Red Velvet Mayfair Dress
Hi, I’m Sophie from @whatsophiesewed and I’m delighted to be writing my first blog post for The Fabric Guys on the Sewcial Network.
For my first project I chose this beautiful stretch velvet in the wine colourway and it’s absolutely stunning in real life. I was really surprised how lightweight this fabric is – I was expecting it to be much heavier. It also has really good stretch and recovery – I worked out the stretch to be 65%.
I knew it would absolutely have to be made into a Christmas dress. You really can’t get much more festive than red velvet! I decided on the Nina Lee Mayfair dress – I thought the gentle folds around the neck line would really help to show off the fabric and, having recently made the pattern, I knew that that fabric would drape beautifully.
Having never sewn with velvet before, I did a little bit of research into how to sew it. Obviously the nap is important. Initially I found it a little bit tricky to work out the nap. But by holding the fabric up against myself I worked out which way the nap was lying and what look would look best with the dress. I chose the nap to lie so that the darker, more sumptuous colour came through in the finished dress. I prewashed this in the washing machine at 30 degrees and it dried really quickly with no issues.
I also cut the fabric out in a single layer to limit the movement between the folded fabric pieces. I used a walking foot, which is what I’d always use when sewing with knit fabrics but this would definitely be necessary so that the velvet doesn’t creep whilst it’s being sewn. However, I found that the pile of the velvet really stuck the two pieces of fabric together, so when they were sewn right sides together there was very little movement. When pressing the seams I used a towel on both sides so as not to squash the nap. As this is a stretch polyester fabric it’s best to iron and press on the wrong side of the fabric.
I made a couple of alterations to the pattern instructions as I’d read that velvet didn’t look particularly good when it was topstitched. This pattern calls for both the arm and the hem to be topstitched. To overcome the topstitching on the cuff, I made a faux cuff band using the overlocker. This is something I learnt on an ‘getting to know your overlocker’ course at my local sewing shop.
To make the faux band:
Firstly fold the end of the sleeve back by 1 inch.
Then fold that piece of the sleeve back on itself by half again so that the end of the fabric is at the end of the sleeve.
Finally, overlock all three layers together and you’re left with a neat little cuff that finishes the sleeve off really nicely.
This is such a simple way to make a cuff band without having to cut one to fit. You might need to turn the sleeved inside out to overlock it depending on the size of the free arm on your overlocker. I finished the hem using a mixture of a machined blind hem, and then a bit of handsewing where I’d missed the hem with the machine.
I’m really pleased with this garment and I’m glad that I gave sewing with velvet a go! The fabric was an absolute dream to sew with. It felt almost like I was sewing with a scuba fabric and it behaved beautifully. It comes in eight different colours and is 60″ wide so really offers great value for money. Other dresses that would look glorious in this fabric would be the Colette Moneta dress (I’d lengthen it to midi length) and the Tilly and the Buttons Joni dress.
Thanks again The Fabric Guys for the fabric!
Until next time…