I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – I’m an icing type of sewer. On a regular Saturday and with no occasion before or after, I’ll swipe my lips with the hot pink, pull on my velvet overalls, and hit up Whole Foods Market. You can never be too dressed up to buy some meat in my opinion. For those who live in the northeast, spring is nearing, and the first holiday that signifies the season is St. Patrick’s Day. You thought velvet in Whole Foods was extravagant, how about sequins and a maxi dress in a pub? Don’t dare me!
Initially, I planned to use Ralph Pink’s Maxi Dress pattern for this dress. The vision I had in mind when I started was a cross between a Free People dress I adore and a dress Inna made using a printed jersey (she used Ralph’s pattern). But as I looked at the design details, I realized I had a pattern in my stash that would be better for this simple make – my sloper. Developed 3 years ago, it still fits like a glove, and to turn it into what I envisioned would take less time than making a muslin from Ralph’s pattern and then fitting it. I’ll save the technical details of how I transformed my block for next week, and in it, I’ll discuss some standard alterations I always make to my sloper (even though it fits me exactly, it’s not very wearable/flattering unless a few small changes are made).
I discovered something about my sewing self while making this dress, and that is I like fabrics with a texture, especially from the home décor section. One of my favorite me-mades from last year was a swing dress using a vintage yellow fabric I bought at Jomars. Its surface is slightly raised and mottled, which makes it very interesting in person. I also bought the fabric for this dress from Jomars and it took some investigating to figure out what the heck it was. With the help of some friends and Patternreview.com, we concluded that it’s a double cloth home dec fabric with a slubby face side and a shiny wrong side (that was obvious). The diagonal lines on the right side indicate that it’s a twill weave, and the diagonal/floating threads on the back side indicates that it’s a satin weave, which is why it held up well in the washer and dryer during pre washing (side note: I highly suggest prewashing home dec fabrics. In many cases, sizing and starch is applied during production, and when it is washed and dried, the hand changes dramatically, most often becoming softer). Because the fabric was a twill, it presented a host of problems when I cut out the pattern. By nature, twills technically will never be on grain, and I mean that in the sense that the cross grain will never be perpendicular to the lengthwise grain. I’ll spare you the details on how I cut it out for later this week – I wrote a very long post on the subject; the subject definitely got my wheels turning.
The fabric acted like a tweed in that it sagged, especially between the bust points, but I wasn’t going to quilt it like a tweed – that would show on the outside – and I wasn’t going to interface – that would make it 3 plys (if take into consideration it’s a double cloth). I left it as is. No biggie.
The bodice is lined with a printed cotton and the skirt is unlined with French seams throughout except for the CB (is there a way to insert an invisible zipper into a Frenched seam?). The lining was clean finished using a machine at the neckline, armhole, and CB, and attached by hand at the waist seam using a fell stich. The fabric is heavy, and I was worried that it the weight of the skirt would cause the waist seam to sag. Indeed it did, so I added a ½” wide petersham tape to stabilize it. Boy, did that make a world’s a difference (side note: Tasia has two great tutorials for inserting a waist stay – here and here)! Of course, I hung the skirt for 48 hours before hemming, and parts of the skirt grew over an inch. The hem is a ¼” double turnback (also called a narrow hem).
Thinking about the seamstress that I am and the wardrobe that I want to construct, this project fits into that equation. It’s everything that I’m slowly discovering that I like in clothing – simple silhouette, stand out fabric, and great accessories.
Stay tuned for the follow up posts about this project – one later this week on grain perfection and one next week on the pattern work. Cheers to getting involved in projects because I totally got drunk with this one!