Thursday, August 18, 2011

Bright Silk Dress

My daughter has a wedding to attend this weekend in Halifax.  She wanted two dresses made for this occasion - one street length for the afternoon service and one killer gown for the evening reception.  
We found this fabric on Ottawa Street in Hamilton one sunny morning.  I loved the weight and feel, she loved the bright colours.  With such a strong vibrant print we needed a simple shape so the fabric could be seen and heard.  I suggested Simplicity 2361 by Cynthia Rowley.  I had the pattern in my stash from a $1.99 sale at Fabricland and I had made many other Cynthia Rowley designs successfully.  I decided to forget the ruffles and just do a simple pullover dress.  
Before cutting the silk I covered my cutting table in tracing paper to help stabilize the fabric.  This pattern required cutting the pieces from a single layer of fabric.  I had to make sure all the excess fabric stayed on the table so the weight of the hanging fabric did not distort the grain.  I cut with a new blade in my rotary cutter but used scissors for inside corners and clipping.  I pinned the front pattern piece to the fabric and underlaying paper and took it directly to the machine.  I stitched the "V" through the paper as I did not want to risk any damage by tracing paper or pens.  
There was a lot of hand sewing involved in this dress. A LOT!  This dress should have taken a few hours but the hand sewing slowed me down.  I like hand sewing so I took my time and was very careful to only catch a thread or two.  I used a fell stitch.  
The "V" was bound with bias as was the neckline. The fabric was so light that even the weight of the pressure foot distorted it.  So I took a break and watched my Sandra Betzina DVD about Designer Seam and Hem Finishes.  She also includes tips about bias.  The DVD was very helpful and this is not my first time sewing bias.  She recommended using a narrow zig zag stitch instead of a straight stitch.  It worked wonderfully!  I will post a full review of the DVD soon.  But it is a must have.
Speaking of stitches and such I should mention that although I bought silk thread in New York City just for this project, I found it was too heavy.  I used Gutterman polyester thread instead.  My needles were 70/10  but I could have used something finer.  I increased my stitch length to 3mm and reduced the tension to 3.8.  To finish the non bias edges I used a narrow 3 thread serge.  

My fashionista daughter who is studying Fashion Business in college decided that she needed a cobalt blue feathered clutch to go with this dress.  We could not locate one under a $1000.  so I made one.  You will see it soon.  She already had several pairs of shoes that worked - black strapped wedges, nude pumps, and pink satin wedges.  I have no idea what she packed.  

Because I made the dress, bag, and card I did not have time to make the gown.  We bought a great one on sale in less than an hour at the mall.  We actually spent more time looking for the perfect earrings than we spent finding the gown.  The feather bag works with the gown too.  Thank goodness!  
There is also this bag I made last year.

Here is my review of the pattern.  

Pattern Description: Pullover Dress, Mini-Dress, Tunic and belt

Pattern Sizing:12,14,16,18,20

Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it?It was similar.

Were the instructions easy to follow?The instructions were very vague and the pictures did not match the written directions.  
1. The directions for the shoulder seams call for you to gather each pattern piece separately then sew together.  I found it easier to pin the seams together then pull the gathering threads together.  This way both sides of the seam were even.  They want you to gather the shoulders to 4 1/2 inches.  It does not state if that is the total measurement of the entire shoulder or from notch to notch.
2. The belt was too short.  The pattern piece and the cutting layout both indicate to cut 1 piece.  The diagram in the instructions shows a seam but does not mention one.  The belt measures 49.5 inches for a size 20 with a 34 waist. This leaves 15.5 inches to tie in a nice square knot and hang down.  The photo on the envelope show a bow.  I like to see at least 8 inches hanging.  I added 23.5 inches to the belt.  This required ripping apart the seam and adding another piece.  I really did not like ripping apart the silk.

What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?I wanted to use a very simple shape to compliment the bold fabric colour and print.  Because of the drape and weight of the silk I needed an unstructured,flowing design.  Luckily I like hand sewing as there is a lot of hand sewing - the neckline slit and neckline are bound with bias strips.  The sleeve, side slit, and hem are also hand stitched.  

Fabric Used:Silk Charmeuse.  The store said it was from Roberta Cavalli.

Pattern alterations or any design changes you made: I eliminated the ruffles as they would distract from the print.

Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?I would sew it again but maybe as a top - with the ruffles.   I would recommend this pattern but not to beginners and not if you hate hand sewing!  Except for the problem with the belt, this is a great pattern.

Conclusion: I made this dress for my daughter to wear at a wedding.  It fits, she loves it, she is on the plane as I write this.  

Yes I know everyone wants to see the dress on a person but she was busy.  Standing in for my daughter is one of my vintage dress forms I like to call Annie.

Annie enjoys standing by the pool in the hot sun.

Yes I see the target!  But my daughter does not have much bum so it looks good on her.

We packed the dress and others in this garment bag that I made for her several years ago and off she flew.


sew many ways


donatella said...

you are good!! boy, you're good!
love the print and the dress, and also the bag :)
i'm struggling with a bold print myself now... wish you were here!!!

Etcetorize said...

The dress looks great, love the colours! She'll be the hit of the reception for sure. Looking forward to all of the extra posts that are going to come out of this project~

Kim @ Cheap Chic Home said...

Just gorgeous, Janlynn. What a lot of work you had to do with the hand sewing. I know what you mean, I enjoy it, too. You really had a lot to share. I'm going to have to check out a pattern for a garment bag. A friend and I travel together several times a year. She has a cool leopard print one, and I have black. Hugs Kim

GodsgirlT said...

I am so glad you followed my blog and now I can follow your blog. You made this cute silk charmeuse dress that I saw on PatternReview! What a hot little number. I LOVE it! Glad I got to see more pics of it...even on "Annie"'s still HOT!

DeniseAngela said...

Wow....what a gorgeous dress! Thanks for sharing all of the details! Love the black bag & the garment bag.....she will be so styling....hope she will share some of her pics with us who love your projects!

JamieS @ Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom said...

What a gorgeous dress! I wish I could see it on her!

shopannies said...

very fun and pretty

Kara @ Mine for the Making said...

Beautiful and it looks like it would be so comfy and light to wear. I also love the black bag!

Thanks for linking this up to DIY Diva Thursdays!


Jennifer said...

Just wanted to let you know that I have mentioned this post on my blog. Please let me know if there is anything you wish for me to remove. Have a great day!!!