Ginger Made: Chloe Dress

Why, hello, everyone, and a happy Monday to you!  Hope you all had smashing weekends!  After what feels like decades, I finally have a finished object to show you!  I guess it hasn’t been THAT long, but I spent four solid weekends working on this dress.

This is the Chloe dress from Victory Patterns.  I really like the lines of this dress– it feels very classic, but also kind of mod.  I wanted to keep things very clean and simple, but also a bit dressy, so I used silk taffeta from Mood.  I love the body and weight of taffeta– it’s so luxe!  I’ve never sewed with silk of any kind before, so it was really exciting to use something so fancy!

Pockets!

Silk does present a few challenges.  I hand-washed it prior to cutting out the pattern, which softened it up quite a bit, but also made it CRAZY wrinkly.  Seriously– I spent an entire evening pressing out the creases in the fabric!  Fortunately it’s not crazy slippery or unstable, so it wasn’t that difficult to sew.  It’s tough to press the seams sharply with your iron on the low silk setting– my seam allowances don’t want to lie flat, and the seams aren’t quite as smooth as I would like.  Worst of all, after the dress was assembled, I serged the seams, and the seams got so puckery and wrinkly in the back that I almost gave up and threw out the whole project!  I’m still not sure what I did wrong– I checked the tension and tested it out on scraps of taffeta with no sign of trouble, but after I had serged everything, I noticed that the seams were all bunched up and uneven.  This didn’t happen to the seams in the front, or to the separate bottom band– wha?!  It looks OK when I press it like crazy, but after wearing for a little bit (read: minutes), it wrinkles up and looks terrible.  Ugh!  Any suggestions for what I could do to fix it?  I’m planning to just rip out all the seams and restitch them, but since I’m not really sure what went wrong the first time, I’m not sure what I should avoid the next time around!  I wish the copy of Claire Shaeffer’s Fabric Sewing Guide that I ordered on Oona‘s suggestion was here already– I have a feeling it will help to clarify what’s wrong.

I can’t believe I’m showing you guys this horror. Every part of me wants to delete this picture, only look at myself from the front, and pretend like this sh*tshow isn’t happening behind me!

The dress is fully lined with silk crepe de chine, which feels amazing, but it’s a complete bear to cut and sew.  I spent FOREVER cutting out the pieces, and I have no idea if they’re on grain or not as the fabric kept shifting and wiggling, even with tissue paper and pattern weights to stabilize it.  But it feels great against the skin and is nice and light– perfect for lining a summer dress!

As far as the pattern goes, I really like how this turned out.  Everything went together smoothly and I didn’t have to make any adjustments other than lengthening the dress by 2″ (this sucker is short!).  I really should have raised the armscyes, but I didn’t notice how low they were in the muslin stage (whoops!) and I didn’t want the dress to be any shorter, so I didn’t raise it at the shoulders.  I may go back and add a little wedge of fabric under the arms.  Ha!  I guess this dress isn’t a finished object after all!

I wanted to add a little more of the contrast color to this dress, so I drafted a bottom band.  It’s really simple to do, but I would be happy to explain it in greater detail if anyone is interested.

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124 responses to “Ginger Made: Chloe Dress

  1. Ah! I love, love, love the color blocking and the silhouette on you! I’m sorry you had so much trouble with the fabric. I have no idea how to help fix the back wrinkles; I hope you can find a solution. In the meantime, just look at the dress from the front. ;)

  2. Argh! Poor you. So cute and then the fabric plays naughty. I know how you feel!

  3. I love it! So sleek and professional, and I love the idea of making a very simple pattern in a lux fabric to add some glam! One of my fav parts of sewing is taking a pattern that everyone seems to see as casual (or vise-versa) and changing it up with style/fabric/detailing. Wish I could help on the seam issue, I have NEVER seen anything like that (but the front is amazing enough to make up for it)

  4. Sam

    I have no idea how to fix the wrinkles I’m afraid, but I love this dress! It looks gorgeous on you, and fits you great. I really hope you manage to sort out the wrinkles.

