Monday, May 23, 2011

Oo la la

I've made a new dress for winter!
This fabric, a sort of very roughly spun and woven silk, with some very stiffish almost stick-like pieces woven into it, was one of my Christmas presents; that I bought so the children could have some things to give me; hehe, I know, so thoughtful of me...  I always wanted to make some sort of unadorned sheath dress with it, something that was plain-ish, yet still chic and polished, that could be dressed up or down to suit a multitude of "looks".  And in an ideal world, pockets would be in there too somehow.  But how to incorporate pockets into a sheath dress?   It is almost impossible, without resorting to the ol' patch pockets, which are not very chic and not a very polished look.  I wanted "polished", in case if I so desired I just could wear my dress to semi-formal do-es.  Occasionally, I do so desire.  So when I saw this pattern, dress 128 from the 08/2009 Burdastyle magazine I realised that while the dress did appear quite fitted and sheath-like, the pleated fullness at the front of the skirt meant that inseam side pockets were a distinct possibility.  So I tried out putting some in, and they worked out pretty good, imo.  Yes! (self high five)  Is that a case of having my cake and eating it too, or what?!
Apart from the inseam pockets, I made a few other small modifications.  Firstly, I have a slight pet aversion to dresses that have a waist seam on the front and not on the back.  Just privately, it bothers my pernickety need for order and continuity... so I cut the back pieces to have a corresponding waist seam at the back, corresponding to fit with the front waist seam.  This also enabled me to make a slight sway back adjustment easily, a double win.
Also, my dress is fully lined with acetate lining fabric, unlike the pattern, which stipulates a bodice lining only.  Why would you have a lined bodice, and not go that small extra step to line the skirt section? Hmmm...  imo, a skirt lining is mandatory in a winter dress, so it doesn't stick to your tights.  For my dress lining pieces, apart from the very top neckline and sleeve bits which are to the pattern, I used mostly the lower portion of an ol' faithful Burda 8511.  So apart from the bust darts at the front, and long double ended body darts at the back, the lining is quite plain.
I also opted to line the sleeves, for extra warmth.  But here I made a small error of misjudgement, although I know that sleeve linings need wearing ease, at this stage I was happily whizzing ahead in my blissful little sewing trance, and didn't incorporate enough into mine.  Agreed, I should know better by now... still, this is only a problem for that one moment in my day when I am trying to zip up the thing at the back, you know when you are twisted in that position with one arm up and one arm down behind your back, trying to hold that back centre seam in place with one hand and grab the zip pull with the other to pull it up?  I'm sure this is one of the main reasons yoga was invented.  I mean, the need to stay limber enough so we can get our back dress zips up by ourselves, naturally... 
The fabric is that sort of silk that frays like a madman, fraying all by itself just seconds after it has been cut. So I edged all the straight raw edges in HongKong seaming, while some of the "hidden" ones up inside the bodice and in the sleeves were just overlocked to finish...  did someone just say "lazy?"  Who, moi?  On the bottom hem, I made a wide strip of bias binding to make a divinely wide hem...  just look at that hem width, and not a raw edge to be seen anywhere.  Couture heaven, no?!

Dress; pattern no 128 Burdastyle magazine 08/2009 with some modifications, silk
Sandals; akiel, from an op shop

Below is my pattern review, if you are interested...

Pattern Description:
This figure-following sheath dress constitutes a tribute to all Paris fashion designers; the bodice remains plain while little waist tucks lend the skirt a refined tulip look  (don't you just love Burdastyle descriptions...!)
Pattern Sizing:
36-44, I sewed a 38, and  graduated the skirt pieces out to 40 from hip height down because I wanted to incorporate inseam side pockets.
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you had finished sewing it?
Were the instructions easy to follow?
very straightforward and easy
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
There's nothing not to like about this pattern!  I made a few slight modifications to suit my personal taste.
Fabric Used:
A roughly spun and woven silk, with acetate lining
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
I incorporated inseam side pockets.  The slight flare at the front of the skirt provided by the waist pleats made this an obvious modification, and very easy to do.
I cut the dress back pieces to have a waist seam, corresponding to the waist seam at the front of the dress.  I prefer the continuity of this look, and it also enabled me to make a slight sway back adjustment.
I fully lined the dress, including the skirt and sleeves.  For the dress lining pieces, I used a plain shift dress pattern I already have; which does not have the shaping of the main dress pieces.  For the sleeve linings I used the pattern pieces, although, note to others who plan to do this, be sure allow some wearing ease here!
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I highly recommend this to others!
This is an easy dress pattern with a lovely, flattering and classic shape.

below; side view, with pockets in action...

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