This past March, I traveled to Baltimore to take Susan Kahlje's Couture class on her home turf. I had decided on making a strapless dress in order to learn the techniques for creating an inner corselette to hold the whole dress up.
The pattern I chose was from Grainline Studios. I had searched and searched for a strapless dress pattern that had a little something special and felt cute and fresh. This one fit the bill perfectly. I have made several of her patterns up and they are all terrific.
The next big search was the fabric! I took a look at the fabric color options Roz had for her silks and decided I wanted to go with shades of blue. There were three shades that were vibrant and saturated and really caught my eye. Roz ordered the larger swatches of those three and a fourth that was in the running so I could play around with the placement of them in the color blocking. There were several emails back and forth with some of the Sewing Fashionistas to get some opinions.
It took some time to settle on the type of silk to order. Susan had suggested a 3-ply crepe to make sure that the weight of the fabric was substantial but not too heavy so as to weigh down the skirt. the problem was that not a lot of colors are available in 3-ply and I had fallen in love with my blues. After looking at all available options we settled on the 4-ply silk crepe from smfabric.com. It was a great call. working with the 4-ply was wonderful!
All the color blocking and seams on the dress meant that I had what felt like a million match points to contend with. There was a lot of careful measuring. A lot of pinning. A lot of basting. And a lot of ripping out. But in the end, they all matched up.
The dress is underlined mostly with silk habotai and some silk organza on the bottom band of the dress to give it some structure. It is lined with matching blue silk crepe de chine.
The corselette is constructed in Susan's method. It has spiral steel boning and is anchored at my waist with the grosgrain ribbon. It closes separately form the dress with hook and eye tape.
I must say that I had always considered strapless dresses off limits for me due to a fuller bust. But this dress was amazingly comfortable to wear and the corselette made sure that nothing moved or felt like it was falling. I wore the dress to a friend's wedding and didn't have to tug on it or adjust it a single time. Success!!