4.27.2014

flower power

Mood Fabrics/Floral Silk/BHL Anna Dress

Well guys, spring has definitely sprung around these parts! And I for one could not be happier about it! This week also marks the end of what was a really busy couple of months for me at work, and I finally seem to have shaken off the respiratory infection that had been plaguing me (thanks antibiotics!) Yay!! So all in all, we're in high spirits around these parts!

What with the warming weather and more free time to actually enjoy it, I seem to have one thing and one thing only on my mind - silk dresses. Making them. Wearing them. Living in them for the next nine months... That and long, lazy, bike rides. Preferably paired together. At sunset. Sigh... paints quite a picture, doesn't it?

Mood Fabrics/Floral Silk/BHL Anna Dress

For this months Mood Sewing Network make I was irresistibly drawn to this gorgeous floral crepe de chine from Mood Fabrics online. Silk crepe de chine is one of my all-time favorite fabrics to sew with, and to wear. It has a bit more 'grip' than many of it's slippery silk counterparts, making it easy to handle, but it still has that lovely, fluid drape that you want from lighter weight silks.  And it's breathable, which is an absolute must in my hot and humid climate.

Mood Fabrics/Floral Silk/BHL Anna Dress

I absolutely adored the floral print of this fabric! It's so bright and playful, it made me instantly happy! I find the color palette to be sort of unusual and unexpected (magenta and poppy red, royal purple and inky black, viridian green and chartreuse... all on a soft, off-white background). It also reminded me a bit of vintage prints, but I couldn't decide what decade - 30's? 40's? 70's?? Maybe 70's-does-40's? (The consensus on the Mood blog was 70's-does-40's, which incidentally, is one of my favorite time period mash-ups!)  I don't normally go for a vintage look, but there was something so timelessly feminine about this print that was just calling me.

Mood Fabrics/Floral Silk/BHL Anna Dress

I thought it would be nice to pair this fabric with a pattern that also had a bit of a vintage vibe, without going totally overt, and felt like By Hand London's Anna dress totally fit the bill. I love this pattern - it's like all the best parts of being a woman rolled into one dress! This is my second time making the Anna dress (here's my first). For this version I opted for the v-neck and the shorter hem. However, rather than just chopping the pattern off at the knees, I kept the hem width of the maxi-version and adjusted the skirt panel pieces to compensate. This way I maintained maximum skirt swing-y-ness (very important for those warm breezes!)

Trust me on this one, this pattern hack sounds way more complicated than it actually was. I'm not saying that what I did was the right way to go about this - but, hell, it worked. Which is really all I care about. What I did was lay tracing paper over the skirt panel pieces, trace off the waist seam and grainline, and make a mark along the grainline the length that I wanted my new skirt pieces to be (I did 27 inches). Then I slid the tracing paper down, along the grainline, until my new hem mark lined up with the original maxi hem line, traced the maxi hem line and connected that to the waist seam, ignoring the original side seams. Done and done! 

Mood Fabrics/Floral Silk/BHL Anna Dress

One of the reasons I went with this silhouette and skirt length is because it's reminiscent of one of my all-time favorite handmade dresses, my purple linen Simplicity 1880. I love that dress. It's the dress I grab when I want to look pretty, and it's been my go-to dress for such a variety of occasions - weddings, parties, holidays, work events, and just regular old work days. That dress is a work horse. So I felt like it was time that I listen to my own closet and try to get more dresses like that in there! As I was sewing this dress up I could tell that it was definitely going to be giving my purple dress a run for it's money as my new go-to dress! I've already worn it to an opening at my gallery this past weekend and it was, as I suspected, perfect. It took me all the way through prepping for the opening (which entails buying assloads of beer, wine and ice, lugging it around and filling coolers, climbing up ladders to adjust lights, cleaning, hauling trash, etc. etc. etc...) to the opening itself, where I'm greeting people, serving wine, making chit-chat, and generally playing hostess. And you know what, I got so many compliments on this dress! She's a winner!!

