Silk Gazar Blue and White Midi Skirt Marfy 3171
Every time I put Marfy 3171 away, I swear I'm done and then I come across a fabric that would work so perfectly that out it comes again.
This time, while shopping in B&J Fabrics, I saw this exquisite 55" wide 100% Italian Silk Gazar and knew I had to have it, seriously, is it not absolutely amazing?!!
Gazar is such a unusual fabric, and I have been asked a lot about sewing with it over the years, but If I am honest, I have to admit I have such an ambivalent relationship with it.
I've given up trying to tame it or force it to do what I want, and so now I just follow it's lead and we seem to be getting along much better!
Because while it is gauzy, ethereal, lightweight but stable, has the ability to hold a shape beautifully and is comfortable to wear and sturdy to sew, it also stretches on bias like crazy, creases easily if not underlined and can be a temperamental diva if not cut exactly to grain.
It's also quite hard to find, and I have to resist the urge to stash it on the rare occasions I find a printed version, because somehow it seems more suitable for formal (but simple) structured silhouettes.
Silk Gazar Cape - 1963 Balenciaga
But, then every time I find some, I am instantly carried away by it's lovely Couture history and want to own a tiny part of that magic.
Blue Silk Gazar Evening Gown 1965 - Balenciaga
Cristóbal Balenciaga's passion for structural clothing and a desire to design stark, simple silhouettes led to a collaboration with Swiss Mill Abraham in the late 1950's.
They worked off of the foundation of an Organza , and Gazar holds some similar characteristics such as a firm slightly stiff hand....... but it also has a unique subset - it's thicker and more pliable, with a high-twist double yarn, which when woven into one thread gives the fabric a textural grid like finish, a matt sheen, an almost elastic bounce and a heavier weight (think four/six ply Organza).
It can be used not only as a phenomenal fashion fabric, but also as an underlining and interfacing.
(I save all my scrap's for reinforcement and underlining in boucle - shoulders, lapels etc as it's bouncy nature compliments wool beautifully)
1968 Trapezoid Ivory Silk Gazar Wedding Dress - Balenciaga
1968 Dress - Black/White Silk Gazar Balenciaga
McQueen - Kate Middleton Ivory Silk Gazar 2011
Anyway, sadly back to reality....for my much simpler make, I used the skirt portion of 3171..
I love this pattern, it's drafted to perfection, has on grain panels (front and back) and bias panels (four sides) which let the hem curve and swoop to highlight the best of a Gazar.
From experience, I've found that underlining this fabric is the only way to work with it. This helps to support the Gazar, keeping it in shape while reducing creasing and some bias stretch.
I use a super light, pure silk organza, tacking both layers together using a basting stitch and then I hang it for at least a week.
I cannot stress just how much it grows...and grows...and grows... I think by the time I finally hemmed it (about a month after I had sewed it) the longest part was at least 6" below the original line and when I tried it on again yesterday the front looked slightly off, so I think I will have to take it off the hanger and keep it laying flat in my closet - total diva!
Frustratingly, I could not match the pattern because of the grain lines this time and so hoped that it was a full enough skirt to disguise the obvious joins, which thankfully it seems to be.
Pockets are an absolute necessity in everything I wear, but being mindful of this lightweight fabric, I doubled up some silk organza - one layer on grain and one layer on cross and cut out pockets (pencil outlined). The two layers make the fabric super strong and stop any stretching out.
Because of the flexible nature of Gazar, I kept each of the panels separate while hemming, by only sewing the seam to the top of the hem line. This stops any stiffness or ridges and allows every panel to move independently.
and continuing that theme, rather than press and flatten seams, I pinked them and turned them both to one side to help the skirt keep it's bounce and flow.
But then on the downside, because this fabric was so light, I ended up tacking upholstery weighted tape from Jo-annes to the entire hem, section by section, which definitely helped hold the shape and keep it all hanging were it should be ..... it's becoming my favorite notion ever!!
And finally, I sewed in a hand picked zipper using a single thread to keep the waist supple...
and a light weight sea green silk lining to finish it off..
So, I don't know - mixed feelings really! I love the skirt, know I will wear it often and sincerely love the challenge of this fabric but don't particularly enjoy all the rules that take away some of the creative.
Until, of course I see another extraordinary bolt, snap up two yards and rush home to do it all again!
Have a great week everyone :-)