Monday, April 23, 2012

1921 Madeleine Vionnet replica

Sewing Level:  Advanced

1921 green silk/rayon velvet replica of a Madeleine Vionnet harlequin design appeared in "Half-Scale Reprisal:  The Stunning Garments of Madeleine Vionnet re-created in her honor" by Judith Neukam, Threads Magazine (March 2010 Issue #147)

This gown is composed of 152 bias grain fabric squares of graduated size with nap alternating by horizontal row to create the harlequin shadowing.  The squares are stitched together; then gold metallic Perle Cotton embroidery thread is hand tacked to cover all seams.  The dress is held up by a strand of Perle Cotton hand sewn to the top row of squares.  Since the gown hangs on the bias grain, no zipper, button or hook closure is necessary; simply slide the dress over your head and the gown conforms to your shape.

To achieve a similar look with beginning sewing skills, follow these steps:

1.  Choose a simple garment pattern with few pattern pieces.

2.  Cut out the garment pieces on the proper grain line (straight of grain or bias). 

3.  Draw a pattern of lines on the garment front or back with ruler and tailors chalk.

4.  Machine zigzag or hand overcast Perle Cotton, yarn or narrow trim in the color of your choice on top of the chalk lines, making sure the floss extends into the seam allowances.  The floss should be relaxed rather than pulled tight as you sew, and it can be secured with very long stitches, perhaps 1/2".  

5.  Construct the garment as usual, using a short stitch length when sewing over floss to prevent it from sliding out of position.  Consider trimming the finished neckline or hem with additional Perle Cotton.

This technique would be beautiful on sheer fabrics (organza, chiffon) as well as heavier fabrics (wool, velvet, coating).  Turn garment inside out when gently laundering. 

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