Mood Fabrics/Floral Silk/BHL Anna Dress

I reinforced the v-neck with silk organza strips, which helped a little with gape-age, however there is still more gape than I would like. Perhaps I should have eased the v-neck to the silk organza a bit? Ah well - ya live, ya learn.

I also lined the entire dress with silk habotai, because the floral fabric was ever-so-slightly sheer. Silk habotai (or china silk) is a wonderful lining fabric, especially if you're like me and like to keep your silk dresses silky - inside and out! The habotai I used was from my stash, but Mood has an awesome collection online in, like, every color imaginable. And I don't know about the fabric stores where you live, but silk habotai at my local fabric store is sooo much more expensive than what they sell it for at Mood - that's including shipping, and there is much less variety. But probably the most economical source for silk habotai (and, really, any silk fabric) is Dharma Trading. Of course everything there comes in either white or black, but if you feel like getting crafty with some dye, you can make it any color your heart desires!

Mood Fabrics/Floral Silk/BHL Anna Dress

And because I always like to learn new tricks, even on patterns that I've made before, I decided to try my hand at using my machine's blind hem foot for the floral silk. Can you believe I've never used that little gadget before?! That's one of the reasons I love sewing - there's always something new to learn! I'm not totally sure if this type of hem was ideal for this type of skirt and fabric, but eh... it worked (moral of this post). Anyway, I love how clean the hem turned out, and it saved me so much more time than if I had hand-picked it myself. For the skirt lining I just used my serger's rolled hem function. I always feel like I'm cheating when I do this, but it's just so quick and easy, it's hard to resist!

Mood Fabrics/Floral Silk/BHL Anna Dress

Let's talk real quick about caring for silk garments. I feel like this is something (or maybe one of many things?) that always intimidates people from buying, sewing and wearing silk. You guys may have noticed that I sew with silk a lot, and, as I said, silk crepe de chine is my number one favorite fabric of all time. I wouldn't be sewing all these silk clothes if I wasn't actually wearing them, and with wearing your clothes, comes washing your clothes (unless, of course, that's not your thing, in which case, you do you...) For the record - I never go to the dry cleaners. I can't afford it, and I don't like all the icky chemicals. I wash all my silks at home. In the washing machine. The key is to prewash your silks the same way you intend to care for the finished garment. So I usually wash on cold and hang dry. Occasionally I'll throw my silk in the dryer (I did that for the habotai lining of this garment) and it works out just fine, but typically I won't continue to care for my finished silk garment this way. Although every so often one of my silkies accidentally ends up in the dryer, and it usually fares okay. In her recent post about silk jersey, Lauren noted that the color and sheen can dull a bit when you wash and dry your silks. This definitely can happen, though it's not too dramatic, and in my experience, this mostly occurs in the dryer, which is why I usually hang dry. But I'm all for throwing your silks in the dryer if that's more convenient for you, just make sure to do that when you prewash too!

And for any of you non-sewers out there, this is also how I care for store bought silk clothes as well - machine wash cold and hang dry. Silk is an amazing fiber, and not nearly as delicate as people think.

Well, there you have it! I can't wait to wear this dress on the balmy summer nights that I know are right around the corner! What sort of fabrics have you thinking of warm weather?

35 comments:

  1. Ooh, pretty! The fabric is super cheerful, which is perfect for Spring! And the dress sounds like a winner if you can do all of those things in it. My criteria has always been I need to be able to chase down errant children or jump on a horse to chase down loose cattle. ;-)

    Thanks for sharing your silk tips, I never buy the stuff (except for a couple of silk-cotton blends in my stash that have yet to be sewn) because I'm not a fussy fabric kind of gal. If it can't be washed in cold water with everything else, it has no place in my closet. Except for those Anne Taylor wool slacks, that I do dry clean...once a year. To be fair though, they only get worn for an hour or two at a time (for church or funerals)!

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  2. LOVE this dress. It is so flattering on you and it is easy to tell just by the way you're standing that it is comfy, too. I'm tempted to try the pattern for myself even though our body shapes are nowhere near similar.