  5. Oh that’s a beaut – it really is. I’m sorry – like everyone else I have no idea what’s causing the issue at the back though.

  6. ahh, this dress is darling on you!! I haven’t a clue what could be up with the back seams tho… my first thought is, maybe the seams need some sort of stabilizing? (But the front seams are fine?!!) But what do I know?! I hope you figure them out and can share your new found wisdom with us ;) It’s really a cute dress, and the fabric and colors look awesome!!

  7. Love the colour blocking and pockets, no idea whats causing the wrinkles – what a shame!

  8. Ooh, how sad! The dress looks amazing, it’s too bad the seams puckered up like that. You could always say it’s a design detail- a ruched back? Um… maybe not.

    And in the section about taffeta, it does say the seams are prone to puckering, but it doesn’t specifically address what to do about it. It must be a too-tight tension problem though, right? Weird that it’s only in the back though. Are the seam allowances finished open, or together? Maybe that has something to do with it.

    Adorable dress though! Love the color and the shape is great on you. I downloaded that pattern myself a few months ago, but haven’t printed it yet. I’m inspired to do it now though!

    • I’d love to see your version! It’s such a cute pattern, and it looks like a great shape for you!

      The book was waiting for me when I got home from work today! I think I’m going to try to just rip out the serging for now, press it, and see what happens. Blerg!!

  9. mkatiecanavan

    The dress looks lovely! It’s possible that wrinkles may have happened because the needle size was wrong? Sometimes with nicer fabrics, you need tinier needles, since they have more threads and a normal size needle can snag them, causing it to wrinkle? It’s a hard problem to solve via the internet! Either way, I’m glad you didn’t scrap the whole thing!

  10. Oh no, that dress is so adorable from the front, but the wrinkles in the back make me sad. I don’t have much experience, but i’d take some fabric scraps and try reducing the tension or maybe a slightly longer stitch or maybe interline it to make the fabric more stable? starch the heck out of it? he he, ok that might not be the solution. i hope you figure it out, because it’s such a cute dress on you! press on!

  11. Looks great on you! I don’t even mind the bunchy seams at the back. I’m sure you could walk around pretending they’re meant to be there!

  12. Gosh, your fabric choice really has made this the poshest version of Chloe I’ve seen yet! It’s so chic and classy, I love it on you! Such a shame about the back puckers, what on earth went wrong!?! I hope you find out how to fix it soon, because it’s seriously a lovely make!

  13. Okay this is what I would do…not saying that this is what the books would say but I have done this and it’s worked. Cut thin strips of a very lightweight fusible interfacing. (Get the fusible knit interfacing from Farmhouse Fabrics (baby interfacing) or from Pam Ermy) Fuse them to the stitching line on both sides of the fabric. If you use a very ltwt fusible it shouldn’t change the hand of the fabric but it WILL stabilize the seam so that the puckering won’t occur when you sew the seams. Two, change your needle. Three, do a couple of test seams on another piece to insure that your tension is right.

    That’s if you want to tear it apart…or you could say that the puckering is a design detail…;)

  14. dressesandme

    I live this dress! Especially the contrasting bias binding! Great job!

  15. This dress is so cute! Bummer about the back. Wish I held the answer to your problem! I know you’ll get it figured out.

  16. This dress is absolutely lovely on you! A nice nautical colour combination. The hem band is genius. Yours is far better than the one on the pattern picture (jeez it is short isn’t it). So annoying about the back. I remember getting puckering when I zig zagged the seams of the lining on my AK pencil skirt which was a very soft slippery fabric. I had to go very slowly and pull it taught and every now and then it seemed to catch a lengthwise thread which would pucker the entire length which I had to straighten out before carrying on. There’s some good suggestions here – like the smaller needle and stabilising the seam.

  17. What a beautiful dress and I love the contrast! The back is uniformly wrinkled…… almost like it was meant to be.
    I learned in Susan Khalje’s Couture Sewing class that silk organza makes an excellent pressing cloth allowing you to press silk with a higher heat. I’ve tried it with success! Good luck with finding a remedy for the puckering – it’s really lovely :)

  18. Jo

    Thanks for having the courage to show your wrinkly back! I appreciate your honesty. I really feel for you, we all have moments like that. I think there are some good suggestions in the comments :) It’s really lovely though, your hem band is such a great idea!

