1. The New Sarafan

Pattern:  Pattern Runway’s Sundress

Fabric: 2.5 yards of black silk noil and 1 yard of black silk habotai from Dharma Trading

Notions: 14 inch invisible zipper (should have made it longer like the pattern suggested)

Total Cost: about $40


I picked this pattern up after my success with Pattern Runway’s kimono sleeve dress. I had hoped to bust out a version in vintage gingham before the weather turned but time snuck past me and we ended up with early rain. Rather than wait until next summer, I decided to go against the instructions and use a medium weight silk noil. It has that distinctive silk scent like a cup of earthy black tea. The finished product reminds me of Russian sarafans and I plan to layer it over  long sleeved blouses this winter.

In accordance with my challenge, I’ve chosen to focus on texture for this dress. Silk noil is made from the short fibers leftover after spinning. It has a nobby texture that resembles an old pilled sweater. I anticipate the rough hand pairing nicely with a smooth fabric like charmeuse but today I’ve layered it with a sheer chiffon.

Having a short torso, I know I have to make adjustments in the bodice for princess seamed garments. Despite knowing this, I was ansy to get started and decided to skip the muslin. As expected the bodice has some fit issues. I was able to bring in the side seams at the underarms to prevent gaping but I really should have taken off 1/2″ of length at the waist. In addition, the back armholes could loose 1/2″ at the shoulders. Since I plan on layering this, I’m not too concerned but if when I sew this next summer in a lighter fabric I’ll need to make these changes. If you plan on making this yourself, the good news is you won’t have to make the entire thing in muslin. I recommend just cutting the bodice and the waistband since the skirt is gathered and, as such, is more forgiving to small changes. 

Overall, I really enjoyed working with this pattern. As with the other Pattern Runway garments, the instructions were great and everything went together quickly. I used my serger to finish the seams even though the bodice is lined; the silk noil unravels and I was worried about those princess seams. Speaking of which, the princess seams that extend into the skirts pockets are adorable and I love the gathering detail. My one complaint, and it’s a relatively easy fix, is that the zipper is exposed inside. We went to all this trouble to line the garment and the zipper really should be sandwiched in between the lining and the self fabric.

Next up… Burda 09/2011 #128. I have it on the table ready to cut!


19 Responses to “1. The New Sarafan”

  1. oh, Elizabeth, this is beautiful! I love the layered textures, slippery and sheer vs. rustic. And, great minds—I just bought some silver-gray silk noil for pants. It looks like it has great (but structured) drape—not limp at all, like I was worried about. Lovely!

    • I can’t wait to see your pants! I’ve been duped into thinking of silk noil as inferior silk but not at all. It does have a nice drape that sort of floats (I wonder what it would do on the bias). It should work quite nicely in structured garments like pants but do keep in mind that the short staples make the fabric weaker. Perhaps reinforce the crotch or, at least, don’t put them on wet! Thanks, Eunny!

  2. Your new dress is beautiful! It’s so versatile and it will look lovely with long sleeved blouses this fall/winter. I’m looking forward to seeing your mixture of black and white and different textures during your current challenge.

  3. Thats adorable! So versitile and stylish. Totally jealous of your work.

  4. What a great dress! And you did an amazing job on it! I love that silk smell!

    I could really see this with a silkly blouse with big, puffy sleeves 🙂

  5. What a great dress! I really like the pockets too! Those are lovely pictures of you!

  6. It looks great! It’s nice to see this dress in different fabrics (ok, I’ve really only seen yours, the original pattern’s picture and one on Paunnet). I own this pattern and was going to wait until next summer to make it, but now I might reconsider. Actually, I had bought the sweet shorts pattern and was going to wait ’til next summer also, but I decided to make them now and wear them with tights. They’re almost done and I’m hoping the fit will be alright.
    I love the shirt you’re wearing too… did you make it?

    • You should check out Oona’s version which is made from knit jersey! Super cute and it looks comfortable. I’m looking forward to seeing your shorts; I’m planning on a pair for winter as well.
      As for the shirt, it’s actually from Banana Republic purchased long ago but seldom worn. It’s one of those shirts that I like but I struggle to find ways to wear it. I was pretty thrilled when I tried it on with this dress!

  7. This is adorable! I never thought of this dress for layering, but it’s such a great idea!

  8. I love your dress! It’s really flattering and what a great idea to layer it. I don’t think I’ve ever even seen silk noil, but it looks like a beautiful fabric.

  9. You are so charming in these photos! I absolutely love this, and boy are you selling me on Pattern Runway. Must. focus. on what I’m working on! I can see you rocking this silk noil all winter long 🙂


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