Blush Solina Dress and Breaking The Pattern Review

solina4_web

In the late fall, Named Patterns released previews of their book Breaking The Patternand I knew I had to have a copy. The book has ten base patterns with several variations of each, as well as suggestions on how to further change things up using other pattern pieces that come with the book. The styles included have the fresh and modern look that Named is known for. The photos in the book are beautiful and inspiring (though I’m not sure what it is with the trend of holding a leaf while posing these days) and had me flipping through the book over and over again.

When I saw the previews I had my eye on the Ruska Knot Dress, the Solina Dress, and the Saraste shirt dress. I made the Saraste shirt dress a few weeks ago using some Liberty of London cotton lawn, but I didn’t really feel I could pull off the button-up collar look. The pattern was well-drafted though and the dress came out beautifully, but it just wasn’t for me, so I sold it to a friend so it can be worn and loved.

shirtdress3

In sewing the patterns, I felt a bit frustrated by the instructions. Some of the steps had long chunks of text with few diagrams to break them up. A lot of the steps actually just tell you to go to another pattern’s instructions and follow a step there. At one point I actually turned to that step and the step told me to go to a different step for a different pattern. I felt kind of like I was looking at those little doodles in my elementary school textbooks where they told you “Go to page 89!” and when you went to page 89 it said “Go to page 203” and so on and so forth, and in the end it got you nowhere.

Since the instructions seemed kind of vague to me, I felt that a less experienced sewist would struggle constructing the garments from this book. Some parts of the book have actual photos to complete steps that include somewhat crucial sewing skills (like setting in sleeves or installing an invisible zipper) that I feel like someone should know if they’re making these patterns to begin with.

The patterns all come on sheets that need to be traced, since the pattern lines all overlap each other. What really bothered me is that there was no chart or numbers indicating where specific pattern pieces could be found, and the sheets weren’t all organized by pattern. So in order to find a piece I needed to trace, I needed to go through all the pattern sheets and open them up and flip them over until I found it.

Anyways, I would still recommend this book because the patterns in it are gorgeous and very well drafted (I sewed both the Saraste and Solina dresses without any changes to the pattern). Named patterns are often quite pricey (and don’t always come with several variations), so to get 10 (not including several variations) for the price of the book is pretty good bang for your buck.

Shortly after finishing and sending away my sort-of failed Saraste dress, I traced out the pieces for the Solina dress. It looks pretty complex with all its ties and interesting pleats, but I actually found it really quick to put together.

The pattern doesn’t have a lining and I can’t really picture how I could add one without needing tons of fabric (since there is no waist seam I can’t think of a way to only line part of it). This made it really quick but also the fabric I bought is slightly translucent so I’ll need some sort of slip or nude undergarments. I have no regrets about my fabric choice, though, because the tencel twill I bought from Matchpoint Fabric is deliciously buttery and soft, and I love the drape of it much more than the heavier tencel twill I usually buy elsewhere.

solina1_web

I was concerned throughout the project that the dress would be too long and would maybe look like a bathrobe? But once I had the waist ties sewn in I tried it on and loved how it looked. Fortunately I have long legs so the length doesn’t look awkward (the patterns are drafted for a 5’8″ woman) and I can picture it looking really cute with sandals in the warmer months.

I would also note that the sleeve ties are a touch long, and if you don’t wind them around your wrist twice you’ll have long lengths of ties dangling about. If I make this pattern again with the ties I would probably shorten them. To begin with having them there will be a bit impractical.

solina2_web
I give the “holding-a-leaf-except-it’s-a-flower” thing a try. I think I get the appeal!

I’ll be honest, I don’t really know when I’ll wear this dress. It’s quite the statement piece. I have a lot more fun making statement pieces though, so I don’t really mind. I’ve already been thinking about making more of these, but maybe with short sleeves and a skirt that ends at the knee for something more summer-appropriate and casual. It’s the kind of dress that you can really change up based on skirt and sleeve length and fabric choice.

Have you bought a copy of Breaking the Pattern? What patterns are you planning to try?

 

The Sew Frosting Challenge: Self-Drafted Satin Dress

satindress1web

This is a special dress.

