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.
Welt pockets first. The silver colour is actually a very fine silver and black stripe – probably about a millimetre wide. The stripes made lining up the welt pockets nice and easy, although you can see it’s not perfect. The welt is an even width though; it’s the picture that’s on a slant here.
Cutting out with those very fine stripes was a pain in the neck. There are a lot of strong horizontal and vertical lines in the design so if the grain was slightly off it really showed. I cut a lot of pieces single layer because of this. It’s still a stripe or two off in places.
I interfaced all the pieces of the top with Vilene G405 to give it plenty of body. Unfortunately it wasn’t until this point that I noticed that my fabric shrinks when pressed. Luckily I’d cut the pieces out with the usual generous 1.5cm home sewing seam allowances so I could afford to lose some of those. However in a few places this design has extra wide seam allowances which are pressed to one side and top-stitched down to give the appearance of bands. I had to reduce the width of the top-stitching slightly because otherwise the fabric shrinkage would have meant I wouldn’t have caught the seam allowances at all.
Here’s the neckband. The upper diagonal line coming out from the neckband looks like a seam but is actually one of the lines of top-stitching. I used Gutermann top-stitching thread so it would really stand out against the fabric. I marked the line with chalk before top-stitching as the seam it has to run parallel to is too far away to be able to simply line up with something on the machine presser foot. You can just see the lining here; it’s acetate/viscose satin from The Lining Company.
Details of the sleeve bands below. The top and bottom seamlines are more top-stitching. The top-stitching interacts with the stripes in an annoying way where the stitching line is almost but not quite parallel to the stripe: it gives a stepped effect which you can see here on the lowest line of top-stitching. I found that using a smaller stitch length reduced the effect but didn’t eliminate it completely.
I think I’ve done this pattern to death now; between this version and the last it’s been about seven blog posts. I’m aiming to sew a completely new-to-me pattern next.
I’m trying to use up some of my thread stash. I used to be obsessive about matching thread colour to fabric, so every new project required taking a little fabric swatch into John Lewis and carefully selecting the most appropriate shade of Coats and Clark thread. I’ve just checked the Coats and Clark website and am faintly surprised to discover there are only 69 shades available. It seems like a lot more when you’re faced with them in the shop.
Obviously this behaviour resulted in my accumulating a large shoebox full of spools of thread. Then I tried sewing a large-scale black and white print. What thread to use? Clearly no match was possible, so a decision had to be made. I plumped for white. I now realise that black would probably have been better – always go darker rather than lighter if you can’t match – but the white worked fine. So now I’m working my way through the shoebox using whatever’s about the right colour for each project. I haven’t bought sewing machine thread other than black, white, or red for ages.
For the current project I need grey and found that the only grey thread I had left was 100% cotton. For some reason I used to think you should only sew cotton fabric with cotton thread and bought a lot of the stuff. But then I switched to polyester thread when I realised how much stronger it is. Now I’m paranoid about using up the cotton – it’s so weak! What if all my seams break? None of the dresses I sewed with the cotton thread actually came to pieces, but I still worry. The overlocker’s threaded in black (polyester) not grey, but hey. I’m going to overlock all those seams.
Anyone know where the ‘only sew cotton with cotton’ thing comes from? Or had a disaster sewing with polyester?