Thursday, 11 August 2016

Scrap Lace Dress

What story should I tell you about this dress? Do you want to know the provenance of all the scraps? Do you want to know all of the adjustments I made to V8766 to make this? Do you want to know where all of the mistakes are hiding? Should I draw a crazy parallel between making this dress and pagan/voodoo rituals (all pins and quadragrams taped to the floor)?

a dress and bolero made from silk scraps
Full scrap lace outfit
I bet you'd love to hear all about my dorky Oona impressions, drunk on a mix of design genius and Thatchers cider.

No? No takers?

My photos tell a more cohesive story about this dress than my words did at first. Now that the scraps have settled, it's a little easier to put together.

The original motivation for this prioject was to find a creative way of using up my silk/fancy scraps; to create a pretty dress and to try something a bit challenging from a technical perspective. Threads ran this article on scrap lace a few years ago and I had the issue tucked away in my bookcase. I've seen some scrap lace projects for kids clothing, but never for adults so it seemed like a good idea to give it a try.

My design originally was for a sleeveless cowl neck (big surprise) and quite a blousy bodice with a scrap lace skirt. The original plan was a half-circle skirt, but B talked me into making a full circle.

The next step was to make 2x 60" sheets of water soluble stabiliser. If you've ever used it, you'll know that it's mostly designed for small scale freestanding embroidery. I sewed strips together to make a large sheet.

This was punctuated by running out of stabiliser (because, duh, I only ordered enough for a half-circle skirt) and having to wait for a new delivery (thanks Jaycotts!)

One of my housemates remarked that someone had once given her edible underwear made from a similar material. Apparently the taste wasn't great.

Then I got 6 years of silk scraps and dumped it out onto the plastic. I laid the other layer on top, pinned like Billy-o, drew some guidelines and then look it to the machine.

After solving the issue of how to get it under the pressure foot, I spent about 2 weeks quilting it in all directions. Lots of spirals were used as well as grids. Any loose bits that fell out of this giant sandwich just got sewed back on top again.

The anticipation was too much for some people at this point. B complained that he couldn't say if he liked it because it was covered in plastic, and my housemate volunteered to be angry on my behalf if it turned out looking like crap. People can be so kind.

Finally I got to give it a shower!

"It looks like peeling sunburn"
"It looks like the girl from The Ring when she went through her hippie phase"
Again, people can be so kind.

Instead of wringing it, I rolled it up in some towels and walked on it a bit, then left it to dry

Bear in mind that's not the whole dress! It's only the outer fabric for the skirt! I modified the V8766 bodice to fit my design and sewed it up pretty quickly.

Then I decided I hated the full circle skirt. Cue the unpicker and the scissors.

The half circle skirt worked much better. And I had enough left to make a cardi/shrug/bolero. This is just a basic raglan, cut to minimise waste.

I think this is an outfit I never knew I needed! It was perfect for some friends' rainbow-themed wedding ("very City & Guilds!", Mother of the Bride) and STF's Rocky Horror Theme Party!



  1. Fantastic outfit 😊 well done on seeing it through and not giving up ☺

    1. Thanks! It got easier as everything came together, but just took so much time to do. It's a great technique though

  2. Well done you, for having the stick-ability to put the fabric together... I half expected to see you IN the shower with fabric...

    And, in the end, it looks great!

    1. Rest assured, I got pretty damp doing the showering too - that stuff got very heavy!