I have been sewing like mad over the past few weeks, what with the kids on holidays and I've got a break from my office work as we're in the process of switching over computer systems, and I've nearly finished all of my autumn sewing plan. I finally finished my trench coat the other day; the belt buckle situation was a real hold-up, but I went op-shopping with my daughter and I picked up a nice heavy-ish brass one (attached to a ghastly PVC belt, I wouldn't chop up a leather belt but PVC, hey, all bets are off!) I only have one item left to do on my plan and that's the heather purple sheath dress. It was my husband who suggested I take some photos during the construction process and put them up here as a kind of progress report. After all, even my mother probably doesn't want to look at photos of me every day! so I thought, good idea.... I think I'll do this on alternate days for a while.
For my sheath dress I'm using Burda 8511, one I've used before four times. My first version I thoughtlessly put in the Good Sammy's bin during a fit of cleaning madness, the second version is here, the third here, and the fourth is a winter dress I haven't posted about on this blog yet. Although the third version is a loose shapeless dress, on each of the other versions I have fine-tuned the fitting of this dress and am quite happy with the simple chic of this style. For this one I want it to be quite formfitting.
I'm using hessian silk, from Fabulous fabrics, which has a sort of rich magenta warp with a sky blue weft, the final effect is a sort of dusky purple. For the lining I'm using mauve bemsilk, and I've got a 46cm "eggplant" invisible zip.
Variations I am doing on the pattern:
1. As this is to be an autumn/winter dress I'm lining the whole thing. (this is a bigger variation than it initially appears!)
2. The back is laid on a centre fold, eliminating the central back seam, and I'm relocating the zip to the left side seam.
3. I'm shaping my own neckline
4. The dress will be fitted to be way more form-fitting, as the original pattern is pretty shapeless. (again, a biggie)
5. The dress will sit above knee, so no need for a rear central slit.
Here are some of the pattern pieces, cut out. The front neckline (at left) is still uncut as I haven't decided whether to make it rounded or square at this point yet (often a last-minute decision!) On my sewing plan I drew it as quite high necked, but then had second thoughts... I've also cut out full dress lining pieces.
As I am doing a whole dress lining, I've extended the facing pieces and made a composite facing/lining out of self fabric and bemsilk. (This is something I worked out successfully from the last time I made this dress)
Here are the facing/lining pieces; the front (at right) has been joined and edges finished (overlocked and topstitched down) and the back facing + lining are pinned ready for seaming (the whole bit at the top above the pins will be cut off with the seam!). The shaping and darting markings haven't been transferred yet.
Here I have pinned the front and back pieces onto Bessie and marked my own fitting darts. These were perfected in my previous efforts using this pattern. Sorry, I've realised just now that some of the pins I used are small headed and so invisible in these photos! Doh, camera skills, please...
And here is the front piece with darts sewed in.
These same shaping darts are sewn in the lining also, although here I have sewn them approximately 5mm shallower on each longitudinal dart, for ease of movement. Then the front lining and front are pinned together at the neckline and armhole edge and sewn, likewise the back and its facing/lining piece.
At this point it is essential that the seams start and finish 1.5cm in from the raw edge (my unpicker is pointing to illustrate), and that the gaps at the top for your shoulder seams are exactly the same width front and back. This is real important. If they are not exact, there will be tears. Just saying.
The front (at right) has been sewn, and the seams graded and clipped, you can see I've decided on a demure curved neckline, and the back (at left) is just pinned.
At this point I stopped for the day, not because I wanted to, but because the family was starting to grizzle from hunger... must be dinner time already.
More in a couple of days..