Hellllooooo Nurse! Ugh. It's the end of the day you guys and my humor has reached Animaniacs level... It happens. Clearly I can't think of a proper introduction for this post so we'll just... You wanna talk about the weather? Let's talk about the weather! When in doubt, right? Winter, man! Sucks. *she says as she basks in the 75F degree sunshine* Please don't throw things at me! Truly this has been an oddly mild winter. If I let my thoughts stray too apocalyptic I'd say it was a sign of The End of Times and that we should all head for the bunker, but I'm feeling optimistic today and just enjoying the
apocalyptic pleasant weather with a smile. I'll tell you what, though, all this warm weather has put a real damper on my winter sewing plans. Oh! The things I had planned! Somehow it just seems strange to sew a quilted Tamarack jacket or a faux leather biker jacket when I feel like I need to start preparing for the impending doom of summer, like, now. Don't even get me started on the chunky wool sweater I've been spending my evenings toiling away on... Ah well. There's always the, like, three cold days of winter to look forward to next year...
But enough of that! Despite the unseasonably warm temperatures I've still been on a mission to add a few new long sleeve dresses to my wardrobe. Sometimes you just don't want to do the whole dress/cardigan layering jig. Sometimes you just want to put on one piece of clothing and have it be appropriate for the cooler seasons. I don't care what fashion blogs tell me, sometimes layering is for the birds! This dress is for those days. And lots of other days too.
This is my February make for the Mood Sewing Network. I'm still working through my blah feelings I wrote about in my last post, and so whipping up quick-sew knit garments is still sounding very appealing to me. This time I went for a wrap dress silhouette. If I had to wear one type of garment for the rest of my life it would be a wrap dress. So comfy. So flattering. So sexy-yet-work-appropriate. If you haven't gotten on board with wrap dresses I urge you - I implore you - to give them a try.
But this is obviously no ordinary wrap dress. Okay, I'll just call out the elephant in the blog post - DAT FABRIC, 'DO! Isn't this a spectacular print?? This is the Deep Forest Abstract Viscose-Cotton Jersey Knit Panel print from Mood's online store, and though I'm usually flummoxed by panel prints I just had to give this one a go! It looks simultaneously organic and futuristic with a heaping helping of Art Nouveau thrown in for good measure. The hand is really interesting too - it has a moderate amount of stretch in both directions and is a good medium weight. The face of the fabric is actually looped, like the wrong side of terry cloth, and the back is smooth and white. The texture adds some visual interest, but it feels really nice against the skin. I ordered three panels and only had to do a small bit of piecing on the upper back (I created a yoke) to make this dress work.
By far the most interesting and challenging aspect of making this dress was in figuring out print placement. I figured out early on that, given the flared shape of the skirt, matching the side seams on this print was not going to happen. Instead I concerned myself more with placing the pattern motifs so they would be most flattering when the dress was worn. My original idea was to use the faded out black areas at the waist in order to create a slimming effect, however when I draped the fabric on my dress form I quickly realized that this was not the best idea.
Here's my tip for you guys - when you're trying to decide on print placement drape the fabric over a form, or yourself, in roughly the shape of the garment you're trying to make and then take a picture of it. I find that looking at a photograph helps give me some distance on the fabric so I can see the bigger picture and not get lost in details like I do when I'm looking in a mirror, or trying to shuffle pattern pieces around on a length of fabric. Even better, make the photo black and white so you're not distracted by color and can see how the larger shapes are playing out across the figure. I find this is helpful in avoiding mishaps like the good ol' flower-on-boob mistake we've all made!
Or just in determining the best use of a print, like in my photos above (please excuse my messy sewing room!) The first photo shows my original idea for the print placement, which you can see is still nice, however it really wasn't as flattering as I was hoping for, and the best parts of the print were underutilized. In the second photo you can see that the swooping lines of the print actually creates the waist-flattering lines I was hoping for, and is a much better showcase for this print. Plus, the first placement may have left me with some unfortunate crotch and butt vortex-ing going on! A lucky save!
For the pattern I simply traced an old American Apparel wrap dress I've had for literally ages. I have two of their wrap dresses, and despite the fact that I've trashed a good portion of my AA crap from my undergraduate days, I've always hung on to these wrap dresses. I'm pretty happy with the way the pattern turned out, however I have a few minor complaints. There's something slightly off with the shape of the armhole, which never bothered me in the originals (isn't it funny how we can totally overlook wonky fit in RTW garments, but we're so picky about it in our handmades?) and I wish I would have flared the skirt more (because swishy skirts are fun). I might explore using my CCF Nettie pattern as a base to draft my own in the future. Or just stick with this one. Who knows?!
Construction was straight-forward - mostly serged seams with finishing done on my sewing machine using my trusty triple-step stretch stitch. One construction detail I did that I am very happy about was adding a piece of 1/4 inch elastic along the inside of the neck binding to help the neckline hug nice and tight and prevent gaping, and also to keep the neckline from stretching out over time, which is a problem I've had in previous knit wrap dress makes.
I've already worn this dress for several work events and am quite smitten with it! The print makes it a real show-stopper, but the wrap-dress and comfy knit fabric allow for me to feel good in it all day. Nick has let hint that he thinks I "look sexy" in it, which is never a bad thing in my book, either! I'm pretty sure this will be a dress I reach for again and again!
Well, friends, that about wraps up (yuk yuk) *head slap* this post! Until next time...