The companion dress to my CdG wannabe hoodie, this one also started out with high aspiration…and fell way short.
Because the fabric is slightly see through, I toyed with the idea of something like this Jean-Paul Gaultier 1990 Autumn/Winter dress ? extended vest ? But Ms Practicality vetoed the high side slits & I ended up with yet another variation of Burda 2012-04-128 dress…previously incarnated as a shimmering snake print dress & a defective yet still much worn camisole.
I had wanted to make this dress longer like the JPG inspiration, but Ms Cheapskate didn’t buy enough fabric. So the result – especially when worn together with the matching top – is just this side of twee.
Changed the skirt shape from pegged to slight A-line
Fabric & Notions Used
Fabric: Polyester 93% Lycra 7% Floral Jersey from Minerva Crafts UK – pretty to look at & yucky to touch.
Lining: Nylon 80% Lycra 20% Power Mesh from Tia Knight / Tissu Fabrics UK – much nicer against the skin than the shell fabric despite both being synthetics.
Notions:3/8” clear elastic as insurance agasint knit fabric shoulder straps stretching from the weight of the dress!
Tools: Corn starch! (for temporarily stiffening the jersey & tame the edge curling for easier sewing & handling)
As with last time I back stitched the darts by hand for wave-free soft seaming & slip stitched the strap-binding closed (rather than top-stitch by machine).
This time because the shell fabric is thicker, instead of narrow seam & rolled hem, I went with normal overlocked seams & turn and twin-needle stitched hems.
Again, because the shell fabric isn’t as translucent, there’s no extra modesty layer.
The lining’s actually the same length as the shell, but maybe because of different drape of the fabric, the lining hangs lower. So thank goodness I chose a nicely contrasting lining that doesn’t mind flashing strangers!
Comfy if a bit boring by herself. But some days boring is good. And other days you take styling inspirations from the crazy fashion crowd or iconic historical heroines and entertain yourself if no one else!
But this Burda pattern still got stome mileage to go. I’ve already altered for a version without the cowl neck, hoping to fly closer to my JPG sun. Let’s hope the humongous resulting bust dart doesn’t send me crashing down into the sea!
And now for a change of pace, let’s finally catch up with a project finished last year, but was waiting for the matching slim trousers which I just finished… This is the Indian anarkali tunic outfit kit I bought last year:
Loose weave Khadi shell fabric – this looks really similar to the raw silk gauze I used for Burda 2014-02-117 top (another one waiting to be blogged)
Poplin / Batiste lining
Originally I was going to leave this quite loose & robey as it vaguely reminds me of dreamy Pre-Rarobes. But Ms Practicality vetoed that idea. And I went back to something more like the original intended design. Ms Practicality also insisted that I make this tunic open front to maximise wearing opportunities. (Though in retrospect, the flared shape doesn’t really lend itself to being worn with front opened.)
Examining the marketing photo I saw that armhole bust darts were added to give the tunic a fitted silhouette. I followed suit & modified my Fitted Top Block to shift some of the bust shaping into a new armhole bust dart.
The bodice did not quite fit into the panels neatly. To minimize the number of vertical seams, I ended up removed the equivalent of one panel – front outer panel – at the side seam & kept the corresponding back outer panel for the underarm area – ie no proper side seams… kind of like in some tailored jackets.
Additional dart shaping (bust, waist, shoulder blade) were done at the existing panel seams with varied seam allowance widths.
For sleeves I used my more mobile Tunic Sleeve Block.
Hem were shorten for my less than modelesque stature (yielding scraps to squeeze out #2 Peplum Top below).
Ms OCD demanded that I redo the collar, chest appliqué, hem border, and lining “properly” the Western way. So…
Hem border reapplied after everything else was done (saving me a chunk to squeeze out #3 Bustier Top below).
Lining flipped to hide the seam allowance the Western way. (So far I find that the Asian garments seems to favour exposed seam allowances even when the garment is lined. Someone told me it’s to facilitate alteration in case one gains weight. It’s less pretty in side, but certainly quicker to let out or take in. I guess I better not grow sideway any further now that I’ve hidden all the seams!)