When I saw the floral satin for sale on the Club Tissus website, I knew I had to have it. I generally hate polyester, and I’ve never worked with satin. I was so in love with the print, though, that I ordered almost 5 yards of it and decided that I would make something incredibly special for the Sew Frosting Challenge happening on Instagram. I went on about the challenge and its merits in my vintage coat post a few weeks back, but I didn’t make that coat specifically for the challenge, and I wanted to take the challenge as an opportunity to go out of my comfort zone and make something I wouldn’t normally make.

I knew exactly what dress I wanted to make from it – the Cassie dress from Wear Lemonade. Wear Lemonade makes beautiful sewing patterns that I am really hoping to try some day, and they also make some beautiful ready-to-wear garments. I was kind of sad that the Cassie dress didn’t have a pattern, and the ready-made dress is very much out of my budget. So I guess I had no choice but to make it myself!

I dug out the sloper that I very meticulously made in fourth-year university, when I drafted and embroidered a dress from scratch for my thesis. I don’t know why I haven’t used my sloper since then – it’s a basic block that I perfectly tailored to fit me! It was so easy to use it to make a bodice that would fit me exactly how I wanted. All I had to do was follow the instructions in my copy of Patternmaking for Fashion Design, and it was done! I had put aside a whole day for it and it took me about half an hour. I made a blouson bodice, which basically just has some extra ease in the waist that gets gathered into a waistband. I also made a boat-neckline, and drafted bishop sleeves and a cuff.

To support the very drapey (and static-y) poly satin, I underlined the bodice pieces with a lightweight cotton/silk fabric I had in my collection of lining fabrics. I left the rest of the dress unlined because I didn’t want it to feel weighed down.

The skirt was a very exciting and new process that I tried – professional pleating! There is so little information about profession pleating out there! I consider myself a research fiend, and I spent a few days figuring out how to prepare my fabric for pleating. I knew the fabric had to be polyester, and thanks to a new friend of mine from the Toronto sewing community, I found a place nearby called Sterling Button that has an in-house pleating service. I never would have found it if not for the Toronto Sewcialists Facebook group – Sterling Button doesn’t have a website and nowhere online does it say they do pleating!

satindresscloseupweb

From what I found, hemming pleated fabric is tricky. If you turn up already-pleated fabric, the pleats head in the opposite direction and don’t fold up neatly. If you machine-hem the fabric before pleating, you might shift the grain of the fabric and the pleats will come out wonky. I didn’t know what I should do.

Then I turned to my trusty Kindle copy of Claire Shaeffer’s Fabric Sewing Guide. That book is like the bible of how to sew with every fabric, and in the “special occasion fabric” section, she tells you that hemming should be done before having your fabric professionally pleated. Thank goodness for Claire Shaeffer!

Still, I didn’t want to serge the bottom and throw off the grain, so I hemmed the selvedge edge which I knew wouldn’t need finishing, and I stitched the whole thing by hand. I threw in 5 extra inches of width to the rectangle, just in case. I must’ve done my calculations wrong, though, because 2 days and $25 later, the pleated fabric came back about 3 inches too narrow (albeit beautifully pleated)!

I panicked for a few minutes, and then I decided to slightly ease each pleat apart until the width of the skirt matched my waistband. It worked! I was so pleased. I wasn’t able to match up the pleat folds by the zipper, but it was more important to me that the skirt fit around my body.

After stitching the skirt to the bodice waistband, I basted a grosgrain ribbon into the waistband for added support (I don’t want the waistband to go slouchy with time). I enclosed it with a waistband facing so the inside looks nice and neat.

To insert the zipper, I used pick stitches sewn by hand, since I had carefully matched the floral pattern on the back pieces and I didn’t want to mess it up by sewing it on the machine.

Really, the whole thing wasn’t too tricky a process, but with all the outsourcing and hand-stitching, it took me more than a week to complete this dress. I really enjoyed the creative process of drafting and took a lot of pleasure in all the hand-stitched touches. I also cannot get over the sleeve cuffs and the beautiful pearly shank buttons that Jenny at Sterling Button helped me choose. They just look so elegant!

satindress3web

I don’t know when I’ll get to wear this very special dress – I’m already waiting for the perfect special occasion to wear it! Still, the #sewfrosting challenge isn’t about practicality – it’s about making something extravagant just for the sake of it. I think this dress fits the bill.

