A very short post to say that our beautiful baby was born just over a week ago. We had a slightly rocky start but we’re doing well now. However sewing and blogging is necessarily going to be taking a back seat for a while. I’ll be back later in the year I hope.
This dress is from the Drape Drape books by Hisako Sato: specifically Drape Drape 2 style number 11. It’s an unusual pattern even by Drape Drape standards: there is only one pattern piece for the whole dress and it’s absolutely gigantic. The logistics of cutting out such a style at home would normally put me right off, but I was looking out for an interesting breastfeeding-friendly pattern that I could make quickly from stash fabric, and this ticked all the boxes. The neckline falls well below the bra band: I’m planning to wear it with a tank top underneath.
It takes nearly two metres of extra wide (165cm) fabric. You also need to cut a rectangular strip of self-fabric to make a casing for the waist elastic and provide a couple of cuff pieces to finish off the sleeves. I have the Japanese language edition of the book and I know no Japanese so I can’t tell what the recommended fabrics for the style are. Going by the pictures the body is done in a very drapey knit; I’d guess a single knit; and the cuffs are some sort of sequinned stretch fabric. I used an extra wide lightweight viscose single knit from Tissu Fabrics that had been lying around in my stash for a couple of years. Amazingly it’s still available for sale here at the time of writing. The cuffs are a doubled piece of the body fabric.
The only place in the house where I could easily make room to spread enough fabric out was the conservatory, which has a tiled floor. Hard on the knees, although it was nice to have lots of light while cutting. I had to pin the pattern piece to the fabric before cutting. Normally I use weights not pins, but I didn’t have enough weights to hold the shifty fabric in place so it was pins or nothing. This wasn’t ideal as they left a few holes in the rather fragile fabric. Transferring the markings was a challenge too. I cut out right side up but needed to mark the waistline casing on the wrong side. I was a bit dubious about using dressmaker’s carbon paper over the hard tiles so I pinned along the casing lines as well as around the pattern edges and then after I’d cut around the edges I flipped the lot over and chalked along the pins marking the casing. I guess tailor tacks would have been a better option but I didn’t have sufficient patience for that!
Sewing was far easier than cutting out. You could easily sew this up in an evening although I did take a couple of shortcuts: it’s not hemmed yet and I skipped making the openings in the overarm seams because in my opinion that feature really reduces wearability.
And here it is. Dressform shots only because my baby has not yet arrived and the waist is not compatible with a bump.
It hasn’t come out how I expected. The first peculiar thing is that my version hangs completely differently than the one in the book. In the book version the skirt hangs evenly whereas mine’s really pulling to one side. My fabric has only one-way mechanical stretch which might explain this. Two-way stretch fabric with some lycra would probably have worked better.
The second odd thing is the sleeves. Now admittedly this is probably made worse by choosing insufficiently stretchy fabric, but the left sleeve is incredibly tight; I can’t raise my left arm above shoulder height. The first picture is the left sleeve and the second is the right. Hopefully you can see from the pics that the left sleeve is skinny and grows out of the waistline whereas the right sleeve is wider and starts higher up. It’s hard to say how much of a problem this is right now because it’ll fit me differently once the baby is here, but the sleeve lacks mobility even on the dressform so I’m not optimistic.
So as yet I don’t know if this is going to be a wearable dress or not. It was fun to make and I’m glad I finally found something to do with the fabric, but I may have to file this in the ‘failed experiments’ pile. Drape Drape often works out like that for me. I have made up a few different ones and they either become huge favourites or never get worn at all. Oddly enough, I’ve even had one pattern turn out both ways when made up in different fabrics. I’ll try to come back with a wearability update on this one at some point.
I don’t repeat patterns very often, but my first Stylearc Toni dress has been such a favourite that I made another. It isn’t a maternity style but it’s roomy enough to work over a bump without too much distortion. I’m trying to make regular patterns with plenty of room on them rather than maternity ones in the hope that they’ll still look OK after the baby arrives.
