Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Inari Dress

About 5 months I saw Amy's version of the Inari dress and was smitten. Winter was already looming though, and I had the usual backlog of sewing projects to distract me; and so months went by.  Then winter passed, and I started to get my sewing backlog under control. Time to sew something new! 

After the long wait, my Inari dress had to have something in common with Amy's; I chose geometry, though really our dress fabrics are quite dissimilar. 

When I first sewed this dress up I wasn't sure if I liked it or not.

Printing problems from the start of the project shouldn't have coloured my opinions of the dress, but they might have. When I printed the Inari PDF at 100%, the 10 cm test square was a 9.5 cm square, regardless of the program I opened it with.  Eventually I just printed the file at 105% and recycled lots of paper. Grr!

And the dress itself?  I like the obnoxiously brightly coloured fabric, a mid-weight cotton from The Fabric Store, but was disappointed with myself for not having noticed the repeat in the vertical lines: three coral lines, one pink, three coral lines, one pink...  How hadn't I seen it when I was aligning the heights of the patterns?  If I'd noticed I would have centred the dress on the vertical colours, for example having the middle coral bar running down CF rather than just off to the side. And having the pink bar running down the the middle of CB rather than just to the left:

Maybe you can picture the fabric shifted slightly left in these photos? 

Ha, no; no need really!  It did irritate me when I first spotted the mistake, but I'm fine with it now - getting more relaxed with age, I think!

And I really like the general shape of the Inari dress, but the fit - well, as I'm sure you can see, the fit is just not good in this fabric. The pattern instructions say the dress can be sewn up in "a light or medium weight fabric, inelastic or with stretch", but I suspect the pattern is best made in a slinky woven or jersey.

My dress is sewn in the next size up (EUR size 42) from the one that corresponded to my bust size (EUR size 40), but you might notice in my photos that there looks to be excess fabric at the front of the dress, where the sleeve meets the bodice.   I actually muslined the dress in my correct size, and found it quite tight across the bust - to the point where my arms felt a bit restricted - and that's why I went up a size for the 'real' dress.

Going up a size gives me more room, but hasn't fixed the fit.  As you can see in the next photo, when my arm is by my side there's excess fabric, begging to be taken out by a dart and a change in the armhole curve (cutting it in further), and when I lift.my arm the low armhole / shape of the arm scye means that the sleeve pulls on the dress:

I do realise that the Named pattern makers know how to design darts and more closely fitted sleeves (of course), and that the dress has therefore been consciously designed like this, but for me this design decision detracts from what is otherwise a lovely pattern.  I love the cocoon shape of the dress and the side vents, but if I make this dress again I'll be substituting in the upper bodice and sleeve from a different pattern.

By the way, please ignore the grumpy look on my face in most of these pictures - it's called being concerned a neighbour's going to come down that driveway at any moment!

There were a couple of minor changes I made to the pattern too, ones that didn't affect the fit.

First off I widened the sleeve cuffs - and probably that was a mistake, as I prefer the narrower cuff on everyone else's Inaris - and secondly I made mitred self-facings for the side vents.

The last pattern I made that had side vents in it, my DKNY jungle top, had the same basic fold over and top stitch finish that the Inari pattern suggests (though admittedly the Inari has deeper hems), but look at how that finish turned out in a slinky polyester:

This sort of finish is so flimsy - look at how my vertical hem is wobbling and folding back on itself!  

This time around I caught myself in time; I remembered the vent finish that used to be standard in sewing patterns back when I was an avid beginner - the mitred self-facing!

The mitred self-facing on a side vent is essentially a deep hem all the way around - not just on the horizantal hem - and one that's finished on the inside so that even if the vent flips open no seams are visible. What's more, its construction does away with the bulky square of multiple layers of fabric you get in a regular vent.

Here's how the mitred self-facings turned out on my Inari dress:

Apologies for the rumples - I had ironed the dress vigourously before wearing it, but apparently not vigourously enough! 

These days deep hems seem to be shorthand for luxury - extra fabric on the inside of your garment that no one's going to see.  Deep hems give weight to hems, making them less flimsy and better anchoring the garment; the hemline becomes beautifully stable.

If you look around in RTW, and even in most modern patterns you'll see that the narrow seamed side vent is the norm.  I don't know why that is, but my first guess would be that it's about efficient cutting out of garments in a production environment; about the cost of a few centimetres of extra width.

But if you're going to draft a deep hem for home sewers, why would you skimp on the side vents? Actually, why would you (other pattern companies!) draft side vents without any decent facings?

I'll stop 'venting' for now, but I have dug out an example of a lovely mitred self-faced vent (sewn a couple of years ago from an designer 80s pattern) that I'll try to photograph and share with you in the next day or two - and in case it's useful for anyone, I'll list the basic steps so you can make your own.

You've got a few issues, but I do like you, Inari dress!

See you soon

- Gabrielle xx

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