Ivory Silk Handkerchief Hem Dress

I had two thoughts for a frock to go under the velvet tabard. To show up the sheer velvet pattern, it needed to be pale. One thought involved a piece of ice blue silk satin, but the piece I have is small and the idea was still fuzzy. The other idea was to make a sheer ivory georgette shirt dress with a handkerchief hem. I thought I had a greater quantity of the latter fabric, so I went down that path.

This is one of those projects that has evolved as it went on. I had bought a large length of ivory silk georgette from a lady who used to make wedding dresses, eons ago, when I still lived on the other side of the country, >20 years ago now. However, circle skirts take a lot of fabric and I didn’t have the 10m I thought I had. So, the second layer of skirt needed to be made from a different fabric, for which I chose a length of slightly heavier silk crepe. Poetically, that was also bought in the same city, but more recently. Both being crepe means that hopefully, when washed together, they will pull up a similar amount and I might be able to get away with not pressing the dress? Circle skirts are also heavy due to all that fabric, so I decided to make the bodice lined, which makes the whole thing more robust and opaque than I originally intended. The collar and sleeve designs also had to change. The original ideas worked with the skirt hem, but after I realised that fabric didn’t lend itself to deep double fold hems, and even if it did, they would add even more weight to the skirt… I moved to simple zigzag rolled hems, and replaced the planned structured collar and cuffs with bias cut, single layer ‘not-frills’.


The entire thing is made of silk, including stitching thread. The only exceptions are the vintage shell buttons and any residue of polyester thread that I used to ease the not-frills. It came together more quickly and easily than I thought it would. The fabric is floaty but was actually very well behaved. It did seem to behave better if tension was applied to the fabric while stitching. Rather than stretching the fabric, this prevented the stitching from being too tight. It even took machine made buttonholes like a champion.


The bodice is a shortened version of my recent shirt pattern. This jellyfish view shows the collar well:


The skirt is two large squares with a carefully sized circle cut from the middle of each and with the points offset.


It is sized to don by dropping it over my head sans zipper. I’ve put a pair of small tucks in the front and a tie in the back for shaping.


I’m rather too old for ingenue but I’ve wanted a handkerchief hem garment for something like forever. Sigh, contentment.


Here is the whole thing on. I cut the bodice short, to allow for the weight of the skirt. Or so I thought. Not really short enough as it turned out, but it will do.


and with the tabard. Yes I’m giving my party frock plans away. Oh no! Actually, I haven’t decided yet whether I will wear this ensemble or the white frock alone, or proceed to work on the ice blue satin thought. We will see.



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