During last holiday season I found myself with quite a few parties to attend and nothing quite right to wear. I muddled through, of course, but also decided I definitely needed to make some type of party dress for the year. Enter our new silk and rayon velvet.
Such beautiful colors! What amazing drape! I knew immediately this was the fabric I needed to achieve my goals. I had read a bit about sewing with velvet and knew it could be a bit challenging, so I chose a dress with simple lines and details- the Raglan Dress by the Avid Seamstress- to make my life easier and to showcase the luxe drape and color of the material.
At first, I was a bit fearful and intimidated to wash my velvet, but I took the plunge with a swatch in a cold, delicate, wash cycle and then tumble dried it on medium for great results. I also chose not to press my fabric prior to cutting and simply steamed it instead to eliminate any wrinkling. The wrong side of the fabric is very slick so cutting the pieces was a bit of a challenge- I opted to cut everything on the single layer instead of the fold, weighted and pinned my pattern pieces and made extra double sure to get all of my notches in. While the setup and cutting were a bit difficult and more time consuming than I would have liked, I was pleasantly surprised when it came time to sew! Because the fabric is so so drapey, it lends itself to be forgiving of slightly wonky seams. I did choose to omit the invisible zipper for the back that the pattern calls for because I felt that it wouldn’t work well with the bulkiness of the velvet and I am very happy that I did this! I chose a button closure instead.
Another modification I made was to use a cotton lawn for my neck facing, hoping it would lay invisibly under the velvet. Instead, it would work its way out at any slight movement and so I ended up stitching it down and trimming it very short- this was a good fix for me!
Overall I am really thrilled with this dress. it is dreamy to wear and I learned so much in the process of making it! Mainly to go slow and breathe deep when your fabric can’t and won’t stay where you put it, and just how important notches really are!