Completed: Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

3 Jan

Happy 2017, everyone!! I’m going to kick off this year with one of my last makes from 2016 – featuring some uhhh-mazing leopard print silk charmeuse!

Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

Having spent the last 1-2 years of my sewing working on essential wardrobe basics, my handmade wardrobe is quite practical these days. Lots of pants and jeans, lots of tshirts and button ups, lots of comfortable and stylish casual sundresses. I feel really good about where I’m at when it comes to those needs, and as I mentioned before – right now I am just updating the old/worn out and not really scrambling around to make new stuff anymore. WITH THAT BEING SAID, I ended up with a surprising hole in my wardrobe – fancy dresses! This is somewhat hilarious to me, considering I spent the first several years of my sewing career endlessly making frilly party dresses that I rarely wore (or stopped wearing after I got over the novelty of wearing a party dress to, say, the bar. Hey, if that’s your jam, you keep doing you! Me, I will put on leggings and a giant sweater instead haha). I ended up with a closetful of impractical clothing, and have spent all these years trying to rectify that with the practical. I also did a bunch of purging with what was already hanging around, getting rid of things that no longer fit (or never fit right in the first place) or in colors/styles that I didn’t feel like suited me.

I have done such a great job that once the holiday season hit, I quickly realized that I have nothing to wear. lolwut.

I still have my glorious Marc Jacobs birds dress (which is still my favorite favorite thing EVER), this blue cotton sateen dress via the Sew Bossy challenge, and my sparkly brocade skirt. Both of these have been great to have for festive holiday parties, or the occasional wedding ceremony, or that one fancy date that I get to on on like every 6 months. I am also totally not opposed to wearing the same thing multiple times – having been the sort of person who needed a new dress for every occasion, I would rather now just have a handful of things I really really love that I know I look and feel good in – I felt that it was time to give myself permission to make another fancy dress. Just in time for the holiday season to end, ha! Whatever, I’ll take myself out for a steak date and wear this shit!

Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

After some deliberation, I ended up with Simplicity 6266, cos I just can’t get enough of that 70s mock-wrap neckline and those sweet tulip sleeves. Honestly, I wanted to make this version with the long sleeves – but I didn’t have enough fabric to cut everything (which, in restrospect, was probably for the best – I think that sort of style would do better in a solid color. That much leopard print could be overwhelming!) because I’d already cut a little bit off and used it to make a bra. I’ve made this pattern before twice (one and two), and yes, I realize that I basically just made a duplicate of the first version. I totally still have that dress – after a couple rounds of alterations when my weight started changing – and I love it, but the polyester content of the fabric makes it not such a great choice for summer. I’ve always wanted to make another version in a more breathable fabric, so here we are.

My leopard print silk charmeuse is from Mood Fabrics, and while it hung around on the site for months after I bought it, it’s sold out now. I think it was originally Rag and Bone, and it’s been in my stash since 2015 hahaha. It’s a nice weight with a gorgeous drape, and I gave it a cold wash before cutting which helped make the shiny side a little more matte (and now I can wash this dress like any other old thing in my laundry basket, ha!). The shiny side was still a little too shiny for my tastes, so I used the matte side as the right side of my fabric. The added bonus to doing this is that the dress feels REAL nice on the inside now, heh heh heh.

I wanted to try a new way to stabilize the silk for this project – in the past I’ve used Sullivan’s Spray Stabilizer, which works GREAT but it can be $$$. I was tipped off to try using gelatine – yes, basically unflavored Jell-o – and I decided this was the project to test this theory with. You can read the full instructions on how to do this here, but basically – you cook the gelatine in water until it boils, add more water, stir in your fabric and let it sit for an hour to soak everything up, then wring it out and lay it flat to dry. I folded mine in half lengthwise and then used a series of chairs and my drying rack to get it as smooth as possible so it would dry reasonably flat. Once the fabric was dry, it had a much more stiff body – similar to a silk organza before you pre-wash it. To remove the gelatine, you just wash the garment as normal (so, this will only work with something that’s been pre-treated – you can’t use it to sew something you wouldn’t wash, such as a coat lining that’s not removable) and it will soft right back up to how it was originally. It’s still not the easiest thing in the world to sew – I mean, we are talking about silk charmeuse here, y’all, it’s never going to be completely fool-proof – but it was a HELLUVA lot easier to manhandle than it had been before the treatment.

