Monday, April 13, 2009

Retro Rethink Print Dress

I finally made my jumper last week, after much gnashing of teeth about the fabric change. There wasn't really much hope of finding more of a fabric that had been tucked in on the clearance wall three weeks earlier, so it was no great surprise that I had to rethink the dress. I will most likely use the yellow fabric for a top of some kind in the future, since it really is a nice color and texture. But we move on, and with any luck we improve as we go.

The fabric I settled on is a chocolate brown with a vibrant retro floral print. The print has all of the colors in my tops, so will match nicely. It even has the green in the jacket, so it fits right in. As a matter of fact, this is the only piece of my wardrobe that has all of the elements present, making it essentially the 'inspiration' piece even though it was the last to be selected.

This went together very easily, although I did make a few changes in the order of steps from the pattern directions. Honestly, I only looked at them after I was finished for reference. With this being a four-piece pattern it just made sense to assemble the garment in the order that works best for me instead of wrangling instruction sheets. Besides, I typically disregard the zipper instructions for every pattern except trousers.

I have this thing about zippers; I really like them but I hate for them to show. On a pair of trousers, the fly front is part of the design of the garment so it doesn't bother me. But on skirts and dresses, I want them to fade into the lines; which is the basis of my love for the invisible zipper. However, if I insist on using invisibles that means changing most patterns to accomodate this closure because the zipper has to go in before the seam and not the other way around. Sewing the bottom of the seam before the invisible zipper goes in will always result in a pucker at the bottom of the zipper, which makes it rather visible.

I made the darts on front and back, then attached the bodice pieces making a front piece and two back halves. I then installed the zipper down center back and stitched the remainder of the seam. I used a robin's egg blue zipper that was in my stash since it was the color that was closest match- lucky for me it was a YKK and very soft which goes with the weight of the fabric.

The bodice lining was cut from a piece found at goodwill by a friend of mine; it's a pale green with polka dots that had obviously been washed with something red and has random splotches; no problem to cut around for such small pieces. I attached bodice and lining front to back at the shoulder seams then attached the lining at the neck edge. Because there is a contrast between the lining and fashion fabric, after pressing the seam toward the lining I understitched the neck edge. This will keep the lining from creeping out and showing.
Once the lining was attached at the neck edge, I stitched the side seams and bound the armscyes with self bias. The pattern called for this to be done in a standard seam, but since the back seam was already sewn there would not have been a way to turn the garment right sides out. When slip stitching the bodice lining to the waist, I took an inverted box pleat at the gathers to give support the gathers on the bodice.

With the dress assembled, I tried it on for fit then marked the hem. I like to run a machine basting stitch along where the hem will fall which gives me a sharp edge to turn up and press the hem. This is taken out after the hem is stitched but before it is pressed. Since the print is so busy, I went ahead with a machine topstitched hem; the brown cotton thread blends in perfectly. The dress is pictured with my new crinoline in the front view, and without in the back view.

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