A ruby in blue

Creek Springtime

I didn’t get a lot of time to sew this past weekend. We spent much of the weekend at the creek, checking out the changes winter has wrought (not to mention the changes between Saturday and Sunday!). But I did, in snatches here and there, get started on my (long awaited) Ruby Slip.


After searching high or low, I was singularly disappointed in the lace available to me. (I thought this would probably be the case, but I hadn’t done a truly intensive lace-hunt before, so I was hoping that perhaps I had just overlooked some fabulous finds.)

Cute Slip Pose

Apparently, not so. For the record, I carried a bolt of silk charmeuse around Fabricland for some time, looking for lace worthy of it, but how can you possibly sew a silk & lace slip when the only lace available is scratchy, crappy polyester?*

So, in the end, I went with some 4″ wide stretch lace from this thrift store lace bundle, (this pattern is not recommended for stretch lace, nor for such narrow lace) and for the skirt, decided to sacrifice some of aย beautifully-coloured (if not so beautiful-feeling) polyester crepe, snared at a thrift store back home last spring. It’s probably not any good for an actual slip, but, well, it looks nice and has the right drape.

Em. So, this is my first time sewing with lace (other than as a trim), and my first time sewing with crepe, and my first time sewing something cut on the bias.

I’ll start with the sewing bits. As I mentioned, my lace was a wee bit too narrow. Fortunately, Sherry on the sewalong linked to this post on piecing your lace if it’s just slightly too narrow. Which is what I did. It’s a bit trickier on stretch lace, which wants to, well, stretch out on you, but by backing everything with tissue-paper (my new favourite trick; just like what Steph does in this post) I got it to work quite well, especially on the White. Unfortunately, something went kfzzzt in the foot-pedal halfway through and I had to switch to my modern zig-zag machine, the Janome. Funny, the Janome has better stitches overall, but I really like how the White handles delicate (and stretchy) fabric with its adjustable presser-foot pressure and semi-drop-able feed dogs. As I understand it replacing foot pedals is dead easy, so I’m not panicking quite yet. For a thrift-store gamble that didn’t initially impress me, I’ve actually gotten quite attached to it, so I hope I can resurrect it without too much trouble.

ANYWAY, so I squeezed the bodice out, and while the join isn’t invisible, it’s subtle enough that I don’t even notice it any more (did you? it’s on the side-front bodice piece. ๐Ÿ™‚ )

I had a hard time matching the notches on the skirt, although it’s hard to say if that has more to do with my sloppy cutting (I am better than I used to be, but that’s a relative improvement and I usually avoid slinky fabrics like the plague ๐Ÿ˜‰ ) or with the weirdness of bias. The side-seams are a bit woobly, mostly where I narrowed the seams (at the top) and then tapered back to the original seam.

Fit photos.

I cut the size 8, which according to the sizing chart should’ve been a bit snug in the chest but spot-on in the hips; I figured my ill-advised stretch lace would probably make up for the difference. As it turns out, it’s snug/fine in the bust, and a bit too tight in the hips. If there is a next time, I will cut a 10. I made a small swayback adjustment (shaved of 1cm from the CB of the bodice, and 1 cm from the CB of the skirt, curving to nothing at the side-seams), but there’s still quite a bit of pooling/puddling above my bottom—which I think would be be fine if the skirt were wider. Look at that backwards-slanting side-seam. ย And this is after I released the side-seams as much as I could…

Random Creek Shot, for interest.

The appropriate thing to do, of course, would be to unpick it all, and slice off and re-shape the top as I did for this dress last summer. (I’m not too fussy about the length.) I’m not sure if I have the oomph, though as the seams are already serged and topstitched. We’ll see where my mojo is at in a day or two, because I am really not liking the back view. I’m glad I took the modeled photos, though (even if they required photoshop de-niplifying) because it really brings home the back-tightness issue. And now I can see that the ย front of the skirt is definitely hanging lower than the back, something that wasn’t obvious when it was hanging on my dressform. Yes, the dubious duct-tape double got some use, although again, her usefulness appears to have been limited. I think in this case because the direction she hangs naturally isn’t quite the direction I stand in. I think the width in the front is fine, it’s just the back which is too narrow.

Anyway, that was a lot more than I was expecting to write about something that’s not even finished yet (and really requires some re-working). At least the bodice (which I had sort of thought would be the worrisome bit) is pretty much perfect.

So, fix the damn skirt, Tanit, and then you can obsess over bows and other pretty finishing details…

And, just because she’s wearing jeans I made her, I’ll leave you with a picture of Tyo re-arranging rocks at the creek.

Rock work

*Disclaimer: there is, in fact, a very high-end bridal fabrics store in town, which I have not scoped out. I have no doubt they have all the lace and silks I could possibly want. However, they are a) located downtown, where I never go, and b) would no doubt break the bank, so would probably not be the best choice for a first trial of the pattern anyway.



Filed under Sewing

40 responses to “A ruby in blue

  1. That ruby slip is on my list as well. I have the silk and the lace, just need the time LOL. I am going to do mine as a shorty gown for summer :O).

  2. very very beautiful! very beautiful lace!
    I have ruby too:-)

  3. Really impressive so far, these fabrics and grain lines are so tricksty to sew, and to me looks like you’re nearly there. I agree, photo modelling is the test of truth, and thank heaven you are able to show us modest shots of you in a slip, isn’t technology brilliant! Love random creek shots too ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Yup, gotta love the photoshop. Thank you! ๐Ÿ™‚ And I’m glad the creek isn’t too boring… I only took fifteen million photos, so it’s hard not to share one or two.

