Saturday, 28 June 2014

Mad Jaywalking

The Tessuti Fabrics Jaywalk competition? Yes, I entered too, and this is what I made in a mad, crazy weekend rush:


All very bright and striking with the orange backdrop, but below are my "official" entry pictures, taken a little earlier in my lunch break on the Tuesday of the competition deadline - in which you can see the dress just a little better, though still not that well:


That's front, side and back sorted then, right? Oh I know, you can't see the dress very well - but honestly I have to blame the photographer (shhh, that's me).  I think I need to do a basic camera course, maybe even the same course several times over - does anyone have any recommendations for a short course in Sydney?

I'll show you the details bit by bit, since evidently I can't show you the details on me!

First of all, the pattern is this McCall's beauty from the 1950s:

I chose this pattern after a lot of thought - I know it seems a crazy choice for a competition involving stripey stretch fabric, but as I didn't expect to win I wanted to make something that I would really like. When I played with the Jaywalk fabric I had in mind a picture of a vintage shirt dress in muted stripes, and all (d1-3) those (d4-10) selfies (d11-18) in (d19-25) May (d26-31) just amplified my love of the "narrow bottoms + loose top" silhouette. Where's the fun in sewing something you don't like? The red dress on the pattern envelope looked like THAT kind of silhouette :-), though my skirt hasn't worked out anywhere near the illustrated shape. So I used the stretch striped Jaywalk jersey to make something not recommended for stripes, and perhaps not so suited to stretch fabrics - but it's a dress I wore to work the day after completing, and that I'm sure I'll keep wearing. {Breathe out.}

I don't have much experience with proper vintage patterns, so I did a lot of paper measurements before any cutting. Interestingly I was able to sew the pattern (in a vintage size 16 - and I'm about a size 12 in the Big 4 these days) with minimal adjustments, although arguably the fit I've achieved is too loose - or perhaps more suited to a woven incarnation of the dress.  According to the vintage pattern envelope I should have been a size 14 in the bust (and I probably should have been wearing a bullet bra!) and a few sizes up in the waist and hips; the bust is a bit loose and there was quite a nice amount of ease at the waist and hips.  

The pattern was classed as easy back in the day, and it's really not particularly tricky for an experienced sewist though there are quite a few details. It's simply a belted shirt dress, with an invisible zip in the side seam, a buttoned bodice front (it's a proper 2-piece shirt front, but as there's also a side zip I didn't make my buttons functional), and buttoned triple-darted sleeves.  I tried not to take any short cuts, and I cut out and sewed the whole dress to the best of my ability - what more can you do?

The orange fabric you see is a stretch cotton, also from Tessuti Fabrics. I was initially going to make the collar with the orange fabric underneath, but on trying the bodice both ways I found I really preferred having the orange upper-most - apparently having the loud orange on display makes the muted Jaywalk colours easier for me to wear :).

Both the belt buckle and the buttons are vintage, picked up ages ago at a second hand store - and I still have heaps of the buttons left!  When I got up to making the belt I was running out of time, so I tried to wing it and insert a long piece of buckram that I'd cut to size into the sewn belt tube. Unfortunately it proved impossible to insert the buckram without it creasing really badly and making the belt look a mess, so I now have a soft belt :). The buckle is a vintage one that I cut the fabric to fit, and I've just double stitched a row of those little "o" shapes with my machine to make buckle holes. I have made belts before and made them properly, so next time I'll have to check one of my sewing bibles as to the correct method!  

And back to the subject of collars, my experience is that precise cutting out makes a huge difference to the look of a garment, but particularly with collars, where a little asymmetry or deviation from the drawn curve is so noticeable. Collar points are noticeable too - mine aren't that good.

I pinned and pressed the collar so as to have the Jaywalk fabric peeking out from under the orange collar, giving the effect of piping. You can see in the next photo that the effect of this is that on the neckline, the orange fabric hangs past the Jaywalk fabric.

The seams are nearly all sewn with a twin needle straight stitch (lengthened) and finished with an overlocker. The shoulder and arm seam, continuing to the cuff, is stabilised with lightweight ribbon rather than clear elastic, as the seam doesn't need any give:

Here's the invisible zip in the side seam - to sew this in I started by interfacing the seam allowances, then basted the zip in with my regular machine foot and a long stitch length (and lots of pins and pencil markings to help me match the stripes). I finished with the invisible zipper foot and a regular straight stitch. I think it worked out well:  

The cuffs are faced with the same (stretch cotton) fabric as used for the contrast collar and belt, and are under stitched as well as catch stitched to the seam allowance to keep them from rolling out. I did the same with the collar but didn't take photos of it! 