  19. Such a sweet dress! I’m sorry to hear about your seam drama; I haven’t been brave enough to try many delicate fabrics. Please share whatever ends up working for you!

  20. Love the dress. And silk can be so tricksy sometimes! I’m with mkatiecanavan – I’ve sewn with tightly woven fabric like taffeta before and you absolutely completely and totally need to use a micro needle – ones that are really fine, sharp and pointy. My needle packet says ‘micro’ on it and they all have a cute little purple band on the needle to help differentiate them when they’re out of the packet. If you’re using the wrong needle (ie a ball-tip shaped one, or just as bad – one that’s blunt) then when the needle goes into the fabric, it has to ‘push’ in rather than slice in, which distorts the woven matrix, giving you the puckered look.
    But honestly – it actually looks kinda cool from the back – like it was a design feature. Especially because you’ve got four seams there – so the bunched look is well spaced out.

    • Thanks for the advice! I will definitely use those needles, and I think that serging is probably not the way to finish seams with a fabric of this sort. Thanks, lady!

  21. I <3 the colour combo, looks fantastic, Pity about the bunching… but u know what, non-sewers might think its part of the style!! Don't worry bout it too much. I think it fits great on u :)

    xx

  22. It’s so pretty, I hope you can figure out what’s wrong with the seams!

  23. I want that pattern! Of course it won’t look nearly as good on me as it does on little you! Have you perhaps created the first silk muslin? Aren’t you a fancy girl!

  24. This dress is awesome, but like everyone else, I am stumped as to the cause of the puckering. How frustrating! I hate it when this kind of stuff happens, but I guess it is part of the process.

  25. Microtex needle is the best to use for silks. Also for silks I use Sullivans Spray Fabric Stabilizer (always buy one when I go to the US) when working with “tricky” fabric. Spraying the fabric while it’s still wet “freezes” the fibers and makes your life easier. But the best thing you can do to avoid puckering is to finish all seams by hand. I know, the process is so time consuming, but both your garment and you will look like a million dollar baby ;)
    On a separate note, I agree with the previous comments – the back looks like it was meant to be this way.

    • Thanks for the tips– I’m in the process of removing the serging and I think I’ll end up hand-overcasting. I’ll have to pick up some fabric stabilizer for the next time I use silk!

  26. Well, I’m one more person to agree that the back looks like a design detail and no a mistake. Keep it that way and spare yourself the heart ache of ripping it apart!

    I agree that the needle and thread could be the problem with all the puckering in the back but I also think it could be stitch length. If the stitch length is too short – it can cause puckering. Regardless, the dress is killer!

  27. A silk muslin sounds kind of depressing, but you’d be the most fabulous stitcher on the planet if you could throw around comments like “Oh, this old thing? Yes just a totally fabulous, yet slightly puckered, silk muslin I made. No biggie.”

    No ideas but I agree with everyone else. This dress is amazing. Wear a cape?

  28. Amy

    Hmmm… If the serging is the problem, you could just cut it out with pinking shears, finishing the seams while getting rid of the troublesome bit. Then perhaps an intensive press will get the whole thing back in alignment. Otherwise, I like the advice of redoing the seams with a fine needle and “baby” interfacing. Or, go with it as a design feature, as many have suggested above! If it makes you feel any better, I’m sad about serging the seam allowances of a recently completed garment. I chose to serge the seam allowances instead of finishing them with seam binding since I thought that the serging would be invisible from the outside (the garment is a hip-hugging pencil skirt, invisible seam allowances are a must!). After I was too far along to do anything about it, I realized that the serged seam allowances were definitely visible. I wish I’d pinked or hand overcast the edges, but I didn’t leave myself enough room to redo any of it. Live and learn, right?

