FORTY THREE DAYS! Yes that is me hollering. Not enough hours in the day but the time will be found. After many fits and starts the flower girl dress and ring bearer rompers are pleated. It occurred to me while I was pleating the flower girl dress for the SECOND time, that I should share it with you.
Often times it is a challenge to choose fabric for a flower girl that matches the bridal party or the bride. I got around that by ordering fabric from the wedding dress designer. Fabric came off the same bolt as the bride's gown, so we know it matches. No, this is not the most economical choice but it a choice. Another advantage is, this is the most gorgeous piece of silk dupioni I have ever seen. The character of silk dupioni is the "slubs" that occur in the weaving of the fabric. Out of four yards of fabric I could count on one hand the number of slubs woven into the fabric. It is a delightful weight and as I said, the clearest dupioni ever. As I mentioned, I had to pleat the dress front twice, the first time was a hot mess!! So many creases and catches in the pleating it wasn't funny. It took me 30 minutes to get the needles out of the fabric and then to get the threads out of the 36 rows of pleating. I held my breath as I pressed it flat. Silk does not like to be unstitched and it really hates being unpleated. The smocking fairies were with me, no marks or holes. So I will share in a few pictures the process of pleating two layers of silk. I underlined the dupioni with silk organza to give the pleats more body. Silk can pleat into flattened out sharp little pleats that can be tough to smock. Underlining it with the organza was just the ticket. This can also be done with fusing German interfacing to the dupioni as well. Since I love silk organza so much, that is what I chose to use.
Another challenge to this process is that this will be a full smocked bodice which for her size is 18 full space rows. Another trick to pleating silk dupioni is half space rows to control the spring of the fabric as it comes off of those needles. So that makes 36 needles in the pleater. When you pleat that depth, sometimes certain sections of the pleater will pleat faster than others. To compensate for that sometimes you have to put a little bit, operative word "little bit" of tension on the area pleating faster to ensure that the fabrics are traveling through the pleater straight. (ignore the bad manicure, or lack thereof)
Another tip is also that the two fabrics will NOT end up at the same place through the pleater. If you cut two lengths 24" wide and feed them through the pleater, one is going to be longer. Again that physics thing. Because I am basically a lazy person instead of trying to guesstimate which one would come out longer/shorter or what ever I didn't cut the organza. My pattern called for a piece of dupioni 42" wide, I just used the whole width of 58" of organza. That way I knew without a doubt that my dupioni would be underlined all the way across without running the risk of the organza falling short by 3-4 inches. When I got to the point that the dupioni disappeared into the pleater I very methodically eyeballed the remaining organza and whacked it off.
If you have ever worked with silk you know it ravels like crazy. To insure you still have enough silk to sew into a dress you have to finish the edges. Due to the pleating challenges already presented I didn't want to serge the edges beforehand. The resulting thicker edge along the top would further effect my pleating. Instead I left the pleating threads really long so that I could flatten it out after pleating and then serge all sides. When serging, be careful not to cut your gathering threads.
Voila! My gathering threads have been drawn back up and my dress front is ready to go. Not a crease or crinkle to be seen. I am off to match threads and start smocking.