In the next photo you can see the sleeve pleats - which are a bit pointless in a soft, stretchy fabric!

I added a waist stay with the aim of helping to support the weight of the skirt fabric and prevent it from pulling on the bodice, though I'm not sure how well it's working:

And of course there's some stripe matching. Side seams, shoulder seams, arm seams, and skirt panels. The skirt front has soft folds that align with the bodice darts, and the back skirt is made from 4 separate panels that align with the centre back seam, with very slight bodice pleats. I managed to match the stripes across the panels pretty well, though not perfectly:

So that's it!

There was a lot of sewing in this dress, all a mad, crazy rush the weekend before the competition deadline. Started late, finished late (the night before the due date), took photos in my lunch break on the due date, and sent my photos in a few minutes before crunch time. Crazy. And I have to admit (to myself mostly - you probably already knew) that sewing deadlines are just not fun.

Hopefully I'll be wearing this dress lots come Spring (and finding or making myself a dolman sleeved jacket to go on top).  I'm glad I made it, I'm happy with the care I took with it, and I'm super pleased to have used a lovely vintage pattern. Will I enter the comp next year though - and will you?

See you soon
Gabrielle xx


  1. Ohhh!!! Thanks for posting! I really, really like the pops of colour!!! I love those first shots - fabulous! I'm a sucker for the loose top/slim skirt silhouette too and would never have contemplated using a vintage shirt dress for the Jaywalk - it looks great! and my absolute fave aspect - those cuff facings = perfect! ;)

  2. You are so brave!! I would have never thought of making this in jersey, I think jersey and lycra don´t want to be my friends :(
    But you even insterted an invisible zipper there, and all the facings...Bravo!! Despite the sizing troubles ( I never get it right with the Big 4) I think the result is quite pretty and interesting
    Oh, and the photos are quite nice too!

  3. the colour works so well with the stripes! Those first photos with the bright backdrop look like a high fashion shoot!

  4. I really love the contrasting colours. I think you're so brave for putting an invisible zip into jersey! You look super cool in this outfit. I don't know if I'll enter next year. I did this year as the fabric was to my taste and it was so inexpensive, so I think it will depend on what the fabric is.

  5. Wow that is an amazing amount of detail in your dress and love the orange contrast!

  6. Gabrielle Corbett3 July 2014 at 11:22

    Thank you, I found the fabric colors by themselves were too muted for me so I needed the orange. The first couple of photos were taken near a garage door in the city, overlooked by offices and a hotel - glad you like them! Actually I think my choice of pattern was a bit crazy - your dress was a much better use of the fabric; accentuating the drape, and showing off the stripes with those lovely fabric folds...

  7. Gabrielle Corbett3 July 2014 at 11:23

    Sometimes brave means crazy, lol :). I don't think I picked the right sort of style for the fabric - even though it's a very well behaved jersey (and one that would definitely want to be friends with you Merche!). Thank you!

  8. Stellar work ! I really love the contrasting lining and collar. I would never have been brave enough to attempt this in jersey... great job!!

  9. Gabrielle Corbett8 July 2014 at 17:29

    Thanks Susan, I love the bright orange with the muted stripes too - I love how it 'pops'. Oh gosh thank you, I felt like such a poser there but the colour seemed too good an opportunity to miss. Even if it was at the entrance to a car park and overlooked by offices!

  10. Gabrielle Corbett8 July 2014 at 17:32

    Thanks Rachel, turns out that once you interface it, putting an invisible zip into jersey is pretty easy! I usually really like the fabrics for the competition, but I just don't think I'm cut out for the pressure! Even though I guess it's only self-inflicted lol...

  11. Gabrielle Corbett8 July 2014 at 17:34

    Thank you Sharon - completely ridiculous for a jersey dress, isn't it!

  12. Gabrielle Corbett8 July 2014 at 17:35

    Thank you Margo, I don't know if it was brave - probably more foolish :) - but thank you, glad you like it.


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