The last time I wore velvet was my Grade 12 Grad (that’s Canadian for “Senior Prom”). It was the 90's. Picture a fitted black velvet bodice, with a voluminous taffeta skirt in dark purple. A big purple taffeta bow on the back and taffeta shoulder straps.
I haven’t been very interested in velvet since then, especially the un-breathable polyester velvet that is so often used for girls’ fancy dresses. But then last spring I was watching Season 3 of Downton Abbey, which is set in the 1920's. And the characters were wearing these really gorgeous velvet dresses. Around the same time, I came across this pattern on the BurdaStyle website, and loved the rich look of the velvet.
I ordered myself some real silk velvet and silk chiffon from the Etsy store Silk Fabric. It is really lovely fabric – the velvet is silky, soft, rich coloured and lightweight – and the silk chiffon really is iridescent.
But I was too scared to make the dress! Then I saw that one of the themes for ProjectSewn this fall is “Fashion Eras”, and I decided to use it as motivation to sew it up as my ‘20s era fashion. Besides the fact that I sewed the zipper on wrong three times and had to unpick the shoulder straps more than once, it wasn’t actually that bad to sew the velvet. I used my new walking foot, and boy was that a worthwhile $40 purchase.
I have to say, though, HOW BAD this pattern was when I originally downloaded it. The formatting was crazy, and, for example, it didn’t even indicate that a zipper was needed or how long, but in the last step made reference to sewing one in. I was so frustrated I emailed Burda with a million questions.
They do have good customer service, because in about a week they emailed me back. They apologized and said that their older patterns are not formatted properly on the website, so they sent me the pattern formatted nicely and legibly. Although this was WAY better, it was still frustrating because the only picture on the pattern was the cutting layout, which I don’t normally use anyway, and so there was a fair bit of guesswork as to how the pieces were supposed to fit together. Also there are no seam allowances. (Seriously, why????? There is this thing called computers which I’m sure could easily add them for the Burda pattern designers.)