Hinterland Sew-Off and Pattern Review

Hinterland2a

Several weeks ago, when Tori of The Doing Things Blog and Sara of The Sara Project announced the Hinterland Sew-Off, honestly, I wasn’t super-pumped. I was feeling kind of overwhelmed by the projects I had lined up for the fall, and wasn’t interested in buying any new patterns. They were hosting a giveaway of the pattern (by Sew Liberated) on Instagram, so I entered, because I thought it was a pattern I would want to make at some point in time.

I forgot about the sew-off, until I won the pattern giveaway (yay!). Still, I didn’t think I’d get to be a part of the Instagram challenge, as the pattern was being mailed to me from the States and I didn’t expect it to arrive with enough time for me to meet the challenge deadline. Spoiler: It did. It arrived by courier 4 days before the challenge was scheduled to end.

Once I had that pattern in my hands, I knew I had to make one.

I am not exaggerating here – I got started immediately. Within 6 hours of opening the package, I had the fabric cut out and ready to go (luckily I had this lovely Cotton+Steel rayon in my stash already washed and it just needed a quick press). I didn’t even bother with a muslin – I did a hasty tissue fit to make sure everything seemed to be in order and moved right along.

I made a few changes to the pattern that used up more fabric than I would have normally used. It was actually very satisfying to see a small pile of cut bits remain after moving away all the pattern pieces. It was tight, fitting it all in to 3.5 yards of 44″-wide rayon. I opted for a facing rather than a bias-bound neckline, and even squeezing that out was tight. But I did it.

I followed Sara’s instructions for hacking the sleeve to make a bishop-style sleeve, but I reduced the fullness quite a bit. I wanted more of a subtle “poof” in the sleeve, since my fabric already has quite a detailed pattern. As Sara did, I also raised the neckline (by 2″) and made the bodice without a button placket. In an effort to copy the style of a RTW dress I own and love, I added a 1″ waistband along the bottom of the bodice – I sewed the waist ties into the waistband, rather than into the main bodice pieces.

Hinterland4a

I was a little concerned when I tried on the bodice (I like to try on after every step of sewing – I’m impatient to see how it’ll look before it’s finished) – the darts didn’t look right at all. I hoped the fabric print would hide it and I could still get away with wearing it. Once the skirt was sewn on, it added some weight to the dress and the darts “grew” – and they ended up looking fantastic! I do think that if I make this dress again in something stiffer like a cotton (which I already have in mind), I would have to do some sort of bust dart adjustment. Also, like some people commented on Instagram, this dress needs a major forward-shoulder adjustment for me. This is a change I always need with Big Four patterns and only with some indie patterns, so when I sew indie patterns I always wrongly assume this isn’t a change I always need to make. So next time, I definitely need to make that fix.

I honestly didn’t have high expectations for this dress. I always feel unsure about boxier dresses, and even though the Hinterland looks great on so many other sewists on Instagram, I wasn’t sure it would suit me. Once I added those waist ties and cinched everything in the back – I was in love. The bishop sleeves were the clincher for me. I am crazy about this dress. I stared at it and stared at it when I finished it.

I love how many variations of this dress can be made and the hacking possibilities it has (I’ve already considered trying a version with a gathered waist or elastic-cinched waist). I would love to make one with a button-placket when summer rolls around again. Once I get the right alterations down, oh baby, the possibilities are endless!

Vintage Patterns: Butterick 6796

HouseDress1web

Every once in a while, I like to treat myself to vintage patterns from Etsy. I bought a couple from SewUniqueClassique a few months ago, but as is usually the case when I buy vintage patterns, I don’t have something specific in mind to make. I’m always tempted by the envelope illustrations, but I try to look past them for something I might actually make or wear, and for something that’s a bit more unique than the standard darted bodice with a gathered rectangle skirt.

Vintage 1953 Butterick 6796 Sewing Pattern Misses' One-Piece Dress - Wide V-Neckline Size 14 Bust 32

Butterick 6796 is one of those patterns. It looks relatively simple, but I loved the charming, vintage vibe it has. (I was also really pulled in by that lace version. One day.) Also, any vintage pattern I find needs to have a neckline I’m comfortable with (or seems easily adjustable), and sleeves that cover the upper arms. This pattern fit the bill.

