A Silk Dress for Peter’s Cousin Cathy

printed silk charmeuse dress

For my second post this month I decided to make something completely different: a Forties day dress for my “identical cousin” Cathy Lane.  (I’ll finish my gray suit next month — promise.)

At Mood I found the most gorgeous silk charmeuse with what look like parrot tulips in orange tones set against a background of deep purplish-blue — a very Forties-style print and palette. Editor’s note: We have loads of floral silk charmeuses online and in our two stores. Here’s a pretty blue-and-green stretch silk charmeuse.

printed silk charmeuse dress

I chose this wonderful WWII-era Simplicity pattern from my pattern stash: a simple day dress with a draped surplice bodice attached to a four-piece skirt that’s gathered in front.  I decided to make the version on the right with the short tulip sleeves:

printed silk charmeuse dress

Silk charmeuse can be challenging to work with and I ended up using a yard of silk organza to underline the sleeves, to interface the bodice facings, and to stay the back (see pic below).   I learned a lot working on this project: in particular, to cut charmeuse on tissue paper to prevent it from shifting.   And silk pins, lots of silk pins!  Editor’s note: Placing an old bed sheet or large piece of fabric on your cutting table, then laying your slippery fabrics atop it, also gives you better control when cutting out wiggly fabrics.

printed silk charmeuse dress

Also at Mood, I bought a yard of classic black Russian veiling to adorn Cathy’s vintage hat.  Veiling is romantic and softens one’s features a bit.

printed silk charmeuse dress

A few more pics of the dress (Cathy had just been hat shopping, as you can see):

printed silk charmeuse dress

printed silk charmeuse dress

printed silk charmeuse dress

My cousin received so many compliments on our photo shoot and even — no joke — one business card.  Then again, she is a professional model.

Thanks for reading!

printed silk charmeuse dress

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Comments


  • Clio
    May 23, 2013

    Beautiful, Peter! Cathy looks divine and the hat makes the look!

  • Elizabeth
    May 23, 2013

    Looks amazing! Great work.

  • Genny
    May 23, 2013

    Beautiful Work! Beautiful Design!

  • Suzanne
    May 23, 2013

    Cathy looks like a star in her new dress! Love it.

  • Mainelydad
    May 23, 2013

    I’ll probably never sew with silk, but I’ve totally enjoyed watching this creation come to life. Of course having Cathy Lane model it takes it to a whole other level of fabulousness.

  • Diana
    May 23, 2013

    Just gorgeous, I would love to make you a pair of gloves for Cathy.

  • nayla
    May 23, 2013

    Oohh la la! Cathy looks gorgeous in that beautiful silk dress! I love it!

  • Claire (aka Seemane)
    May 23, 2013

    Peter, the elegance with which your cousin Cathy carries off your fabulous sewn creations never fails to delight and amaze me. Another wonderful dress (and modele too) :)

  • Erica B.
    May 23, 2013

    That fabric is divine!

  • Ginger
    May 23, 2013

    Love this dress! What a killer print, and it’s perfectly matched with the pattern! Great job!

  • Sarah Gunn
    May 23, 2013

    How nice of you to make Cathy such a beautiful silk dress! She certainly got her figure back quickly after the baby!

  • TinaLou
    May 23, 2013

    Fabulosity!!! Cathy looks divine and that fabric is To Die For!! Beautifully done, Peter.

  • KristiEllKay
    May 23, 2013

    Oh, you’re so right: veiling really is romantic and beautiful! Maybe that’s just the fabulous model…

    How do the tulip sleeves feel in a drapey fabric? They look wonderful!

  • Gabrielle Chilton
    May 23, 2013

    Peter, It turned out wonderfully. Cathy looks awesome.

    Peter, I love your Blog…..Keep writing. I look forward to reading it each day, wondering….what is he up to now.

    Sincrely,
    Gabrielle out in California

  • Deby at So Sew Easy
    May 23, 2013

    I’ve really enjoyed following along as you’ve made this dress. That fabric is not something I’d want to tackle for several years yet – you really are very accomplished and do some fabulous work. Love the dress.

  • Gail Davison
    May 23, 2013

    Wow, wow, wow – it’s stunning. Of couse Cathy always looks stunning in your creations.

  • Lori
    May 23, 2013

    Peter, the dress is stunning and fits Cathy perfectly.

  • Paula DeGrand
    May 23, 2013

    Peter, I so admire your skill and tenacity. When I saw the pattern and fabric you chose, I thought you truly have a talent for pulling together a look. (I also thought “I want to make that dress for myself!” )

  • Marjorie
    May 23, 2013

    Just wondering if Cathy is the kind of girl to share her wardrobe. I absolutely LOVE a great 40′s dress. And silk. OH MY. I have a 40′s mink coat and some mid 40′s snake pumps that might rock the dress. Let me know if you’d like to send the dress West for a photo shoot.

  • Theresa
    May 23, 2013

    Even in the photos, you can tell how well-made Cathy’s silk dress is– it drapes beautifully, and the seams are perfect. The dress fits her to a “t.” She’s never looked lovelier!

  • june Lovell
    May 24, 2013

    your silk project inspired me to start one of my own, not near as ambitious nor as glam as yours, but all of your hints on construction have helped me tremendously. if i could only look as good in my creation as Cathy looks in yours…the hat, shoes and mink scarf…chic, chic, chic (that’s tres chic en espanol et francais)…

  • Debi
    May 24, 2013

    I love it when Cathy delves into the 40s! And this may be my favourite outfit you’ve sewn for Cathy! It just perfect!!

    • Peter
      May 24, 2013

      Thank YOU for the pattern, Debi!

  • oonaballoona
    May 26, 2013

    you are so selfless, to take a break from your suit to sew for cathy. she looks stunning!

  • Lauren
    May 31, 2013

    This might be my favorite Cathy ensemble yet! I never would have given that fabric a second glance in the store (or online), but seeing it made up in that dresses… now I want I want I want.

  • Cassie
    June 1, 2013

    Are you trying to tell us something?

  • Amy
    June 3, 2013

    What a perfect dress for Cathy! The pattern, the fabric, the accessories – just perfect!