Silk Dress


Foulard (Chap. I, Par. 74), or Taffeta (Chap. I, Par. 78).

Amount of material called for in commercial pattern.

Belting 2" longer than waist measure.

Silk thread to match material.

Trimmings suitable for this style of dress.

Introductory Statement

Of all the fabrics, silk is considered the most beautiful. As it is more or less expensive and will not stand the hard service to which every day garments are subjected, it is usually reserved for the making of gowns which are to be worn on special occasions.

Silks are frequently made up in very simple styles which are suitable for street wear. The darker shades of foulards, taffetas, crepe de Chines, moires or messalines are all suitable for this purpose. When silk materials are combined with fancy trimmings they are suitable for afternoon or evening wear. The delicate colored silks should be used for party dresses.

A silk dress made after the fashion of the dress shown in the illustration is suitable for street wear or semi-dressy occasions.

The style of a dress of this sort varies considerably from season to season; it is therefore necessary to use judgment in adapting the changing styles to your personal needs.


Silk, Journal of Education, Vol. XLV. Silk Industry in America, L. P. Brockett.

Working Directions For Silk Dress

Selection Of Material

Until you have had a great deal of experience in sewing, it will be wise for you to select silk materials with enough body to keep them from pulling and slipping when you are working with them. Materials like foulard or taffeta will be most suitable. Materials like crepe de Chine are very difficult to work with and should not be used until you have become skillful in dressmaking.

The Pattern

The design shown in this lesson offers a good way to make over last year's dress by the combination of two materials. For your dress, it will be well to select a simple design in which you can give beauty to the garment by the perfection of your work. Use a commercial pattern.

Cutting Out The Dress

Study carefully the guide chart and the directions accompanying the pattern; pin the pattern to the material carefully and use very sharp shears to cut out the garment. (Dull shears will pull the silk; if you have this difficulty, put a piece of newspaper under the silk and cut it with the silk.)


While fitted linings are not used as commonly as they previously were, semi-fitted linings are often used in the waists of silk dresses. Net, china silk and seco silk (a thin, mercerized cotton material) are most generally used for this purpose.

The Seams

A lined waist should be sewed together with plain seams. The lining should be sewed up separately from the waist and the seams turned inside so it will not be necessary to finish either the seams of the waist or the lining. For unlined silk waists, overcast or French seams may be used.

For gathered skirts, French seams are generally used Where a more tailored effect is desired, plain seams may be stitched about 1/8" from the seam on the right side. Soft materials are often stitched over tissue paper, or newspaper, to keep the stitching from drawing or fulling the silk. You should see that the point of the machine needle is sharp, as a blunt needle will pull the threads of silk.

Machine hemstitching is often used to join seams in the waist, excepting the under-arm seams. If you wish to send this work to a professional, baste all the seams before sending the garment to be hemstitched.


After the seams are basted, try on the dress and fit it, following the suggestions for fitting in Chap. IV. (Be very careful that the dress is fitted so there is no strain on the silk in any part; be especially careful about the sleeves at the elbows and the skirt at the hips.)

Setting In The Sleeves

The sleeves should be finished before they are stitched in. They may be set in the armhole with a plain overcast seam; they may be set in with hemstitching as suggested in a previous paragraph, or the armholes may be finished with cable cord. To do this, cut bias strips about 3/4" wide, lay the cable cord (the size desired) on the wrong side of the strip. Sew the cable cord in with running stitches. Turn in the edge of the armhole and baste in the bias strip, letting the covered cable cord extend just beyond the edge of the armhole. Lay the top of the sleeve in as if you were going to make a lapped seam. Baste it in place; stitch, using a presser foot especially designed for this work (if your machine has this presser foot).

The Neck

If the dress is made with a fitted collar, pin on the collar before trimming out the neck. If a yoke, or guimpe, is used with the dress, join the collar to the neck by stitching it flat on the yoke; trim the raw edge down to about 1/4" and overhand over it, making a tiny rolled seam on the wrong side.

Such a collar should be stayed to keep it up around the neck. Sew one collar stay about 1 1/2" each side of the center front of the collar allowing it to slant back slightly at the top; sew another one on each side, even with the shoulder seam, and one on the under side of the back opening.


Where the opening comes under a pleat in the skirt, use a faced placket (Chap. II, Par. 163). Use a bound placket (Chap. II, Par. 161) in a full skirt.

Joining Waist And Skirt

The dress in this lesson may be joined with a band of the material. The belt should be cut long enough to extend around the waist and allow for the extra length necessary to open the skirt on the side. Take a piece of soft belting, the width desired for the band, fit it to the waist, turn back the ends and sew on hooks and eyes (use the round eyes and let them extend over the end of the belting, as shown in Chap. II, Par. 133). Hook the belt around the waist, letting it open at the center front; put on the waist, pin it to the top of the belting, trim away the extra material; put on the skirt and pin it to the lower edge of the belt, leaving loose the edge which must extend beyond the center front; turn in the edges of the material cut for the outside belt, line the end which is to be fastened to the loose edge of the skirt. Pin it in place over the skirt and waist, even the skirt at the bottom; remove the dress, baste the belt where it has been pinned and stitch it. Make the wide silk belt shown in this lesson separate and sew it over the other by hand.


The placket and other openings in the dress may be held together with hooks and eyes and snaps. (Remember that snaps should not be placed on the belt, or any place where there is a strain that will pull them apart.)

Finishing Bottom

After the skirt is evened at the bottom, turn up the hem, baste it around the bottom edge, even it to the width desired (about 3" to 5"); turn in the raw edge, pin and baste in place, gathering in the extra fullness or removing it with tiny pleats. Sew the hem in place by hand with hemming stitches.

Finishing Bottom 162