My original version was made up straight out of the packet but this time I made a few changes. The first dress is a bad length for me: it ends at the widest part of my leg which means I can’t take long strides because the dress is very narrow at the hem and it catches on my calves. That was my fault for not bothering to add any extra length to the pattern. I normally need to add 2-4 inches to dresses. This one’s supposed to end at the bottom of the calf so it probably needed four inches adding if not more. I was a bit short of fabric for the second version, so instead of lengthening it to the intended proportion I shortened it by four inches so it ends just below my knee. I’m really pleased with the way that’s come out. It’s comfortable to walk in and it’s more flattering than my previous version.
The fabric is a lightweight viscose woven from Macculloch and Wallis. Right now it’s still available here. It drapes very nicely, which is good for the style, but I used very lightweight interfacing on the collar to go with the fabric and that was a mistake as it’s come out a bit too floppy. This is the same fabric I used the pink colourway of for my first Vogue 1482 dress. It is very comfortable to wear and although it’s lightweight it’s relatively easy to sew.
I lost the pocket piece from the original pattern and had to make a new one. Unfortunately I didn’t make it quite deep enough to be perfect. But any pockets are better than none. The position of the pocket is better on this version because I took out some of the length from the top half of the pattern, raising the pockets up a couple of inches.
Here’s the back view. Last time I said that the centre back seam could be eliminated, but I’m glad I kept it. I had trouble fitting the collar to the neckline on this version – I probably stretched the neckline out while handling – and having the seam allowed me to fix the mismatch by taking the dress in a little at the top of the centre back.
Clio made the great suggestion of adding a zip to the centre front seam for breast-feeding access. I increased the seam allowance on the centre front seam to half an inch (or 1.2cm; it was 1cm originally) and interfaced the seamlines to make inserting the zip easier. I also removed the seam allowance from what was originally the centre front seam of the neck facing pieces so I could use the all-machine method of applying facings to the top of the zip and neckline from Kathleen Fasanella’s centered zip tutorial.
Here’s a closeup of the zip, which also shows the collar worn down rather than up.
An unexpected bonus: because the only black invisible zip I had on hand was a 24″ one I can put the dress on by stepping into it rather than pulling it over my head.
Since we took these pictures the weather in the UK has turned autumnal and I’ve been wearing this dress with leggings and my grey boiled wool kimono jacket. I’m hoping it will keep going all winter with enough layers. I can even see me making a third version of this one day; I’d like to try it in something really crisp like a cotton poplin to see what happens to those drapes.
I liked my pink Vogue 1482 dress so much I made a second version. This one’s made up from a deep purple crepe de chine from Macculloch and Wallis. It’s a fibre blend I’ve not come across before: 20% silk and 80% acetate. Macculloch and Wallis describe it as having a very matt finish but I think that must mean by comparison to other crepe de chines. It’s not as shiny as a satin but it definitely has a bit of a sheen to it. It also creases as soon as you look at it. I ironed the dress before we took these pictures so you’re seeing it at its best here. The good news is that the creases will drop out on their own if the dress is hung up for a few hours so ironing isn’t strictly compulsory.
I had horrible doubts while sewing this as to whether the fabric was really suitable for the outside of a garment or should be kept for lining (the Selfish Seamstress’s epic rant on the subject has stuck with me) but it seems to have come out OK. And the fabric’s very pleasant to wear and wasn’t any more difficult to sew than any very lightweight fabric.
I cut this one out by laying the pattern on the fabric, chalking around the pattern pieces, and then removing the pattern and cutting along the chalk line. I find this method works better for me on very lightweight fabrics than trying to cut out around the pattern while it’s still on the fabric, which just leads to lots of messy jagged edges.
I used a self-fabric covered button for the back closure. There’s something strangely satisfying about making those up, although I suspect it would rapidly get boring if a garment needed lots of them. Just as with the pink version I had to make the self fabric loop for the back closure much skinnier than the pattern directs. I also meant to shorten the split this time, but forgot. Oh well.
