But Now It’s a Dress

1 but now..

1 welcome to the dollhouse

1 under my thumbnail

The dark line under my thumbnail isn’t dirt but a bruise!

I wanted fine Rouleau strips to be a key feature of my tablecloth dress, the design of which is based on a client’s gently draping number in viscose.  But I just couldn’t get the strips to turn right side out.  I tried every method – from funnelling to sewing thick thread to the inside to making them so wide that they really didn’t much resemble Rouleau strips at all. My fabric was just too tough to co-operate. I made so many, the strips gradually getting wider and wider until they no longer resembled Rouleau strips at all. After several hours of progressing in mere centimetres and in a perverse way enjoying it, my thumbs became too sore to grip and I came to my senses asking myself: if I was a costumier, would these wasted hours be tolerated by whoever was paying me? Of course not!

1 rouleau strips1 bias binding

So to Plan B which was to make bias binding instead. I cut the strips a mere 2cm wide and pressed until the finished size was 0.5cm. With this method, unlike with Rouleau strips, there is no danger of wrinkling. Even better, just as when I made the Colette Dahlia dress, the binding was used not just to construct the straps but to enclose the neckline too.  1 bodice cf

Getting into this dress is something of an intelligence test. First you step into it, put the halter neck around the back of your head, then slip on the two shoulders straps. It took me a while to master this technique.  Initially there was grappling and I’d be reminded of that scene in Absolutely Fabulous when Patsy gets lacerated on the strings of an elaborate designer lampshade!  🙂

1 go eastI hope these photos – taken in bright light of what was almost mid-day – do justice to this dress.  I love everything about it: the deep blue, the way my skin shows through the gaps (it’s a much better contrast then when the dress was white) and I love how the sun casts interesting shadows about my legs as it peers through the lacing. One advantage of this fabric being somewhat of a toughie is that it doesn’t crease as much as typical dress linen.

1 back white

The only thing that went majorly wrong is that that original back opening that goes down very sensually to the waist – shown in the pre-dye dress here – gaped open too much when I put it on: clear proof that you can’t copy a dress if you use a vastly different fabric.

So I spent some time inserting a lapped zipper and now the back looks like this.

1 back blue

1 beachyNot as sirenish but on the plus side it means I can wear a strapless bra which doesn’t at all show (I’ve had a bra that adapts to a strapless one but haven’t worn it till now).  It isn’t uncomfortable – though I seem to be slightly stooped in some pictures so I think it might take me some time to trust that it’s not going to slip down!  😯

Thanks Etemi for this most fun and creative challenge! I found the tablecloth patterning limited my choices when drafting and resulted in something not so much like the target design but just as good and certainly more wearable!

As ever, I’ve learnt a thing or two and earned the definitive feelgood dress of the summer

The deadline for Etemi’s challenge is this Saturday. I can’t wait to see what the others have done..

P.S. If you’ve lost your keys and they look like this, they’re on the beach at Greenwich!2 keys

Laurel Giveaway

Ever fallen in love with someone who at first sight didn’t appeal at all?  Well, that’s the story of me and Laurel!  A month ago when the pattern was released, I was decidedly underwhelmed.  “Hang on, that’s not a pattern, that’s a block!” I thought.  But of course, Sarai, who thinks of everything, had foreseen the reaction of sceptics such as myself and produced not only a booklet with tempting ideas on how to vary the design, she’d also thrown in a challenge in the form of a competition to see who can come up with yet more creative interpretations.  Which got me thinking along the lines of: “but it looks like it’d be really quick!”  And: “those sleeves are so feminine.”  And: “I could do with a dress that’s practical… where’s that credit card?”  🙄 🙂

Having already garnered a few compliments IRL on my muslin, I can now safely declare Laurel to be my feelgood dress of the summer.  And I want to share it with (one of) you.  For a chance to win my used but respectfully preserved pattern, leave a comment below.  Worldwide commentators welcome! 

I’ll also be drawing for three other Colette patterns from the stash:

–  the Clover, which I sadly made into porkBut you’d be luckier!

– the Sophia Lauren-inspired Lily, and

– the versatile Jasmine.

 

You may specify which draw you would, or wouldn’t, like to be entered into.  If you don’t, I’ll enter you into all 4.  The draw is on May the 1st.

 

The Laurel Muslin Review

I used a 1.5m of a full-width, light cotton to make Version 3 with the following adjustments/modifications:

1. French Seam: as my fabric is perforated and I didn’t want the seams to show, I used a French seam throughout, including in the sleeves.  

