I’ve been sewing like mad for all sorts of clients, and I’ll show you images of those soon. As a little treat for myself I took some time to whip up something for me.
This is my Love at First Flight Dress:
The inspiration for the dress was the amazing Echino fabric by Etsuko Furuya for Kokka.
Steph took me to a fabric store while I was in Australia, and I saw this fabric and I had to have it. It was love at first sight.
How could I not? It’s pink and blue and red and green and turquoise and mustard. And it’s linen cotton. And it looks like Christmas in the Antipodes: all sunshine and ocean and brilliant red pohutukawa flowers. And it has birds on it! Just look at the full width of it:
And then I saw the Au$32 a metre price tag. Ahem.
I bought everything that was left on the bolt anyway: just about 3 metres. Did I mention that it has birds on it?
This is now probably the most expensive dress I have ever made strictly for myself. That includes my wedding dress. I like to buy my fabric on sale.
The pattern is roughly based on Butterick 6527, which I inherited from my Grandmother. I made it without the cape, because 1) I didn’t have the fabric, and 2) it would be a bit much with the cape considering the fabric I did have.
I say ‘roughly’ because the pattern I have is a 32″ bust, which I am not, and it also has an 11″ bust to waist ratio, which I do not! So I resized the bodice and altered it so much I wish I had just drafted my own pattern.
The pattern also has a gathered gore skirt, and I wanted a simple rectangular gathered skirt to take full advantage of the fabulous fabric, so I completely re-did the skirt.
I whipped the dress up in one day of ‘ZOMG – love this fabric so much – must sew – just do – don’t think – don’t plan’ sewing. Which mostly worked, because mostly I really know what I’m doing. But even totally really knowing what you are doing doesn’t compensate for thinking and forward planning. So the dress has a few minor issues that a bit of forward planning would have avoided.
I wish, for example, that I had trimmed just a bit off the length of fabric so that the pattern matched up at the back seam.
I was so worried that I didn’t have enough fabric that I didn’t realise that sacrificing 3 inches off fullness would still have looked good, and made the pattern match. By the time I did realise I could cut a bit off I’d already sewn in the side pockets, and didn’t want to make the back of the skirt less full than the front, especially since I forgot to compensate for the un-gathered portion at the front of the skirt and had sewn my pockets exactly at the sides.
Learn from my mistakes, dear readers: think three times, measure twice, cut once, sew once!
While there are the tiny mistakes mentioned, most of the construction is quite beautifully done, and I’m very pleased with it.
The bodice is fully lined in calico/muslin (because after that outer fabric it didn’t need one of my trademark crazy linings) all stitched down with perfect tiny hand stitches. I didn’t line the skirt, but I do wear it with a petticoat, because I love petticoats.
The zip is done with hand-worked prick-stitching and I even switched threads to match the different colours in the fabric. Because if you are going to be insanely perfectionist when sewing, you might as well go all the way.
The back has with a cunning little peek-a-boo between the zip and a neck button (OK, that was partly because the zip I had around was a bit short and I didn’t want to buy a longer one), and a darling little flower-painted button, a vintage ‘orphan’ from my button collection, to fasten the top-back:
I made tiny custom-fabric piping out of a bright red to go all around the top of the bodice, and used bright cherry-red front buttons to match. The buttons are ornamental: I didn’t see any need to make the straps button on and off, so I sewed them down (they lay much better that way too).
I repeated the piping on the edge of the pockets, which are my favourite part of the dress:
You see, I really wanted cutaway pockets on this dress. But I didn’t want to mess up the amazing print with side seams. So I got cunning and set the pockets into the dress, and supported them with some interior engineering. So now the dress has pockets, but no side seams.
You have no idea how happy the pockets make me. The first time I wore the dress (to a Christmas party, of course!) I ran around showing them to everyone. My best response was “Cute” and then three minutes later “Wait…what? How did you DO that?” The awesomeness had to sink in.
The pockets are lined in red fabric to match the piping:
I just love red and pink together. It’s so cheery, and unexpected.
The photoshoot for this dress was supposed to be all brilliant sunshine and sparkling ocean and blazing pohutukawa trees. And Christmas Day was just like that, and I forgot to take pictures. I thought I’d wear it again for New Years, and get them then.
Yeah. It’s New Years. Its freezing, it’s pouring, there is a howling southerly. I had to make do inside with glaring grey light.