Because of the gelatine treatment, assembling this dress was reasonably easy. I used a brand new, 70/10 sharp needle to sew it, and finished all my seams with a serger and then pressed them open (I know that traditionally you sew silk with French seams – and this is what I usually do – but I was anticipating alterations with this. More on that in a sec). For the hems, I turned them under 1/4″ twice and blind-stitched them by hand. The stiffness of the fabric only moderately affects things, if you’re a fit-as-you-sew kind of person (I am!) – as in, the fit is still accurate, but everything just kind of hangs weird because it’s lacking that drape. My sleeves in particular looked RIDICULOUS, but they are fine now that they are soft again. I left off all the topstitching, except at the waist (only because I felt like the silk needed the topstitching for extra stability), and sewed the ties together into a removable waist tie instead of attached at the side seams. Oh, and I used an invisible zipper instead of a lapped zipper. I added a strip of fusible interfacing to both edges of the dress where the zipper would go, which keeps the area smooth and supported.

Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

I did have some snafus with the fit on this dress, which at least I was anticipating. See, my pattern isn’t exactly my size – it’s for a 33″ bust, and I’m closer to 32″. This is why I had to take in the original cheetah version, and I had some fitting tweaks that needed to be made on the polka dot one as well. With both dresses, I didn’t actually record my changes – so I had to start from scratch, again. Awesome. For this dress, I sewed the side seams and shoulder seams at 3/4″, instead of the usual 5/8″. This helped a bit – the dress still isn’t super tight, but I like the drape of charmeuse with a little bit of ease. Interestingly, it was the sleeves that gave me trouble with this dress. First, I sewed them with the wrong side on top – and I didn’t notice until after I had finished the dress (including all the serging) and I was comparing it to the original cheetah version. They look really awful when they are the wrong way, in case you were wondering – and I had to unpick and resew them. Also, the shoulders were strangely wide on this dress – the armscye was the correct depth (thanks to that 3/4″ seam allowance), but the sleeves started past the edge of my shoulder and it was channeling some serious linebacker shit. Of course, I noticed this AFTER I had fixed the sleeves – and I wasn’t about to unpick that shit again! So I added a 1/2″ tuck on top of the shoulder, which only goes about 2″ and then folds into a soft pleat over the bust and down the back. This was enough to pull in the sleeve cap so it actually started where a sleeve cap was supposed to start – and also made the bodice fit a little better, too. It’s not the most elegant of solutions – it’s a total hack job, tbh – but it worked!

I also tacked down the center front invisibly, because the dress wanted to gape open (probably cos my boobs don’t quite fill it out lolz).

Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

As a side note, I am trying a new spot to take photos. I had a few people tell me that my other location was too distracting, and, well, it totally is haha 🙂 I don’t know why I never tried this wall – it’s pretty empty and gets ok light. What’s weird is how different it looks with me standing there vs the dress form (I took all these photos in one session). The background is boring as hell but it’s not like anyone is here for my stunning photography. Also I’m not really sure how to get rid of that giant shadow behind me.

And because I’ve gotten some comments on it recently – the thing I’m holding is my camera remote (my camera is old and the only remote that works with it has a giant antennae), not a screwdriver hahaha.

Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

Anyway, thanks for all of your great comments and insights on my last post. I had a great time ringing in 2017 and I look forward to what this year has to offer!

Note: The leopard print silk charmeuse was purchased with my allowance from Mood Fabrics, as part of my participation in the Mood Sewing Network.


61 Responses to “Completed: Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266”

  1. liz-o-matic January 3, 2017 at 11:29 am #

    I know it’s just a work around solution for a fit issue…. but I’m kinda digging the shoulder pleats 🙂 Call it a design “feature” and just go with it! 😉

    • LLADYBIRD January 4, 2017 at 9:00 am #

      Forreal, it totally looks like a design feature!

  2. Reneedalady January 3, 2017 at 12:16 pm #

    I’m continually drawn to the prints of this fabric type but have avoided because of the shine. So what I’m seeing in your post is the “wrong” side of the silk charmeuse?! It looks awesome…mind blown.
    Also thank you for your talented and entertaining writing. I love your humor as well as the effort you put in to place links to past versions etc. My most favorite mornings are when I sit down with my hot cup of coffee and discover you’ve written a new blog post 😊

    • LLADYBIRD January 4, 2017 at 9:03 am #

      Oh yeah!! The best part about making your own clothes is that YOU get to decide which is the “right” side of the fabric. I rarely use the shiny side because it just feels so… formal. The matte side makes silk look much more casual, I think.

      Thank you for your comment! I am super happy to hear that you enjoy reading my blog ♥

  3. Green Eye Crafts January 3, 2017 at 1:49 pm #

    The dress are beautiful and you are looking gorgeous in it.