Hooks & thread bars were used for front closure to minimize visual disruption to the design whether worn open or closed.
Now can I just moan about hooks a bit? I thought all hooks are equal. Apparently not. I bought a bunch of Hemline hook & eye fasteners that you’d find in all the sewing shops here in the UK. Trusted brand right? Nope. Total fail. They won’t stay closed, because the bump at the base of the hook is too shallow to properly do its job of stopping the thread bar or eye from slipping off. Maybe if the garment has negative ease – eg in a bra band or bustier – then this won’t be a problem as the busting tension would stop the hook & bar/eye from moving about. But given the positive ease in my tunic, it’s wardrobe malfunction waiting to happen. Actually the hooks I recycled from old Victoria Secrets bras for my choli blouses also have the same problem of wanting to come undone. I only properly understood the problem when I examined a couple of custom made choli blouses I ordered from India: These have hooks with prominent bumps & are properly secure once done up. Annoyingly online shops don’t show profile photos of hooks they sell, so it’s impossible to tell which brand has the secure hook design with a proper gate-keeper bump.
1a. Anarkali Tunic scraps ⇒ Peplum Top
I wish I had scraps bigged enough to make Burda 2014-03-118 Square Neck Peasant Top. I didn’t. So I tried draping the scraps on Q to see if there’s even enough to cover Q’s modesty. Thankfully I did. This peplum top design is the result. The front, peplum, & back for each (L/R) half is one continuous piece of the excess length panelled hem from the tunic. The bodice sides & straps are from the tunic’s two excess front outer panels (minus length used for the shirt dress front opening facing).
As the fabric is loose woven & seemingly delicate, I will need to line the top. The lining scraps are not big enough, so a batiste from the Stash will have to be pressed into service.
While the neck opening is big enough to slip over my head, I want the waist to remain trim, so some sort of opening must be incorporated to make it possible to put on/take off the top. Back overlap with buttons perhaps?
Now I just need to figure out the construction… one day some day!
1b. Anarkali Tunic scraps ⇒ Bustier Top
The scrap hem border from the tunic just barely goes around my torso. As the embellishment is so lovely, it seems a shame to throw it away. Taking inspiration from a Dolce & Gabbana editorial & a Alexander McQueen F/W 2008 designs, I think I will turn this into a bustier. To bridge the gap in girth I’m going for a contrasting deconstructed aesthetic of exposed zipper, braided elastic, or hook & eye tape. To maximize wearability, I may add sleeves & peplum – or maybe make this a separate top to be worn under the bustier. I have nothing as fancy as McQueen’s silk tulle, so instead I’m going to use a plentiful cheap gauze from the Stash (formerly window drapes). Haven’t quite work out the pattern yet let alone construction. So yet another project joining the long queue.
Since the fabric is a stiff Jacquard, the usual Asian instructions for a drapier Churidar Trousers won’t work. So as you already know I turned this into a Western style slim trousers, doubling as wearable muslin for my new Slim Pants / Trousers Block to statisfy Ms Two-Bird-One-Stone.
2a. Churidar Trousers scraps ⇒ TBD
There’s enough fabric for something else… Something I haven’t yet decided, but probably a dress or a-line skirt because this stiff fabrc with no give needs plenty of ventilation.
3. Dupatta Shawl ⇒ TBD
This was readymade. But the rose coloured fabric is rather scratchy. So I initially added a dual-tone chiffon lining. But then it doesn’t drape as well anymore. So off the lining comes.
I think I will have to make this into something I may wear more often. I have way too many dupatta shawls for my Western lifestyle!
She’s such a Romantic, perfectly in her element on holiday in the Sun & Sea. But seriously, how will I ever afford to take her to such exotic places again with Uncle Sam & HRH dipping into my wallet whenever they want? 😉 Besides, I was never comfortable with her flashing my ribby chest.
