Wool Crepe and Silk Chiffon Occasion Dress

Hello Mood Sewing Network! I’m so excited to be joining the MSN as an international guest blogger all the way from London in the UK and can’t thank the team at Mood Fabrics enough for having me.

I wanted to challenge myself a little for my first Mood Sewing Network make and I’ve recently been drawn to garments with sheer inserts and panels that are so popular at the moment. So with all these beautiful new fabrics now on offer to me I decided to expand my repertoire and dip my toe into sewing with chiffon. When I say ‘dip my toe’ I mean that fairly literally as I only opted to use it for a wide band around the hem of this dress, but it was the perfect amount for a first go and I have conquered any fear I had of working with it!

I spent a fair bit of time looking up tips for working with chiffon and ended up more worried about it than I probably was to start with. However this silk chiffon is surprisingly easy to work with, it presses beautifully, holds the kick pleat at the centre back well and my machine didn’t try to eat it even once! I opted to use the rolled hem foot on my machine, as this widely seemed to be the recommend hemming technique for chiffon, and even this decided to play nicely for once: it might be the best rolled hem I’ve managed yet.

To create the chiffon hem I marked the depth I wanted on my skirt pattern piece rather than just cutting a strip, as I wanted to continue the pegged shape of the pencil skirt. I added enough width at the centre back seam to create the box pleat then cut this piece on the fold to avoid extra seams in the chiffon. I then assembled the chiffon panel entirely separately to the skirt (including basting the pleat in place, french seaming the side seams and hemming) and attached it in one to the hem of the skirt. I bound the edge of this seam, pressed it up towards the skirt and slipstitched it down as you would with a normal hem.

The main body of the dress is wool crepe which is one of my all time favourite fabrics; it looks lovely, wears beautifully and is just scrummy to work with. I saw this powder blue wool crepe on the Mood Fabrics website and was sold. Who can resist wool crepe in such a delicious colour?! Apparently not many people as it’s now sold out (!) but this ivory Italian crepe is very similar.

There’s quite a lot of discussion on the internet about how to pretreat wool crepe. The most preferred method involves chucking it in the dryer with wet towels and while the speed and ease of this really appeals I don’t have a dryer so instead I steamed it like crazy with my iron. I’m not too worried about further shrinkage as it’s a special dress and with that silk chiffon hem it’ll be going to the dry cleaners anyway.

The crepe was perfect for this style of dress; nice and soft to suit those lovely bust pleats but with a good amount of body for the shape of the skirt. I love how my hand stitches sank pretty much invisibly into this stuff too. This particular crepe does need lining as it’s fairly lightweight. I went all out and used this china silk for the lining which feels so great, I’ll be using it in every special dress I make from now on.

I drafted a full lining in a style which has intrigued me for a while, using all-in-one facings of the wool crepe and the china silk beneath that. It’s a bit of extra work but I am absolutely in love with the look of this inside and also how it eliminates the risk of lining peeking out of the neckline or sleeves. I carefully clipped and under-stitched the neckline to prevent the facings from rolling out and am really pleased with the nice clean finish.

I used the bodice of By Hand London’s Anna Dress combined with their Charlotte skirt and (unsurprisingly as my love for both patterns is hardly hidden!) I totally recommend that little mash up! I made a fair few modifications to get the look that I wanted, including moving the skirt darts to match up with the darts and pleats of the bodice, taking some width out of the neckline and decreasing the length of the shoulder seams (in a fabric with this much body those kimono sleeves were making me look a little like an extra from Star Trek!) I’ll go into more details about these adjustments over on my blog tomorrow to save this from turning into the longest MSN post of all time but I’ll be back here in two months with my next project!

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Comments


  • Annette
    March 3, 2014

    This is a beautiful dress! The way that you lined it makes it as beautiful inside and out. I love lining with China silk. It feels so luxurious.

    • Fiona
      March 3, 2014

      Thank you Annette! I love making the insides beautiful, although this is the first time I’ve used China silk. I totally agree with you, it’s just dreamy to wear!

  • Mary Danielson
    March 3, 2014

    What a lovely dress, Fiona! I adore how you incorporated the chiffon – that panel really makes this piece special – and the color of this wool crepe looks amazing on you. So, so beautiful all around!

    • Fiona
      March 3, 2014

      Thank you Mary, it was the colour of this crepe that sealed my fabric choice this month! It’s even more gorgeous in real life. Luckily I’ve got lots of weddings to wear this special dress to this year!

  • Manju
    March 3, 2014

    A beautiful opening project. Well done!

    • Fiona
      March 3, 2014

      Thank you so much Manju! Special fabrics needed some special treatment!