  4. Tomasa January 3, 2017 at 3:00 pm #

    The shoulder pleats are a very clever solution – they look like a deliberate design detail. I love the print and this dress is just so gorgeous. I too have tried the gelatin for slippery fabrics and agree it works quite well.

    • LLADYBIRD January 4, 2017 at 9:05 am #

      Yeah, I feel like I’ve seen these sorts of pleats in a garment before. It’s surprising that such a simple edit can solve a problem and look like a design feature. I love it!

  5. karen January 3, 2017 at 3:11 pm #

    You know you are a “professional” when you can come up with solutions on the fly. No one will be able to tell those pleats are not part of the original design! Congratulations! Beautiful dress and looks grest on.

    • LLADYBIRD January 4, 2017 at 9:06 am #

      Thank you so much! It definitely was a solution on the fly, but thank good it was a GOOD solution haha!!

  6. Nyssa Jayne January 3, 2017 at 4:05 pm #

    I hear you on the, “yeah, I’m going to get rid of my party clothes- WAIT, WTF AM I GOING TO WEAR NOW?!” problem. I mean, I’m looking forward to sewing some pretty presses this year, but I did not anticipate wearing a flannel shirt on NYE. 😀

    • LLADYBIRD January 4, 2017 at 9:07 am #

      lol yeah that was almost me! Fortunately, I had that sparkly skirt. I wore that damn thing so much this holiday season!!

  7. carlamayfield January 3, 2017 at 6:57 pm #

    Gorgeous dress!! Love the new photo location!!

  8. V Reed January 3, 2017 at 8:08 pm #

    Tell people it isn’t a remote, it is a sonic screwdriver and the Tardis is waiting just out of the shot. 🙂 You’re secretly Dr. Who and everyone knows Time Lords have got to have great wardrobes.

    The dress is gorgeous and I agree the shoulder pleat should be a feature, not a hack.

    • LLADYBIRD January 4, 2017 at 9:08 am #

      Haha! I like the way you think 😉

  9. KS_Sews January 3, 2017 at 8:13 pm #

    On the photography: I don’t find the other photos distracting. And it helps to have the contrast since you don’t have a whole backdrop/multiple lighting situation. I just quick scrolled through some posts and the garments photograph better outside or in the other rooms of your house!

    The dress is awesome! And the pleats do a nice job giving it an extra something.

    Nice work on all the resewing though. I hate having to redo stuff 😦

    • LLADYBIRD January 4, 2017 at 9:12 am #

      Yeah, the photography shit is a little difficult for me. All the other rooms/walls in my apartment have a bunch of stuff going on in the background – if not giant art – it’s all very busy. And I got gorgeous natural light, but it blows out a lot of my photos. Going outside is NOT an option – I live in a fairly busy part of the city, and I just am not comfortable shooting solo photos with a tripod while people watch (and I dont’ have someone to take the photos for me). I just took another set of photos at the same wall but left the big piece of b/w art up behind me, which gives it a bit of a contrast. We’ll see how that turns out! Honestly, the photos are the only part about blogging that I don’t like at all hahaha

      • KS_Sews January 4, 2017 at 10:20 am #

        I forgot you moved from the country!

        Oooh hopefully the contrast will help. And ditto on loving to make all the things and discuss them but mehhh for photos. LOL!

  10. Miss Celie January 3, 2017 at 9:41 pm #

    One thousand likes!!!!! This dress is spectacular on you. And I am so salty the fabric is sold out.

    • LLADYBIRD January 4, 2017 at 9:16 am #

      I’ll be at Mood NYC in a couple days, I’ll let you know if I find any there. You deserve this fabric.

  11. Kristi January 3, 2017 at 10:19 pm #

    Off topic, but waaaahhhh I want my hair to do what yours is doing. How did you accomplish it, with heat or wet set? I would dearly like to figure out how to do a wet set but with jumbo rollers (which I cannot find irl). Heat styling just takes 😧

    • LLADYBIRD January 4, 2017 at 9:21 am #

      I just used a flat iron! It’s super easy and fast (I actually timed it this morning because I was curious to see how long it takes – took me 3 1/2 minutes hahaha). My stylist tipped me a long time ago that you don’t need to curl *all* your hair – especially when it comes to loose waves like this – just the stuff that’s visible on top. My hair is SUPER straight underneath, fyi, absolutely no natural wave to it whatsoever. I just curl it away from my face with a flat iron. You can tell where I missed a few spots in the back, but whatever! Oh, and you want it to be reasonably dirty, that will help it hold the style. I usually go about 7-8 days between washings. I had to train my hair to do that – which meant using lots of dry shampoo and a couple months of disgusting looking hair – but it was worth it as my hair has so much more body and grip now. Before I trained it, I washed it every day and it just never looked good.

