Sunday, October 23, 2011

Couture Techniques: Balenciaga Hem

The "Balenciaga" Hem - also referred to as the "Bubble" or "Balloon" Hem - was made famous when used in the couture fashion designs of Cristobal Balenciaga. The outer layer of the skirt appears puffy and is controlled by an fitted inner lining layer. The puff can can be gathered or pleated into the lining layer at the waist, hem or both. One end may be fitted or both ends may have fullness. This treatment is seen on skirts, dresses, sleeves, capes and pumpkin breeches.

Balenciaga Hem:

1.             Using a straight skirt pattern, slash and spread to create a pattern for the outer skirt layer. The fullness can be as much or as little as desired and can be evenly dispersed or may be much wider at the hem than at the top. Slash so that the outer skirt pattern is both wider and longer.
2.             Cut lining from the original straight skirt pattern.
3.             Cut outer layer from newly created pattern.
4.             A stiffener may be added into the balloon layer for additional volume. This could be flat lined with net or silk organza or could be loosely stuffed when finished. Net ruffles could also be attached inside for more controlled stuffing.
5.             Sew straight skirt pieces together. Sew outer balloon skirt pieces together.
6.             Machine baste or sew a row of gathering stitches at the top and bottom of the outer balloon layer. Draw bobbin threads to face of fabric and draw basting stitches up until length of balloon layer matches length of stabilizing layer.
7.             Or, pleat balloon layer to same length as lining layer.
8.             Pin lining hem to balloon hem on each end. Right, finished side of lining should face towards body.
9.             Machine stitch together.
10.          Cut a self-bias strip long enough to go around hemline. Machine stitch bias strip in place, covering raw hem edge of outer fabric.
11.         Draw basting, gathering or pleat waistlines of lining and outer layer together and machine stitch in place.
12.         Apply waistband or stitch to waistline of bodice as desired.

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