When Feathers and Silk Call Your Name

roberto cavalli silk print dress

This was supposed to be a post about a large scale print wrap-skirt.

I walked into the Mood Fabrics LA store with a vintage, peacock-printed, maxi-wrap skirt in hand. I was intent on finding a large scale print to make myself a new wrap skirt and I needed the vintage one to estimate the yardage needed—depending on the width, it was looking like 5-6 yards.  Nian (like Diane with an “N”) offered to help me find what I was looking for. On our way to the printed fabrics that can stand the wear and tear of a summer with four kids at home, she offered to show me some designer, large scale silk prints.  Being the non-biased fabric lover that I am, I was happy to do a little window shopping in the “completely impractical for a mom like me” silk aisle. That’s when I saw it. This Roberto Cavalli-silk-feather-border-print.  I immediately fell in love. Then I saw the price: $75 a yard.  Even with a Mood Sewing Network fabric allowance, this fabric was way out of my price range, especially for a 6 yard project. I had to move on.

roberto cavalli silk print dress

For the next hour, I browsed and browsed, trying to find the perfect print to make my new wrap skirt, but no fabric seemed nearly as fabulous as that Roberto Cavalli-silk-feather-border-print.  I walked back to it. I swear I could hear it calling my name. It was soft and cool to the touch and felt like liquid pouring over my skin. I had to figure out a way to make this fabric mine. I had to change my plans. My new plan needed to use less than a yard of fabric. A shirt would hardly do the print justice. A dress. Yes, a dress.
Roberto Cavalli Feather Fabric

I left Mood that day with 5/8 of a yard of the Roberto Cavalli-silk-feather-border-print for a dress front and 1 yard of a rayon blend jersey for a dress back, hoping and praying that I could make it work (and yes, I said it to myself in the voice of Tim Gunn). If you can’t make it into Mood Designer Fabrics store in LA or NYC, you can find a beautiful selection of designer silk prints and rayon jersey in every color of the rainbow at Mood Designer Fabrics online.

photo pattern

Starting out with a thrifted Simplicity pattern from 1978, I folded, tucked and taped until I came up with a piece that would fit on the piece of fabric I brought home. For the first time in my life, I actually made a sample out of cheap fabric from the stash to make sure I had the pattern just right before I cut into that Roberto Cavalli-silk-feather-border-print.  I changed the needle on my sewing machine and got out a brand new package of extra fine pins I bought just for the occasion. I was pretty sure I would ruin the whole project at some point, but it wasn’t going to be at the hand of a dull pin or needle.

Roberto Cavalli Feather Fabric

There were so many variables that could have made the project go awry–the slipperiness of the silk, the pairing of silk with jersey, the gathered shoulders, the tiny hems, the elastic waist that everyone seems to hate (just joking), or the drape of crossgrain cut pieces, but i took a deep breath, cut with care, pinned often, pressed with patience and it all went smoothly (except for that pesky jersey hem hanging lower in the back…I mean don’t you just love the subtle and totally planned “high-low” hem?).

roberto cavalli silk print dress

I now have a beautiful (and totally impractical for my mom life) Roberto Cavalli-silk-feather-border-print dress. And I love it.

roberto cavalli silk print dress

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Comments


  • BeaJay
    June 29, 2013

    That is one stunning dress. You have done a fabulous job. Looks great on you.

    • Mood Sewing Network
      June 30, 2013

      Thank you! It’s been a while since I made something for myself (at least from scratch), so I was really nervous.

  • Rachel In Red
    June 30, 2013

    So clever to use this fabric just for the front of the dress. And it turned out totally gorgeous! I love it!

    • Mood Sewing Network
      June 30, 2013

      Thanks Rachel! I love how design and problem solving can be so intertwined.

  • Amanda S.
    June 30, 2013

    Very pretty and very special. I have a soft spot in my heart for feathers – I would totally have had to buy it too. Great job “making it work” and using the solid color back, which is totally on trend BTW.

    • Mood Sewing Network
      June 30, 2013

      Thanks Amanda! The feathers got me good. Every other floral, geometric, and abstract print just didn’t do it for me once I saw the ombre feathers. And I am most people will think the solid back was a stylish design choice instead of a design detail born out of necessity.

  • Wendy
    July 1, 2013

    It looks stunning! That print is absolutely gorgeous! And the dress looks wonderful!

