Hey you guys! Remember me? The blog has been a bit barren in recent weeks because I haven’t really sewn anything. Quelle horreur! My sewjo took a nosedive at the end of March when I was crazy busy with other things and hasn’t picked up since. I’ve been feeling inspired, but just not motivated and very tight on time.
So, onto the dress that bumped me out of this sewing slump. Another Ultimate Shift. Turns out I’m a creature of habit, sewing wise. My original plan had been to make an Alder Shirt Dress. Man, am I glad I changed my mind. The fabric is absolutely beautiful, but far more lightweight and silky than I was expecting. I don’t think my patience would have lasted long enough to make a shirt dress from something so delicate. Sometimes plan B turns out better in the end and this was definitely one of those times!
Because the fabric is so summery, I wanted to try to make the dress a bit more loose and drapey. I was aiming for a trapeze shape and it half worked. I hacked the pattern by pivoting the centre point of the hem out by 4” on the front and back pieces, and levelling the hem. I hoped it’d make the dress really full, but without the need for pleats or gathers. It did, but I’m not sure if the end result is a bit frumpy. It’s somewhere in between the skimming shape of the original shift and the big, billowy frock I had in mind. It certainly looks much better when pulled back in at the waist with a belt. It was a worthwhile experiment, but next time I’ll swing the pattern pieces out as far as the fabric allows so that it looks intentionally oversized, rather than a bit too big. Go hard or go home!
The pattern doesn’t call for interfacing, but I decided to use some on the neck and armhole facings. This was a good idea and my neckline has turned out nice and crisp. As the fabric is so fluid, I think it might have gaped without that extra stability. I did my usual trick of replacing the hook end eye with a shank button and an elastic loop, but otherwise followed the instructions as they were.
I really love the fabric. The bright blue is right up my street and the spots are a bit uneven, almost like they were hand drawn, which I like. It’s super light and smooth to wear and will be nice and cool in warmer weather- it feels like you aren’t wearing anything! I deliberately used the wrong side of the fabric because it had a bit less sheen. I thought that’d be more suitable for every day and would get more use.
All the qualities that I like about the look and feel of the fabric made it pretty challenging to sew with. It’s well documented that I’m crap at anything fiddly, so slippery satin was never going to be easy for me. I’ve ended up with some puckering down the centre back seam that I’ve had to learn to live with. I’d already unpicked it once and damaged the fabric a bit so it had to stay but, luckily, it’s disguised when I put a belt on. Otherwise it’s turned out reasonably well. If you fancy a challenge (and have more patience than me) I think it’d make a gorgeous 40’s style tea dress.
I haven’t actually hemmed the dress yet because after three days of hanging and trimming, the hem still hasn’t quite levelled itself. I also can’t decide whether to cut it off and turn it into a top. What do you think?
The fabric for this project was very kindly gifted to me by Sew Essential (hi Lucy!). One of my favourite ways to spend a lunch break is to have a browse through their pretty fabrics and dream sewing machines. If you’re on the hunt for inspiration for your next project, head straight over there!
I hope you all had a great Easter break! I’ll be spending the rest of this bank holiday eating enough chocolate to stock a small shop. Natch.