The long bias seam across the front has not come out brilliantly on this version. It looks fine when laid flat but there’s quite a bit of rippling when I’m wearing the dress as you can see in the picture below. With 20/20 hindsight it might have been better to stabilize the bias edges with some very lightweight interfacing and sew a conventional seam there rather than the French seam the pattern instructions use. And actually the seam doesn’t need to be on the bias; what I really like about this pattern is the overall shape of it and the pocket, and the pocket could just as well go in a horizontal seam. The seam doesn’t incorporate shaping so would be easy to change. I’d be inclined to make it slightly curved rather than dead straight across if I did change it as I think that would look more flattering.
This version has the same pattern adjustments as the pink one: it’s the size medium with two inches length added at the hem and two inches added on the sleeves, split evenly between the cuff and the sleeve piece. This is a size bigger than I normally make in Vogue but my usual length adjustments. The exact choice of size in this style makes very little difference as it fits where it touches and nowhere else. Perfect for hot weather. I’m also hoping I might be able to keep it going a bit with leggings and a long sleeved t-shirt underneath when the summer finally ends because I love the colour.
This is the Kielo wrap dress from Named Clothing that it seems like everyone’s made this summer. Understandably: it’s flattering, comfortable, and very quick to sew. I bought the pattern when I saw Laura’s lovely version, and ended up even copying the colour she chose.
I hadn’t made a Named pattern before and as my pre-pregnancy measurements fall between two sizes on their chart I made the larger of the two. This was a mistake as the finished dress is slightly too big for me. If you look closely the bust darts are too long, the armsyce is rather too deep, and the back is baggy. Not that any of that has stopped me wearing it a lot. It got five or six wears before it even got photographed for the blog. Another thing to be aware of is the length. The patterns are drafted for fairly tall people to start with, but according to the chart I still should have added two inches. After measuring the pattern I didn’t bother, as if it was much longer I’d be tripping over the hem. I love a pattern I don’t have to add length to.
I bought the PDF version of the pattern. I normally avoid PDF patterns, but this one comes with a non-overlapped copy shop version which makes it as easy to use as an envelope pattern – just print it out and cut. A nice touch is that the PDF is layered with one layer per size, so if you fit into a single size (and I think many people would in this dress as it’s only fitted at the bust) you can print off just the layer with your size on it and not have to worry about which line to cut out on.
Here’s the back view. Although the dress is quite narrow the long vent makes it easy to walk in. I should have taken those darts in a bit.
The only pattern adjustments I did were to make the ties slightly longer and to add inseam pockets. The pockets were very easy to do: I drew shapes on the pattern something like this, and then traced them off as a separate pattern piece.
They aren’t the roomiest pockets but they’re a good deal better than nothing. Reality in blogging: I’ve got my keys in them in all the pictures in this post which you can see if you look hard. Another time I’d position them further up the side seam, away from the ties and closer to the armscye. This would make them a lot easier to access.
The fabric requirements given for the dress are very generous. The pattern says 205cm of 150cm wide fabric for the size I made, but I got mine out of 150cm (and because I always buy a little extra fabric to accomodate length adjustments, I now have enough over for another garment). The fabric I used is a single knit viscose-elastane blend from Tissu Fabrics. They have it in a few different colours. This one is the sea green. At the time of writing it is still available. It’s easy to sew with and has got very good drape; here’s a shot of the dress in motion.
This isn’t my best sewing. I was in a great hurry to get the dress made and ended up stretching out the neckline and armscyes when applying the binding. And I finished the hem with a very unprofessional zig-zag stitch because I didn’t want to have to wind an extra bobbin to use with a twin needle.
Despite the wrong size and the careless finishing I really like the final result. I’m tempted to make it again in a chiffon fabric to wear over a slip like the sample on the Named website. One thing that does puzzle me is that the instructions say to use a fabric with 20-60% stretch, and I’ve never encountered a chiffon with anything like that degree of stretch. I’ve seen several successful versions on other blogs in drapey non-stretch woven fabrics so I might just try regular chiffon and stick with the larger size. I’ve got a beautiful large-scale chiffon print in green, black and white that’s been lurking in the stash for years that could work for this.
