Sunday, 23 August 2015

Sewing in lace part one - planning, drafting and deciding

I've started working on my next sewing project - a pencil skirt in dark blue lace. Usually, I show you everything when I'm finished, but this time, I thought I'll write as I sew. We'll see how that goes. I have a clear deadline for this project - shortly after lunch, Saturday 2nd of October. I hope to finish another silk blouse as well - we'll definitely see how THAT goes.

First of all - the lace. I bought it as a remnant in Stockholm shortly before Christmas, and knew from the start that it would be turned into a pencil skirt. It's about the only thing possible to make - there was too little left for a dress or a wide skirt and it's too heavy for a blouse.
Dark blue lace pencil skirt soutache lace |
It took me a while just to find out what kind of lace I'm dealing with - according to the manufacturer's (Monterossi fabrics) Facebook-page it's a soutache lace. Makes sense, since it really is soutache on netting. The soutache is rather thick and heavy, so I think it'll be more difficult to handle than "ordinary" lace. How do you sew in it, and how to get invisible seams? It's not like a thinner lace, where you more easily can overlap. I spent an evening researching - books, Internet, playing with the lace and finally deciding that my best option is to remove the soutache from one part of the seam, and overlap the other, sew by hand and remove the netting afterwards.

I'll use a silk crêpe satin underneath the lace, and wrote out to several resources in Sweden and Britain to find the right colour match. The silks from Beckford silk and Borowick Fabrics (where I bought a lovely rayon grosgrain when I visited), and also some small samples from SidenCarlson in Stockholm, are amazing and I almost got too many options to choose from .
Dark blue lace pencil skirt silk crêpe samples |
I didn't want black or dark blue as to really let the lace show, but I didn't like it with a too light background either. Here are the final three, and I've made up my mind a lot of times. But then I see them from a different angle or in a different light, and change my mind again. Satin is so tricky!
Dark blue lace pencil skirt choosing silk |
I know, the differences aren't huge... I'll pass on the one in the middle, so it's either the slightly lighter and bluer to the left or the slightly darker and greyer to the right. And I need to decide soon, so I can order it and have it shipped. (The samples arrived in no time, so I'm fairly confident I can have it by the end of the week if I just decide!)

I'll underline the silk with silk organza to give it some more stability and be able to carry the heavy lace. It will also make seam finishing, hemming and sewing all the darts so much easier. A wide Petersham ribbon will give support to the high waist (I hope! I am thinking about boning, but...)

Speaking of darts; I really liked the way both the double darts in the back and the split bust dart turned out on the sky blue dress, so I decided to make double darts in the front as well. At least in the silk parts, we'll see about the outer layer of lace.

I made a toile as usual, and after making some minor changes to the pattern, I spent an hour or so finding a good way to match the side seams - and most importantly the scallops at the bottom - and to find a good solution for the split in the back seam.
Dark blue lace pencil skirt side seams |
I put the lace over the front pattern piece, and marked centre front (in the middle of a scallop) and then where the side seams will be. Then I put the back pattern pieces under the lace, with the side seams starting at the same place on the scallop as where the front piece ends. Is that comprehensible? I also made some tweaking in the back pieces of the pattern to be able to get a nice seam line centre back. I do have a plan - let's hope it works out!

Now I'm going to have another look at the silk crêpe - brighter/bluer or darker/greyer? What do you think?


  1. I would go for the silk on the right of the photo. Lovely lace too.


    1. Thanks Emma - I think I agree, it's a good one. :)

  2. I like the one on the right, too, though who knows how accurate the color is on my computer monitor. Gorgeous piece of fabric--I love unique finds like this!

    1. Colour - cameras - computers - the difference from reality can be striking. :) But I'm really leaning towards the right one as well. And thanks - I love the fabric too!

  3. Lovely and very interesting lace. It will be interesting to see how you handle the seams. I would think that the soutache braid might fray badly when cut so I'll be interested to see your solution. I love the way you have cut the netting to follow the pattern.

    1. I agree - it will be interesting to see how I handle the seams. :) I haven't quite decided yet, but hopefully, tomorrow I will have lots of time for sewing. Either the over-lapping techinque works, or I'll double upp all layers, treat them as one and sew the seams. I'm afraid of the bulk though.

      I hadn't thought about fraying before - thank you! The ends of the soutache can be burned slightly, but that's not easy to do without burning the netting. Perhaps that's another reason not to overlap...


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