Monday, December 4, 2017

The Return of an Old Favorite


When this Donna Karan pattern came out back in 2011, I fell in love with the dress.


So many of her designs use knit fabrics which means I have a collection of the patterns, but rarely cut into them.


But this one called for a stretch woven, and the style lines were so interesting I just could not resist.


I made a version of this dress in silk when the pattern was first released.  It was not a stretch woven, but there was enough ease in the pattern that it works just fine.  The peg to the skirt hem is a bit constricting, but not enough to make wearing the garment uncomfortable, but I always wondered how the pattern would work with the suggested fabric.


Not too long ago, I found this stretch woven at JoAnn Fabrics in an amazing blue and white print and the first thing I thought about was how perfect it would be for this Donna Karan design.


One of my favorite design details is that the button band is hidden, which makes it the perfect opportunity for me to practice using machine made buttonholes.  If they don't work out to my satisfaction, they aren't going to be visible anyway.  


And, of course, these ones turn out fine.  Go figure!


While this is a very modern design, with very ready-to-wear construction details, I really like that the style lines are not your standard front and back with side seams.  The diagonal pocket openings extend around the back hip and curve around towards the back and the pleats create a lovely waistline.  Most importantly, I have yet to see this dress look anything but amazing on an incredibly diverse set of body shapes - and that is a true sign of a fabulously drafted design.


Unfortunately, I purchased all of the remaining yardage which was not quite enough for this particular pattern.


The good news is that most of that extra fabric needed is used for the very large self-belt that gets wrapped and tied in a bow at the waistline.  This fabric does not look especially good on the wrong side, so I needed to rethink that element anyway.  


I do love the front bow, so I kept that detail, and made a fabric belt from the remaining yardage.  The closure is hidden behind that front bow.  Sometimes things turn out for the best!  And I am not one to let a little thing like 1/2 yard too little fabric stop me!



Sunday, November 26, 2017

Plummy Silk and Hemp


Now for the fun part . . . cutting into the pretty fabric!


I did not have a whole lot of time to get this dress put together if I was going to have a place to wear it in the near future, so I jumped right in.  Thanks to my muslin, I was fairly certain it would turn out okay.


The fabric has a lovely drape, but it is also quite stable which made cutting very easy.  The real challenge was fitting all the pieces on my yardage (I originally thought I was going to make another design with this fabric which required a bit less yardage, so it was a crunch).  But with a bit of rearranging, I made it work! 


Next up was finding some matching thread so I could begin construction . . .


but my wall full of thread let me down - not a single matching color, or anything remotely close, so it was off to JoAnns.


Once that hurdle was crossed, I started getting somewhere!


I did not have any cotton for sew-in interfacing to match, either, but I figure it is not going to show, so I went with pink.


I have a habit of keeping every scrap of fabric, even when they are tiny.  For the last few projects, I keep pulling bits out that will work as far as color goes, only to find there is no way I am going to fit the tiny facing piece on the even tinier scrap of fabric I have been hoarding.  I believe I need to rethink the size of scraps I keep on hand, unless they are something really, really special - medium weight cotton doesn't count!


Everything else went according to plan.


And I even managed to make time so that I could enjoy my favorite part . . . the hand sewing!  This is the understitching on the neck facing pieces - so glad I found a nice thread to match.


And my dress form got a bit of a workout for this project.  It makes a very useful hanger, and it also keeps me motivated.  It is so much easier to see progress on a form than a shapeless pile of fabric on a table!


Of course, I finished the raw edges with Hug Snug seam binding.  If there is a complaint that I have about this fabric, it would be that it likes to fray.  It is certainly not the worst I have come across, but you do have to be a little extra careful.  It was a relief once I got a few of those raw edges taken care of!


The other issue with a fray happy fabric is when there are acute angles that need to get clipped.  Scraps of silk organza (tiny pieces of this particular textile actually get some use!) and this technique helped to keep those points nice and neat.


And that seam binding makes another appearance to help finish those raw edges!


The construction order on this dress is not what I am used to, but it was fun to have a design keep me on my toes.


