Hot! 7in7: Day Four, Chantilly

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The Facts

Fabric: Vintage chiffon (I forget from where and how much), say $20, lining $1
PatternColette Patterns, Chantilly
Year: Contemporary
Notions: Invisible zipper, $3
Time to complete: 12 hours
First worn: May 2011
Wear again? The verdict is still out

Total Cost: $24.00

Oh man, this dress. Or rather, oh man, this fabric. While sewing this, I considered other materials that would be as fun to sew with:

  • Saran Wrap
  • 1-ply toilet paper
  • Spider webs
  • gold leaf
  • Jello

Obviously I'm exaggerating a bit. Sewing with Jello would be ridiculous! Seriously, though, working with this chiffon seriously defeated me. Like big time. This dress is both a success and a failure. It looks good in the pictures but I just hate the little hacks I had to do to make it work.

The biggest mistake I made was I cut one of the side front pieces way too short. I'm not quite sure how I did it, but when I was ready to hem, I realized that one piece was a good three inches shorter than the rest of the skirt. I couldn't cut all the other pieces to match the length of that piece for that would have made the dress way too short. So, I took advantage of the billowy fabric and basically tacked a longer part of the skirt over the short part. Even with this little hack, I fear the dress is too short. It's such a disappointment since the bodice part turned out quite nicely. Sure, I could add a ruffle or something but I was just too defeated to continue.

And now why this dress was a success. If it wasn't for the fact that I HAVE to finish this dress, it would have become a UFO not long after I started sewing it. I persisted because I had to and finished it. It's completely wearable and I'm the only person that would probably notice the weird skirt mistake. But I notice it and that's all that matters. It really is quite bad.

Things I would do differently next time

  • I wouldn't use a chiffon. I don't think I'm ever going to sew with such a sheer fabric again. EVER. 
  • Obviously I wouldn't make the make the mistake of cutting one of my skirt pieces 3 inches shorter than the rest.

Things I liked about Chantilly

  • If not for the fabric choice, it would have been a very straight forward pattern to sew. I will sew it again with a cotton lawn or even medium-weight cotton. 
  • When the skirt is done right, it's a really nice length and fullness
  • It looks vintage in style while being modern
  • The bodice is quite lovely

This dress has really knocked me out with regard to the challenge. There were tears shed and many f-bombs dropped during construction. At 1:00 am I actually wondered if I could die from sewing exhaustion. Thankfully, Crepe is up next and I'll be able to fly through that.

Also! Want to buy your own Chantilly? Colette Patterns is offering Sew Weekly readers 20% off the patterns until May 18th. Just use the code: SEVEN20 (It's case sensitive). 

Tomorrow:  I take on Crepe!

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Mena Trott

Mena Trott started The Sew Weekly to document her attempt to sew all of her own clothes in 2010. Since then, she's made over 125 outfits and has way more clothes than she needs.


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  1. This dress is so, so gorgeous, and you look wonderful in it! I adore the print and style- it really is beautiful.

  2. i’m up tres late and saw you pop up before i signed out… and when i saw the dress, i literally whispered: oh, mena… then stifled laugher at your list of horror fabrics.
    this dress is stunning. a piece of romantic cloud. i’m AMAZED to read the backstory.

  3. I own this pattern and have yet to attack it. Curious as to why you chose version 1 instead of 2. I was leaning toward version 2, but it seems to favor more of the chiffon-ish fabric. So…now I’m changing my mind!

  4. I think it’s beautiful! I started this pattern last year with some old sheets just to see how it would work out :) Been putting it off for a while! Perhaps I will finish it now. I really hope you do it again with an easier fabric! I just love the style.

  5. I *adore* that last photo.
    It’s great looking material, and the skirt looks really pretty but I know what you mean, when you know you’ve done something dodgy, it kinda is always on your mind.

  6. Oh Mena, you poor thing! 12 hours?!! :-(
    The dress looks absolutely gorgeous on you, though! Hopefully after the pain of the fabric has died away you’ll come to love it and wear it! (Or do something to the skirt issue so you can handle wearing it without always being conscious of the part you hate?!)
    I’ve always wondered about sewing with chiffon – it just seems tricky, so I’ve steered clear of it, while wondering at the same time if I was being unfair on the fabric and maybe it wasn’t all that hard to work with. After reading this, though, I think I’ll be steering clear of chiffon for the rest of my life! Eek!

  7. Ah, chiffon…i just love it and hate it. If it wasn’t so tricky to sew, I think all my dresses will be in chiffon, it’s just magical to wear. The dress is so dreamily gorgeous! Hugs, I am totally amazed at all these beautiful dresses you come up with daily! Kudos to you gal!

  8. It’s gorgeous! :) I’ve added this pattern to my wishlist!
    Ashley x

  9. oooh yeah.. gotta love chiffon..such a pain in the butt!I’ve made a couple of dresses (one was in expensive silk.. what was I thinking) Each time I’ve had to tape the fabric to the floor just to make sure it’s all straight and stays that way before I lay the pattern and cut. Then I leave the fabric on the pattern pieces until I need them for fear of them warping all over the place. It’s a delicate operation when unpicking can spell the end! uggh! Well done you for tackling it.. and it looks like you even did a real hem. egad! that must have been fun. I’ve always gone for the roll hem either on the overlocker or with a zig zag roll hem foot on my machine. You look beautiful and should be so proud of the end result! Especially in one day!!!!!!!