So yeah another commitment-phobe city ensemble coming up! And one that MR considers F-U-G-L-Y. But I’m OK with that. What does he know about fashion right? 😉
The Design & Construction Odyssey
First off this fabric is a royal PITA to work with. Unlike Mario Fortuny’sGrecian Delphos which were made of silk, this is 70s Mary McFadden style polyester mushroom pleats. I don’t know if the Fortuny silk version drapes better, but my polyester version definitely balloons out in the most unflattering places, yet at the same time is highly shifty & unstable. An Utter Diva.
I was at a loss design-wise. Apart from Fortuny, McFadden & Issey Myake are the only designers I know who use this type of fabric as a signature. But neither are my cup of tea.
I did like the dress as a skirt in this style shot though. So comes what may out the Reckless Scissor came!
Designing by flat patterndrafting would be a nightmare. So again I turned to draping with Q. (The dress was originally draped on her mother Big Bertha.) I started out addressing what I didn’t like about the dress bodice: too much skin at the chest & side boobs…
Front neckline was pulled from the V into a square for more coverage.
The side seam was pulled closer to remove the underarm portion that had been cut down to the waist level.
The result however looked a bit twee. Too safe. Which draws attention to the extra volume added by this fabric. I threw on some elastic to see where/how I can control this extra volume, but ended up liking the combination enough to use it in the final design. It’s just my cup of tea – the edgy contrast between utilitarian black elastic vs the fluid femininity of the mushroom pleat. Exposed elastic as a decorative detail is certainly not new to my aesthetic. My former favorite designer Comme des Garçons did it in Spring/Summer ’94. And I have a Jean-Paul Gaultier men’s robe with elastic waist ties from the 90’s that I wear a lot too.
First & foremost…
Last but not least….
Inspiration – CdG SS’94
Inspiration – JPG menswear mid-1990s
So that’s the Design settled. On Q anyway. It’s a totally different story on me. Because I don’t want pins stuck into me to keep the fabric in place. The temptation to rely on pins is such a pit-fall when one design by draping rather than patterndafting.
Thank goodness there’s Pattern Magic 2‘s Different Facing Different Looks technique. Too bad I chose a whimpy cotton batiste for the facing/lining. Gravity won. All the more reason to incorporate the elastic into the design. Now it serves both a decorative & a structural purpose.
Taming of the Pleats part I…
The top ended up with the most ridiculously complicated underpinning. See the annotated photos below for all the glorious gory details. That’s what you get with a Band-Aid approach to design! Definitely not a repeatable make. And as if that wasn’t enough, this thing has ZERO hanger appeal. This is definitely an Once Is Enough top.
Taming of the Pleats part II…
Trojan Horse unvealed
Trojan Horse unvealed
Certainly not for retail
For Ferdinand the Bull…
I could not for the life of me decide on a hem length. After the chop there was definitely no floor length option left, which is just as well since it’s so impractical for modern day life.
It’s Super Skress!!!???
As the matching top has already given way to exposed elastics, I spared myself the agony of committing to one length. So an exposed elastic waistband done the iCandy Handmade way it is then. One that’s post-feast waist circumference in length so it hangs lower exposing the waist, and can be pull down even lower for a saucier low-rise look, or worn above the bust as a dress.
Matching detachable elastic shoulder straps & famine waist elastic belt complete the dress look. At a pinch the belt also yield a normal rise skirt. And if I sail to the edge I can also eke out a knee length skirt by doubling over the belt and leaving the built in waistband to hug my behind – not the most comfortable way to wear it, but hey we all have to make sacrifices for fashion right? 😉
It has a lovely drape and isn’t too difficult to sew. But it does feel slightly plasticky (hence the delay in attempt to get more). And – my pet hate – like all jerseys it curls at the edges. Normally I’d starch the hell out of these curly edges. But this time starch has no effect. Maybe it’s 100% water-hating petro fiber. Who knows.
As a non-snake person – I’m terrified of them, even earthworms & eels that remind me of them – this first foray into snake print is suitably timid & subtle. Maybe next year I’ll be bolder. In fact I already have a couple of loud prints with splashes of snakes from my last NYC trip. And it might be a good idea for me to start preparing them early. Who knows, I might even come to Jungle January 2015 on time!
