One of the more popular features of the Vogue 1174 dress pattern is the piping along the bodice seamlines. As others have noted, it’s not piping proper, but rather a faux piping that Vogue has you make out of either charmeuse or broadcloth, cut on the bias. I’ll just say it straight up: Skip what Vogue wants you to do, unless you love the challenge of sewing satin on the bias, and just buy an appropriate piping or trim. It will be cheaper, it will be easier and it will probably look better.
For the faux piping, Vogue/Cynthia Steffe have you make a kind of contiuous bias tape in either charmeuse or broadcloth. However, instead of putting it through a bias tape maker, you press the l-o-n-g bias strip in half (lengthwise, wrong sides together) and baste it. Then you apply this faux piping bias strip to the seams as you would any piping. Vogue helpfully provides a rather large pattern piece for this that uses more fabric than a continuous bias tape made from a 10×10 square, but results in fewer seams.
I used a fairly lightweight crepe-back satin, because it was the closest blue I could get to the blue in the dress, and I wasn’t going to use a broadcloth when the rest of the dress is a satin jacquard. The weight wasn’t an issue. The fact that it was on the bias *was*. Oh WHY didn’t I use my spray stabilizer!? (Oh I know why.. I thought that not being able to wash it out would be an issue. But in hindsight, I don’t think so – it’s piping. Fluidity isn’t the goal.)
To look good, the faux piping has to be dead even the whole way around. And I’m just not the seamstress that I need to be to be able to baste/sew bias satin dead even – especially a 2 metre (6 foot) long strip. After sewing part of the strip into one of the bodice seams, I noticed that it was a bit thicker in some places, and a bit thinner in others. I thought my eye was being a little over-critical until I showed the Mr, and he definitely thought it was an issue. (tbh, it was a bit of a Michael Kors on Project Runway eugh moment.) So I picked it out.
Of course, as this pic shows (usual apologies for wrinklage), there is a little bit of faux piping on this dress – on the bodice foundation (and I LOVE this foundation. It may not be perfect, but I think it’s so beautiful! I adore the deep blue grosgrain waist stay). The piping acts as the seam finish on the facings, and so substituting in something else was going to be trickier and more time-consuming. And not as pretty. I mean, it is pretty. Even if the boning channels are slightly unparallel.
And wouldn’t you know that a couple days after sewing the bodice up, I was in the trim section of Dressew and noticed that they have beautiful deep blue satin piping. Of course, I considered buying some, unpicking the bodice and re-sewing it back up. But the logical, smart part of me said no upon realizing that (a) my chosen fabric frays like a b*#@h and (b) I already serged all of my seam allowances. And (c), I was working on deadline.
Lesson learned: with Vogue 1174’s faux piping, if you get it exactly right, it looks sensational. And if you’re wrestling with it, and it shows, it instantly downgrades this dress from handmade to homemade. So I ripped it out and lived with this dress being not quite as spectacular as it could’ve been. And pledged in future to read my patterns carefully before buying my fabric/notions and to anticipate when I can just buy a notion/trim that can do the job quicker, easier and better.
p.s. It’s totally this piping that takes this dress from easy, if time consuming, to average. Well, that and attaching the foundation to the bodice + lining. Which I’ll write about in my next post.