My fancy lit on a stash lurking scant 2m of a reversible brocade type silk I had bought from The Fabric Store in Surrey Hills about 3 years ago. This fabric is an unusual colour palette for me - duck egg blue and gold, but I fell in love with the lustre and reversible pattern, and could not resist it despite its high price and pattern-limiting narrowness. I am a weak woman when it comes to fabric.
To rebuke me for my weakness, this fabric had starting looking at me from the stash with a superior, you-can't-cut-me attitude. Obviously it wanted to be a badly sewn cushion in 50 years or so after someone bought it in a deceased estate sale for 75c. I don't like this sort of attitude from my fabric, so it was time I used it.
After putting aside several patterns with fabric requirements beyond my fabric wrestling and pattern layout skills, I decided on this dress 118A from Burda Style 10-2012,
AllisonC and Kristy (that composite photo is straight from her blog as the Burda site was not behaving, so credit to Kristy for the photo).I put the front bodice on the bias, as this had worked so nicely for these ladies' excellent versions.
Unfortunately, my toile showed me that I needed a FBA (as usual, I must be an incurable optimist) despite the lovely drapy cowl - in the bias section. It took quite a bit of measuring to make a slash and spread FBA with bust points at the same level due to the bias cut and side gathering, but overall, the fitting was pretty easy for this dress, with only my usual Burda adjustments in petiting the waist, squaring the shoulders, making an upright posture adjustment at the back neck and shoulders and a generous backside adjustment - this time by merely tapering out the centre back seam. The dress is also about 7 cm shorter than Burda's to finish at my knees, which have less leg length attached to them than a Burda model, and has an added back kick pleat. The top is 38, the skirt front 40 and the skirt back 42. You can see why I can't buy a sheath dress in RTW, even if I wanted too ;)
The sleeves are those psuedo cap sleeves that don't cover the armscye. I do not usually like this style of sleeve, due to the unecessarily emphasising back view of the armpit they often offer, but I did not have enough fabric for a full cap sleeve, and having the dress sleeveless looked too casual.
I drew these myself, with back arm pit coverage aims, after looking at the add a sleeve article in the latest Threads, but chose to shape the top of the sleeve like other Burda sleeves, rather than having the front and back curve identical. Not having enough fabric for a full lining, I applied a wide strip of bias to the inside by hand so that no glimpses of white silk organza could be seen whilst the dress was worn. I have also extended the back facing to below the armscye to stabilize the back, and because I don't like skinny facings. In retrospect,I should have saved some of this fabric for the sleeves, but originally, I was making a sleeveless dress.
I cut the front bias facing of the cowl seperately from the dress, from the other side of the fabric, as I wanted the reverse side of the fabric to show at the neckline. Did I mention that I love the reversible nature of this fabric ?
I piped the sleeve hem in the reversed side of the fabric as well. I like these details, which I feel show off the fabric nicely. In construction, I followed the underlining with silk organza techniques from Susan Khaljie's couture dress class at Craftsy, including all the hand basting. I found that the silk organza underlining made the cowl too stiff, and cut this away from the garment in this area.
The underlining made it very easy to sew an invizible hem, but I had a bit of trouble with rippling in the very curvy back seams. This rippling steamed out nicely, but is unfortunately visible in some of the photographs, like the back view. Sigh.
The gathering at the waist can sit very nicely, but you can see in these photographs, that after you have been sitting for a while and stand up again, all the gathers seem to collect in one big fold, which does not look as pretty. If I made this dress again, I would gather the side section across a wider area, so that they were more evenly distributed over the waist of the garment rather than collected into the current 5cm section in the side seam.
I wore this dress to my daughter's high school graduation, where the graduands wear formal dress and the parents wear cocktail, which is a slightly unusual dress code. The dress was suitable, comfortable and not too hot for a mid November evening in the subtropics. I hope I can wear it again (see my co-ordinating and impractical shoes? I need to wear this again so as not to feel guilty about the $), and I am pretty sure I will make a more casual version from this relatively easy pattern.
Now I am wondering if I can get away with hand washing this dress. Dry cleaning smells so nasty...... Just wait for my howls of agony when it shrinks and spots.