  4. Maybe the bridal lace place has a remnants bin where you could get some beautiful lace on the cheap? Also, I wonder if any wonkiness is due to the polyester crepe? I worked with some once and it was not a particularly happy experience… when I tried to cut it, pin it, sew it, serge it, it tried to slither away…

    • Oh, you are dangerous, lady… ๐Ÿ˜‰

      It’s definitely slithery, although I don’t know that it’s any worse than every other slinky fabric I’ve ever wrastled with.

  5. it’s wonderful! I love your blue slip! I have this pattern waiting to be cut out of green silk as a camisole, but I’m letting the bias cure prior to cutting. ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Beautiful slip. It’ll be perfect once you solve the back pooling.
    Let me know if you want some lace from the US. I head down there in 2 weeks and can gladly bring some back. ๐Ÿ™‚
    You can return the favour by helping me pattern trace. I’ll convo with you on that. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  7. You are brave sewing with bias. It looks so good but it such a nasty b*tch to sew. As for the lace sourcing, there is always reclaiming some from a used garment at that source of wonderfulness Value Village. I often see lace clothes at my local one, check out yours, you may hit the mother lode.

    I love the creek shots, I used to love playing in a creek, the one close to me is too deep and too fast to play in.

    • That’s an idea. I generally try to avoid looking at the clothes in VV these days (not usually much of a refashioner, and it simplifies my life) but you’re right, they could be an excellent (and economical) source.

      This creek is not very deep, but it’s pretty fast and COLD right now, so we’re certainly not slogging through it like we do in the summer. It will be interesting to watch the spring floods arrive, though. ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. Looks good! It can be really disappointing to work with less-than-incredible fabrics, but you did a really good job at it…

    Thumbs up from the husband… ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Hur hur hur ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I was braced for finicky fiddliness, so I’m not too traumatized… I just wish I’d, I dunno, taken these photos before I serged the whole interior. /sigh. Or even tried on the skirt by pinning it to my bra band or something.

  9. Jodie

    Do you have a Marshall’s Discount Fabric near you (I’m just outside Edmonton). I can get some quite nice lace there…..waaay better than Fabricland.
    It looks really good for a first crack at a pattern, especially considering the slinkiness/slitheryness of the fabric.

  10. It’s very pretty despite all the difficulties. I also don’t understand why lace should always have to be made out of the absolute worst quality fibers, although this does look nice. They don’t even seem to try and use high-end synthetics.

    • Yeah… I mean, there’s polyester and then there’s polyester, right?

      They do have some cotton laces, which are better in terms of feel, but not exactly the look I was going for for this, y’know? Too heavy.

  11. What a great job! I’d never have known about all the trials if you hadn’t mentioned them.

  12. Well, it looks pretty and for a first project with all those new techniques, its splendid.

  13. Amy

    I saved this pattern but have yet to find the time to even think about making it up. I spent forever this summer perfecting a bias-cut dress. It was worth the effort though. I’m glad you braved all of these new techniques. The blue looks gorgeous on you, and the fit is as good as something you’d get from the store. Good luck fixing the skirt to perfection though. And, then, yes, bows!

  14. I can never find pretty lace around here. Everything is always super crappy. The only decent stuff I’ve found- still synthetic- was vintage. Your slip is gorgeous! I haven’t attempted it because I’m scared of the slippery fabric on the bias.

  15. Beautiful! I admit I’m avoiding this pattern because I don’t like lace on my girls. Most lace makes me itch, however fine. I do like the slip on you, but if it’s small all over then I’d just junk the size 8 and go ahead and make a size 10.

    • I can see that. The same lace-bag that gave me this stretch stuff had some wider non-stretch stuff that I would’ve tried, except that, on top of its extreme ugliness, it is super-stiff and rough and I can’t imagine wearing that against my skin.

  16. Hmmm, I’ve got some stretch lace that should be wide enough, I think, so it’s good to know it can work. I am scared of slinky slippery fabrics, though, nor do I think I need a Ruby in my wardrobe, so I’ll just admire yours. Best of luck with getting the skirt to fit right! Usually by the time I end up taking pictures, I’m mentally done with a sewing project, which means that those kinds of issues never get fixed.

    • Wait, didn’t you just conquer chiffon for the Girl on Fire dress? After that, this would be child’s play!

      Fit pictures… are annoying to take, but I find them really helpful. And, well, my hair was looking nice that day, so I went for it…

      • I’m still not sure if I conquered the chiffon or it conquered me, since despite finishing the dress, I’m feeling even more reluctant to work with slinky fabrics, not more confident.

        I never know what you’re talking about with your hair, because I have serious hair envy. Just thought you should know ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. So super super awesome!!! You look so amazing in this! Someday I will finish my Blue Ruby too and we can be slip-making twins.

  18. Ooh, it’s coming along nicely! I love sewing with slippery fabric. Scratch that… I love the way I feel in silks, but hated cutting them, until I read about the Sullivan spray stabilizer trick on Colette. It’s fantastic, and washes right out! For bias dresses, I’ll typically use long basting threads along the seam (tacked at the top), then let them hang for 24 hrs before permanently stitching. That way I know it will still fit over my hips, as the bias tends to make the hips shrink after hanging.

  19. Amy

    Oh, this is pretty. I bought silk and lace for one, too and still have to get around to it. (And had the same problem finding non-stretch scalloped lace so I like the idea of tissue-backing the stretch, I hadn’t heard of that.)

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