There are also a lot of seams to match up.  When I am working with a deadline, it always seems like I have to redo these joins multiple times.


But somehow, each one was spot on after the first go!


I just love the way the two sides of this fabric look together.


And another join that decided to be nice to me!!


It's beginning to look like an actual dress at this point, so it goes on the dress form for motivation.


Another scrap of organza to stabilize the zipper opening . . .


and a lot of basting to line everything up before hand stitching it into place.


I was a good girl and fit my muslin with the shoulder pads I made early on in this process, but I was worried that I would not have enough fabric to cover them.  That would not be a huge problem, but it looks so nice when everything matches.


And it just so happens that I had two perfect scraps left over.  It would seem that this fabric really was meant for this dress design!


Of course, when I pinned the pads in place and tried the dress on, they just did not look right.  See anything wrong with this picture?  I had them in backwards.  How the heck did I manage to do that?! At least that was an easy fix!


And then all that was left was hemming.


A whole lot of pins . . .


and more lovely hand sewing . . .


and the dress was complete!



[Disclosure:  Organic Cotton Plus provided me with this fabric, but the opinions posted here are my own.]

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Another Muslin for a Special Project

I was recently contacted by Organic Cotton Plus about reviewing some of their fabric.


To be honest, I have had my eyes on this hemp/silk blend fabric for some time.  It's pretty luscious, right?!  The color is a little more blue toned than the website photos look on my screen, but the following picture doesn't quite capture the color either.  This is a difficult one to photograph!


As I had a lovely experience with my last review of one of their organic cotton sateen prints, I jumped right on board.  (So much for no new fabric added to the stash, right?!? - except I used this one right away, so maybe it doesn't count?)


When the fabric arrived, it had a bit more drape than I was expecting, so I had to reassess my pattern choice.  Also, the "wrong" side of the satin was just as gorgeous as the right side.  The fabric is labeled as charmeuse, but this seems more like a heavy crepe backed satin than a charmeuse to me, although the weave is not a crepe.


Once I realized that I wanted to use both sides of the fabric to do it justice, there was only one pattern that would do!  I made Vintage Vogue 2354 many, many years ago in a poly crepe backed satin.  The publish date on the pattern envelope is 2001, so my dress is probably close to 15 years old.  I did wear it a few times, decided that I did not like the side opening with snaps and hook & eyes, replaced those with an invisible zipper, did not do such a great job, and to top it off it was made from POLYESTER.  Yuck!  I still don't have the heart to get rid of it, but will I ever wear the garment again?  I doubt it.


Here was an opportunity to try again.  I did attempt to add length to the torso of a fairly complex design with some success with very few years of garment sewing under my belt back in the early aughts, but it did not turn out perfectly, and a muslin was definitely going to be on the table with my gorgeous hemp/silk textile.


To properly lengthen the bodice pieces, I thread traced my muslin pieces but left plenty of extra fabric along the bottom edges.


I pleated those pieces and then trimmed the extra seam allowance.


What remained was a properly lengthened bodice!


The only real issue was that I could not be absolutely sure how those two front pieces should match up.


I took an educated guess, and continued on.


Can I just say how much I love the interesting style lines of this dress!  You just don't find this in modern design, and it's a real shame.


But, oh well, this is why we make our own clothes!


And, of course, I basted a zipper into the side seam to get a better idea of how this thing was going to fit.


Turns out, I had to shorten the left front bodice piece just a bit to make the neckline sit properly.  Other than that, there was not a whole lot to mess with.


I was a good girl and even used my shoulder pads to test the fit.  (They really do make a difference.)


A few notations regarding the alterations to the left front bodice scribbled on my muslin . . .


and it was time to rip the whole thing apart.


Now the question is, did I finish the dress in a single weekend in order to wear this to the opening concert for The Marin Symphony . . .


I just love self imposed deadlines!  But a full length gown with satin fabric involved is a bit much for a simple day at the office, even for me.



[Disclosure:  Organic Cotton Plus provided me with this fabric, but the opinions posted here are my own.]