Italian Riviera Peplum
Whew! You have no idea how excited I am to finally have this peplum “dress” completed. It’s taken me over a month from cutting the fabric, to prepping the fabric, to putting in the last hand stitches. Since the peplum and skirt are actually two separate pieces, construction took twice as long as I expected. But, I did my best to not skimp on any of the steps – except maybe that last press to get the garment into ideal photo shape. Why not cut a corner here or there? Because this garment is actually destined to end up in the hands of my good friend J (who just ran a 2:50 marathon – go J!).
This is my first peplum, and I have to say I’m quite taken with it. The pattern is BurdaStyle Peplum Top 08/2012 #113 with long sleeves and the coordinating pencil skirt #111, both of which I received from BurdaStyle. I have nothing but praise for both patterns. Not only do both fit and flatter, but both also come with multiple different variations. I can’t wait to make a cute short-sleeve peplum top, a fancy collared peplum top, a casual A-line dress, and a godet pencil skirt like Marina’s.
But, what’s a pattern without great fabric? For the exterior I chose an Italian Carolina Herrera turquoise silk and wool blend covered in the most delightful puckers from Mood, which I bought with my Mood Sewing Network allowance. I pretreated the fabric by sticking it in the dryer with a damp towel and then giving it a good press to even out all of the puckers. It proved to be a tricky one to press during sewing, but turning up the heat on the iron seemed to do the trick.
For the lining I used a beautiful silk crepe de chine print also from Mood featuring a bathing beauty on the Riviera Italia. It was pretreated by hand washing with gentle shampoo and then line drying. I misjudged the panel repeat, so I was only able to use the print for the lining on the front pieces of the top and skirt. For the rest I used some ivory silk crepe de chine (no longer online, but similar fabrics can be found here) from Mood that I had left over from a previous project. Though I would have liked to have had a bit of the print on the back, I was very happy that the ivory base of the two lining fabrics matched perfectly. Again, I used my MSN allowance toward the purchase of these fabrics.
The most difficult part of the top turned out to be the last step: the peplum hem. I wanted to line the peplum with self fabric since its high-low hemline meant the lining peeked out quite a bit on the sides. I tried machine stitching the lining and exterior together, sort of like I was stitching a facing on to the hem, but it bubbled quite a bit. I then added lace hem tape and stitched the hem with running stitches all the way through the lining, grabbing just a thread or two from the exterior fabric. I thought these stitches were invisible because of the puckers, but when I took photos (one is above on the top right, another is two above on the top left), I noticed just how much the fabric again pulled and puckered. As always seems to be the case, the third try was the charm. This time I used a catch stitch, again going all the way through the lining and grabbing a thread or two from the exterior fabric. Though the hem lace now doesn’t sit flush against the underside of the peplum, the hem is nearly invisible where it counts – the outside of the peplum.
In an attempt to try out a new technique, I also decided to add sleeve heads following instructions from Claire Schaeffer’s Couture Sewing Techniques book. These should hopefully help the sleeves keep their shape for many years to come. Following instructions on page 156-157, I cut two strips of silk organza roughly 8.5″ by 1.5″ (top left above). Then, I folded the two strips in half lengthwise, making sure one edge was 1/8″ wider than the other. After hand stitching them together, I rounded the free corners (top right above). I then made a mark along the fold 5″ from the end. Both were stitched into the armscye seamline, again by hand. I was careful to place the wider of the two sides against the fabric, and the mark at the shoulder seam with the longer section extending into the back of the sleeve (bottom left above). A good press later, and the shoulder looked just like a shoulder should (bottom right above).
The skirt was really straight-forward. I practiced pressing nice darts and got to line my first kick pleat. My favorite part of the skirt has to be the lady in her red swimming cap on the lining. It’s fun to know such a proper skirt has a secret playful side to it.
I hope J enjoys wearing this garment just as much as I enjoyed sewing it. I’m already on to my next project, so stay tuned!