There was just 1.85 metres of this beautiful silk left when I
fell in love with found it in Simply Fabrics. I’m not sure whether you’d call it a china silk or a crepe de chine as it’s very lightweight and slightly sheer but with a slight texture of shiny dots on matt background. I knew it would be a difficult fabric to work with (complete nightmare) but thought it might work well with the Acton dress from In the Folds.
The Acton is a versatile dress with two bodice options and two skirt options (that are interchangeable), designed for woven fabrics. The bodice is lined, features princess panels for a lovely fit around the bust, and is fastened with an invisible zip.
The Acton is beautifully designed and carefully drafted to include many interesting details, to make this a very enjoyable sew for confident sewers. The pattern comes with fully illustrated instructions to hold your hand every step of the way (there is also a ‘cheat sheet’ available for those of you who don’t want your hand held) which can be printed at home, or simply viewed on a computer or tablet.
View A features a fitted bodice with a low back and thin shoulder straps. The skirt is A-line, and includes (optional) in-seam pockets in the side seams.
View B features a fitted bodice with racer-back and thin shoulder straps. The skirt is a wrap that can be tied in a number of ways to achieve different silhouettes.
The trouble was that I had my heart set on view B for which the yardage was 2.2 metres, but by lining with a different fabric I just managed to squeeze the pieces out of my 1.85 metre cut. This meant that any attempts at pattern matching were out of the question though, which was probably just as well as I had my work cut out just trying to cut the pieces at all.
As such fine fabric has a tendency to shift and pull out of shape I cut all the pattern pieces one at a time (no cutting mirror pieces at the same time) using a rotary cutter and mat.
I also took the time to hand tack all the seams before sewing which is definitely not my usual method.For the lining I used some silk I picked up as a remnant 4 or 5 years ago. I’d bought it as it was silk at a bargain price but it turned out that coral pink is just not a colour I ever wanted to use so I dyed it to the plum colour seen above using black dylon hand dye. I fully lined the dress (with an a-line skirt underneath) as the fabric was so sheer – although the pattern is designed with just a lined bodiceDespite all my careful hand-tacking and stay stitching the bodice seams wanted to wobble everywhere. I ended up applying a thin strip of lightweight interfacing to the necklines and armholes which proved very helpful.
The zip was also tacked in first and the lining stitched to it by hand on the inside, but even though I took it apart no less than 4 times the lining is still tending to pull the neckline down slightly on the left hand side. The side seams of the skirt portion are also tending to pull causing some rippling. I fixed things as well as I could and felt glad I used a printed fabric as it definitely masks some of the flaws.
Where a few rippling seams are the cons of this fabric there are some obvious pros too – I love the print and wearing silk is such a treat. I’m just hoping for warmer weather soon so I have an opportunity to wear it.The pattern is also excellent – I measured between C and D in size so cut between the two and the fit turned out just right without any adjustment. I would definitely like to sew it again another time in a more stable fabric. I love Beth’s version here and Andreia’s version here.