This dress is made from a silk crepe, from NY Fashion Fabrics, in Crimson red. Silk crepe fabric is thinner, smoother, and lighter in weight compared to the 4-ply silk crepe I used for the Madame Gres dress. This draped dress is built upon a corselette and an organza bodice lining.
This steel-boned corselette is made from a double layer of cotton-net. Cotton net can be surprisingly difficult to work with, because, after it shrinks, the net stretches on the cross-grain, making the foundation garment not as snug as originally intended. I haven’t fully figured out how to prevent pre-shrunk cotton-net from “bagging” out. Here is the corselette inside the dress:
The pattern called for silk mouseline underlining. Sourcing silk mouseline fabric for the underlining was an incredible challenge. Some vintage fabrics have become uncommon in today’s marketplace. I searched for months, but came up empty-handed. After seeing a video featured on the LVMH deadstock’s website, I was able to study its movement, and, surprisingly, silk mouseline behaved differently to crisp silk organza. Its fluid movement behaves more like a thick chiffon or crepe. I searched, and swatched, and finally ordered white Royal Nikrooz Chiffon from Zelouf Fabrics to replace the mouseline and serve as the lining fabric. Below, you can see the white chiffon underlining red crepe fabric.
I was caught by surprise with how much hand-stitching this dress required. All of the draping in the front had to be turned under and herringboned into place:
The white chiffon underlining secures all the hand stitches, making this incredible amount of hand-stiching, absolutely invisible from the outside.
It may seem surprising that almost the entire dress was assembled by hand. Except for the major seems on the dress and on parts of the corselette, the rest of the dress was almost entirely assembled and finished by hand, including all the draping and assembling of the ties. Below, is an image of what lays under the bodice draping:
Here is another image to show how the bodice overlay is attached to the organza underlining:
Fath intended the bow-ties to be “petals,” instead of bows. Between the fashion fabric and underlining, sixteen petal pieces were traced and cut, handpleated, and handsewn together.
Then they were positioned and hand-sewn onto the shoulders. Underlining the petals made them gravity-defying and lovely.
Overall, this dress was a challenge, mostly because of the material I chose to use. Here's the finished dress!
Here is the dress, turned inside out:
Below, is more detail of the corselette, waist-stay, prick-stitched zip, and hand-overcast seams. The fabric frays a bit, but I find it somewhat charming to see fraying around the hand-overcast stitches.
I hope you enjoyed viewing the construction details of this 1954 corset-waisted dress by Jacques Fath. I can’t wait to wear it for date night!