  • Kimberly
    March 3, 2014

    What a beautiful dress that fits you so well. Thank you. Welcome to mood, too. 🙂

    • Fiona
      March 3, 2014

      Thank you Kimberly, I’m delighted to be here! I made a real effort with the fit on this and am super pleased with the result

  • Clare Szabo
    March 3, 2014

    Lovely dress Fiona! I love the sheer panel, it gives a really playful yet sophisticated edge to the dress. This fabric looks to die for! The colour is gorgeous and perfectly pastel for the Spring trend. LOVE IT, LOVE YOU! xx

    • charityshopchic
      March 3, 2014

      +1 What she said 😉

      • Fiona
        March 3, 2014

        and thanks Sally! Love you girls!!! x

    • Fiona
      March 3, 2014

      Thanks Clare! The fabric IS to die for! I couldn’t resist the colour in one of my fave fabrics. So pleased I went for it with the chiffon too…though did have to take a deep breath before taking the plunge with the shears!

  • Lauren
    March 3, 2014

    Really lovely! Wool crepe & silk chiffon are not two fabrics I would have considered together on my own, but after seeing this it makes perfect sense! Ahh, I bet that dress is so yummy to wear too 🙂 Love the pastel on you – wish I could pull off such a pretty and light color! 🙂

    • Fiona
      March 3, 2014

      Thanks Lauren! I did doubt myself with the fabric combination choice when I was waiting for it to arrive but it really worked out great (thank goodness!) And you are soooo right about it being amazing to wear. Wool crepe with silk lining….mmmmm….

  • Jane
    March 3, 2014

    Wow, I love it Fiona! The mash up of the two BHL patterns, the gorgeous, gorgeous wool crepe fabric and the chiffon panel all work together perfectly. Fabulous job. X

    • Fiona
      March 3, 2014

      Thanks so much Jane! Gorgeous gorgeous is about the right description for the crepe and I love me some BHL!

  • Lori
    March 3, 2014

    Fiona this is so gorgeous, beautiful combination of fabrics and patterns. Stunning job.

    • Fiona
      March 3, 2014

      Thanks so much Lori! I could make just about everything in wool crepe and am feeling a little bit more love for chiffon now!

  • Ginger
    March 3, 2014

    Wow! This is so beautiful! The fabric combo, the fit, the facing/lining finish- seriously amazing work! It’s so perfect!

    • Fiona
      March 3, 2014

      Thanks Sonja, I really took my time with it as it’s special fabric, I’ve got some special occasions to wear it to and of course it’s my first MSN make so that’s pretty damn special! I don’t know if I’d go as far as perfect but it’s the closest I’ve got!

  • Peter
    March 3, 2014

    What a beautiful dress, Fiona. The chiffon is a lovely addition and I adore the color!

    • Fiona
      March 3, 2014

      Thanks Peter, the powdery blue is just beautiful isn’t it? I think I must have been wistfully dreaming of Spring when I was on the website the day I ordered!

  • elle
    March 3, 2014

    This is absolutely stunning! Gorgeous fabrics, a perfect pattern combination and beautifully sewn.

    • Fiona
      March 3, 2014

      Thanks so much Elle! I’ve been wanting to try out this combo of patterns for a while now and once I’d seen the crepe on the website I couldn’t stop picturing it in soft blue!

  • Cennetta
    March 3, 2014

    Bravo! Lovely dress. Great start to your spring wardrobe.

    • Fiona
      March 4, 2014

      Thanks Cennetta! It’s the perfect colour for Spring isn’t it? As your skirt suit is actually, just gorgeous!

  • Amanda S.
    March 3, 2014

    It’s a fun dress and I love the sheer bottom panel – sexy but modest at the same time. Beautiful color on you as well.

    • Fiona
      March 4, 2014

      Thank you Amanda, I don’t usually chose to wear pastels but I am really loving this blue!

  • liza jane
    March 3, 2014

    Beautiful!

    • Fiona
      March 4, 2014

      Thank you Liza Jane!

  • Sewcial Warrior
    March 4, 2014

    I love the combo of the two patterns and the colour of the crepe looks beautiful on you. Lovely

    • Fiona
      March 4, 2014

      Thank you, I’ve been meaning to try out this combination for a while now and am so pleased it turned out so well!

  • Sarah Gunn
    March 5, 2014

    Welcome aboard! What a gorgeous dress you’ve made – very creatively designed 🙂

  • Sallie
    March 7, 2014

    Absolutely stunning!! I love this color on you! And the chiffon panel is such a gorgeous design element!

  • Yvonne Bennett
    March 17, 2014

    Now THAT is a gorgeous dress! Very couture in appearance and the fit is excellent. Enjoy wearing it!