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Information and tutorials for folks interested in antique Italian lacework, nouveau fashion, sewing techniques and much much more!

Tutorial: Silk Slip with Small Bust Adjustment

December 23, 2013 by Nicole at Home 0 comments



Hello!  Nicole at Home, here.  Even with the onset of colder weather in California, I've not wanted to give up on wearing dresses.  But tights with dresses, and the static that clings them together, make me completely crazy.  So, with an opportunity to use some of Britex's beautiful silks, I just had to make a slip.  





The fabric I chose was a semi-sheer silk, in a dusty apricot color.  After washing (on delicate) and drying (on low heat), the fabric had an almost crepe-like texture.  The weight of the silk was perfect for this garment, and it pressed and sewed beautifully.  Truly, this fabric was an absolute pleasure to work with. And since the slip is cut on the bias, the silk draped wonderfully and was comfortable to wear.




The pattern is Colette’s Cinnamon slip dress, available as a pdf download.   The slip dress is very simple, with only a handful of pattern pieces.  However, knowing that Colette tends to design for a larger bust than the big 4 pattern companies, from the start I planned to alter the bodice of the slip for my smaller than normal chest.  In this post, I'll be giving the details of how I did a “small bust adjustment” for my Cinnamon slip.




In my adjustment of this pattern, I not only wanted to reduce the cup size of the bodice, but I also wanted to reduce the volume of gathering at the shoulder straps, since I didn’t want a lump of fabric to be visible under a dress.  So first off, I traced the original pattern, keeping all the markings in place. Measuring the width of the bodice (from the notch to the center front) and midriff (from the notch to the apex), where they are to be sewn together, there was a significant difference: for size 0, the bodice is almost 3.5 inches longer than the midriff, meaning all that fabric would have to be gathered to fit.  For my chest (which normally wears a 34A bra), I only wanted about a 1” difference between the two measurements, enough for a small amount of gathering to shape the bodice.




To reduce the width of the bodice piece, then, I folded a wedge out of the middle of the pattern piece.  At the top, the width was reduced by 1”, and at the bottom the reduction was 2”.




To further reduce the width of the bodice at the bottom seam and get rid of some of the puffing that occurred with my muslin, I dramatically lessened the curve of the bodice bottom seam.  To do this, I placed another piece of tracing paper over the folded bodice pattern piece, retraced the piece, and hand-drew a new line, transferring markings upward.




Here, I've placed the adjusted bodice over the original. Even though the total bust measurement is decreased, the fit is just right.




During construction of the bodice, I concentrated the gathering near the center front, but the gathers can be shifted more under the breast, if that’s preferred.   From there, the construction of the slip was exactly as described in the instructions.





Bias cut dresses give a very fitted silhouette without any closures, very important for the purpose of this sort of garment.  But even though the entire slip was cut on the bias, sewing wasn't very difficult, owing in large part to the crepe-like texture of the fabric.  The pattern instructions also give several really useful tips on sewing on the bias, including using a very narrow zig-zag and stretching the fabric slightly while sewing, which allow for some stretch in the garment, and having the completed piece hang over night before hemming.  I hemmed the slip a few inches above knee length, since the vast majority of my dresses are at the knee.




The fabric is almost the exact shade of my winter-pale skin, so I felt a bit self-conscious modeling it for photos, but it's definitely the perfect color and weight for lingerie or undergarments!





Thank you to Britex for not only providing the lovely silk fabric, but the perfectly matching silk thread as well!