    OK, I hope this doesn't come off as too weird, but... I think I saw you at Art Walk last night? I only recently started following your blog and I am *terrible* with faces but I could have sworn I saw you! Didn't want to randomly start talking to you and creep you out (or worse, really creep out the not-you-but-sorta-looked-like-you person), but, um, I thought it was sort of funny. ^__^

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  3. The dress is fab. Jealous much.

    Do you happen to know what weight of silk this is (and other silks you have sewn with)? I'm dying to try out sewing some silk, but have no idea what a good weight is. Habotai is often about 8 momme which I guess is far too flimsy to use, or am I wrong?

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  4. This dress is heavenly! The design is perfect for the print, and I'm more than a little envious of your warm weather. I'm also a big fan of washing and air-drying silk - I think dyeing so much of the stuff makes you realize that it's more resilient than we've been led to believe!

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  5. Oh my, your vision for the next few months is calling to me! The dress is perfect and now I want to make another Anna with a swishy skirt!
    Thank you for the information on the silk too, I love it but the care of it has always worried me. Good to know it can handle the machine!

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  6. Hey Louise! It's entirely possible you saw me at Art Walk last night! Was I wearing this exact same outfit? Haha! If so... then it was me! I work at the artist residency here in town. Next time, say hi! I promise I won't be creeped out!

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  7. Hey Jessica! Great question. I would say that 8mm or 10mm is fairly common for silk habotai (the same for silk chiffon - however habotai tends to be more opaque). It is flimsy (I often compare it to sewing with butterfly wings) and likes to flutter about with every breath you take - which can make it rather tricky to sew with - so maybe not a great choice if this is your first time sewing with silk. I would highly recommend trying silk crepe de chine if you've never sewed with silk before. A lot of the silk cdc I've used is 12mm, although I would say this printed silk I used for this dress might be closer to 14mm. It's still lightweight, has a subtle sheen, beautiful drape, etc. but it's slightly easier to work with, due to the twisted 'crepe' thread of the weave. And if you're really nervous, 4 ply silk is sometimes more expensive but it has a bit more body and 'grip' and handles almost similarly to a lightweight wool. Good luck!!

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  8. Yes! I'm always amazed at how beautifully silk holds up after all the hell I put it through with dyeing. It's a great way to learn about a fiber!

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  9. A couple years ago I decided that that I was a Grown Ass Woman and so should be wearing silk. I started off handwashing my blouses, but that lasted about 2 weeks after which I decided life was too short... and made the happy discovery that silk totally holds up to regular cold washes and air drying! My blouses are back out for their 3rd summer of hard wear now.


    This dress is beautiful! As are all your makes. I bet your closet is one dreamy place.

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  10. Thanks Sallie! That was really helpful. I may also have a go at dyeing some too although not for a first try!

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  11. Gorgeous! I machine wash and hang dry most of my handmade nice stuff too. Eucalan can help with the sheen in protein fabrics. Expensive, but good every few washes.
    I love floaty skirts in the summer. Just a perfect dress!

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  12. Gosh, this is so gorgeous on you! I can't get over it! You look absolutely stunning.

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  13. this dress is gorgeous! love, love, love the fabric! i really need this dress pattern in my life... haven't seen a bad version yet!

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  14. Another gorgeous dress, Sallie!

    I also wash all of my silk in cold and hang dry. To restore the sheen, I rinse in diluted vinegar (about 1/4 c. per gallon of water), then rinse in cool water again before I hang dry.

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  15. oh yes, crepe de chine is so divine, for wearing and sewing (well, when you're comparing silks, that is!). It's not often you find such a fabric in print (in my part of the world) - lucky you, because it's a beauty. Suits you wonderfully well, too.
    It's always good to hear someone else reiterating that silk can be washed…
    But anyway, here's to a summer of silk dresses!