  10. I hate to think you spent your Saturday stressed and sewing all day. The dress does look lovely, but mistakes always tarnish our view on our creations. I hope the crepe goes smoothly. You are so wonderful!

  11. Chiffon???? such a slippery little so and so, I think you did a most excellent job. I love the pattern and for you to complete this in such a short time you should be proud, bravo to you.

  12. Aww honey! I hate it when you want o quit but cant. It does look very nice now its finally done. The last picture cracks me up-you look so sad!

  13. Even if it was horror to sew, the fabric is soooo pretty. Do I see a polka dot lining?

  14. Sorry you had such a frustrating day! The dress looks lovely though. Maybe after some time apart, you can enjoy it better. At least you have Crepe to look forward to!

  15. This is my favorite one so far, I am sorry it was so hard. If you hate the skirt that much (which I don’t) you could always cut it off and wear the top with a high waisted pencil skirt. Really though it is beautiful :)

  16. Your dress turned out beautiful. Colette patterns seem to be made for you because each one looks stunning on you. I have been following your blog for a long time, but this challenge has me checking my computer at all hours to see if you have posted a new dress or fabric poll yet!

  17. I love that last photo, seems to sum up your mood after this one, “Hmmph”! Well, I think you can give yourself a real pat on the back for tackling something as tricky as chiffon with the pressure of completing the dress and photographing and blogging about it in one day! And after having been in the middle of making a dress a day for a few days now. That’s a lot of stuff going on even when using an easy-to-sew cotton!
    Is it just me or is the Chantilly no longer available in the CP shop? Must find elsewhere :)

  18. I think it turned out just lovely! I’ve had awful sewing experiences like that and sympathize. I wouldn’t give up on chiffon altogether though–I just wouldn’t use it if I were under a time crunch. If it’s a polyester chiffon, you can starch it before sewing with it to make it more manageable. When you’re done, you then wash it and it resumes its lovely drapey floaty gorgeous quality.

  19. Ooh, I meant to add that you can also starch silk chiffon, but I would test a piece first to see if it washes ok.

  20. it is beautiful, i love that fabric. i have a very similar cotton lawn. i totally hear ya on the f-bombs and the crying about sewing. i was working on Sencha and just about chopped it into little bits with my scissors.

  21. Wow! Love this dress!! And having recently coped with tricky fabric, I can sympathize! I’ve never sewn with chiffon–but I love how flowy and romantic it looks.

  22. You look absolutely beautiful!! The colours are beautiful and the shape looks so lovely on you. Well done, Mena!!
    I admire you for tackling chiffon – it’s a fabric that terrifies me and I will never sew with it!

  23. judy roberson

    The dress is beautiful..sorry the sewing experience was so bad.. Chiffon..yuky…
    You are doing a great job.. I am amazed.

  24. I agree, this fabric is gorgeous with this dress, maybe my favorite of the dresses in the 7 in 7 challeng so far. I’m glad you were able to stick with it and make it amazing. Let it rest a bit so the bad mojo wears off and then sew some wide eyelet lace to peak out from the bottom to get the length you want. This is too beautiful to go unworn! (I would say you could give it to me but alas, I’m nowhere near your size.)

  25. Yes I agree that chiffon can be a real trial to work with. My method of taming it is to starch the fabric before attempting to cut it out, sometimes it takes a couple of coatings of starch left to dry and then carefully pressed on a table to make sure that the grain lines are straight and level to make it firm enough foe easier working. After making it up, the starch easliy washes out and you are back to soft chiffon again.

  26. Mena, you look adorable. I can understand why chiffon is an intimidating fabric, but give it a chance. Not for a daily challenge, though!

  27. You look wonderful. Yeah, chiffon sucks the big one…just can’t happen for me..never ever. Love it, the last picture betrays a little of your chiffon inner turmoil ;)

  28. Well done for finishing it! I would have given up in annoyance if it was me. And the end result looks good to me.

  29. I have a habit of looking at the pictures first and then reading the text so I can tell you my honest opinion before reading about your hiccups was “WOW, followed by “STUNNING”, followed by “I want one NOW”. It’s just gorgeous and something about the length being just above the knee makes the dress really ‘pop’. Looking forward to seeing the rooibos and your wrap up of the challenge. Happy sewing.

  30. It’s really gorgeous and you should definitely wear it again! I’ve worked with chiffon before and it can be so tricky, crawling around the cutting table. Nice job, lovely dress and stunning model!

  31. Despite all the problems you ran into this came out lovely. I really like the fabric and the cut on you. It would be a great dress to wear to a wedding.

  32. Love everything about this dress. You look fantastic!

  33. Might I mention that although yes… this fabric is the “pits” to sew… it turned out very pretty! I have sewn a lot of wedding dresses etc… with “pitty” (like take pitty on me that I have to sew on this fabric!) fabric. And because of that I have learned a few things. If you want it to settle down a bit… spray it with sizing b/4 you cut it out… it will then act a lot more like a light weight cotton. Easier to cut, sew…. everything!!! Then you can cold water it…. and let it drip dry or tumble on gentle for a short time on cool or air in the dryer… this will bring it back to it’s normal feel.