This section is from the book "Clothing For Women: Selection, Design, Construction", by Laura I. Baldt. Also available from Amazon: Clothing For Women: Selection, Design, Construction.
Crepe de chine.
With the exception of a few details of construction, the same principles employed in making a wool dress enter into the making of a silk dress. In designing the dress, there is the same need of feeling for color, lines and form; the same economic principles enter into the purchase of the materials, the same question of wearing qualities, and cost. The choice of a silk dress would suggest the use of chiffon laces, nets, velvet, braid, or self-trimming, unless its finish were to be strictly tailored, when stitching might be used for ornamentation.
Depending upon the type of dress to be made, it may or may not need a net or silk underbodice or drop skirt. Directions for making these are found on p. 383.
The dress may be developed from a drafted, commercial, or draped pattern. If you wish to drape the dress, working directly with the material itself, follow suggestions given for draping (pp. 170-173, 177-178). When cutting silks, consideration must be given to figures, stripes, plaids, changeable colors, and twills (pp. 27-30, 358-392). Otherwise the general rules for cutting should be observed.
Silk seams may be tailor basted or traced slightly on the chalk tracing board. Never trace them on a hard surface, as this will often cut the threads. The texture of silk gives it a tendency to slip and slide, hence great care must be exercised in pinning and basting seams. Use fine cotton or silk for soft silks, and if there is the slightest tendency to mark the surface, use needles or the best steel pins for pinning seams and parts of dress. 376
Judgment must be used in regard to machine stitching on silk dresses. Sometimes it is impossible to make good-looking seams by machine on some of the soft silks. Where the question of expenditure of money or time does not enter too seriously into the question, hand-run seams frequently give the best satisfaction. In hand sewing on silk, be careful not to draw the thread tight; use a combination stitch (two or three running stitches and a backstitch). If machine stitching is used, be careful to have an easy tension. Test carefully before stitching seams.
Any one of the following methods may be used for finishing the seams, selecting the one best suited to the material, and other treatment of the dress:
1. Trim and overcast raw edges, pressing seams open or keeping them together (Fig. 217A).
2. Edges of silks that do not fray (taffeta, etc.) are sometimes pinked (Fig. 217B).
3. The edges may be turned in toward each other and run (Fig. 217C).
4. The edges of seams may be bound with seam binding, either singly or together (Fig. 218A.).
5. The seams may be pressed open, the edges turned back on themselves and run (Fig. 218B).
Fig. 217. - Methods of finishing seams of silk dresses.
Apply the principles already learned, remembering that the secret of success lies in the careful staying of bias edges and avoiding thickness.
The edge is usually turned in, unless silk is heavy. In the latter case, Prussian binding may be run on the edge of the hem, holding it easy, and the edge of the binding slip-stitched to the skirt.
Silk requires the utmost care in pressing; do not press except where necessary. In pressing seams, draw them over the face of a moderately warm iron. This will usually press them sufficiently to make them smooth, without marring the softness of the fabric. When necessary to press seams open, or in pressing hems, use a soft cloth under the silk. Two or three thicknesses of outing flannel or an old blanket make a satisfactory surface for pressing silk. The iron must not be hot; nor must it be pressed hard on the silk.