Velva what?

Velva board, a more modern version of the wire board used to press velvet. It seems there is always an endless list of tools and equipment I need to get my hands on. And this just happens to be one of those impossible to find or expensive items…. Has anyone tried steaming velvet with self fabric or a fluffy towel?


I found these “alternative” instructions in the  Vogue Dressmaking Book (1949). But the board sounds so much easier…!

Honestly, with record breaking heat here in Aus, its hard to think about sewing a velvet dress… but Valentines day is not far. I have also been thinking about redesigning the Trigere dress I am working on to include a godet in the skirt… possibly of red satin that one can catch glimpses of, though still not sure if this might be a bit risky given my limited experience working with these fabrics.

Velvet tips anyone?

Red velvet Trigere and Ms Pepin’s Modern Pattern Design

Red velvet... delectable.

Red velvet… delectable.

As per usual I am working on several projects at once. I am most excited about working on a McCalls Trigere pattern… a wiggle dress that I am attempting to make in red velvet. (The store ran out of black during a fabric sale but the remaining three metres of red spoke to me…). Velvet you say? Thats right, folks, I am crazy! Seriously, I thought I did some decent preparation… I read Kathryn Brenne’s Vogue Patterns magazine article (March 07) about working with velvet, various internet resources and referred to a ton of vintage sewing books… I was also utilising the knowledge I gained from Susan Khalje’s Couture Dress course on Craftsy… What did I do?

  • The dress is being underlined with pure silk organza for a little body;
  • I pinned throughout the seam allowances
  • I used serrated edge Gingher scissors
  • i did a bust alteration, moving the apex points slightly

The last dot point brings me to what I didn’t do… I didn’t bother with a muslin (naughty, naughty). Well, honestly I think I was getting a little over confident, I have done the same alteration on different bodices now, so did everything… but forgot to lower the armscye (spelling??) on the bodice back so that it was about an inch higher… and then I incorrectly lined them up and… yep… I machine stitched (ouch, ouch, ouch). So much for my new year retrospective of pointers! LOL. (muslin muslin muslin… I need to make it a mantra).

Fortunately, I quickly figured out what I had done wrong, tried seam ripping first on a scrap (you really don’t want to seam rip velvet, that is what I quickly deduced) and managed to realign so that any “wear” (aka minor damage) to the fabric will be in the new seam allowances.

I am finding velvet a little tricky to work with, though the silk organza underlining is definitely helping, particularly when I feed the pieces as “units” through the machine. I won’t approach velvet so casually next time however… its reputation for being notoriously difficult to manage is well earned. Still, won’t it be great to wear on a Valentines day date with hubby?

Pepin book cover

On another note, I managed to pick up a copy of Harriet Pepin’s Modern Pattern Design… there are free pdf copies around on the net now that it is in the public domain, but I love holding a proper book in my hands, the knowledge that dressmakers before me consulted it, the quality of the images… its just so inspiring to have the real deal sometimes.

I will write up some notes when I am done reviewing (with a one year old this may take a while)… but its already so delish to look at!

Tonight when the household its once more sleeping, only a little dressmaker will stir, ready to once again do battle with the red velvet… wish me luck!

pepin image