When I was at Fancy Tiger Crafts in Denver, Colorado, I picked up the last of an incredible charming Japanese cotton lawn with little houses on it. Thinking of many vintage dresses with novelty patterns, I thought the cotton lawn would be a perfect match. The pattern is cut on the bias, and I thought the horizontal print would emphasize the bias cut nicely.

When you’re sewing a vintage pattern a muslin is pretty important – especially since my Japanese fabric was expensive, and, thanks to yours truly, sold out. I bounced back and forth between two muslins. I tried the pattern with no adjustments other than making the waist a bit bigger – even though the pattern is a size 32 (in vintage patterns, a 34 usually works perfectly for me), as when I measured the pattern piece, there seemed to be plenty of ease. So I kept the bust as-is. I raised the neckline just a bit and added a fifth button. The original pattern had a huge pleated circle skirt, and since I didn’t have loads of fabric for that, I decided to sew together a few a-line skirt pieces and gather them.

As is pretty standard with vintage patterns, the bust dart was high and pointy. When I tried lowering it, it just lowered the pointiness (not a charming look). So I decided to try using my Butterick 6318 (a vintage repro that I’ve made before), and I had the same issue, plus it was much less fitted than the original. I realized that perhaps since the fabric was cut on the bias, the dart was just coming out more pointy. I went back to the original muslin, lowered the dart, and decided to work out a solution on the real deal.

To try and “soften” the dart, I underlined the bodice with a white silk/cotton blend fabric, and then stitched the bust darts by hand. I figured the machine was stretching out the already-stretchy bias fabric, and was making the darts pointier. It was a nice little “slow sewing” project. I also used basting stitches to mark in all the other darts (two back darts, and three by each elbow – a vintage touch I really love).

I liked working on this dress because the construction was a bit different than I’m used to (which is why I usually like vintage patterns). The v-neckline is self-faced, and it all came together very neatly. It was supposed to have a side zipper, but I really hate side zippers, so I put a 14-inch zipper in the center back (I didn’t want a zipper at the top of the back ruining that lovely V shape). I sewed binding onto the sleeve hems before folding them in and hemmed them by hand. The sleeves are kimono sleeves, so I also like to stitch a small piece of seam binding along the curve for extra reinforcement. I also stitched binding along the waist seam as a sort of waist stay.

The short-sleeve version of the pattern is supposed to have bias-bound edges (around the neck and button placket edges), and I specifically hunted down some mango-coloured Robert Kaufman cotton lawn for the purpose. It was supposed to bring out the pink-y coloured houses in the fabric print, but when I sewed it on I realized it was a touch too orange. I tore it out and topstitched according to the long-sleeve version’s instructions instead.

I really didn’t feel like setting up my sewing machine for the buttonholes, so I followed the instructions that came with the pattern and sewed all five by hand (yes, my laziness has no logic). I flipped back and forth about which buttons to use (I’ve never sewn buttons on one of my own garments. Fun fact: I had a phobia of buttons when I was 5. I cried when I learned my school uniform would have buttons). I wanted to cover my own buttons, but I couldn’t find the right size button kit online, and when I tried a (non-matching) fabric-covered button from my stash, I really struggled to get it through the buttonhole. I had some vintage buttons from a Fibre Share package, and those worked perfectly.

HouseDress3web

Like many vintage dresses I’ve sewn, this dress is tough to get on and off (I have very prominent shoulder blades and it makes it hard to get the dress past my shoulders). Wearing it makes me feel very 50s house-wifey (especially if I have my crinoline on), but the fabric isn’t too retro-looking for real life and it makes a pretty spiffy semi-casual-dressy dress (does that make sense? No?). I’m not sure the skirt I made up really works for it – a plain ol’ gathered rectangle would probably work better. I do have some real vintage fabric that I think would be perfect for the dress – so I would like to make it again. It’s a light, yellow floral fabric, so it’ll have to wait for the spring. Oh, and I’ll have to make that lace version too…

Vintage Patterns: McCall’s 5142

McCalls5142d

love vintage patterns. I have been obsessed with 50s silhouettes since I was a teenager, and when I discovered vintage paper patterns, I couldn’t get enough.