    • Oh man, that’s too bad about your pencil skirt. It really is such a learning process! I’m seam-ripping the serging very gently, and I think I will try to redo the seams (I bought some very lightweight tricot interfacing today) and hand-overcast. Blerg!!

  29. Oh, what a beautiful dress! Looks like you snapped it up in some stylish boutique!

    Sucks about the serging and seams issue – did you test the thread tension on your serger beforehand? I only ask because I have the same serger and the tension on mine is never quite right, and changes with every different fibre content it goes through. It makes me want to breathe fire!

  30. Oh such a shame that the back seams aren’t playing ball – it looks lovely though so I hope you manage to sort them out! Wish I could help with a suggestion, but I have no idea why your back seams but not your front seams would react likle that either!

  31. It is so pretty! I love the colour contrast. What a shame about the back – i think it is worth trying to stabilize and re do though. x

  32. That is a stupendous dress. I’m so sorry you’ve had disappointments with the back, but from what other commentators say, you could totally carry this off as a design detail. Yes, maybe an overlocker is too ferocious for precious silk. Is there enough excess ease to allow a re-seam round the back? I’m sorry, I wish I had knowledge to share and I don’t.

  33. wow! that pattern did nothing for me until I saw your version. That’s one seriously sharp dress. I love the colour blocking. and silk… oooh! It’s a real shame about the wrinkling in the back – even though you could definitely get away with claiming it’s a design feature, I guess you’d always know the sad truth. I know from experience how dreary unpicking serger seams can be, but perhaps that’s the best option, and then maybe pink the seam allowances? (Or is there not much seam allowance to play with?). I really hope you can save the dress!

    • Thanks for the well wishes! I’m unpicking the serged edges right now, then I’ll press it and see how it looks. If I have to redo the seams, well, that’s a whole new can of worms, but I really like this style, so I think it’s worth taking the time to fix it!

  34. Gorgeous dress! You’re right, this dress has a mod vibe and I like it a lot. I’m sorry you had problems with the armscyes (I had too), they should write on the instructions that the sleeveless version has very low armscyes!

  35. Carolien

    I love the dress. About the wrinkling in the back, you could try to use Solufleece tape to stabilise the fabric. Solufleece is a a cold water soluble film and I use it a lot for all kinds of materials.

  36. So cute on you and I love the contrasts! I see what you mean about the armscyes. I wonder if the rippling is something to do with tension… Could you stretch it out and press the bejeezus out of it? Or just re-do by hand perhaps? gasp!

  37. Gosh that looks fab! It’s by far the best chloe I’ve seen…in silk no less, that’s special. I’m not sure about the seams…perhaps you could share your wisdom when you suss it out yourself? ( I have every confidence in you)

  38. sunnyb64

    It turned out really cute! And good for you, treating yourself to nice silk fabric for a more everyday dress. I’m not sure about the wrinkling in the back, but it almost looks like a ruched effect. So I’d guess that the serger tension probably has something to do with it. (Hey, if you don’t want to pick it out, you could always embrace the ruching as a “design element!” ;)

  39. oh i love this pattern and that’s a great version! such a shame about the puckering. i was going to suggest the same as amy – do you have enough seam allowance to cut off the serging and pink and then repress to see if it makes a difference? realise that if it doesn’t work, you’ll be short of seam allowance to take apart and resew it tho!

  40. It’s so pretty! I hope you get your wrinkly-seam issue sorted out. I’ll be interested to see how you do it as well. If it were me, I’d probably just let it sit for a year or so!

  41. Zebulon Crawford

    Correct me if I’m wrong but in reference to the back seam puckers… that looks like an issue with the tension on the machine. and you may have used an incorrect thread that retracted once you pressed it. As long as you have the Pattern you can Create it again with another fabric #PracticeMakesPerfect

  42. What a goddam bummer cuz she’s a real beaut from the front. Taffeta! So brave! I gotta consider that fabric in the future. Can you iron your seams on a higher setting using a press cloth? I use an old pillow case on fabrics I’m worried of burning. Haven’t tried this with silk yet but it works well on hard to crease poly blends.

