Friday, February 19, 2010
I liked the kimono variation in Burda 06-2009-110, although without the front button placket, and made a muslin of it in some terrible, terrible black polyester shortly after the magazine came out in June. I decided I wanted to make the real thing in gray; I ordered some gray fabric online but it turned out to be green. I bought some in NYC in June but got it home and discovered that charcoal gray cotton is too blah.
Then when I was researching border print images, the kimono dress at right really struck my eye. I received this wool challis as part of The Carol Collection and hadn't been sure what to do with it. I feared whatever I made with it would look dated (picture an 80s style ankle length broomstick skirt out of this fabric and you see what I mean) so I had to tread carefully. However, the kimono looked fresh to my eye and in no danger of screaming late 80s/early 90s, an era that, with all due respect to my high school and college self, was a total fashion dead zone. The stash contest going on at PatternReview was a good incentive to take the plunge. I would never be in any danger of winning the contest, but I like the camaraderie of seeing how much of our collective stash we can stitch rather than buying new fabric. It is a challenge and a good discipline to use up older pieces about which enthusiasm has waned.
At first I thought I would cut this as shown in the inspiration photo, which appears to have been cut as a true kimono with a cut-on sleeve, the border at the edge of the sleeve. However, I had only two yards of the wool challis and couldn't get this cutting layout to work. The Burda dress is drafted with a separate sleeve, so I lengthened the sleeve to 15 inches and cut. I cut the body of the dress on grain, and then attached the border print to the bottom of the dress with a seam. With the piecing, I could just squeak the dress out of the fabric. There are only tiny bits of it leftover.
I lined with a polyester, also from The Carol Collection. I knew I would need something drapey and fluid, but also not too lightweight to get this dress to hang correctly and be warm enough for Fall/Winter. I love that the brighter color shows through in the sleeves; in traditional Japanese kimono, giving a glimpse of the contrast fabric of an under-kimono at the sleeve was considered part of the art of wearing it. The only problem is the poly lining is SO staticky. I am not sure how it will wear.
Anyway, I thought I was being all clever by cutting the front along the self-facing foldline. It wasn't until I had it put together that I realized the self facing foldline is NOT center front. Oy. I am smrt. So I had extra fabric in front, which did not look good. I took the concept of the gathered neckline of the inspiration dress, and cut the neckline to a wide boatneck and then took up the extra front neckline fabric in pleats, as neckline pleats are very fashionable right now. I pleated the fashion fabric and lining as one and finished the neckline with bias tape. Messing around with all this sculpturing made this no-closure unfitted dress take waaaaay too long to make!
While planning the cutting, I had a hard time deciding on a length for the sleeves. Luckily, I could put on my muslin and see where the shoulder seam fell and measured from there, but that gave me no sense of how the sleeve would wear. The extra-long sleeves on the inspiration piece are part of what drew me to it, so I didn't want to skimp. However, once it was constructed the sleeves were just a tad too long. I couldn't just hem them because then I'd lose the border print. I could have shortened above the border and it would have looked like the hem, but I put in some crazy pleats at the shoulders just to test out various sleeve lengths and kind of liked the way the crazy pleats looked. I like the sculptural quality of all those pleats at the top. So I made them permanent. I know they are weird. The pleats at neck and shoulder show up best in this shot.
I considered leaving the pockets off as they just seemed like extra trouble. I like the idea of pockets, and I like to put my hands in them occasionally, but I never actually use them. But then I thought about it some more and realized that I *do* use pockets on dresses to clip my work ID onto them and keep inside the pocket. Wearing a work ID with dresses can be challenging. If I am wearing a belt I clip it onto my belt. If it has a waist seam I put a safety pin in the seam (which gives some support to the weight of the ID) and clip it to the safety pin. Dresses with no waist seam are impossible. I used to have a badge holder that had an actual clip on it, like a binder clip, which was awesome because I could just clip it onto a dress, but it broke and now I am stuck with the kind that's a passive clip, like a money clip. I refuse to wear a necklace/lanyard style ID holder because they are hideous and clash with my actual jewelry. Although this dress must be worn with a belt (check out the sexy unbelted nightgown look), my ribbon belt (tutorial is here) doesn't love holding the weight of my work ID. So I kept the pockets. After all that overthinking, I think they are cute.
I haven't had a chance to wear this dress yet and I am concerned about the staticky lining and haven't quite figured out the best boots**/tights combo for cold weather, so I'm not calling this an unqualified success. However, this fabric is now sewn up and no longer sitting on the shelf where it's been the past year and a half so in that sense it is a huge success!
All photos of this project are here and the pattern review is here.
**I love it with the cowboy boots, but after spending way too much money on these boots I don't think I can wear them. This happens every time I buy cowboy boots. I have spent hundreds of dollars on unwearable cowboy boots. The shaft collapses inward to my ankles at the seam where the lower boot and shaft are sewn together. The vertical seam is piped and this creates a very thick seam that protrudes into the inside of the boot, as you can see here. The seam is really harsh and it takes off layers of skin where it has collapsed into my ankle to the point that I am bleeding within minutes. I cannot be the only person in the world with this problem but all my googling has found NOTHING, not only no solutions but nobody else even having the problem. I have considered several ideas, such as buying metal rulers and taping them along the seam on the inside to keep the seams from collapsing but I don't know if that would work because tape won't stick very well. Wearing thick socks is not enough, and bandaids/medical tape are no match for those rubbing piped seams. Does anybody have any solutions????