Happy National Sewing Month, friends! I hope everyone is enjoying the end of summer (or winter for you South of the Equator folks). Life has been busy in these parts with back to school (both at home and at the office). But don’t worry — I have found a little time for sewing and have a small backlog of projects to share with you.
First up, though, I had to share this maxi dress made from Anna Maria Horner Sinister Swarm rayon challis in tangerine. I ordered this from Hart’s Fabric a few months ago, and since they are hosting Sew Your Hart Out September, I thought this would be a great first post for the month.
I have become a huge fan of rayon challis lately. It is soft and silky but not as slippery as silk. It isn’t quite as easy to work with as cotton but it is heaps better than charmeuse! You’ll hear more about my recent charmeuse shenanigans soon.
I love the large, bold print of this fabric. The background is a combination of two shades of blue and it is covered in huge moths in bright colors. It has a little bit of an 80s feel to me and right now I think this is the closest I am going to get to all the psychedelic colors I am seeing everywhere. I think I am still a bit too scarred by all those horrible 80s fashions we had to wear as children!
For the pattern, I wanted something that would showcase the large-scale of the print, so I chose a maxi dress. I had been wanting to make up Simplicity 1610 because of the halter bodice with princess seams, so it was a perfect match. The skirt is shaped by several pleats along the waistline and this worked well with the soft drape of the challis.
Instead of a traditional FBA, I decided to cut the shoulder and bust according to my full bust size and then just add some length to the front bodice. I did this because my upper bust and full bust measurements are less than 2″ difference (although I am a D cup) and commercial patterns recommend the B cup based on this. But since I know that commercial patterns made without adjustments are always too short in the bodice, I added length to account for that.
I have to say that I am not pleased with the results. The princess seam lines do not cross my full bust point and the neckline on this dress is a little boobalicious. And despite that, there is excess fabric above the bust. I guess I am just shaped weirdly and I should listen to my instincts when making pattern mods (i.e. note to self — you always need to do a FBA on commercial patterns).
The pattern calls for a lapped centered back zip so I obliged and handpicked the overlap while I was getting a pedicure. It’s not my best work but it definitely gets the job done! I still have to attach the hook and eye at the top.
I did stray from the pattern specifications on the neck strap closure. The pattern calls for buttons and fabric loops but because I cut my straps a little long and didn’t feel like altering them after they were sewn, I just hammered a snap onto the end of each snap to secure the halter. I think it turned out just fine.
The pattern calls for lining the bodice only so I used some navy cotton batiste and serged the waistline seam to finish it. I used French seams to finish the pocket bags and skirt side seams. I finished the dress with a narrow 1/4″ machine stitched hem.
I reinforced the zipper opening with some fusible interfacing — I just wish I had applied it to the wrong side of the bodice pieces so it wouldn’t be so visible. That’s not a deal breaker, though. The pattern also calls for running elastic along the upper edge of the back bodice. I did this step but did cut the elastic pieces shorter than directed because I find Big 4 patterns always leave the elastic too loose. If I ever make this dress again, I will redraft the bodice pieces so elastic is not necessary as I don’t really like the look and it doesn’t really help hold the dress up.
I stitched the surplice wrap front so that it wouldn’t gape open and you can see the stitching from the wrong side (but not the right side). I also eased some clear elastic into the surplice seams to help them hug my body (it is hidden under the bands).
Finally, you can see the dress on me but all I have are a few shotty iPhone pics. I am definitely pleased with the overall result of this dress. While there are a few things I would do differently next time, I will be wearing this dress often.
For this “photo shoot” I paired the dress with a wide coral belt, my Cole Haan clutch, Reef flops, and my Kluster coral necklace.