I want to make a dress using raw dupion silk. The fabric is naturally thin and 'clingy' and I am wondering if I should back it first with very fine 100% cotton lawn before cutting the pattern and sewing the dress. This would give it a little more body but I am not an expert dress maker and would value advice. Is this an approved method of working with silk?
its normal to cut these types of fine fabrics with a paper backing, design houses tend to use spot & cross pattern paper or similar.
its very important that you take time & trouble laying out the fabric so that the grain runs true & then pinning - outside the cut area to avoid marks - or use weights - this will hold the grain in its proper place, so will stop your garment distorting - which is easy to get wrong with these sort of cloths
backing with another fabric will mean you have movement of that fabrics grain & bias, so will make it harder to keep your fine silk grain true, so paper, works better IYSWIM
thanks for that - all tips very helpful. My intention was to keep the fine cotton backing in place when the dress is made, as a back up stiffener, so paper doesn't really come into this. (I have taken apart another silk dress which was made for me and not a good fit, and found very fine cotton lawn between the silk and the dress lining, so that's what has given me the idea) If I lay out the cotton fabric under the silk very flat and thin of course ( and cut fabrics as one - and sew up the side seams (simple A line pattern/ side seams from hem to wrist/ no darts) will this make the dress look a bit firmer and hang better?
Yes, its an inner lining & does serve to help it hang better & look less flimsy, its something they would do with better quality, especially vintage courture garments.
but unless you are very experienced with these types of fine fabric I still wouldn't advise cutting as one, perhaps maybe backing both with paper & carefully laying up each cloth taking GREAT care with the grain lines of both, but that will probably be more of a PITA than cutting separately IYSWIM - with expensive cloth its worth taking the extra time & trouble or the end result can end up looking "cheap"
its easy on these types of cloth for the grain to distort, so you end up with bits of it off grain, even if your pattern fits you like a glove, that can cause fit & make up problems - ie: puckering at the side seams as your seams will come out different lengths, twisting of the skirt etc
FWIW these days I make Bridal & occasion wear, so I'm used to these fabrics