  • Carolyn
    July 1, 2013

    Wow, now that’s using a piece of fabric to its best advantage. I was on pins and needles when you said that you bought 5/8ths of a yard! This turned out beautifully and you did a fabulous job with it.

    • ThisisCarrie
      July 2, 2013

      I was on pins and needles when I bought 5/8 of a yard too! I am notorious for not buying enough fabric. But it worked out.

  • michele lasker
    July 1, 2013

    Is the fabric shown in the Feathers and Silk photo still available?

    • ThisisCarrie
      July 2, 2013

      Michelle, I’m not sure if it’s still available. Your best bet would be to call the Mood Fabric store in LA and ask! If you ask for Nian, she should know what you’re talking about.

  • Ginger
    July 1, 2013

    Gorgeous! This looks so trendy and cute– great job! I should’ve used a narrow elastic like you did. It totally gives you a nice waist here, but it’s not too chunky. :D

    • ThisisCarrie
      July 2, 2013

      Thanks Ginger! And thanks for making me feel good about my e-waist!

  • carolyn roemer
    July 1, 2013

    Huge success. The silk is lovely and the combo look great. And with so little fabric it’s amazing.

    • ThisisCarrie
      July 2, 2013

      Thanks Carolyn, it’s been so long since I’ve made something from scratch for myself, I really needed a success to boost my confidence.

  • ohjennymae
    July 1, 2013

    yay!! I love it! and what a fantastic idea to use it on the front and solid on the back.

  • Lauren
    July 1, 2013

    I can’t believe you were able to squish that dress out of such a tiny yardage – but yeah, you TOTALLY made it work (and then some!). It looks amazing and I’m glad you were able to get some dream fabric for a totally impractical dress. I mean, what’s the point of sewing if you can’t bust out some impractical dresses, amirite? :D

    • ThisisCarrie
      July 2, 2013

      “I mean, what’s the point of sewing if you can’t bust out some impractical dresses, amirite? ” – This is now my favorite sewing quote!

  • Sarah Gunn
    July 1, 2013

    I gave up being practical years ago and am so glad you bought the fabric you really wanted. The dress is totally cool with your clever fabric placement and mix of fabrics! Good job!

    • ThisisCarrie
      July 2, 2013

      Sarah- I go through waves of practical and impractical. I am definitely in more of a practical clothing stage of life with a gooey two year old running around.

  • oonaballoona
    July 1, 2013

    this is amaaaaaaazing. does the designer silk make your kids act more classy?

    • ThisisCarrie
      July 2, 2013

      Ha! I wish. See the crazy face of that Star Wars shirt wearing kid in the last photo! I think they could sense the fanciness so they decided to get as dirty as they could before wanting to crawl all over me.

  • Diana
    July 1, 2013

    A wonderful solution to an expensive problem! Your dress is truly special and looks wonderful on you. Come on! A mom of four? Really?

    • ThisisCarrie
      July 2, 2013

      Your comment made my day Diana! Thanks!

  • Lori
    July 2, 2013

    This is amazing, Carrie. You showed the possibility of the fabric and making it work for you and your budget. Great first project.

  • ReRe
    July 3, 2013

    Stunning dress. The scenic background makes the dress pop even more. Great job on finding a way to buy that fabric and make a dress.

    • Mood Sewing Network
      July 28, 2013

      I got quite the looks hiking to our little photo shoot area. I wasn’t exactly dressed for the occasion then I had my four little duckling trailing behind me.

  • Kay
    July 6, 2013

    What a beautiful dress. Sometimes it is nice having something impractical to wear :)

    • Mood Sewing Network
      July 28, 2013

      I agree completely. My mother taught me to be very practical, but there is something very freeing about the impractical.

  • Alison
    July 8, 2013

    Amazing! Now I’m totally inspired to cut into the liberty piece I splurged on -just for me-

    As for the practice dress…..that is real commitment, a far cry from the junk sewing that I’ve slipped into.

    Looks great – thanks for sharing the details!

    • Mood Sewing Network
      July 28, 2013

      I definitely slipped into junk sewing too–but at least I had the presence of mind to not waste any nice fabric on it. But because of it, I have stacks of nice fabric I’ve been afraid to cut into. Practice garments all the way!

  • DARLENE SUNAHARA
    July 20, 2013

    is this fabric still available

    • Mood Sewing Network
      July 28, 2013

      You will have to call Mood fabrics in Los Angeles to find out. Sorry I can’t be more help!