Wednesday, June 13, 2012

To piqué or not to piqué

Is your interest piqued? Sorry, I couldn't resist ;-)

We are in the process of making David's white tie vest which is made of piqué.  As a vintage seamstress, this is a fabric type that I always see on the back of 1930's and 1940's patterns but not one I had worked with before.  Piqué, or marcella as it is also called, is a fabric that is characterized by raised weave (looks like fine ribbing or little squares).  It's synonymous with white tie and is (usually) the only fabric used for a white tie vest and tie. 

I love this fabric and can see why all the fashionable ladies' collars and cuffs and gentlemen's white tie garments are made from it.  Can you imagine something made completely in piqué?  I came across these delicious photos in the June 1955 issue of Vogue that caught my eye:


White pique--pure fit from the high square neckline to the firm line of the skirt.  To wear? Dancing the Merengue any evening; or, with a little cardigan, at the Jazz Festival at Newport (July 15, 16 and 17).  Dress by Harvey Berin, $70 Saks Fifth Avenue.


Pristine against an even faintly gilded skin--white pique, lightly-waisted, laced at the hip with more of the same. To wear: dancing aboard the S.S. 'United States' on her 66th crossing, June 10; or listening to 'Heart' on a terrace in Maine.  Dress by Pat Premo, $40 at Bergdorf Goodman.
I love these dresses and can see how piqué would be a fantastic fabric to use to make a dress.  I don't know, however, if I could wear something all white.  Have you ever worked with piqué?

27 comments:

  1. I haven't used piqué yet,  but I have it planned for next year (I have a long sewing list, but also the garments it will replace will last another season), for some sport wear. It was interesting to see piqué used in a dress like this. For me, piqué is synonymous with tennis and golf wear. "Polo shirts" are even called "piqué shirts" in my native language (Swedish).

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  2. I have a white and tan pique dress from the 50's. I had to take it in so if that counts as working with pique? ;-P 
    And I saw this amazing dress on Ebay which I want to copy. It has pique collar and pocket details.
    wow!
    http://www.ebay.com.au/itm/360464789774?ssPageName=STRK:MEWAX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1423.l2649

    Would love to make something out of pique! It's very comfortable

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  3. I made a Negroni shirt out of white pique and I loved, loved, loved working with it.

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  4. Pippa @ BeadsandbarnaclesJune 13, 2012 11:41 AM

    iv never worked with it but oh goodness the front view f that dress is stunning...

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  5. Rozann ThoelkeJune 13, 2012 2:03 PM

    Pique is wonderful to work with and luscious to wear. Noble's yellow Easter dress is out of pique. I'm old enough to remember when dresses were regularly made out of it. It does have a tendency to unravel so seam finishing is important, but it doesn't slip when cutting and sewing so it's rather nice to work with. An all white pique dress is perfect for summer!

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  6. I made a skirt out of some blue diamond pique (the weave looked like little diamonds instead of a waffle weave).  It's lovely.  I like when fabric has some weight but is still soft.  You could always dye white pique!

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  7. Ooooh, now that is just so perfect looking in so many ways! And fabric aside, I love that neckline detail!

    I've never worked with pique but yes, it has also piqued my curiosity. ;) I know I couldn't wear all white however, I can barely keep from spilling on a white blouse. I love the idea of it in a dress in another light color to show off the weave, however.

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  8. UGH seriously! Especially nowabouts when summer is getting into full swing, I have all these beautiful visions of white sundresses floating through my head and--nope. Just begging for a giant ketchup, sangria or otherwise indelible spill.

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  9. That's interesting, because I think of pique as a more casual fabric. I love it! Since it's cotton and textured, it has a similar effect to seersucker in that it allows a bit of air movement, and we use it for summer clothes. I recently made a pair of black pique trousers that look quite nice at first but after wearing and sitting for a time, I've found that they stretch out in the booty and look saggy. I suppose a lining would help, but that would lessen their usefulness for hot summer days.