      • Kristi January 4, 2017 at 12:57 pm #

        I’m an everyday-washer, (or really, an every-other-day-but-you-can-totally-tell-I-need-to-wash-er), I need to know more about going a week between washings. Do you let your hair get wet in between? That seems to make mine way worse on day 2 (or 3, let’s be honest haha no shame). Sorry if that’s gettin all up in your biz, you don’t need to answer if it’s weird lol.

        • LLADYBIRD January 4, 2017 at 1:11 pm #

          No, I don’t let my hair get wet at all between washings. If it gets wet, it gets washed. Otherwise, I just use dry shampoo if it seems a little oily and sleep with it pulled on top of my head, which gives it some body (again, I have very fine and straight hair, so any kinks from the ponytail usually fall out in about 10 min). I do bathe my body, haha, I just either wear a shower cap or keep my head away from the water. I also exercise – and sweat (I do hot yoga) – and that has not affected the (in)frequency in which I wash my hair.

  12. Kathy January 3, 2017 at 10:42 pm #

    I really like this dress on you. Good job!

  13. emmajones1972 January 4, 2017 at 12:53 am #

    Great to see you have made a dress after so long – it looks fab!

  14. Sewing for Cat People January 4, 2017 at 2:57 am #

    This dress is lovely and the silk has such a beautiful drape. But honestly ‘m crying laughing at people thinking that you were holding a screwdriver, I dunny it’s just so random!

    • LLADYBIRD January 4, 2017 at 9:26 am #

      RIGHT!? Looking at the photos, yeah, I see that it looks like a screwdriver… but WHY would one come to that conclusion? Was I doing some maintenance around the house and just stopped to take candid photos? It cracks me up haha

      • Sewing for Cat People January 4, 2017 at 9:27 am #

        Especially in ALL the photos! Maintenance everywhere!

        • LLADYBIRD January 4, 2017 at 9:30 am #

          Maybe they just think I’m super handy around the house hahaha

  15. Mertxe January 4, 2017 at 3:41 am #

    Gelatine?! Interesting! It looks great on you, I love tulip sleeves!

  16. Becky Thompson January 4, 2017 at 5:11 am #

    You rock that print girl. And the print is so busy, you totally cannot see that forward and back shoulder dart (sounds so much more official than a “tuck” lol), but it’s a good mod for the fit. Mark Oct 29, National Cat Day, to wear that baby. 🙂

    • LLADYBIRD January 4, 2017 at 9:27 am #

      ooh, good idea! I will mark it on my calendar 😀

  17. Kit January 4, 2017 at 5:48 am #


  18. seagyrl January 4, 2017 at 12:32 pm #

    I need to quit complaining about my knee and go sew something. Rrrrrrrowwwwww Chamaca!! Great dress, your hair’s looking good, win win kinda day!!!! Happy New Year!!

    • LLADYBIRD January 4, 2017 at 1:12 pm #

      Thank you!!!! Happy New Year! ♥

  19. earlus January 4, 2017 at 9:31 pm #

    My 11-year-old just walked by while I was reading this and said, “Hey, that lady lost her big picture!” So perhaps your old backdrop was a little distracting after all (I never minded it!). Beautiful dress!

    • LLADYBIRD January 9, 2017 at 6:29 pm #

      Haha how funny! I guess it is really distracting 😛

  20. Lynsey January 5, 2017 at 3:34 am #

    Amazing dress, you look gorgeous in it, I so need some dressy clothes! The gelatin sounds like a great idea, I will definitely give it a go.

    • LLADYBIRD January 9, 2017 at 6:29 pm #

      Thank you so much! The gelatin was super successful, I highly recommend trying it!

  21. justinea January 5, 2017 at 8:57 am #

    Beaut Work! Every woman needs a cute leopard print dress ! I just bought some leopard scuba the other day but leopard silk? Nice!!!

    • LLADYBIRD January 9, 2017 at 6:31 pm #

      Ooh leopard scuba sounds pretty awesome too, though!

  22. esewing January 5, 2017 at 3:26 pm #

    Wow drape on the skirt is amazing , love the solution to the linebacker look , totally get away with it lost in the print, can’t wait to see your 2017 makes

    • LLADYBIRD January 9, 2017 at 6:31 pm #

      Thank you! I’ve already been working on some fun stuff this year, can’t wait to share it 😀

      • esewing January 10, 2017 at 4:58 pm #

        Looking forward to seeing new makes – need to get my list for2017 sorted and started!