I find that if I follow my high bust measurement and add a bit to the waist, vintage patterns usually fit me to a T. I also love that you can find patterns with special details that you don’t always find in today’s patterns. I tend not to shop (modern) Big Four (Simplicity, McCall’s, Vogue, Butterick) because the huge selection overwhelms me, and they can be expensive in Canada if they’re not on sale. I love Indie patterns, but lately they have been trending towards more relaxed looks. Vintage patterns really hit that fitted and feminine sweet spot for me, and, if you do it right, vintage patterns don’t have to make you look like you stepped out of a pin-up (if that’s not what you’re into) – Allie J. does a great job making vintage patterns look fresh and modern.

Anyways, sometimes I get sucked down a vintage pattern rabbit hole, and last summer I spent FIVE HOURS one day searching for the perfect pattern. I found McCall’s 5142 for sale on Etsy in the LastPixie’s shop, and I fell in love with it. I hadn’t seen a similar dress anywhere else, it was in my size, it had a sleeve length that I loved…but it was a bit pricey, once shipping from the States was included. I tried looking and looking for a pattern that I would love just as much, or another seller that had the same pattern (I found another, not on Etsy, selling it for 50 USD). I couldn’t. Somehow, though, I managed to convince Eitan to let me order it.

A few weeks later, it was mine.

I made some adjustments to get the fit just right, but I needed to find the perfect fabric. I was really in love with the envelope illustrations (I mean, isn’t that half the reason we buy vintage patterns?), and I spent a long time looking for just the right print. I needed a crisp cotton, and it needed a little more heft than cotton lawn. Also, the print needed to have a vintage floral vibe, and finding cottons (non-quilting cottons) with lovely prints on them in general is tough.

McCalls5142b

I finally found the perfect fabric on Minerva Crafts (uch, why does the UK have such a good selection of fabrics to shop from!) and once my birthday rolled around, I had the casheesh to order it. It is lovely – soft, slightly crisp, opaque, and with a vibrant floral print.

The dress pattern didn’t require lining, and while I almost always line my dresses, I felt that lining this one would add unnecessary bulk in the bodice. Instead, I followed the directions pretty faithfully. People often say about vintage patterns that they have very few instructions, which makes them difficult for beginners to sew. I’ve actually found that, at least with patterns from the late 50s onwards, they have really detailed, helpful instructions.

Without the lining, I felt the seams needed some extra protection. The instructions tell you to stitch some seam binding along the clipped seam of the kimono sleeve, just under the armpit. I actually carefully basted the binding along the entire seam (sleeve hem to waist), and neatly topstitched close to the seam on both sides. It doesn’t look that great on the inside, since I used purple bias binding (I wanted to use what I already had, and it happened to be vintage bias binding).

McCalls5142c

The only part of the instructions I didn’t follow was the zipper placement, which places the zipper at the middle of the back, with the back seam near the neck closed. I was skeptical that I would actually be able to get the dress on if I did it that way, so I sewed a handpicked zipper (one of my favourite vintage sewing techniques) the “normal” way instead. I also pattern matched the seams in the back, which wasn’t too tricky because the print is on the bigger side.

I finished the all the seams with pinking shears, again because it has a bit more of a vintage look. I hemmed the skirt using a folded hem and took a few hours to stitch it by hand.

McCalls5142a

Since it wasn’t lined, apart from sewing the hem by hand, it actually didn’t take me very long to finish this dress! I love putting it on with a crinoline underneath and some red lipstick and high heels. I just wish I had some white gloves to complete the look!

Elisalex + Emery

LibertyElisalex3_Web

Pattern: By Hand London Elisalex + Christine Haynes Emery

Fabric: Liberty of London Tana Lawn

I generally try not to rush my sewing, and I find that when I give myself deadlines of any kind I have a lot of trouble getting through a project stress-free.

I made this dress in the midst of a very busy time – Passover cleaning. It was my first time cleaning our apartment for Passover (usually we go to family for the entire eight days), so it was extra stressful. Still, I was convinced that I had to finish sewing the Kelly Anorak I had been working on (more on that in the next post!) – and, miraculously, it was finished just within a week of starting it. And, of course, I cannot be without a project, so as soon as I finished my Kelly, I got started cutting out the next piece of fabric in my stash.

Of course, in order to avoid deadline stress, I told myself I was just trying to make progress, and not to expect to finish anything before the holiday (as you’re supposed to avoid doing any “handiwork” during Passover). I do hate starting things and leaving them unfinished for a long period of time, but I told myself that I would rather get something done rather than leave it.