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  10. I hadn't even thought about pique used in a dress, but of course it works! The second dress is lovely, I adore the neckdetail. Hmm, I'd a bit worried when wearing a white dress though... First, I tend to spill things and white is just begging for spots. Second, I'd be afraid it'd look a bit too much like a wedding dress or a debutant dress. Of course, that effect might be negated by the structure in the fabric...
    I'm so impressed you're making a tie vest, I'm sure it'll be great. And David sure is lucky to have such a skilled seamstress in the house =)

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  11. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJune 14, 2012 7:46 PM

    Of course! I hadn't even thought of how perfect piqué would be for sportswear!   That's fascinating that polo shirts are called piqué shirts in Swedish! I love that!!  Now I want to add a 30's/40's inspired sportwear piece to my sewing list :)

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  12. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJune 14, 2012 7:46 PM

    Ohhh! That dress is amazing!

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  13. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJune 14, 2012 7:47 PM

    I bet a Negroni would look fabulous in pique!  What a great idea!

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  14. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJune 14, 2012 7:48 PM

    Good to know about the seam finishing!  I am really intrigued by making a dress out of pique! 

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  15. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJune 14, 2012 7:48 PM

    That's a great idea to dye pique! I really like the weave...and a diamond weave sounds fantastic!

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  16. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJune 14, 2012 7:50 PM

    I'm with you both.....I think I would probably end up being more clumsy if I wore white...hahaha. I'd be so nervous about spilling on it!

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  17. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJune 14, 2012 7:51 PM

    That's good to know about the stretch in pique.  We have a limited supply here--I've never come across it in black...now I'm on the hunt :)

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  18. Debi_myhappysewingplaceJune 14, 2012 7:52 PM

    Thanks Erika!!  It's perfect because David is such a good customer...he's promised to do a lot of the hand sewing including sewing all 25 buttons on the jacket and vest!!! Now....if he could only do all my finishing...hahahaha

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  19. OOoh! That second dress is delicious! You shuold have one - it's classy beyond belief. Besides, a dress like that is an occasion for champagne, so no worries about red stains....

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  20. Oh, I love the second dress! Especially the woven detail at the hip! I'd love to have it dyed raspberry red. Thanks, for once more adding to my sewing inspirations! :D
    I'm also really interested in seeing the white tie outfit!

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  21. I just made Simplicity 1803 out of printed cotton pique.  It was easy to sew and comfortable to wear.

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  22. Years ago I came across a stunning early 40s summer suit in white pique trimmed in eyelet--it looked so crisp and cool and would be hanging in my wardrobe if it had been my size!
     
    I've seen some lovely pique prints as well, and recently purchased a vintage-looking floral from Fashion Fabrics Club—they also had several polka dot piques that look very tempting!

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  23. Working with cotton piqué is very like working with seersucker (which is a subcategory of piqué, I do believe). Both are very popular in the southern US for summer clothing. The essential wrinkliness of the fabrics helps to disguise wear-induced wrinkles on hot, humid days. And the extra air pockets and increased surface area afforded by the deep texture aids in cooling, by insulation from heat and by increased absorption and evaporation of sweat. I wore lots of piqué as a child, in the days before ubiquitous air conditioning. It behaves much like a stabilized knit in laying out pattern and cutting. It is available in prints and solids. Best of all, you cannot wash out or press out the texture. It's good stuff.

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  24. I have two skirts made of pique- definitely casual ones! I'd love to work with silk piqué for something more formal at some point...

    I don't know that its suitable for pants.. One of my skirts has deep box pleats all around and the other is a ginger. The ginger one bags a bit in the seat.

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  25. I used pique for the collar on my pink gingham 60's blouse.  It was very stiff, which makes it great for collar and cuffs.  I imagine it would hold pleats very well for a 50's-style dress / skirt.  But it doesn't play nicely with drapey fabrics - it needs to be matched with something equally firm.

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  26. House Of PinheiroJune 18, 2012 9:53 AM

    yes, I have brought some for  a summer dress... its so beautiful and easy to work with.

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  27. Fiona NotoriousJune 18, 2012 9:56 AM

    I used to have a fabulous dress made of pic with atomic dice type pattern *sigh* can't believe I sold it on,that is once of those dresses I just should have kept even though it didn't fit!

    I've never used pique myself in sewing though, is it easy to get? I do however swear by seersucker, I love it and buy it up for my stash at every opportunity, although it seems to be harder to buy in good vintage prints now. 

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I read each and every comment--thank you so much!

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