Thank-you all so much for the nice comments about my last project! I am overwhelmed. This was Burda 111-02-2012, a cheongsam-style dress from the February 2012 issue of Burda Style. I posted pictures of it on me in the week, but there are some features that don’t really come out in those pictures. And as I’m insanely proud of having completed this dress, here are some construction details. I hope they’re useful.
The dress is made from two stretch cotton drills. The Burda version is silk crepe. I’ve never sewed with crepe but it strikes me as liable to be wriggly. The inset corner at the neckline and the sharp curves on the hem bands involve attaching opposing curved/angled edges which is hard enough in fairly stable fabric. I’m really pleased with how they came out though. I stay-stitched everything along the seamline first and clipped a lot. With the curves it took a few rounds of basting and ripping out to get them to lie flat. The corner worked out perfectly first time, whereas normally those take me a few goes. If only I knew what I’d done differently there!
The pattern instructions have you finish the inside of the contrast bands by turning under the seam allowance on the raw inside edge and stitching in the ditch on the outside to catch it down. I was worried my fabric was too thick for that to work well so I bound the edges in black cotton bias binding instead of folding them under. I forgot to trim the seam allowance down before I did this so the stitching line ended up on the cream-coloured band rather than the black bias binding. In an attempt to hide the stitching I used white thread in the bobbin and loosened the needle tension a bit to make sure none of it showed through on the right side. This worked better than it had any right to.
I had to turn a few sharp corners with the bias binding. I found this post from Poppykettle on how to get a neat mitred corner very helpful; thanks! You can see a couple of the corners in the picture below. That grey patch on the left is the interfacing I used over the zip insertion area. Whether it was the interfacing or just luck I don’t know, but the zip went in perfectly. But you can see I completely forgot to finish the edges of the arm facings. They’re interfaced so they probably won’t fray.
An aspect of this pattern that I’m not very keen on is the shoulder pleat. I think it’s supposed to make the shoulder band lie nicely, but it was difficult to sew on my dress and didn’t add a lot to the shape. At least part of the problem was that I interfaced both halves of the shoulder bands by mistake so they were far too stiff to make such a small pleat in. Burda’s pattern layout diagram shows interfacing for all four band pieces but the instructions say that there should be two non-interfaced ones. I’ll know for next time.
All my photos have come out with a very blue cast to them despite an attempt at colour correction in Picasa, but the fabric is in fact black. However I quite like the blue effect. I was contemplating another one of these in bottle green with black bands, but I’m starting to think navy and cream would also be pretty good.