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  16. I've definitely oogled this silk print many times on mood's website! It is lovely as an Anna dress, and I love the skirt mod you made - swingy perfection! Thanks also for the tips on caring for silk - I have yet to make a garment out of silk, but when I do, I will pre-wash :) Thanks!

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  17. Oh, such a perfectly stunning dress! and you look totally divine in it too :) I'm like you, toss it in the machine. There's very little I will hand wash, life's too short! My machine has a gentle/wool cycle and I use that for silks and wools. But like all Aussies I rarely use my dryer, only in an emergency like once a year? say for something like bedsheets or jammies that might not have dried on the line in time for bed. When we lived (briefly) in the US our neighbours thought I was crazy for hanging our clothes outside to dry naturally, but here it's just the done thing :)

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  18. The colors! They are so vibrant and make the dress pop.


    I'm super into cotton jersey(because it's so travel friendly and easy to throw on). I do want to use some silk for this summer's projects. But I am determined to use up my stash before I buy something new. My wallet agrees :)

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  19. Oh Sallie! I love everything about this dress!! It's beautiful and looks fantastic on you!

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  20. You are a beautiful silk spring flower and the amount of green in your photos makes me beat my chest in a nameless rage. This Montreal "spring" is a sick joke. Anyway, you look lovely - love the flared skirt! The Anna is my best friend - I've made another one and probably a few more this year (considering an Anna top with a Flora skirt!) I also eye-banged this print on Mood, so good on ye for snapping it up!

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  21. this is so beautiful and feminine. it makes me want to make dresses and wear them all summer long.

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  22. that's exactly how i feel about the anna - it's like a perfect modernized vintage pattern. this make looks perfect for spring!

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  23. This is a great suggestion! Thanks Lindsay! I'll definitely be trying this one out!

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  24. Great tip, Jennifer! I'll have to look into Eucalan - never heard of it before! Thanks!

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  25. Oh I love that! I *wish* I was hanging all my clothes outside to dry - although it's so humid here it would probably take days... I just use a clothes rack inside, and to be honest, my husband does most of the laundry! Haha! I've trained him to hang dry all my silks :)

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  26. This is seriously a great silk print. If there's any more you should jump on it! Then we could be floral silk twins.

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  27. This is really fabulous, perfect for warm, humid weather.

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  28. Beautiful! The print is really fun. It's a floral but it still has kind of a graphic quality to it. Perfect summer dress.

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  29. Thanks Bobby!!

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  30. Love it! You are rockin' the floral! It's such an artsy print - very nice :) I love the Anna dress - you're right, it does make you feel glad to be a woman :) My v-neck gapes a bit too; I will try stabilizing the V next time - good call. I am with you - I think silk is pretty much the best fiber EVER, and I wash mine too, in the washing machine. FYI, though, don't put the final garment in the machine if there's any hand sewing; I learned that the hard way LOL.

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  31. Umm is there ever a photo where you don't look like a total babe? You are so photogenic and your clothes fit so perfectly!


    Thanks for the tips on caring for silks. I haven't sewn with them much, but I would like to get my feet wet, so your tips are perfect timing! xo

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  32. Ha!! Thank you! That's very sweet of you. I can assure you that there are LOTS of photos where I look... umm... *odd* - perhaps one day I'll do an 'outtakes' post... if my vanity can handle it!

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  33. absolutely stunning as always, Sallie! I'm with you in silk being the uitimate summer fabric. And this definitely seems like a dress from which you can get a lot of mileage. I have to confess that I like hand-washing silk, or that I actually like hand-washing. And sorta do it because I've had some disasters in the washer. Several years ago I put a cherished bright green Diane Von Furstenberg silk crepe dress in the washer, cold delicate cycle, and the dye bled like crazy all over my clothes. (Bad dye job, DVF!!)

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  34. A Stitching OdysseyMay 5, 2014 at 2:08 PM

    Aaah Sallie, this is so demure and breezy...love it on you so much! The silhouette looks perfect for hot weather, but it's still something you could happily wear on a dinner date ;o) Also, huge thanks for the pattern hack and silk tips...you're one generous (and talented) lady!

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