  43. It looks great! Very classic lines.

  44. susie

    Your dress is darling. I’ve had puckering problems also. You may have to use a very tiny needle and change the tension, even along the way. But try it on some scraps first, and gently stretch your fabric a bit as you sew and press, which helps.

  45. You need to use a microtex size 65 needle and fine thread such as Coats & Clark Fine (limited color selection), then test your tension to be sure your machine settings are correct. I would not serge silk taffeta, either pink it because it’s tightly woven or use a very lightweight binding such as Seams Great. I would not recommend hand washing silk taffeta unless you want a very washed, casual feel, silk crepe de chine is fine to hand wash. The key to a smooth press is to iron it just before it is dry. The dry cleaners will also be able to give you a smooth finish. Sewing slippery fabrics would be a whole long blog post, but something worth achieving. It takes practice to cut and sew on grain. Good luck! thetartanarmoire.blogspot.com

  46. You know what? I don’t think the back looks bad. It looks like it’s ruched on purpose or something. The dress is darling and the silk lining sounds amazing! Kudos for successfully sewing with silk – I’m still getting my ass kicked by it. ::sigh::

  47. Oh, it’s darling. Sorry about the wrinkles. I’m sure the photography makes it worse. The only suggestion I have without reading everything through, is that you should sew directionly from the widest to the narrowest. I’ve never seen this in a natural fiber! I think pre treating was totally fine. I don’t personally think that caused the wrinkling.

  48. This is a lovely summer dress, I love the contrast color. Lining is never easy but you did a great job!

  49. Fancy girl! The dress and fabric are lovely, despite your tears :) I agree that the wrinkles could be played up as a design feature, and it probably was the needle. I can.not.stand it when my serger practice runs are perfect, then all hell breaks loose when it comes to the garment.

  50. Emily

    Try French seams. And I would check your needle size. It looks like the needle is pulling the thread tighter because of the wrong size or it is slightly bent.

  51. That’s one of my favorite victory patterns! Your Chloe is super cute – but I’m so sorry about the back! It’s hard to say what happened. Just a tip though – I always press my silk on the highest setting ( I press everything on high) and with steam but always always use a press cloth. I have faith in you though, you’ll figure it out!

  52. I see the back as a cool design element – though it does undercut the dressy factor. In my experience, silk can handle a higher amount of heat and pressing than we think it can (using a pressing cloth on right side). I bet, with some manipulation, and a lot of elbow grease, you could get rid of them somewhat. I’ve had this happen to silk before and I did what everyone’s saying: use a sharp, change the stitch length and press the crap out of it as you go. At least you’ve got a great dress that fits excellently.

  53. Use sharps for silk. Always. And when the fabric starts to pucker (i.e. the first pucker you see) change to a new needle. Also you a size 60 instead of 70 (even in sharps). If the puckering continues use seam tape (fusible, washaway from Clover) to iron the seams together, then sew. The tape stabilizes the fabric and prevents it from pulling downwards into the cogs. Also, adjust upper thread tension. Silks usually prefer 2 or 3 rather than the 4 you’d use for cotton or wool… Hope that helps.

    • Gosh, this is super helpful! Thanks a million! You’re such a pro– you’ve always got really helpful advice! :)

      • No problems. With the dress you have now, you could probably try a slightly hotter iron with a little bit of steam (try it over a test piece on a scrap of the same fabric and use only if your iron doesn’t accidentally spit etc -‘cuz it’s silk) over the seams. Put a press cloth between (a scrap of voile or silk works) the iron and the dress. Reduce the heat over the zipper tape to prevent warping. Best of luck.

  54. oh my god, i’m late to the party but i surely hope someone suggested you call the back a design element and forget about it… because the front? SHE IS ROCKING.

    and did anyone say to sew the seams from skirt bottom to waist (wide to narrow)? it’s counter intuitive but TOTALLY helps bubbling.

