Hey everyone! Long time no... post? Can you believe that summer is winding down? The mornings and evenings have cooled off slightly around here which has my brain thinking about Fall - even if the weather is, by all accounts, still sweltering!
I felt like I've been in a bit of a weird place with my making this summer. Blame it on a lack of sewjo, or what have you, but I've been feeling pretty uninspired. What's worse, is that I wasn't even enjoying wearing my handmade clothes either! Between the heat, and some gritty tasks for me to tackle at work, my uniform became the same old pair of cut off jeans shorts and my grungiest of tees and tanks. Not only did the people around me notice my lack of usual polish (and by "people" I mean Nick and my boss, because let's be real, that's about the extent of my social circle!) but after a while it started to do a number on my head! I was questioning my identity - was this sun-bleached-frayed-hem-sports-bra-Sallie the new me? While I certainly fit in with my lazy island surroundings, the thought depressed me. So I resolved to try to kick myself out of my rut in the only way I knew how: by making something so darn pretty I couldn't resist wearing it!
This dress came about sort of slowly. I bought 2 yards of this delicious Liberty of London silk-cotton voile using my Mood allowance a few months ago with no plan for it. I had never touched Liberty of London fabrics before and I feel like it's the stuff of legends among the sewing community, so my interest was certainly piqued when Mood started carrying a selection. This particular print really stood out to me. It reminded me vaguely of a certain period of Disney animation - like the Sleeping Beauty era - where everything is highly stylized and you kind of suspect all the animators were experimenting with hallucinogens... I believe I described it in my Mood Sewing Network post as a "fantasy garden on acid" which I still feel is an apt description!
Well my 2 yards sat while I pondered what to do with them - I thought maybe pajamas, but it's so pretty I wanted the world to see it. Meanwhile I was trolling some of my less traveled haunts on the internet looking for a pattern or a look that would get me excited about sewing again and I came across this dress on Burdastyle. I don't know why I always forget about Burdastyle - maybe it's because they release such a deluge of patterns, many of which are just variations of the same rectangle, that it's easy to forget that there are some honest to goodness gems in amongst that deluge! I consider this dress (07/2015 #110) to be among those gems. The only problem was this pattern called for 5 freaking yards of fabric!! So I waited until my next Mood allowance rolled around and picked up the remaining 3 yards. I have to be honest, this is definitely a project that would not have happened if it wasn't for my partnership with the Mood Sewing Network! No way in hell could I have afforded 5 yards of Liberty on my own dollar! So thank you Mood!
Working with the Liberty silk-cotton voile was at times both heavenly and oh-my-god-gouge-my-eyes-out-with-seam-rippers awful! If you've never crossed paths with these fabrics, let me try to describe it for you. In weight, this is somewhere between a cotton voile and the finest silk habotai. It is silky smooth and fairly sheer with a lovely drape that I would describe more as "floaty" than the fluidity of, say, a silk charmeuse. Basically it was the kind of fabric that if you bat your eyelashes at too hard it might flutter away! It does have the "stickiness" of cotton, so it didn't slip all over the place, but it could get kind of limp and wimpy when you wanted to get a crisp press. I found that to get any kind of structure, like throughout the bodice, I had to utilize a liberal amount of interfacing, which I did. It also frayed pretty terribly with handling, so serging the raw edges was a necessity.
But oh my goodness if it doesn't make an exquisite finished garment! For eating up 5 yards of fabric this dress is remarkably light weight and easy to wear. I self-lined the bodice for opacity and left the sleeves and skirt as a single layer. This means that I have to wear a half-slip with the dress, but I'm okay with that.
There are so many details about this pattern that I absolutely adore: The slightly raised, cut-on collar, the deep, curved v-neck ending in the sweet button placket, the little fabric button loops, the yoked waist, the raglan sleeves, and oh my god that skirt! I had actually debated switching out the skirt for another pattern because I was worried it would be "too much" but I'm so glad I didn't! Yes it ate up yards of fabric with all that gathering, but the effect is a little bit Stevie Nicks, a little bit 70's folk singer, a little bit Little House on the Prairie, and a whole lotta stuff I love. Let me put it to you this way, after finishing this dress I put it on to get the good ol' nod of approval from Nick and then proceeded to spend an inordinate amount of time swaying around the living room listening to Emmylou Harris sing "Pancho and Lefty".
Working with the pattern was the usual head-scratcher that most Burda patterns are. I've learned not to trust the Burda sizing, but since the patterns don't come with seam allowances it was very easy to measure the waist and bust (the only measurements I needed for this pattern) and I ended up cutting a size smaller than my measurements on the size chart. The instructions were... an adventure... In retrospect, there wasn't anything in particular that tripped me up, but I'm grateful that I have a few years of sewing under my belt to help decipher the cryptic descriptions. Par for the course with Burdastyle, really. But again - the result is utterly lovely so I'm willing to forgive any moments of confusion I might have had! In fact, this pattern is most definitely going into my "to make again" pile. The pattern came with pieces for a long poet sleeve - you guys! Can't you just picture the ultimate fall boho dress?!? Perhaps not in Liberty... but in a more affordable fabric I might even be tempted to make it maxi length...
You guys. I love this dress. It was just what I needed to fall in love with my sewing room again. Give me a good romantic design and delicious fabric with a complex floral print and I'm happy as a pig in shit!!
Now excuse me while I go sway around my kitchen barefoot...