Like the title says, this is the first dress of summer. But the weather is not cooperating. It's Memorial Day here in the US on Monday which means a three day weekend and the official start of summer, but it never seems to reflect that. It might even rain tonight. If only!
But I did make my first dress of summer. It qualifies as a summer item because it is rayon jersey, super comfortable to wear and sleeveless.
Before I get to the details, I have to say that this simple pattern illustrates why I really like Vogue patterns. Perhaps love Vogue patterns. Small details that go together well and result in a very pleasing garment. Of course this is a designer pattern so it is a copy of the designer's original work. But the very fact that they make these patterns is really fantastic. Plus you know my obsession with most all these Donna Karan patterns and this is another winner.
My outdoor shots of this item are mostly not good, so I will start with a dress form picture. Super simple dress but I just find it very flattering. The the width of the straps, shape of the neckline, the pleating are all very proportional and make a nice shape. This post has a lot of pics for a simple item, but if you like fitting details read on.
Pattern envelope. I am quite late to the party on this one as it is from 2011 but still in print so it must sell. I suppose this is the actual designer dress but certainly not a color I would choose. This fabric almost looks like pillowcase ticking to me, maybe it is seersucker. I kind of played around with the pattern pieces and decided a drapey fabric was the way to go. Sometimes dresses with those release type pleats over the bust can get very poofy in a fabric that is not soft or drapey.
And on the left without the belt. I figured you might want to see how full it is. Almost a barrel shape, the waist is the widest part and then it tapers in a bit at the hemline. So in a cotton sateen or seersucker which were fabrics I considered it would really puff out. In a silk crepe or charmeuse it would be very nice. Fabric choice - it is a learning curve and I have been at it a while :)
So how was the fit? OK, I will use one of my weirdly lit outdoor photos. Overexposed on the top half but you can get the idea. Take note of the neckline. I think it is nice and hits at just the right point for comfort and wearability. More on that below.
What did I like about sewing this pattern? In a word: Facings! I know that facings get a LOT of criticism in sewing blogs I read, people seem to hate them, but I don't see why. And this pattern has a very well designed facing ( a lot of the designer patterns seem to have nice facings). So here is a look at the inside of the dress. I used a knit jersey for the facings, it is the same fabric I use for a lot of knits where I want to put a lining in all or part of the dress.
The facing is curved, and is one piece across the front and then the back, so the armhole is enclosed in the facing. I am not a fan of bias binding, particularly on wovens as I don't think you can get the smooth and flat armhole or other edges with bias binding that you can achieve with a facing. Which is under stitched. Important point!
Just to show you why this pattern goes together well, and to promote facings, here are the pertinent steps from the instructions. This is the method I use almost always on a dress with no zipper. If the dress has a center back seam then I can use the same facing, or full lining and pull through at the shoulder seams. I think this method illustrated here puts people off because they don't want to do any hand sewing? But I like it because you can tweak that shoulder seam and adjust if needed. I sometimes need to take up things there just a smidge and this allows for that little adjustment.
How about fit? I used my usual Vogue size 12 and graded out a bit at the hips to a 14 which worked out as I prefer things to be floaty not clingy. But I pinned together the paper pattern pieces to check the neckline and saw that the neckline would be quite low and the armholes also, so I shortened the bodice in that area. I know it seems a never-ending challenge but fitting is all about knowing where to adjust as well as how much. I pleated out from the back 2 inches total and shortened the upper bodice 1.25 inches which turned out to be just right. Not always easy to tell with the pattern tissue. You may wonder why I didn't just take it up at the shoulders? because then the back neckline moves up that amount and to keep the same curves I do the shortening below the neckline. Also then you aren't messing with the width of the shoulder seam.
One thing to note is that I probably should have added back the amount I shortened at the hemline. As it is I made a half inch hem. So not much to work with. But I am happy with the length. In fact I have been looking at some of my other dresses and perhaps some hems are a bit too long, making me look shorter? Hmm. something I will have to play around with.
Last but not least, this fabric print was a bit crazy. I bought it at Joann's for under $ 12, last summer maybe? and it has taunted me with that repeating panel print for a while. I kept taking it out and playing around with t-shirt patterns but nothing grabbed me. So in desperation to try out this dress I decided to try and turn it into a border print. Reasonable success. It is not entirely centered but the width of the panels didn't allow for that in a dress.
So nothing spectacular but the very definition of an easy-breezy summer dress in black and white with a touch of turquoise. I would say I might even repeat it, or maybe for one of my "same size as me" pals. Too many other new patterns to play with and some Girl Charlee knits that have been staring at me as I pass the spare bedroom. (where all purchases get tossed on the bed until guests come and I have to madly scramble to stash away)
Thanks for all the NY Fabric shopping advice you left on my last post. much appreciated and I wish it was me planning to spend some quality shopping time in the Big Apple.
As for Instagram, I have stuck with it for a week and it is kind of growing on me. If you take a look at my feed you will see Laura who was my sewing student last weekend. She was here in the bay area from her home in Switzerland for almost two weeks of work meetings, so she took the opportunity to spend 2 days of sewing with me. It was so much fun to meet her (re-meet her, we actually met in 2012 at this meet up, a picture of Laura and Karen in the middle of that post). Anyway - we did fitting of a coat and a dress, covered the ins and outs of collar and lapels by making a test version, talked interfacing, bound buttonholes, sewing with silk and wool, tailoring tools and all kinds of sewing chat. I can't wait to see what she makes next!
Happy weekend sewing and a good Memorial Day weekend to everyone in the US.
Lots of garden photos this time of year, this is a Nicotiana that survived the winter in a pot. Such a great color.