Converting a Sari into an Italian Gamurra Idea Board and Construction
Recently I purchased a tissue silk sari that was in an ombré look in shades of lilac, teal, and blue. I loved the colors and thought it would make a lovely piece of garb for hot summer days, even if not 100% period. This is a photo of the length of the sari taken from the pallu (decorative end of the sari) end.
This is a photo is of the pattern of the main body of the sari that will make the skirt of the gamurra from.
This sari is just under 6.5 yards. I want to do a front laced bodice and then a pleated skirt. With this much fabric I have enough for the bodice and pleated skirt without issue. However, I am not sure about sleeves until I see what I have left after cutting everything. The skirt is just going to be a full width length of the sari that is 3X (pleated requires 3X the finished length to allow for the pleats, a gathered skirt would need about 2X) the finished underbust measurement of the bodice. I cut this piece from the non pallu end. The bodice will be cut from the main part of the sari as well. This will leave the pallu left over, possibly for sleeves. The color shading I am trying for is below (forgive the terrible drawing skills).
As this tissue silk is fairly sheer, I am going to line the bodice and top of the skirt with a cotton. I will also flatline the bodice with a stiffer fabric such as duck to give the support I need in a bodice and will leave it unboned. I found a non offensive purple patterned quilting cotton that will work for the lining. It does not look offensive under the sheer fabric and was on sale 60% off. I also found a purple duck for the flatlining for the bodice. Flatlining is simply taking the fashion fabric (the tissue silk in this case) and mounting it on a support fabric (the duck in this case) and then treating those like a single piece of fabric for the rest of the project.
The sari goes from dark blue to teal to lilac and then back again. While the pattern is not 100% symmetrical along a fold lengthwise, it was close enough that I was able to fold what remained of the sari after the skirt was cut off and before the pallu and cut my four bodice pieces. with the underbust edge on the edge of the blue part of the silk and have the ombré run to teal and lilac as it went closer to the shoulders. This leaves me with the entire pallu to possibly get sleeves from.
So each of the four bodice pieces will be flat lined to duck. As you can see in the below left photo, I have the silk pinned wrong side to the duck cloth (does not matter side for the duck as it is reversible). I then stitched around the entire piece at a 10mm mark. You can see the pieces sewn together on the below right photo. This will now be treated as a single piece of fabric. By stitching at the 10 mm mark, this stitching will be inside my 15mm standard seam allowance for the rest of the construction of the garment.
The lining is a quilting cotton. Once the lining was assembled, I sewed ribbon with drapery rings to the right side of the fabric at shoulder height to allow tie on sleeves to be tied on should this dress ever have sleeves. I failed to take a picture of these prior to attaching the lining to the outer fabric. However, you can see what they look like when the bodice is done in this picture.
Once the lining has these rings on it, I pin the outer fabric right side to the right side of the lining. I then sew from one end to the other along the neck line and down the front edge where the lacing holes will be. I also sew around the entire arm hole. Once this is done, you can turn the bodice right sides out by pulling the front half of the bodice through the shoulder. I then lightly pressed the bodice to get the seams to lay flat. I pressed from the lining side on the silk setting as I was afraid to damage the silk.
With the bodice done I can turn my attention to the skirt. As the silk is so sheer, I needed to line the skirt as well. I took the same quilting cotton and sewed the right side of the cotton to the wrong side of the silk at the salvage edge of both for the length of the skirt. The bottom edge I left as the salvage since it is a finished edge. This lines the skirt almost all the way down. Only my ankles will be seen through the sheer silk where the lining stops.
The bodice is 49 inches at the underbust. This means my skirt needs to be 147 inches so I can pleat it to the skirt. I marked out this length plus seam allowance and cut the skirt to this length and then seamed it. I then used the fork pleating method to pleat* and sew the pleats down. Once the pleats were sewn down I pinned the skirt to the, right sides together, and sewed the bodice to the skirt. The bottom edge of the sari is a finished edge already and it was of good length that I did not need to hem it at all.
Once the dress was done my wife helped with punching the holes for the eyelets using a hollow leather punch. Once the holes were punched I used embroidery floss to make the eyelets. I used the full 6 threads of the embroidery floss at the same time to get better coverage per stitch as I completed the eyelets.
The final look is seen below with a smock I threw together tonight to match using the Elizabethan Smock Generator.
*Tutorial video forthcoming