I bought this lovely yellow eyelet fabric from Mood in NYC in 2008, using a gift certificate given to me by a friend as a thank you for sewing lessons. The eyelet was $18/yd--I would never have paid that on my own but it is gorgeous. And because it is gorgeous and expensive, I felt that I had to find the perfect pattern. It has shown up in various sewing plans over the years, but I never found the platonic ideal pattern.
But then last year I was innocently walking down the street and saw a woman in white eyelet shirtdress with cutaway shoulders and a notched collar and realized I had found my pattern. I bought a Vogue pattern (OOP 8383) but it wasn't *quite* what I was looking for. Then I randomly lucked into Burda 7658 for $1 while pawing through a huge table of patterns at G Street Fabric when they discontinued Burda and Simplicity. What luck! It was truly meant to be.
The underlining is an embroidered cotton-poly Cynthia Steffe fabric from Paron's Annex, purchased in 2009 for $4/yd. I wasn't keen on its original pale yellow color so I overdyed it with turmeric, which actually worked really well. But it's a thin fabric that would need to be lined and it read more "poly" than "designer" or "cotton." I had a pattern idea for it but wasn't enthused to sew it up any time soon. I assumed I'd underline the eyelet in white. But then, they were sitting next to each other on the fabric shelf and I had an "I wonder...." moment and put them together. LOVE. The yellow underlining works so much better than white for this project. And plus, using up two fabrics in one project? Even better than killing two birds with one stone, particularly since I am a vegetarian.
To save fabric (I ended up with a few scraps of the eyelet, but not even an inch of remaining yardage) and reduce bulk, I cut the undercollar only of the underlining. To get a good turn of cloth I trimmed the side and outer edges just a fraction. The end result is sharp, and the undercollar does not show unless flipped up.
I finished the armscyes with bias tape cut of white cotton batiste (which is going to get gross from my sweat--at least the underlining is already yellow!) and hand-stitched the tape to the underlining.
For the back facing, I did the now usual Sunny Gal Studio clean finish facing method of sewing the interfacing right sides together with the facing along the outer edge and then flipping to the inside before fusing. I hand-stitched it down to the underlining to avoid any kind of facing flappery.
I wanted to have a similar clean finish on the self-facing for the skirt, and because I was underlining I was able to do so. First, I fused interfacing to the underlining's wrong side from the outer edge minus seam allowance to about an inch past the fold line. I zigzagged the long edges of these interfacing strips so that if the glue gives the interfacing won't start peeling off in sheets (yuck!). Next, I placed fashion fabric and underlining, underlining wrong side to fashion fabric right side along the outer vertical edges and serged. (The wrong side to right side thing is because I wanted the right side--the embroidered side--of the underlining to show through the eyelet holes.) Then I opened out the pieces and folded along the outer vertical edges (front opening edges) to enclose the serging and pressed. The serged stitch shows through the eyelet holes, but as this is the self-facing that was folded to the inside and would never be seen, that was totally fine.
It worked out very well. As with the back facing and sleeve bias finish, I hand-stitched the front facing (including skirt self-facing) to the underlining for a very tidy finish.
As mentioned, it was a very tight squeeze on the eyelet fabric and I couldn't fit two full pockets into the layout. It's common to use a different fabric for the front pocket, which is folded to the interior, so it was a no-brainer to cut one set of pockets from the underlining fabric. But the pocket is set into a yoke, and at least part of the back pocket is meant to show. I thought about it for a while and then took my inspiration from jeans. I cut the yoke part plus about 1.5" out of my eyelet, which fit into the little spot I had left, and cut a another set of full pockets of the underlining. I stitched the eyelet pocket yoke to the underlining pocket piece and treated them as one when setting in the pocket. Nobody would ever guess my secret!
Confident in my Burda fit--after all, the envelope claims it is "The Pattern that Fits!"--I cut my usual sizes: 34 at the shoulder and bust, 36 at the waist, 38 at the hip. The envelope says the dress is "Fitted" and boy was it ever. This was quite snug, much more so than I would expect a 36 to be even with my fairly bulky fabric layering. I was extremely frustrated by that. I let out the side seams from below the bust to waist, and on the underlap placket I folded the facing outward to give myself an extra quarter of an inch there (click the photo to enlarge). It fits now, with a small amount of ease. But only a small amount of ease, which is not ideal for (1) summer heat or (2) longevity of garment. Boo! Next time I sew from a Burda envelope I will look more closely at sizing.
I purchased the buttons at a Goodwill trunk show a couple of years ago and LOVED them. I couldn't get a great shot; they are resin-y with embedded white bits near the base, a deep rich color, and lots of shine. I tagged them for this dress as soon as I had my shirtdress epiphany and am so happy with how they look on it! There were seven of them, which worked out just about perfectly. I never follow the button placement guide on patterns, spacing the buttons according to my preferred neckline and their size.
Because of the bulk of the fabric, I didn't want to do a turned under hem. In hindsight, I could have used hem tape or ribbon for a neater look. For the most part, I sewed the fashion fabric and underlining as one. When sewing the side seams, I left the seam unsewn about 6 inches from the hem so the fashion fabric and underlining would be free of one another. I marked and pressed the hem on both the fashion fabric and underlining. Then I turned under and stitched a small hem on the underlining. Once it was hemmed, I finished the side seams, catching in both fashion fabric and underlining. Finally, I serged the edge of the fashion fabric about 2 inches from the fold and stitched the hem to the underlining by hand, enclosing the underlining's hem. I had shortened the hem about 1.5 inches in cutting, due to my limited fabric, and cut off another 1.5 inches after marking the hem. This is meant to have a long skirt I guess?
I did not do a perfect job on this. I should have treated the floral cutouts as stripes, but they are not lined up at all and somehow I cut the collar way off grain (doesn't affect how it lays but the floral motif makes it obvious). But it is an adorable dress and I am so happy finally to have sewn this beautiful fabric! It came out just as I had envisioned. I love that it can be worn with brown or white (and I'm sure other colors). It can also be worn without a belt on those crazy hot days such as we are having now (given that it is inappropriate to come to work in a bikini). Although I do not wear much brown, that's how I ended up styling it the first day I wore it because I really liked the touch of safari to the look.
I am trying to make this summer all about fearlessly sewing Too Good to Use. My current project is a beautiful silk impulse buy from Kashi, and I *will* get to the silk jersey I bought with the same gift certificate.
What Too Good to Use fabric are you going to sew up next???
All photos are here and the pattern review is here.