Hot! Jewel of the Nile | Veronica Darling

P1070661The Facts

Fabric: Some sort of silk, a gift from Husbie, free & remnant cotton for lining.
Pattern: Very Easy Very Vogue, 7796
Year: 1990
Notions: vintage zipper, 20c
Time to complete: 6 hours
First worn: August 2011
Wear again? Yes, after a little neckline fix up

Total Cost: ~$0.20c

Part of my Sew Weekly committment this year (to myself) is to sew with my stash, or as Zoe calls it Stash Busting, which makes me feel like a Super Hero! Most of my weekly creations have been from the stash, no worries, so I'm making a dint. BUT, there's a bundle of fabric that have now been pushed into that old 'Too Hard' Basket, or the 'When I Find the Right Pattern' Shelf, or 'This Vintage Floral is Just For Me to Cuddle Occassionally', so my stash has VIP membership for sure!

Why was this lovely 'jewelled' silk in the VIP area? Husbie gave this to me after I became serious about sewing (after I'd made a dress or two) and he bought it with a friend somewhere in Melbourne. Black is my favourite background colour, and I seriously loved the dragonfly jewels, but it's SILK. And so it lived in the 'Too Hard' Basket and the 'What Do You Make Outta Silk' shelf of my VIP stash section. Very elite! Mum calls the dragonflies jewels, because they glimmer and have a sheen at different angles, and we decided it's silk because it frays easy. Why am I scared of silk? I'm a self taught seamstress who mostly uses cotton bed linen. Anything else is scary!

So I made 1 good decision and 1 bad decision this week. The good one was to go headstrong yelling "Gung Ho" into making this dress, and the bad one? Not making a toile/muslin to get the fit. But when do I ever make a toile/muslin?

The Very Easy Very Vogue 1990s pattern has princess seams, and I chose it thinking it would be easier to tweak if the fit wasn't so good, and it wasn't so bad to get the right fit around my middle, BUT you'll see the problem:

It's just so gapey in the front. I feel the fabric may have moved (it's super slippery to cut) from the pattern piece but it may be my itty bitty shoulders and my petite torso. I resized the waist and the length out of habit for my sizing, but didn't think the neckline would be so broad. Next time, I'll use the smaller sizing. After my Oolong last week however, I think I can gather and pin the neckline and it'll become a sweetheart type neckline. I *think* that could save it! Or I could just walk around like this:


Husbie has always wanted to take photos down China Town in Melbourne, so the beautiful jewels, the oriental feel to the fabric, and a Hot Date Dinner Night to wear my new dress was just right.

But I'm really happy with my determination in sewing this fabric, as I had a lot of nerves with ironing, using the overlocker and topstitching (I may or may not have used the right needle size, sometimes it's clean and other times the 'jewel' thread can be seen). I felt like giving up a few times, and I had some worry moments when the hemline started to fray (making it shorter) and when I topstitched the side pieces instead of the back piece. I even had my first sewing dream: "Oh no, I cut the lining on the bias by mistake!" LOL! That was last week's dress, silly!

What did I learn from my VIP silk?

It moves when you cut it.

It moves when you sew with it.

Iron on the 'silk' setting of your Iron, as the material can melt and stick to your Iron.

Matching the jewels isn't so hard though (using the lines on the wrong side).

Princess seams ARE good if you're not sure of the fit.

Being Gung Ho on a fresh pattern with VIP material is not so perfect, but still wearable.


Until next week xoxo


Veronica Darling

Veronica Darling has been sewing well for about 4 years, blogging for 5 years and smiling for over 33 years. In 2011, she joined Mena's Sew Weekly in sewing through the year, and in 2012 will keep challenges slightly smaller in scale.


Comments are closed.

  1. Love that fabric! I had a similar print but on navy and seersucker that I loved and made a skirt out of But your dress rocks! Yeah for being brave.