OK, on to the hangover drone that is the pattern review…
I actually didn’t get the magazine when it came out – much to my regret now – so had to download the PDF version from Burdastyle website. And while I do appreciate the second chance, downloadable patterns are a royal pain. It’s better than not being able to get the pattern at all. But given the choice, I’d take pre-printed patterns any day. Yes, even Burda’s unwieldy jungle of overlapping pattern lines.
So the pattern itself…I was rather surprised to find virtually no makes out there on the interweb. Nada on Burdastyle.com. And a paltry one make on Pattern Review which unfortunately featured only action shots, so hard to see the dress clearly. Burda Russia of course have a few more – including the longer view B, but still not as many as this pretty dress deserves I thought.
This time I went with 36, which happens to be the recommended size for me according to the sizing chart. But this is only because 36 matched my new Basic Top Block most closely in the key measurements.
For a change I didn’t use my Block to gauge alterations needed. Instead I pressed Q into tissue-fitting service. I started with the lining pieces because it has less drapes / is more fitted, so is easier to fit. Once I figure out the main changes needed, I apply the same changes to the shell pieces.
Lining side front
Shell side front
The alterations this time are fairly minimum.
Front lining & shell
Back shell & lining
Short, aging body shape adjustments: Shortened between bust & waist, waist & hip, and hip & knee. This kept the widths at all the key levels unchanged.
Small hip adjustment: Graded down at the side seam from waist down.
Front-back body shape adjustment: Shifted a little bit of the waist shaping from the side seams to the darts. In other words, made the darts wider at the waist and added the amount this removed back at the side seam waist. So side seam is straighter. (In Frabjous Couture‘s recent discussion about shape & pattern drafting, I’d be a less dramatic Liz.)
Shortened bust dart for my low hanging girls, and lengthened the back darts above waist for my narrow lower back.
Sloping uneven shoulder adjustment: I narrowed the upper back a little bit so the straps won’t hang too close to the edge of my shoulders. The strap then had to be adjusted in length to accommodate this. I also shortened the left strap to accommodate my lower left shoulder. Hopefully there won’t be any jumping off the shoulder cliff drama with these precautions.
There’s one more change I’d make if I were making this in bias woven. And that is to take account of bias stretching when assessing the pattern length. Kenneth King mentioned a rule of thumb of 1/4″ stretch per 6″ length in his Moulage book. If I were to cut on the bias as instructed, then I might want to shorten everything accordingly – including the darts and torso shaping. In a shapeless dress you might be able to just shorten at the hem as needed. But this dress actually is a body skimming sheath. So I’d want to make sure the torso shaping hasn’t elongated after gravity has worked it’s lousy magic.
This time I didn’t make this adjustment because my fabrics were all knits, so I cut on the standard straight grain.
I had to lengthen the lining and add another layer of underlining to preserve my modesty. My snake print was way too see-through. The lining was lengthened from hip length to just below my bum. The underlining is knee length & just slightly shorter than the snake print. The underlining pattern is the dress pattern minus the front neckline pleats and the skirt side extension. I left a vent where the side extension would have been.
Verdict on the Instruction
The instruction is OK, though mention of length extension was confusing. Maybe it was referring to the magazine pattern. The PDF version looks like the full pattern, so I didn’t lengthen anywhere. Other than that, I did the usual thing of giving the instruction an once over, then doing my own thingy.
Theoretically this should be quick to make. But I ended up sewing each layer with slightly different seaming technique because, well as you know, knits are temperamental divas. And I have 3 of them to deal with:
The lining is stitched & top-stitched on the sewing machine with stretch stitches.
The underlining has stretch-stitched & hand top-stitched darts, and 3-thread narrow overlocked side and back seams.
And saving the best for the outside, the snake print has hand-stitched darts to minimize stretching & wavy seams. But the side & back seams were again done in 3-thread narrow overlock to keep the dress floaty. Unlike the under layers, I didn’t cut off the dart seam allowances on this layer because I like how the shading adds slimming vertical style lines to the dress.
