Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A tale of a purple dress

Once upon a time, an avid seamstress took a trip far far away to Melbourne.  There she visited the fabled Tessuti’s and spenteth up big on fabric.  Including a piece of slippery dippery shot rayon-y stuff in a wonderful plummy-chocolate-y sort of a colour.  The rich and gorgeous colour of a ripe eggplant.  The fabric was borne home, lovingly folded and put carefully away and just taken out every now and again for speculative draping over the seamstress’ faithful dummy Bessie, before being re-folded and tucked away again, awaiting the Perfect Project.
The months marched by.
The lovely fabric was still sitting there, taunting the seamstress, Perfect Project-less, and fast becoming that dreaded stuff; Fabric That is Too Good To Sew Up.  The seamstress realized this and took it out again, determined to make something utterly fabulous with it.  She cast about, more seriously this time, for the Perfect Project.  The beguiling dress 102 on the cover of 06/2011 Burdastyle magazine caught her eye, again… actually the very reason she bought this magazine.  It was a promising looking number for summer; loose and elegant, and just the thing for flowy slippery dippery sort of fabrics.  The seamstress did all her prep, and then bravely sliced into the precious fabric.  She made up her dress, pinned up the hem, and hung it up for the requisite couple of days (being an old hand, she knew all the rules regarding bias-cut)  Then she put it on.  Lo, and the mirror reflected back to her a frump.  A complete and utter frump.
The seamstress realized that her delicious and expensive fabric the colour of an eggplant had magical powers and had transformed her into one... just like when Cinderella was transformed into a pumpkin (oh OK OK, that was the coach not Cinders… but you getteth the idea)
Bitterly disappointed, she took it off and hung it out of sight for a few days; busied herself with easier projects, like making Pattern Magic stuff out of scraps.  Then took out the Eggplant costume again (for this is how she now thought of it)  Studied it.  Had a brainwave, and chopped off 14cm.  Pinned the hem, hung it up for the next few days again, blah blah.  Tried it on.  Lo, and the shorter length had worked wonders!  Gone was the bulbous look!  The seamstress felt victorious.  Hand-stitched a narrow hem.  And wore the dress out.  And catching sight of herself in a shop window, noticed in a certain light a sheerness to the dress, the shadow of underwear showing through, that had not previously been apparent in the bathroom mirror…  
Doh! 
She despaired, but briefly; rallied and then quickly made a little slip-on petticoat.  It was thrown together somewhat, but finally the gods were smiling on the seamstress because the petticoat was perfect. 
And they all lived happily ever after.

Details:
Dress; Burdastyle magazine 06/2011, dress 102, purple shot rayon
Petticoat; self-drafted, from lightweight navy blue polycotton (the last leftover bit after making this)


The fabric is shot rayon; with a red warp and a dark blue/grey weft, giving it an overall browny-purple hue.  Craig took this last candid photo which illustrates quite well how the fabric takes on different colours in the light (a hallmark of shot fabrics)

Pattern Description:
Flared bias-cut dress with an oval neckline which according to the magazine description “accents an alluring décolleté “ (hehehe)  Small gathered cap sleeves, inseam side pockets, no closure necessary.
Pattern Sizing:
European 36-44; I made the size 38
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you had finished sewing it?
Yes, except that mine is 14cm shorter.
Were the instructions easy to follow?
Not too convoluted, by Burdastyle standards.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern?
I really love the neckline of this dress, the cute overall shape of the bodice part of the dress and the fact it will be wonderfully cool and comfortable this summer.
Unfortunately the pattern is a little… odd-looking in its finished form  :S  I think this might well be due to the bias cut, which when combined with that gathered neckline; well I should have foreseen how huge this would make the front of the dress look. I am not fond of the maternity look, been there done that and at my age I’m well past all that!!  However, looking closely at the dress I thought the baby bump effect was created partly by the length of the dress, and that the weight of the fabric caused the front to curve back inwards towards your body, in a sort of “bulbous” effect.  I took 14cm off the length and I think this drastically improved the shape of the dress.  The removal of this extra weight of fabric allowed the hemline to sit up and flip out more fully, giving more of an A-line rather than an eggplant silhouette.
Fabric Used:
Lightweight shot rayon, with a very slippery silky feel to it
Pattern alterations or any design changes you made:
Contrary to the instructions I sewed the pocket pieces to the dress before sewing up the side seams.  Why would you sew up the side seams before attaching the pockets anyway?  That doesn’t make sense to me at all.
The instructions tell you to attach the sleeve binding before sewing up the side sleeve seams… I sewed the side seams of the dress, then sleeve seams and then set in the sleeves; then I attached the binding to the lower edge of the sleeves and slipstitched it over by hand.  Just a personal preference…
The “bigness” of the dress combined with a quite long length added up to an unfortunate overall frumpiness… so I ended up taking 14cm off the length and this improved the silhouette of the dress enormously, imo.
Would you sew it again? Would you recommend it to others?
I’m curious as to whether this would look better in a straight-cut; and I might just try this out sometime…  Otherwise it might be worth reducing the width of the neckline (and thus some of the excess fabric from out of the front of the dress) to see if this reduces the unfortunate “baby bump” effect.
Would I recommend this to others? well, this would definitely make a fabulous maternity dress!
 Conclusion:
My first reaction to the unhemmed dress at the longer length was disappointment, but taking off that crucial 14cm in length and I am happy!  I really like this at the shorter length.  But I wouldn’t make this again, at least without trying a few adjustments, like taking away at least a bit of that excess fabric around the middle…
This might work better in a lightweight cotton or something else not as slippery and slithery as the fabric I chose.  Bias cut rayon is not much fun to work with.

