Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Shirtdress with a Twist (or a Frill, as the case may be)

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I was browsing through blogs and ran across a post where Rosanne of She's Sew Unusual posited BWOF 11-2007-106 as fall shirtdress. Of course! Although I loved Cidell's rendition, it just doesn't grab me at all as a fancy dress, too Corporate Cocktail and that gauzy fabric they've used for the bodice for the model looks like a cheap top from Forever 21. But as daywear it's great.

One of the fabrics in The Carol Collection is a loosely woven, lightweight wool challis in a paisley print. I think the print might be too much for a whole dress, but it adds just the right dose of color for an otherwise buttoned down look. I tried a couple of colors for the skirt, but ultimately settled on a black skirtlength with a subtle pinstripe purchased from G Street for around $4.50.

The sleeveless is not practical for Fall, and I didn't want to treat it as a jumper because I already have several jumpers. I am loving jumpers now but I don't think they have a long shelf-life. A few years from now jumpers will look juvenille and icky, as they did a few years ago, and then in another 15 or so years they'll be back in fashion. As the sands through an hourglass, so are the fashions of our lives.

Also, if I were to treat this as a jumper it would have to be a turtleneck under and I HATE turtlenecks. I'll do the occasional mock turtle, but only occasional. My neck/collarbone area is one of my best features and I like to show that area off. Plus, a turtleneck would make the neck frill look weird, and I didn't want to give up the neck frill.

Three-quarter length or long sleeves would be most practical, but I wasn't feeling it. Instead, I took a cue from the divine Ms. DVF and went for puffy elbow-length sleeves. Which will also date this garment in a couple years but I am a *little* bit a slave to fashion.

My only gripe with Burda's drafting on this is the center back seam of the skirt. It is drafted as a straight line. Seriously. Do the women in Germany not have butts at all? I built a little curve into the pattern, and had to take even more in when I sewed it. I chalked the seamline below so you could see how much I changed it from a straight seam. I also lengthened and deepened the back darts. As you can see in the shot above, this gave me a nice fit in the back.

Center Back Seam

Embellishment is one area where I lack. I don't have a good imagination for it. I unfairly malign it as juvenille, when in fact there is some amazingly sophisticated embellishment to be had (such as the embroidery trishapatk did on her One Fabric-Silk contest entry). So I didn't want to give up the ruffles on this pattern. I pondered how to finish the edges of my ruffles; a rolled hem would be a little difficult in wool challis but probably possible, but would it be the best use of my fabric? I experimented with running a twin needle stitch near the outer edge, thinking it would give a nice finish and the zigzag on the underside would stop fraying. It caused the fabric to curl under and just wasn't very interesting. But the frayed edges actually *were* interesting. Hmmm....

I ended up making one inch wide strips (the fabric didn't tear on the crossgrain but did tear on grain, so I got really accurate cuts), putting in a narrow zigzag 1/4 inch from the edges, fraying, gathering, and hand stitching at the neck and sleeve bands. I really love the way it ended up looking. I had a hard time photographing it, but I think the below illustrates the kind of feathery effect I got. I'm going to keep this in mind for other fabrics that can be raveled, especially as I work with more wools from The Carol Collection

Trim Detail

The only downside to this project is that it does not quite suit my well-ripened pear body type. I shortened and narrowed the front darts to try to give more room across the tummy, but it is just unpleasantly bulgy there. Wearing a belt helps camouflage the tummy problem but I still feel a little self conscious, and even without the tummy problem my hips are just enormous in this. I don't mind the hips so much as they are a more "acceptable" womanly curve than a tummy, but there is nothing hourglass about my body; I'm a straight up Erlenmeyer Flask (see right). All photos from this project are here, and there are more details in the pattern review.

Seeing this project, I think I might have to give up on making Simplicity 3673 (the slim cut version at least, and I'm not really drawn to the full skirt version). And it's not looking good for the super awesome petite jumper BWOF 09-2008-114 either. Bummer. I got simple princess-seamed A line Simplicity 2868 as a possible replacement, or Simplicity 2866 with a square neck and small neck pleats. I don't like either of them nearly as much as 3673, but better to end up with a garment I feel pretty in than one I feel like a giant walking tummy in and never quite get around to wearing. We'll see. Simplicity 3673's bodice hits right below the bust (while this is several inches lower) so maybe the darts open up enough by the time they get to the tummy. I'm probably deluding myself, though.

14 comments:

Jillian said...

I think your dress looks great but I know what you mean about tummy problems. I always want to make slim cut versions of dresses but they don't look right on my either!

melissa said...

This is just awesome! I love how you drafted the sleeves (prepleating the paper! Yes! I'd never have thought to do that). I'm so embellishment challenged, too, and I think your frayed edges are just perfect here.

And even after looking at your photos again after reading the last paragraph, I don't think your hips look big in this at all...

loopylulu said...

Your comparison of your body to a flask is too funny. Really, we are our own hardest judges because the dress looks great to me and doesn't look ill fitting.

Little Hunting Creek said...

That dress looks great and I really like your embellishment. It looks very chic.
that dress would also look good with 3/4 sleeves, don't you think? Fashionista daughter says we( meaning me with her supervision) could also make the dress with an A line skirt and 3/4 sleeves. She says that A lines with seam detailing(like slot seams with contrasts) are hot in Europe.

BeeBee said...

Well I like it better without the belt. And maybe it's the photos, but there doesn't appear to be a "tummy problem". And it's a really pretty dress, so I hope you wear it. No one yell at you about this this one!

colour by number said...

The dress is so unique--love it. All 3 simplicity patterns are great! I need a pattern sale soon!

Anonymous said...

Better an Erlenmeyer flask than a Klein flask! Love the dress and I enjoy your entertaining reviews. Izzie

Anonymous said...

This dress looks great on you! The print on top/dark color on the bottom is slimming particularly with the length of your sleeve. I think it is looks nicer/more polished without the belt. Linda

Lisette M said...

I think this dress is beautiful and it looks very good on you. I believe the sleeves balance out the hips to give you that elusive hourglass figure. Wear it with confidence you look great!

AllisonC said...

I think your figure looks great in this dress - if you think it makes your hips look big (it doesn't btw!) then I had better avoid this pattern for everyone's sake! You did a great job, the trim is a really nice detail.

Claudine said...

This is the pattern that I've been looking for to wear with a new jacket that I'm making. Thanks for pointing it out to me. And I think it looks great on you. It should be easy to wear to work.

Sew4Fun said...

Beautiful dress! It's so flattering on you. In this dress you look like you do have an hourglass figure. Love how you did the ruffle too.

Sheri said...

Dear Slapdash,
You appear very youthful, both in your look and and your approach to life. So, if I were you, I would say I'm in my late twenties, so late I'm almost 35!

Anonymous said...

Omg!! slapdashsewist, this dress and the color and style is AWESOME on you.