2. I shortened the length by 5cm (or 2″ in Colette-speak) so as to wear as a tunic or to the beach.

3. I widened and lowered the neckline.  Since these photos were taken, I’ve lowered it again by another 1cm so as to cut out the hook and eye at the back (I didn’t like how this sat).  The new lower front also works better with  this lapis lazuli necklace brought back by my mum from her travels in Chile.  

4. I made bias binding twice the  specified width

5. The waist seam: narrowed and made more vertical  than out-curving.

Time taken: most of a day, not including the reworking of the neck.  Would have been quicker if it wasn’t for the French seams.

Next time: I feel a slight pull towards the back so on my pattern copy I’ve moved the shoulder seam forward 0.5cm at the neck and 1cm at the shoulder.

And, oh look what indigo beauty I found browsing round Hobbs!  My version cost £20: pattern, fabric an’ all.

Viva Frida

Every year, I make myself a Feelgood Dress of the Summer.  Last year, it was the Burda 7378, now being worn almost daily during this current spell of a well-deserved British Summer!  For this year, I’d long ago earmarked Burda 7493.

I liked the tabs and buttons of View A, but felt that my chosen fabric needed simplicity so I left out the pockets and the topstitching.  Though I noticed that the pattern was marked “of average difficulty”, with a 3/4 rating, I just kind of optimistically assumed that this referred to the jacket…

The Fabric

My fabric: 2 yards of a cotton poplin from Alexander Henry via Ebay.  The print is called Viva Frida and features colourful images inspired by Frida Kahlo, her art and her life in Mexico.

There are many images of flowers and plants, there’s a Diego Rivera face in a cactus, love hearts as well as slogans saying “Amor Calor Dolor Dador” (Love Warmth Pain Giving) and “nada vale mas que la risa y el desprecio” (Nothing’s worth more than laughter and contempt).

It’s the kind of fabric you go for if you’ve always wanted tattoos but were afraid to ask.  Or if you don’t mind slightly shocked strangers stopping you in the street saying “where did you get that dress…?”  I’d used the fabric once before, years ago, to make a much loved version of New Look 6459.  But washing and UV exposure had taken their toll.  Compare the old and the new:

The Pattern Review

I was surprised that B7493 hadn’t been reviewed more widely, seeing how the model  on the envelope looked so lovely and happy wearing it….  SPR  had a couple of write-ups and these gave clues as to where the problems might lie:  

1. The waist fit 

2. The neckband

To which I’d also like to add:

3. The neckband, the Sequel.

Waist

If your figure is hourglass or pear, you might need to make a muslin as this dress is better suited to the figure with less of a waist/hip differential.  I made size 12 which left almost no ease at the hips and I reduced the waist from armhole and hip by a total of 5cm.  

Beware that the bodice and skirt (and all the side panels) join together an inch above the actual waistline.

Also be aware that since the dress doesn’t get its neckband till later, it won’t stay up when you’re checking the fit.  I considered pinning it to my bra straps but at the back I couldn’t reach.  In the end, I stuck it to myself with parcel tape.  Consider having a friend around…

On the plus side, the panels in the design do seem to create in a nice, figure-hugging effect.  And if you get it perfect, the whole thing is enhanced by tab and button.

Neckband

The outer part of the neckband is interfaced, the inner isn’t.  I suspect that since it curves and is on the bias at times, it stretches.  Sewing it to the interfaced piece (already attached to the dress) will require all your intermediate sewing skills to come to the fore.  No matter how much care I took, the folded edge always seemed 2cm bigger (sewing the armholes by the same method hadn’t created any problems).  Solutions: choose the lightest interfacing and apply to both neckband pieces and press, press, press: never slide your iron.  Alternatively, staystitch the inner neckband straight after cutting.

These options came too late for me.  My solution was a couple of tucks on the inside:

But what’s that on the right?

Ah, yes, another neckband issue.  Once the dress is completely finished, you put it on and get this:

A bra strap miles away from the neckband!  Only recently at Sew Ruth’s I’d read about creating a system with which to keep straps hidden.  It seemed the only solution here, bar going bra-less.  Luckily I had tiny snap fasteners and matching ribbon in my stash but the curved shape meant I had to put four of these in: two at the front and two at the back.Though the system works, you can tell that the neckband is strained somewhat. 

Worse, it means that I’m going to need a personal dresser to clip in the back straps for me…. 

 

Other Pattern Modifications

Side Zip – in order not to cut up my fabric too much (and risk the graphics repeating too closely), I put the zip in at the side and left out the centre back slit.  This means that to get into the dress, I have to put it on over my head (I’m studying the Houdini method for tips on how to do this easily).  It also means that the tabs have to have buttonholes so I could put them on last.

Conclusion

A less than professional execution of a dress that was challenging to make and might be more challenging still to wear.  But I think it looks good as a smart summer dress.  What do you think?