"Wool Challis Odelia Dress" by Rimma Zolotarova

I’m so excited to be back here to share a new project with possibly the nicest fabric I’ve ever used! I couldn’t resist the beauty of this Emanuel Ungaro Signature Wool Challis in a ditsy floral print. I chose the colour way with the fuchsia flowers, but the one with the ultraviolet flowers is also gorgeous, it was a tough choice! I was extremely curious to feel this wool challis, as I’ve only worked with viscose challis before.

I opened the package, I literally gasped and couldn’t stop saying “wow, wow, wow”! The fabric feels absolutely amazing and I was just overwhelmed with emotion! It felt like I was holding a beautiful little cloud in my hands! It’s very different from a viscose challis, it’s so soft and airy, it holds shape better than viscose, yet it’s very fine, somewhat translucent, and very delicate.




I washed it by hand in cool water using Eucalan soap, then spread it flat on a towel to dry. Once I gently pressed and steamed it, it regained its smooth and airy feel. I chose the Vikisews Odelia pattern the moment I saw the original sample and how similar the designer’s fabric is to this one, I couldn’t get it out of my head. I debated on whether I should line the dress because of the fabric’s translucency, but then decided against it. It’s not see-through enough that it would make me feel uncomfortable, and I really didn’t want to feel anything else against my skin other than this amazing 100% wool challis.

And another important factor in this decision was a surprising discovery I made about this fabric: it doesn’t wrinkle at all!!!  Viscose challis wrinkles a lot and I expected the same behaviour out of this challis, but I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw that no matter how much I crumpled this fabric, absolutely nothing happened to it!! Yet it presses wonderfully and can be shaped and molded with steam! It’s some kind of sorcery.



My first step was to make a muslin, there was no way I was going to cut into this precious fabric without being 100% sure of the fit. And I’m so happy I did this! My muslin didn’t fit well at all and I had to make an important modification. But first things first - I picked size 40 based on my bust measurement. Right now I’m B92 W77 H108 and size 40 is for B92 W72 H98.

I was missing 5 cm at the waist and 10 cm at the hips if I wanted to achieve the intended fit of this design. I decided to add a bit more ease, as I didn’t want the dress to be too fitted, but instead skim over my body. It was also a good decision because of the fabric properties - it’s so delicate and frays quite a bit that any seams with significant stress would risk coming apart. So I added about 2 cm at the waist and 3 cm at the hips on the front and back side seams, for a total of 8 cm extra at waist and 12 cm extra at hips. I also shortened the sleeves by 2 cm.

The most important modification was to remove almost 4 cm at the center back neckline tapered to the waist notch on the center back seam. Without this, the sleeves were falling off my narrow shoulders and it looked terrible. I did notice however that many of the sewn versions on Instagram seem to have this issue as well, you can tell that the sleeves are sliding off their shoulders. By removing the excess in the back width, the fit is super comfortable and I don’t need to worry at all that the sleeves would slide off or expose my bra straps, despite it being quite a wide open neckline.

Another important change I made was to shave off 1/8” from the outer edge at the shoulder on the front and back facings tapered to the neckline edge. This clever trick ensures that the facing won’t ever peak out! I read that it was an issue with many of the sewn versions and you can see on their photos that the facing is rolling out, despite being understitched. Finally, when it was time to determine the finishing of the dress, I debated between following the instructions and using my overlocker, or doing luxurious finishings which would take much more time.

Of course I opted for the luxurious finishing, this fabric deserves nothing less! I finished the facing using the clean method whereby the front and back facings are stitched together at the shoulder in the fashion fabric and the interfacing, then the facings in the fabric and the interfacing are stitched together at the outer edges with right sides together, and finally turned right side out and fused together with a tiny roll towards the interfacing. This gives a beautifully clean finished edge without any overlocking or topstitching.

I finished the sides and the armscyes using French seams and did Hong Kong seams at the waist, the placket sides and the center back seam including the invisible zipper, using bias tape cut in the same fabric.

As a last detail, I added gun metal grommets using a press and threaded them with a narrow rouleau strap.



I absolutely love the finished garment! It fits just like I wanted, the fabric envelops me in an airy cloud, and I feel so comfortable and feminine and sexy in it!

Thank you Elliott Berman for sourcing such incredible fabrics that inspire us! 

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