All three have 2-thread rolled hem done on the overlocker. I like the lightness of the result. But there were lots of oops with the rolled stitch not catching the fabric edge. Urgh. Hand blanket stitch to the rescue.
And the straps I had to stabilize with stay tapes to prevent it stretching & showing off more of me than intended. Lots of hand sewing here too.
Would I sew it again / Would I recommend it to others
With all the fussy fabrics it’s no wonder I’m so late to the party! One thing for sure: There’ll be no swinging like Tarzan in this delicate dress with all its Oops. But I like the result well enough to want to wear it to a relative’s summer wedding coming up soon.
I think the pattern would also be really pretty in the recommended bias georgette (or even chiffon). But I’d only make it in those fabrics if I can figure out a way to avoid the wavy seam like on the pattern view B photo:
And those double french darts – I just love how they looked on Q in the stiffish tissue paper. It gave Q sideway curves where she and I have none. This detail is a bit lost on droopy fabrics like georgette or mesh jersey. So I just might adapt the pattern to work with a crisper fabric like silk shantung. I’d have to do away with the neckline drapes and pleats, and the skirt side extension of course. It’d make a nice little cocktail party dress for ladies who lunch! 🙂
My niece picked the black mesh fabric and had wanted a jacket out of it. But I was worried that a see-through jacket might be a bit too sexy / grown-up so I tried to J-Crewfy it. I thought the fabric would work well with a drapy design like this – the flounce especially. As added insurance against parental objection I also added the sleeves. The Franken-drawing looked alright to me. But of the 3 makes, I’m most meh about the result of this one…
Is it just me or does this dress look dowdy? I’m wondering now if I shouldn’t have just made another gathered tier skirt with black lining.
I was needlessly apprehensive about sewing the mesh knit and unduly confident about sewing the Lycra underlining. The mesh in fact sewed easily on the overlocker. The Lycra lettuced like crazy on both the overlocker (with differential feed turned right up) and sewing machine…until I spray starch the hell out of it. I even resorted to homemade starch when I ran out of the commercial one. Once it’s stiff like paper it behaved itself.
Like with the Burda jacket I made a 12 – supposedly a size larger than my niece’s current measurements. But unlike the Burda jacket this one is L-A-R-G-E. Even I could fit into it. Not sure if it’s the typical over-generous ease problem that many have reported on the Big 4 patterns, or if the fault is with me for choosing stretchy fabrics.
I would have said “that’s OK as she can grow into it”. But of the 3 garments I think this is the most kiddy design. The other two could easily be teenage or even grown up fashion. This one looks too sickly sweet to be worn by anyone other than little girls & tweenies.
Frankenpatterned view A sleeves onto view E dress. And underlined the whole thing.
Verdict on the Instruction
I read the instruction but did my own thing because of the changes I made. Otherwise the instruction is pretty straight-forward (and easier to follow than Burda in my opinion).
Like with the cut-lace tier skirt, I treated the underlining as a separate layer for the main bodice. Only in the armscyes, sleeve hems, and back neck opening did I treat the layers as one.
As much as possible I kept the seams and hem stitching as light-weight as possible. So the mesh shell had narrow overlocked seam and roll hems – first time I did this and it came out without a hitch thanks to the easy-to-handle mesh fabric. The underlining had slightly wider seams with a machine-stitched single-fold narrow hem.
I was debating whether to finish the sleeve hems the same way, but decided to make it look more like the other upper edges – neck hem, back opening. This is to avoid distracting from the design line of the fluid flounce which flows into the fluid bottom hem. (There’s a bit of design thoughts going into this after all, even if the result isn’t quite as fashionable as I had hoped! }:-)
Would I sew it again / Would I recommend it to others
It is a sweet looking dress. And if you get the sizing right and picked the right fabric I think it would look good on young girls & younger Tweenies.
Somehow I don’t think I’ll be sewing this again though. Unless this Tweeny Trilogy turn out to be unexpected mega-blockbusters I’m done sewing for kiddies. Back to regularly scheduled adult sewing next.