And, well, by Friday (the first night of Passover), I had finished all of the dress except for the zipper, facing, and hem. At that point I had to finish it! So I spent the entire day sewing away (at a surprisingly calm pace), until I finished the dress a mere three hours before the start of the holiday. Isn’t it nice when things work out that way?

This Liberty Tana Lawn was actually not intended to be a dress. At Liberty’s, I wanted to buy two different fabrics, but it was too expensive to get 3 yards of each (3 yards is my standard yardage for sewing dresses) – so I bought two yards of one, thinking I would finally sew my first blouse out of it.

Well, once I laid the fabric out on my dining table and played around with my pattern pieces, I discovered that I could actually squeeze a dress out of it (will I ever make a top??). I combined the Elisalex bodice with the Emery skirt, since I know both those patterns work well for me and I wouldn’t have to deal with a muslin. I spent a long time toying with the idea of making the sleeves puffed, and in the end settled on easing the original sleeve pattern into a cuff (giving the sleeves just a slight puffiness). I shortened the sleeves considerably to fall just above the elbow, and then cut out two rectangles that were sewn into cuffs.

LibertyElisalex2_web

Since this Tana Lawn print is quite translucent, I underlined the bodice pieces with white cotton lawn. The skirt is lined with Bemberg rayon so it won’t cling to my legs too much (but also mainly because I didn’t have enough of the cotton lawn left). I serged all the seams because I wanted to keep things simple.

I also cut out fabric to make a matching sash, but I was really impatient to have a wearable dress ready, and so I may make and add the sash later. I am really pleased with the dress on its own though, and am still waiting for warmer days so I can wear my light and cotton-y dresses. Shouldn’t be long now, should it?

LibertyElisalex1_web

Liberty of London Zoe Dress

Zoe_web

Pattern: Zoe Dress by Schnittchen Patterns

Fabric: Liberty of London Tana Lawn

My thought process throughout making this dress certainly had its ups and downs, as the pattern I used had its…mysteries. This was the first time I sewed anything by Schnittchen Patterns, a German pattern company with some really lovely modern designs. I bought the German-language pattern as a PDF (I actually thought I was purchasing an English-translated one. Turns out only the pattern pieces were labelled in English), figuring that regardless of the language barrier, I could interpret the instructions, IKEA furniture-style. Well, this was the first time ever that I got a pattern with text-only instructions. Nevertheless, I figured I’d just follow the sew-along linked to somewhere on the website. Well, the link was broken, but using the magical powers of Google, I found it. By using Google Translate (which offered some laughable translations), the sew-along helped me enough to sew up the dress.

Something else mysterious about the pattern was that nowhere on the internet – not in Google searches in English or German, not on Instagram – did I find more than three photos of a finished dress. Two of them were posted by Schnittchen (one on the product page and one in the sew-along), and one of them was posted by Tassadit on her blog, Rue Des Renards.

Do people not make this dress? I scoured Instagram – first I tried the English hashtag, #zoedress – which was much too vague and gave me hundreds of children’s dresses. Then I tried in German – #kleidzoe – turns out there’s another German pattern company that has a “Zoe Dress”, because that’s all I saw. I didn’t find anything else. It surprised me, because it’s a nice enough dress, and it’s beautifully photographed on Schnittchen’s website.

ZoeCloseUp_Web

But I didn’t let the lack of photos stop me, and I figured it would be a bit of an experiment. Of course, since I used the precious Liberty Tana Lawn that I bought at Liberty’s this past October (I was drawn to the little orange frogs and peaches!), I made a muslin first. I was a bit worried, because the shaping of the pattern looks pretty unusual (the centre back dips upwards and the back neckline is quite high, and the sleeve cap looked especially curvy) – but after making the muslin, the only change I made was adding a bit of ease at the side seams and centre back. The dress doesn’t have a lining, and I opted to pink the seams and bind the armholes with matching bias binding.

There were a few things in the actual pattern that bugged me, but they aren’t really problematic if you’re familiar with garment construction. One was that there weren’t notches in a lot of places that I felt needed them (in the waistband side seams, and the notches in the armscye are the same in front and back), so I had to add them myself. Another was the French cuffs on the sleeve – there was too much excess fabric in the sleeves to sew the cuffs down without puckers, so I just cut them off and hemmed them as I usually would. Not adding the collar was a personal choice, as I didn’t really feel it suited me.

