Tuesday, April 5, 2011
The girls in DC had the clever idea of wearing their filmy Spring dresses all winter with a cardigan over and tights underneath. I thought it was a brilliant idea. It worked because the colors of the dresses they were wearing were muted neutrals. I don't think my bright color palate would work as well. I wouldn't know a neutral if it bit me on the nose. Plus, it looks better with pumps than boots, so that lets me out--I never wear heels and I need boots to keep me warm. However, it did get me thinking about starting Spring a little early. The black in this print helps it work with opaque black tights and black mary janes. With a sweater over top I can bust out the filmy, fluttery dresses of Spring a few weeks early. Take that, Punxsutawney Phil!
I bought this fabric in Spain, while hanging out with the wonderful Paco Peralto Rovira in Barcelona. It is a polyester print, not so much a special fabric as a special memory.
Simplicity 2360 caught my eye at the end of last summer--it's sort of a woven version of the Simplicity 2554 flounce tee I made and loved last year--so I tucked it away for this Spring. Once I decided to use my Spain fabric for it I got so impatient! Especially as our Australian sewing sisters were merrily making it up in adorable prints (Exhibit A from powderpuff) over their summer while I bundled and froze. I really must find a way to live half the year in the US and half in Australia so that it is always summer. Or move to a tropical island, I guess that would be easier. That whole "making a living" thing really cramps my style in that respect.
This is a really easy pattern. It would be a great 3rd or 4th project for a beginner (assuming an easy way to finish the ruffle: serger, closely spaced zigzag, or lightweight fabric that can be doubled by cutting out two sets of ruffles and sewing right sides together at the outer edge). It is not fitted and has no closure, but it doesn't look dowdy/homemade-y and is right on trend with the ruffles.
I took a small SBA on the side piece as per usual for a princess seam, but this unfitted dress did not need that much tweaking in that area; actually, I find in general that shoulder princess seams do not need as much SBA adjusting.
As directed by the pattern, I used a bias strip to finish the neckline. I will observe that bias does not mean much to a polyester charmeuse. The fabric also doesn't ease and the neckline binding has some wrinkling around the curves. I folded my bias strip in half, lined up the raw edges of the strip with the raw neckline on the inside and stitched at a 1/4" seam. Then I turned the folded edge over to the outside and topstitched in place. This makes so much more sense than first sewing to the outside of the neck and then trying to stitch in the ditch from the front side and catch in the folded edge on the wrong side. So much easier. I don't know why patterns always have you do it the hard way. Here's the finished neckline, inside and out.
The dress is lined/underlined with an Ikea Knoppa sheet, my go to $1.99 source for cotton/poly batiste. The bodice is lined. I constructed the lining separately and then sewed it right sides together with the dress at the shoulder edges for a clean finish. Since the shoulder edges are covered by a ruffle and this created some problems given the different ways in which the fashion fabric and lining fabric behave, next time I will just hem the two edges together. I then treated the lining and fashion fabric as one at the neckline.
For the skirt, I underlined with the sheet. My polyester charmeuse is sure to exercise unfathomable powers of static cling on hot days and I wanted to tame that as much as possible. It adds stiffness to the skirt and it sticks out a little too much in an A line, but I still think it is better than the staticky alternative. I hadn't thought far enough ahead to do a full faux Hong Kong finish, which requires that the underlining be cut 5/8" wider than the fashion fabric. So I did a faux faux Hong Kong finish, sewing the fashion fabric and underlining right sides together along the long vertical seams of the skirt and then turning right side out.
I lined the skirt with rayon satin as I knew I'd want to wear tights with the dress occasionally and tights would stick to the cotton/poly batiste.
I cut out the side seam pockets but forgot to actually put them in because I was so focused on the seam finish.
For fitting at the waist, you are meant to turn the waist seam into a casing for elastic. I left openings in the waist seam at CF and did a drawstring (two fashion fabric strings with a generous cut of elastic in the middle) closure. Next time I will just do the regular casing and put a fake, removable bow on the outside so I can also use a belt over the elastic waistband.
I used the serger to finish the outer edge of the ruffle.
This dress is definitely not my best work. I was not consistent in choosing my right side for the French seams of the bodice lining, so the seam allowance is on the outside at the princess seams. The poly charmeuse grew at the neckline and so I sort of arbitrarily trimmed it to match the underlining, but I didn't do a great job of matching them up so the outer layer is a different shape than the inner, creating some wrinkling. And then there is the bodice length.
I have a long torso and never need to adjust bodice length, even though I am short. On this pattern, the waist is elasticized and I think the bodice is meant to blouse over the waist a little bit. I didn't like the length of the front bodice, finding it a touch too long. I didn't want to have to undo the thousands of layers of stitching and serging at the waistline (bodice, skirt, skirt lining, and casing) so I just folded out some bodice length above the seam and hand-stitched it in place. It totally shows on the outside as a fold above the waist seam.
Lest you fear ruffles have gone out of fashion--they have been having quite a long run this time--check out this Cynthia Steffe dress. The ruffles run all the way to the hm and it uses colorblocking, but the styles are almost identical. Hers is silk, and costs $295. Discount for my use of polyester, and I'm still doing pretty well, I think!
I wore this for St. Patrick's Day with my ubiquitous Burda turtleneck underneath. I was so thrilled to sneak in a warm weather dress!
I am so into this pattern, though more as a top than a dress--an elastic waist does not do a whole lot for me. I always sigh over beautiful silk charmeuse prints but never know what to do with them. Next time I find one I just have to have I will indulge and make a top using this pattern.
All photos are here and the pattern review is here.