  55. megthegrand

    I have never really thought that I needed this pattern until seeing your version. HOLY SMOKES I just love it so much. I love the addition of the bottom band – it works so well and is a fabulous design element. I don’t have much guidance in the way of the back seams, other than to say “don’t give up.” It’s a great dress and can probably be fixed if you decide you can touch it again. Sometimes I avoid projects if I’ve messed up on them – it just kills all motivation to try and fix the issue. Take a break from it and then revisit it – with a glass of wine in hand. It will make you feel better, I think :) Or that might just be me!

  56. Liz

    I second the suggestion to re-do the seams from widest to narrowest. It can make a much more noticeable difference on a tightly woven fabric such as taffeta. Also, why did you serge if the dress is fully lined? I’d leave it off. If you use swing tacks between the fashion fabric and lining, the raw edges won’t get exposed during laundering, so any potential fraying should be minimal at best.

    Liz

    • Thanks for the suggestions! I shouldn’t have serged at all, but I was worried about the long-term durability of the dress. I’ll redo the seams bottom to top and see what happens!

  57. I am having a really hard time deciding, but I think that the Hazel dress would be awesome to make.

  58. Catching up on my blogs and spotted this beauty – love it! Did you find out what happened to make the back wrinkly in the end?

  59. It almost looks ruched in back—kinda pretty actually….though I know it must have given you major heartache. When you find out what happened, I’d love to know, since I’m pretty new at clothes sewing. Chin up friend :)
    Looks amazing in front. ♥

  60. Hi Ginger, the dress looks so good on you. That’s some crazy puckering going on there. I’d like to see if I can help you to save it. You say that the puckering occurred after the serging, but it looks like it’s taking place due to stitch tension of the main seam. I could be wrong, but here’s a few things you can try… stitch rip the main seam, leaving the serge stitch in place. Iron out the fabric edges and see if the serge is causing it to pucker. If it lays flat, then the serge tension is fine. If it still puckers, then you’ll have to rip out the serging, adjust the tension and re-serge. Oooor, you can clip the serge stitch to release the puckering, but you’d have to use fray check at each clip. This is the lazy solution, as ripping out serging is about as fun as waiting for a kettle to boil. If you find that the problem is not with the serge stitch, then it’s occurring due to the regular stitch tension. In this case, sew the pieces together again, but give a little tug to the fabric as you sew, all while making sure it’s feeding into the machine at a regular speed. It will give a little bounce and resilience to the stitch. I sincerely hope that helps! You’ve done a nice job, and I love the colour blocking. Oh, and as for the armscyes, I realize it’s a bit low. It’s due to the fact that when the sleeve from the other version is sewn in, it raises to a regular height. When I drafted it I didn’t find it to be an issue, as I like low armscyes. But I’ll look into making adjustments. Good luck!!

    • Thank you so much for all the suggestions! I really appreciate it! As soon as I get a little free time, I’m anxious to sort out my issues because I can’t wait to wear this dress!!

  61. Zoe

    Oh that’s so lovely! LOVE the colour combo you’ve chosen xx

  62. Just now catching up on your posts. This is darling!

  63. Oooh I love this, so sleek and I love the colour choice. My guess is needle size on the back, but I think you can pull it off as is!

  64. I won this pattern in a giveaway some time ago, but when I printed it out, the parts looked very baggy, so I went online to see the finished versions, but couldn’t see a single one on a slim girl, so I chucked it out, but now I am thinking of actually trying it as your version looks fab. Sorry about the seams nightmare- did you ever get to change it? if not- I’d just keep it as if it is meant to be. I just saw a dress in a boutique all pluckered like that and it was meant to be a fashion statement ))) well we know what it is called (bad needle) , but the rest of the world doesn’t!

  65. I like your version of this dress! I’ve had my eyes on the Chloe pattern for a while now, but have not bought it yet as I wasn’t sure about its sizing. But I think you’ve sold this to me! P.S. I can sympathise with you re sewing with silk – the result is always lovely but oh it just makes life so much more complicated, doesn’t it?!

  66. Amazing, I LOVE this dress. (No wonder there are over on hundred comments!)

    So glad I met you in person on Saturday!

  67. Pingback: Top 5 of 2012: Misses! | Ginger Makes…

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