  2. Very Pretty

  3. silk definitely won’t melt to your iron, but it will burn and discolor easily. if you’re not sure if fabric is silk or rayon it’s easy to burn a little swatch (safely) to test it. silk will smell like burning hair, rayon will smell like paper. silk won’t burn bright, just turn to ash. rayon will burn a bit longer. any sort of poly will smell like marshmallows! at least i think it smells like marshmallows, it’s a chemical-y sweet smell. just something good to know for the future, you don’t want to get ripped off and pay more than you should for a synthetic. it’s also important to know what fiber you’re dealing with for washing. i’d guess you’re right about it being silk based on the wrinkles from sitting! silk wrinkles more easily than rayon or poly. anywho, lovely design choice for this VIP yardage.

  4. I believe it’s a brocade – I have the same again in purple and I also had some in gold and it was somewhat difficult to work with (ohhh the fraying!) and is still in my ufo pile. The purple is still uncut at this point.
    I do like the beautifully simple pattern that lets the fabric show off. Great photos too.

  5. LOVE your fabric! YAY husbie!!! I hate it when necks gape…remember our burda dresses from February….grrrr :)

  6. I have the same fabric in a steel boned corset, I love the fabric so much, it’s beautiful. I love your dress, it’s stunning.

  7. I think it’s always scary cutting into fabric like this, there is so many things to consider as you have found out, thank you for sharing your points. Your dress is darling and Melbs China town is the perfect back drop.

  8. I really recommend burn tests. They are fun as well informative. If its a synthetic it will turn into plastic balls. I always have to actually burn some hair first because I forget what burnt hair smells like. Odd I know.

  9. That fabric is seriously awesome! What a gorgeous dress!

  10. You look so elegant, lovely silk and pattern. Love the dreamy photos too!

  11. Congrats for being brave! I know your anxieties. I too am self-taught. There aren’t even any classes in my little town to take if I wanted. I learn so much from you all though and your brave efforts and willingness to share problems you have too. I think it is a beautiful dress.

  12. Lovely dress! I like your ideas for fixing a gaping neckline – I have the same problem on some dresses I already sewing up and I might try that.

  13. I love that dress! I didn’t even notice the neckline until you pointed it out.
    I have always been afraid to work with brocades, but might try now that I have a serger. Have you thought about using a spray stabilizer on the fabric? There is a post about it on the Coletterie.

  14. This fabric took my breath away, and the final result is STUNNING. I didn’t notice the neckline at all because I was so transfixed by the dragonflies.

  15. It’s darling! What about taking in the front seams a bit at the neckline– hard to tell, but it looks like there is a seam where the square neckline meets the straps? A couple of tucks in there ought to do it and preserve the lines of the garment. It’s really brilliant as it is.

  16. The dress looks gorgeous wear it with pride.

  17. pintucks always save the day! or, yes, walk around in that darling pose, que befitting.
    your photos are so becoming, i googled “photo blur background”. i was lost in a haze of slr in a matter of seconds. i think i’ll juts gaze at your pretty dress instead.

  18. margueritedesigns

    I’ve got some of that, but mine’s pink with butterflies on it. I really love the striped reverse – haven’t cut into it yet, keep changing my mind about what to make with it!

  19. Very pretty. Silk AND princess lines, both a little tricky. You look sweet. But please, loses the black tights, all wrong in sweltering summer!

  20. If you got fabric that moves every which way when you try to cut and sew…it’s time to break out the Sullivan’s stabilizer spray which temporarily turns the fabric to the stiffness of cardboard. It will save your sanity and your hair to use this stuff. Find it in the quilting aisle at the craft aisle or online.

  21. It’s beautiful! I think the fabric is chinese silk brocade which is traditionally used for cheongsams. Love this look on you and the photos are fab as usual!

  22. You are so much fun. What a great dress and what a pretty pattern on the fabric.

  23. Thanks Karen! Dragonflies are cute hey!?

  24. Thank you Liz for all your info! I did a test swatch, like you said, and the hotter the iron, the fabric ‘stuck’ in a magnetic way to the iron, and then kinda curled up in a melty way.. rather than ‘stick like glue’. I reckon it must have a bit of synthetic in there.

  25. Maybe your purple pattern will end up shorter like mine, due to all the fraying!
    Thanks Jen!