Here’s a make that didn’t work out, Burda 127-10-2014. The annoying thing is that most of the problems were entirely predictable, had I thought about the pattern more carefully in advance. But I was carried away by the cute raglan seaming, the exposed zip, the pockets, and the roomy silhouette. Here’s the line art. Have a good look, maybe you’ll see what I missed.
It’s basically rectangular, and the bagginess only goes so far in accomodating my current shape, but that’s not the issue. The pockets are nice and big which is a point in its favour. I somehow managed to cut the sleeve bands horribly off-grain which is why they’re twisting, and they were a pain to insert because the polyester crepe I used does not tolerate even the smallest size mismatch. But none of that is the fault of the pattern.
The problem is the shoulder line. Look what happens when I move my arms. The shoulder line creases and the whole dress moves up. The shoulder line is so dropped and curved that there’s no way you can lift your arms and hence the sleeves without lifting the rest of dress. And the shape of the shoulder is quite clear on the line art so this shouldn’t have been a surprise; I just didn’t spot it in advance.
Some of the pulling is clearly being made worse by the distorting effect of my bump. Look at that drag line.
Just for completeness, here’s the back complete with exposed zip. The back is so plain it really needs that zip detail. I’m slightly surprised Burda didn’t repeat the raglan seaming on the back to add a bit of interest.
I often have trouble getting the right zip for a project but for once for once I got lucky. I found this one on eBay. The tape colour is almost an exact match for the fabric and the puller is a bit different: a short chain with a ball on the end rather than the usual zip puller. The back of the dress is so plain it needs all the help it can get. I didn’t do the greatest job inserting the zip but it looks OK from a distance. The neck binding isn’t great either because the fabric I used was a bit too heavy for the pattern and so the binding pattern piece didn’t have enough turn-of-cloth allowance.
I am going to put this dress away until after the baby and see if it’s any more comfortable when the bump isn’t taking up all the extra space in it.
This is the best hot weather dress I have ever made. It’s Vogue 1482, a Rachel Comey design. The UK is going through an unpleasantly sticky heatwave at the moment and this dress has been a lifesaver. It’s so light and airy it feels like not wearing anything at all.
Here’s the line art.
It’s basically a great big sack which means no real fitting is required. I added my usual two inches to the length, but at the hem rather than above the waist as I normally would because the long diagonal seam makes it tricky to add length anywhere else. I also added my usual two inches to the sleeve length by adding an inch to both parts of the sleeve. And finally I made the recommended size instead of going down one size as I usually would with a Vogue pattern. When you’ve got this much design ease in a style a little more won’t hurt, and it’s insurance for when my bump gets larger.
The fabric is a very lightweight viscose from MacCulloch and Wallis, which at the time of writing is still available here. I suspect this may be the type of fabric known as challis. It was hard to cut out because it shifted a lot, but easy to sew and press. It moves and drapes beautifully. The pattern calls for French seams throughout and for once I actually bothered to make them. Mainly that was so I didn’t have to buy new thread for seam finishing, so I can’t claim this is sewing to any higher standard than usual for me. I don’t have any thread at all that matches the pink fabric, never mind the number of spools I’d need in order to thread the overlocker as well as the main sewing machine. So the dress was sewn using only the sewing machine with a random spool of purple polyester thread I had lying around. The purple blends surprisingly well, even where there is top-stitching.
The centre back opening isn’t needed as the neckline’s more than wide enough to go over the head, but I like the effect. I think many people would want to make the opening shorter though. It only just clears the bra band on me and I have a long back. It’s closed with a little loop made from the fashion fabric and a self-covered button. The instructions for creating the loop didn’t work very well for me; I followed the measurements on the pattern carefully and it came out too chunky. I replaced it with a much skinnier version. Otherwise I followed the pattern exactly and everything worked out.
The pocket is great. Very large and in just the right place. I thought it would be odd to have only one pocket but it seems to work. And it’s beautifully finished with more French seams. I wonder if left-handed people might want to flip the front pattern pieces so the pocket is on the right though?
And finally for laughs here’s the full flying squirrel effect.
There is definitely going to be at least one more of these. I can see it being nice in a drapey jersey fabric, or a crepe de chine – basically anything lightweight and drapey.