43 comments:

  1. You are too funny! It's a lovely dress.

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  2. What a beautiful fabric and you've turned it into a very cute dress. LOL on the underwear display. You've clearly solved that problem because those pics don't show a hint of see-throughness.

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  3. Carolyn,it is just beautiful on you. The colour and texture of the fabric are lovely, and the simplicity of the dress show off the fabric really well, the short length is light and summery.
    Now I know what to do with mine...Wait, I will need different legs first.
    I think the drapey fabric is a much better choice for this pattern than my linen fabric. I have unpicked my waist shirring and am considering a nice sleeveless blouse, worn firmly tucked in. ;). I'm glad yours is more successful.

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  4. Gosh, I think the lines of this dress (with the shorter length) give a gorgeous look! Perfect flow for the beach :). You do simple elegance so well.

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  5. This fabric is gorgeous, worth the wait till you came upon this project!

    I also like how you did the petticoat!

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  6. That dress looks really beautifull on you. Do you really need a size 38 though? You Always look more like a size 34 to me ;) Cutting maybe a 36 could have lessened the frumpyness

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  7. It's very late right now so I am marking this as unread and will praise this dress tomorrow :-) I want to enjoy all the details but I cannot right now.

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  8. What a perfect little story with a perfect little ending. That fabric is divine. Love the little gathers.

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  9. I can't remember the last time I saw a dress with POCKETS! In the 80s, I think it was. That pattern is wonderful, the fabric is wonderful and the dress (and petticoat) are magic. No wonder you wroteth about it thus...

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  10. I saw the picture and then read your comments, thinking all the while, she doesn't look like an eggplant! I'm willing to concede that perhaps you did before the dress lost 14cm, but you definitely don't look like one now. You look lovely!

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  11. It's gorgeous! It does not look like a maternity dress at all!

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  12. Such a great review! It was informative and entertaining! As always, you look stunning in your dress. That colour is so perfect for you.

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  13. really, really nice! The fabric is a really good choice for this dress - Love!

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  14. The final finished version doesn't look at all maternity-like, so I think you won! Looks great, that's a fantastic colour.

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  15. I loved this dress when I first saw it, but held back thinking it would do on me what it did to you and I can't wear it short. Maybe I need to just make the top version...

    It looks wonderful on you, such beautifully simple lines for a summer dress.

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  16. Way to tackle that project! That fabric looks/sounds like a beast to work with, but you did a marvelous job, as usual.

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  17. lovely - and great photos. Funny how the length can do weird things to the shape of a dress. Clever of you to boldly shorten, and it turned out so well.

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  18. Oh, I think it is pretty, and will be nice for hot weather. It could make a lovely swim cover up too.

    I've had those "uh oh" moments too when realizing I should have added an under layer. awkward!

    And I am sure something fabulous will be made with the 14cm chopped off?

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  19. This is a great dress on you. My mom has a similar figure to yours and I'm thinking that I might have to sew this for her (and me too, but I know better than to except even remotely similar results as my figure is completely different even when I'm thin).

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  20. The fabric is absolutely beautiful with your hair color! I, too, like the neckline with the binding and gathers and somewhat V shape. It is so soft and feminine. Your version is so much nicer than the cover art and I think it is due to the color, fabric choice and *length*. Really nice dress Carolyn...