Also, you can’t really see the pintucks because of how busy the print is, but the pintucks in the skirt don’t line up at the skirt side seams. I considered sewing the skirt pieces and then sewing the pintucks, but I decided to follow the sew-along’s instructions. Since my pintucks were folded just a few millimetres off, they don’t line up with each other (if you’re a perfectionist this would really bug you). Luckily, the print hides it and I can barely see the tucks in the first place. These are just little things you’d want to be careful with if you were sewing the dress in a solid colour, or if you’re a bit more nitpicky.

That said, I wouldn’t say the fabric I chose was the right choice for this sort of pattern. There are so many lovely little details that just get hidden in the print. I do love the print, so I’m still quite pleased with the dress, but I don’t think it was a match made in heaven.

ZoeDetail_Web

The dress overall is quite well drafted, but I also don’t think that the shape of it suits me. It has quite a high waist, and together with the gathers, it’s a bit too “baby doll” for me. I like a dress that comes in at the waist. I considered lengthening the bodice so that it would fall at the waist, but the pattern was intended to be high-waisted, and I really wanted to give a different style a try. I probably wouldn’t make it again, but I would certainly recommend the pattern to someone who’s a fan of the high-waisted/empire look. Also, the neckline is really very high. I actually sewed the neckline facing 1/4″ deeper to make the neckline a bit more open – it didn’t require any adjustments, just a matter of sewing a 5/8″ seam allowance instead of the 3/8″ the pattern calls for.

In the end, it’s the beautiful Liberty fabric that makes this dress feel truly special, and despite the parts that aren’t just right, I’ll probably wear it quite a bit if (when?) the weather ever warms up.

Zeena Dress in Nani Iro Double Gauze

ZeenaAlt2_web

Pattern: Zeena Dress by By Hand London

Fabric: Nani Iro Suzuran Field – Double Gauze

I don’t know what took me so long to get around to this dress. Sometimes there’s this one little hurdle to just get over before you can get sewing. Either you’ve lost your sewjo, you just didn’t buy a matching zipper or thread, you don’t feel up to tracing/cutting the pattern…we’ve all been there.

For me, it was the fit adjustments. I have forward-thrust shoulders, and adjusting for it is always pretty straightforward with set-in sleeves (it involves taking a wedge from the front of the shoulder seam and adding it to the back). I struggle a lot when it comes to kimono sleeves though (which is annoying because half of my vintage patterns are kimono sleeves). Since the sleeve and bodice are one piece, I can’t make an adjustment to the shoulder without having to adjust the entire sleeve. Yes, I found one or two tutorials, but they involved cutting an impossible-to-shape triangle out of the shoulder (comment below if you know of other solutions!).

So when I sewed up an adjusted muslin, I moved the entire shoulder seam (neck to sleeve hem) forward more than an inch! I tried on the original muslin and then the adjusted one, and they both looked exactly the same. I felt so dumbfounded that the pattern sat gathering dust atop my scrap bin for about 5 months.

Last week I finally mustered up the courage to try again – I still felt conflicted, but my gut told me not to make any adjustments to the original pattern.

After all that, the whole dress (minus hemming) was done in a day.

I love it, though. It was my first time working with double gauze, which I found to be surprisingly “sticky” (for lack of a better term) – easy to sew, but trying it on over leggings wasn’t a good idea. But overall, it’s soft, lightweight, and just opaque enough that I could get away without a lining.

I almost always line my dresses, so since I wasn’t lining this one, I opted to do French seams for all the seams except the zipper and waist seams (I had to serge those. I didn’t want to, but I had gotten impatient at that point. It got the job done). I would recommend French seams if you’re working with a lightweight fabric – my fabric was borderline thin-enough to get away with it. Since double gauze has two layers, I was also able to slip stitch the neckline facing down all the way around.

ZeenaFull_Web

After all my non-adjustments, I found that the fabric still pulls kind of weirdly around the neck. I’m not sure if making my shoulder adjustment would have changed that. All in all, the fit is perfect around the waist and I love the pleats that go all the way around the skirt. It’s cozy but flattering. I also cannot get enough of the fabric – the colour, the print…I couldn’t even tell till I started sewing it, but the little white dots are actually bits of silver! Ah, Nani Iro, you have me under your spell.

ZeenaHanger_Web