Saturday, 16 January 2016

Carnations and Polka Dots

What comes first, the fabric or the pattern?

It's not always clear, but this time around the answer is obvious, isn't it:

On Frocktails weekend last year, Sarah introduced me to Darn Cheap Fabrics in person, and I discovered that many of their fabrics are not at all cheap looking.  Many of them looked surprisingly like Dolce & Gabbana fabrics - this fabric is one I recognised immediately.

For me this was one of the more memorable prints from D&G's Spring 2015 RTW collection.  And post catwalk, all kinds of lovely uses for the print were turning up: shirts and dresses in the damask-style fabric that I've used, dresses in a summery poplin version of the print, luxurious silk chiffon dresses for children and adults, swimmers, handbags...

In an effort to restrain myself I only bought 1.5 metres of this fabric - what a fool!  I felt like kicking myself later when I realised 1.5 metres was going to be nowhere near enough for the long sleeved fitted dress I'd been imagining :(.   Top tip for future Gabrielle: check fabric widths vs daydreams. 

Of necessity, I've ended up with this - a simplified version of Vogue 1120; a sleeveless dress which is perfect for summer and perfect for work:  

My mum took these lovely photos for me last Sunday - what a star!  I normally end up having to take a hundred or more remote control photos of myself to get a few that look OK, but mum's photos were ALL great and the process was a lot less embarrassing than usual :). And for a change, the location isn't my garden! Obviously my garden is incredibly convenient, but I feel like the neighbours must be rolling their eyes and shaking their heads in unison at my ongoing narcissism by now, and that's even more embarrassing that taking photos in public places. 

By the way, if you recognise the location, please don't spill the beans - I want to go back there for future blog photos! 

My previous version of this dress, a party frock, was made back in 2011.  That version was true to the pattern, pleats and bow included, but was a bit wide in the neckline and slightly loose. This time around I raised the neckline all around by about an inch, and used the lining pattern pieces for the outer dress, skipping the pleats and bow of the original.  I also left off the lining - the fabric is beefy enough not to need lining - and cut all-in-one facings for the dress front and back (well one piece for the front, and a piece each for the two sides of the dress back).  The only other modification I made was to lengthen the dress as much as I could, about 5 centimetres of extra fabric I think, and to then make as narrow a hem as possible using bias binding so as to eke out a little more length.

I forgot to get a photo of the inside of the dress for you, but I hand stitched the hem using a lovely contrasting satin bias binding - it's shiny and black, and I love the way it looks against the matt white underside of the dress. 

The dress does up very simply with an invisible zip in centre back - and yes, my waist seam aligns properly on either side of the zip :). 

If you skip the pleats and bow and use the lining pattern pieces, Vogue 1270 is quite a streamlined garment.  The shoulder shaping gives a small capped sleeve, which I really like, and I think it goes very well with the curve of the neckline.  If you don't have particularly wide shoulders, raising the neckline an inch all round ensures bra strap coverage without losing the pretty curve. The front bodice lining includes bust darts and waist darts, and the although the skirt shape is straight, it has enough width for walking ease without a vent.  

There are a couple of small issues with my dress - three actually - but they don't bother me much! 

One issue is that I didn't take turn of cloth into account when I cut out and sewed the facings in place. The result is that the dress looks to have piping around the neckline and armholes where you see the facing fabric :). I should probably have used a lighter fabric instead too. 

The second issue is that the dress is a bit on the loose side. I didn't read my own 2011 blog post about my earlier version of the dress, and when I cut this out I just automatically cut it out as a size 12 in the bodice, and a size 14 from the waist down (my usual Vogue designer pattern sizes, though I often downsize the upper bust / shoulders to a size 10).  I don't know that the looseness is particularly noticeable to others, and it certainly keeps the dress comfortable in the heat, but if I make this pattern again I really should size down throughout. 

Oh and the third issue - well does anything about the print annoy you when you look at this dress? I expected the polka dots to be printed parallel to the grain of the fabric - they're not!  To me, the dots look as though they should align with the hemline, perhaps with a nice clear diagonal line running across the print too. They don't! 

You'd probably already noticed those three issues, and perhaps they'd annoy you, but they don't bother me.  I'm not aiming for perfection these days; I'm simply aiming for clothes I want to wear, and this dress definitely fits the bill - I wore it to work the day after taking these pictures, and I'm planning on wearing it at least once a week for as long as the weather is warm enough. 

Thanks for reading, and I hope you're all having lots of success with your sewing machines!

See you soon

- Gabrielle x

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