  23. Clara Griffith January 6, 2017 at 5:23 pm #

    I’m usually not a fan of leopard print, but you pull it off so well! And I can’t wait to try your gelatin trick. I have this idea for an organza dress that I’ve been putting off in dread of the slipperiness, but I want to try it now!

    • LLADYBIRD January 9, 2017 at 6:32 pm #

      Thank you so much! And yes, totally try the gelatin trick – I was really happy with how well it worked and made that fabric soo much easier to handle!

  24. PsychicKathleen January 9, 2017 at 10:01 am #

    Lauren you would look beautiful in a gunny sack 🙂 but this leopard print is gorgeous on you – the flare in the skirt especially is eye catching. I’m always keen to read how you work your drape and fit. Really inspiring. Also a fun story about your hair! I’ve discovered too that NOT overwashing your hair is key. I’m 62 and have had a lifetime of oily hair and still do but I’ve found that dry shampoo does give me at least another day and I wear hats all the time too which does nothing to HELP my hair issues but hides it effectively 🙂

    • LLADYBIRD January 9, 2017 at 6:39 pm #

      haha thank you so much!! And dude, totally agree about not washing the hair. No one can ever tell that my hair is dirty – if anything, I get more compliments on it the dirtier it gets! Plus, my hair has done so much better, health-wise, since I stopped washing it as much (and I get it colored, so it needs to be as healthy as possible). Have you tried Bumble and Bumble Pret-A-Powder dry shampoo? I’ve used sooo many dry shampoos over the years, and that one is by far the best. It does a way better job than anything else I’ve ever tried, and it’s non-aerosol (so TSA friendly). It’s a bit expensive, but that tiny ass bottle lasts me about a year and a half. Seriously!

  25. Jodi January 14, 2017 at 5:35 pm #

    Such a beautiful dress! The fabric looks so nice! Makes me want to hunt down a nice silk print.

  26. feelingstitchyblog January 20, 2017 at 3:41 am #

    I’ve been lurking you since I started sewing about 4yrs ago. I can’t really comment on your blog because I’ll get a bagillion emails back from your fans, which I can’t hate you for.
    To be honest, I have a major girl crush on you. How do you say that without sounding like a stalker?
    I even added you on my new IG because I want to win the Moneta contest, which I tagged you in because you’ll probably win (please don’t enter, please don’t enter.)
    Back to the old Landon post, my hubs doesn’t deserve a pad-stitched Albion. As soon as I get a new serger, he’ll be off my shit list. God, fuck Landon. Are you lurking, Landon? Fuck you and your stupid middle class housing development street-sounding name! It’s like “I live on 1400 west Landon street.”
    Soooo, add me so I can lurk and girl crush some more. Not in a creepy way. Not in the way I stalked the 2 Coreys in the 80s. Fun fact: I went on a date with Corey Haim a month before he died. Not sure if that’s a fun fact or a sad fact. I’m turning off my stream of consciousness.
    Love the new dress!!!

    • feelingstitchyblog January 20, 2017 at 3:42 am #

      Oh yeah, I’m @feelingstitchymama. See? Stalker!

    • LLADYBIRD January 26, 2017 at 4:32 pm #

      Thank you so much for your nice comment! 🙂 Don’t worry, I won’t be entering any contests anytime soon, but best of luck with the Moneta one! Fingers crossed for ya!! And yeah man, fuck Landon! Although I did like his middle-class sounding name, too bad he spoiled it forever for me hahaha

      ♥ !

      • feelingstitchyblog January 28, 2017 at 2:46 pm #

        You have to follow me on IG! You’re my girl crush, for fuck’s sake!! And no, his name sounds upperclass; like a John Hugh’s movie, i.e. Blaine from Pretty in Pink.
        My hubs is on my shitlist. I sew for our baby. I’ve NEVER bought him clothes, diapers or potty training pants. I’ve only bought socks and shoes 😊
        I don’t buy, nor sew Big 4 patterns. There’s so many great indies and I love supporting other women — I’m a girl’s girl. I’ve never bought from a big box store, either.
        Please know I’m not shitting on you! You ROCK and can make a pillow case look like a fucking masterpiece. I’m jealous of you, but I’m always jealous in a loving way. Like when I saw your abs, I was like “OMG! So jealous!! I’m upping my crunches!!!!”
        When you’re 37 and you have a baby, watch how much you have to workout. My god. I worked out every day while pregnant. The good news is I had a flat tummy by 3 weeks and hard abs by 6 weeks 😉
        Ok, girl crush, I’m gonna start being more active on your site instead of creepily lurking. Loves!!!😘😍❤️


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