Monday, 19 January 2015

The Painterly Dress

Skipping past a couple of unblogged 2014 makes for now, here's my first dress of 2015:

the painterly dress! 

Front view, painterly dress
Isn't this fabric pretty? I think it looks so painterly, if that's the correct word - it reminds me of flowers and reflections in puddles, and impressionism! 

Polyester twill from The Fabric Store
The fabric is a medium weight twill from The Fabric Store in Sydney, and I suspect probably made from 100% polyester - whatever it is, it was tricky to sew! My serger adored the fabric, but I had a lot of trouble getting the tension right with the fabric in my sewing machine, which is why the princess seams are rippling. I'd sorted out the tension by the time I sewed the skirt, so the skirt side seams are fine. The bodice also looks like it's pulling so I guess for a fabric with zero give I should have allowed myself more room. I do realise I could have unpicked and resewn the bodice with a little more room and with the improved tension settings, but when I unpicked a small area to try to do just that I discovered the old needle holes remained very visible on the fabric, and I only had miniscule scraps of fabric left over, so I decided to chill and put up with a bit of rippling and pulling.

And the dress pattern? Well it isn't really one thing or another, it's the Libby A-line skirt from Tessuti patterns, which I've been meaning to try for ages, combined with princess seamed bodice from an old favourite of mine, DKNY pattern V1193.

I've made V1193 a couple of times now with sleeves (here in a red ponte, and here for my "Out of Darkness" dress), and used the bodice without sleeves at least once more (here for example in Pink Panther fabric for the Sew Dolly Clackett challenge), so I pretty much know by heart how to make it fit me properly. On this occasion I used the same minor adjustments as usual (essentially I use several sizes - size 10 for the shoulders, size 12 at the bust, size 14 at the waist).  I initially added length to the whole bodice but then ended up removing a wedge of fabric at the back for what is apparently not so much a sway back as a short back (thank you Lara for reminding me about Beth's post on that adjustment!). In the photo below it looks like the back is still a bit long, but I had my shoulders back for these photos, and usually when my posture is not so good I need that little extra back length.

Shortened back bodice
There are lots of pure Libby skirts on the internet (see Jillian, Rachel, and Elizabeth, for example) and if you want to see this fabric sewn up differently, check out Emma's Simplicity pencil skirt.

I cut this Libby skirt in a size 14, and then found I could trim about an inch from the sides when I attached the skirt front and back to the bodice front and back - the skirt was a lot wider than the bodice - so I guess I had mismeasured myself. Anyway, it was super easy to attach the Libby skirt to the Vogue bodice, and I only wish I'd got the skirt size right in the first place because I suspect if I had, the skirt darts might have lined up with the princess seams! Anyway, the darts are completely lost in the print, so that's just something I'll bear in mind for any future Libby + Vogue makes.

I would have liked a deep hem on this dress but the skirt was shorter than I anticipated, so I finished the hem with some coordinating satin bias binding, machine stitched in place.  It would've looked better with a hand stitched hem, but the bodice is all sorts of imperfect anyway, so it didn't seem worthwhile!

Hem finish - satin bias binding
The bodice is fully lined in a nice satin that I picked up second hand ages ago.  I sewed the lining with a bit of extra width, but it's proved unnecessary given how little the outer fabric moves. The lining is understitched around the neckline, and handstitched in place down the zipper tape and around the waist.

A bit of hand stitching
What else? Well there's an invisible zip in the size seam, and although I've got more of that annoying rippling happening in the seams, at least it's consistent front and back - my seams aligned nicely at the waist and the zip is nearly invisible!

Side view with invisible zip in the side seam
Close up of the invisible zipper in the skirt section
Over on the other side of the world I know plenty of sewists are looking forward to Spring, but with this dress I feel like I'm only just kicking into Summer gear - Summer, you've GOT to stay a bit longer! 

See you soon

- Gabrielle x


  1. Love your painterly dress. Very pretty.

  2. it's pretty, I love the pattern matching across the front bodice/skirt. And please summer, stay a little longer down here, you've barely arrived!!

  3. Despite its difficulty to sew, this fabric made a very pretty dress for you!

  4. Marjorie Trundle19 January 2015 at 10:03


  5. Perfect fit and a great design for a fabric that could easily overwhelm.

  6. Absolutely gorgeous!

  7. Lovely dress. I vote for more summer too...

  8. I just love this fabric, it looks great made up as a dress. Its so weird huh how it sewed up. I thought it would sew up so easily given how stable it is, but my sewing machine hated it. Great job and matching the two patterns too - a perfect summer dress!

  9. Oohh. Nice. It's a lovely style with this gorgeous print.
    It's really pretty.

  10. What a lovely summer frock. It is very painterly. The princess-seam bodice with an a-line skirt is one of my most favourite combinations.

  11. The McCall Pattern Company21 January 2015 at 00:37

    Wonderful! This pattern and fabric look perfect on you.

  12. Very pretty!

  13. Sew, Jean Margaret22 January 2015 at 22:04

    Beautiful dress and very well made.

  14. Thank you! Yay, you can join the club - "soft spot for the 80s" is the passcode! Mind you, we don't have to like everything from the 80s...

  15. Thank you Andrea :). I'll try that - it hadn't even crossed my mind to try a narrower bottom half!

  16. Absolutely gorgeous. That fabric is divine :)

  17. What a gorgeous dress! It looks great on you.
    I have some of the same fabric, and have cut out an Emery dress - I'm a little nervous to see how my sewing machine takes to it, fingers crossed.
    Did your fabric say "Anne Taylor" on the selvedge? I found some Anne Taylor pencil skirts made from it online (e.g. this one: - must be a previous season, as they're online on eBay, not the website.


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