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  21. Ooh, the fabric is so shimmery! And that comes through so well in the photos. Loved the telling of this tale.

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  22. Lovely, lovely dress! I always think that the hem length on a pattern is only a "suggestion". Depending on the style, the person in the dress, etc, etc, that hemline needs adjusting. Sometimes it's just a hair - sometimes quite a bit more. Glad you figured out the right length for you! Looks perfect.

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  23. Eggplant, that is funny! I am sure though that no matter what you wore, you would never look like an eggplant, perhaps more like a courgette...you know...long and thin! I have to say though, I can understand the maternity dress aversion though. I have a couple of peasant blouses that remind me of exactly that and I tend to wear a wide elastic belt to counteract the first trimester look. Great dress, great colour, glad it worked out for you in the end.

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  24. It may not be fun to work with, but it sure is pretty. The way the light catches on your dress is just fabulous.

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  25. Absolutely stunning - glad you persisted and altered the length, as this fabric really is beautiful. I know what you mean by maternity - even worse when you're 5' nothing - unfortunately, this dress is not for me, but suits you beautifully - great job.

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  26. So pretty! I love the last shot.

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  27. The shorter length definitely works for you. Love the fabric.

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  28. I have been looking at this pattern for a while but wasn't too sure about the fabric I should use... but when I saw your dress I thought it looked really really good... so decided to get it done soon.... it didn't look like an eggplant at all... I know what u mean with the maternity look but this actually looks very cool! the shortening has done the trick so I will make sure if I make this one day I would surly cut it shorter!!!! it looks great so wear it with confidence!!!!!!

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  29. love the simplicity of the design, it's a sweet floaty dress! Must be feeling great to wear it! I would love it in my wardrobe:) Thumbs up for the modeling, lovely pics again!

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  30. The pictures are so beautiful. I love all the colors on it. Are they taken in the sunrise or the sunset ?
    What can I add about the dress that has not been told ? It looks comfortable and elegant at the time. Such a great inspiration again.
    karamiel

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  31. Gorgeous dress, i love the fabric.

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  32. good save on your wadder - that fabric is so beautiful - makes me want to put a trip to Tessutis on my xmas pressie list. I agree with the others - you looking like an eggplant - never ! ( anyway I think eggplants are really yummy )

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  33. Great save! The fabric looks really lovely and that short length looks great on you. The neckline really is pretty!

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  34. Oh, you made up this dress in my favourite colour! I've been eyeing this dress since the issue came out, but haven't made it up yet. Yours is sew beautiful, and I'm glad you were able to save the fabric. I'll make my first verion of this in a fabric that I don't really care much about in case the design is useless on me! Thanks for your tips.

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  35. The dress is gorgeous, and the shorter length works nicely. That color is great on you. I've been reading your blog and am struck by how often your hair is the perfect accessory! (much better than mouse brown, which is what I work with ;)

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  36. Thank you all for these gorgeous comments!
    Karine, these pictures were taken in the late afternoon, thus that golden glow quality to the light

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  37. A simple, stunning dress. The colour is fantastic on you, as is the flowy but sensual style. The shorter length is perfect.

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  38. This Burdastyle pattern looks beautiful on you! You have the perfect slim and tall figure to showcase this design. Thank you for posting at Sew& Tell Saturday.

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  39. This is lovely on you. I fear I would still resemble an eggplant (or worse, a pumpkin!) with that gathering. I'll admire yours!

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  40. I made this dress up as a blouse and quite like it. when I get the tie to post about I'll send you a link! It is actually a great shape for tropical climates (I live in the Philippines) and I have been planning to make it as a dress. Based on your comments though, I'll probably not cut it on the bias.... Your neckband looks narrower than mine though and less deep. I was planning on raising the neckline a bit and putting a button at the back if I could no longer get it over my head.

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  42. Hahaha! I love this post! I'm new to your blog and am so happy to have found it, (googling Shape Shape 2 looking for good reviews, I'm still looking but your lovely review of Shape Shape got me to finally make up the vest I bought the book for so long ago but got discouraged when all the reviews said how horrible the instructions were).

    I made this pattern out of burnt orange linen when I was pregnant, only the top, but I added length to the front for more coverage because it wasn't technically a 'maternity' pattern. It definitely didn't need it! The linen was heavenly to work with on the bias. Thanks for your great reviews!

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  43. how funny, I have been looking at old Burdas and I'm about to make THAT VERY DRESS!!!! Not in eggplant though. Thanks! I like the petticoat solution----but don't you get blazing hot wearing, as it were, two dresses?

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