to finally make it!

  4. jne4sl August 20, 2015 / 1:01 am

    What a lovely dress and happy birthday! I think you were wise to holdout for a pattern without darts. The only bias cut pattern I can remember making is vogue 1208. It’s a lovely pattern and also has no dart shaping but it is less fitted. It has an asymmetric tie shoulder but I’ve also used just the right side of the pattern to make a simple drop shoulder pullover dress. It’s suggested for woven or jersey and I’ve made it from both. At first I balked at cutting jersey as it has the best stretch across the grain, however cutting on the bias definitely changes the fit in knits, too. I did omit the lining with jersey.

    • Sewing Tidbits August 20, 2015 / 1:47 pm

      Thank you so much!! I had completely forgotten about Vogue 1208 such a nice pattern. I think I should buy it. Good to know that bias also matters on knits as I would have been tempted to ignore it (stubbornness when will you go away??)!

  5. Dani Malloy August 20, 2015 / 2:13 am

    This is the most effortlessly stylish dress I’ve seen in a long time. I love the second layer just peeking out a tiny bit. Looks great!

  6. ThePatternLine August 20, 2015 / 2:56 am

    I think this may be my favorite post of yours. You did a really great job! I myself a fan of slip dresses, the 90’s minimalist fashion, the era of the supers, and Calvin Klein (and Prada, Jil Sander, Helmut Lang, etc, when the designers behind the label had the same name), but I still haven’t made a bias slip dress, and it could be a great project for both of us when I visit you.
    From (a very small) experience of putting french seams together on the bias, I remember it being pretty challenging, so great job for using paper. And good point on scissors: it WILL take a pretty long time for the scissors to get dull when cutting silk sandwiched in paper: I cut a lot more then most home sewers and don’t have to sharpen them too often.
    Note on the bias straps: you can definitely have bias strips as wide as 2 1/2 – 3 inches, but if you want them very thin, it can be difficult to turn this much allowance, and once you do the straps can get pretty hard (but very round at the same time:) It’s all a matter of preference.
    Now please strike that Kate pose!
    PS. Isabeli Fontana in that slip dress is still hanging on my wall: S/S 2000 – one of my favorite Calvin shows

    • Sewing Tidbits August 20, 2015 / 1:56 pm

      I can’t wait for your visit!! Glad you like the post, it’s also the first pictures with my new camera lens. I think it makes a difference.

      BTW, I just wanted there is a little glitch with your link for the baby hem so I linked to the seam. We can totally strike all of Kate’s poses when you come but damn “modelling” is SO HARD!!!

  7. Beth (SunnyGal Studio) August 20, 2015 / 4:05 am

    fantastic! you look so chic, like a fashion model. better – a real person who looks great. (I hope that sounds right) and I don’t think I have seen you in something so dressy – very pretty. Happy Birthday!

    • Sewing Tidbits August 20, 2015 / 1:49 pm

      Dear Beth, thank you for both comments! Coming from you it feels extra nice!! It’s true that I don’t make very dressy things, simply because I don’t have many opportunity to wear them. But this dress has been quite versatile so far, I can dress it down with flat shoes or go to formal events with a blazer!

  8. Sarah August 20, 2015 / 11:47 am

    So chic! Did you use the second layer as a lining or did you face the neckline?

    • Sewing Tidbits August 20, 2015 / 1:38 pm

      Thank you Sarah! I did use the second layer as a lining but I kept the french seams on the inside and made it a bit longer than the outer layer so that it peaks out!

  9. Birgit August 20, 2015 / 6:04 pm

    Beautiful dress! Love it!

  10. crab and bee August 20, 2015 / 7:10 pm

    Gorgeous. It’s funny how much work it can take to make something minimal look just right. I’ve never tried using a marker but I’d like to try sometime!

    • Sewing Tidbits August 21, 2015 / 10:47 pm

      Thank you!! I’m so impressed by the wedding dress you made for your sister!!

  11. sanae August 21, 2015 / 2:27 am

    So beautiful, Delphine! Your sewing is impeccable and the fit is divine. I’m still intimidated by silk and cutting on the bias is even more intimidating! Kudos!!

    • Sewing Tidbits August 21, 2015 / 10:47 pm

      Thank you Sanae! I’m sure you could tackle silk anytime!

  12. Petite Josette August 24, 2015 / 4:21 pm

    i made a caraco recently using a Burda magazine pattern: 128 from December 2007. It is meant to be cut on the bias but i ignored it, mainly becuase I had a limited amount of fabric. Pattern 128 from 2012 2008 is also a slip cut on the bias (a good proof that Burda tends to repeat itself too🙂

  13. Stephanie Qich August 27, 2015 / 6:25 pm

    simply gorgeous! All those fussy techniques you used payed off handsomely. Love the styling as well – sleek heels and watch, tumbled-out-of-bed-perfect hair.

    Happy Birthday!

  14. dinara September 15, 2015 / 5:11 pm

    It is so beautiful! Well done, amazing job. I was a teenager in the 90’s as well, and Rachel was my fashion star for long time :)) I have just finished shot course of professional sewing and our teacher said the same about cutting fabric with the paper – it doesn’t dull the blades. She said that droping the scissors makes much more damage.

    And by the way, I am Russian, so if you need help with translation those Lekalo patterns – just drop me a massage – I am happy to help.

    • Sewing Tidbits September 26, 2015 / 8:56 pm

      Thanks Dina! The course you took sounds amazing!

  15. maryfunt November 3, 2015 / 8:48 pm

    I just use a regular slip pattern, change the brain to bias, and check on the dress form to refine the fit. Your looks amazing! Loved all the sewing tips, especially the reference to using banrol tape. I will definitely use that one.

    • Sewing Tidbits November 3, 2015 / 9:00 pm

      Thanks mary!! I hope you enjoy using the ban-roll tip!

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