Circling back to my Circle Skirt Dress

After much procrastination I’m happy to report I finally made my first post-muslin version of the Susan Khalje Couture Circle Skirt Dress pattern I started late last Summer.

After pre-washing and ironing the rayon viscose fashion fabric, rayon lining and cotton voile for the bodice underlining, I decided to cut out the front and back skirt pieces first. The pieces were so large that I had to spread everything out on the floor. When it came to cutting out the bodice pieces on my cutting table, I found the rayon fashion fabric to be so wiggly and unpredictable that I finally discovered basting the cotton voile underlining pieces directly onto the reverse side of the rayon first yielded a much more accurate result.

Center front pieces cut out separately then basting.
Basting two layers together first then cutting proved a more accurate method.
Sewing bodice pieces together, a slow-going labor of love.

Since I’d already fine-tuned the fitting of the dress bodice during the muslin fitting stage, sewing all the pieces together went very quickly. I then cut out and sewed the bodice lining pieces together and attached per the pattern instructions. My one obvious diversion from pure couture methods came with my decision to use an invisible zipper rather that the hand-sewn zipper application Susan K. recommends.

Now I was ready to put my dress on my dress form and let it hang out for a few days. It’s a good thing I did too because the stretchy nature of rayon viscose fabric combined with much of the skirt being on the bias yielded an extreme serpentine effect:

Dress during the hangout phase.

As mentioned in a previous post, I spent a good deal of time padding out my dress form to more accurately reflect my true proportions. With that step, I was confident that the hemming process would go smoothly and facilitate my ability to mark the hem while the dress was on the mannequin.

I really wanted to employ the machine- sewn narrow hem Susan Khalje recommended for this dress, but found that sewing a straight stitch on the skirt hem yielded yet another serpentine effect. Marking a chalk line, pinning, hand-basting, then ultimately hand-sewing the hem (all five plus yards of it) ended up being the best solution. Thank goodness for podcasts and audio books during this labor of love step.

A true labor of love, the hand-sewn hem.

Making the belt was fairly straightforward but my efforts at making a fabric covered buckle proved laughably unsuccessful. Thankfully I was able to source a beautiful leather-covered coordinating buckle on Etsy.

The first time I wore my wonderfully comfortable new Circle Skirt dress was at Valparaiso University in Indiana where I was teaching and performing with the Lutheran Summer Music Academy and Festival last month. I felt so elegant wearing it and it was fun to walk in too. I look forward to making another one of these soon.

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