Thursday, 20 January 2011

First dress of the year

I've finally finished my first garment for this year -something that should have been simple and quick to make but it became a torturous event in the end, but happily I saw it through and it did not become another UFO.

Just before Christmas last year I saw a lady at my bus stop who looked really lovely, and she was wearing a simple shapeless shift dress cinched in at the waist with a chain belt, that was made in a cream colour with thin navy blue horizontal lines, a navy blue yoke and cap sleeves. She also had on quilted Chanel ballet flats and was carrying a quilted Chanel chain handled bag so I'm guessing it was probably an expensive dress. She was also a beautiful Asian lady with slim hips which is probably what made the whole look work, because as we all know horizontal stripes aren't the most flattering of looks.

Now I am not slim hipped, and I don't own any Chanel either but I thought what the heck I'll give it a go and make the look my own. I used this battered 1980s Vogue pattern (Vogue 7454) that someone gave to me a while ago:

but unfortunately whoever made it previously had sewed this into a short top and had lopped the pattern off at about waistline. So I grafted the body of a New Look sheath dress pattern onto it, but I forgot that when I made that dress previously it was too short for my liking, so this dress has the most minuscule hem ever but it's not that noticeable.

For the main part of the dress I used a crisp cotton in grey with a fine black line through it and for the yoke I used some black linen left from another project. I know, I know, I'm back to my previous form of sewing with grey, but it was fabric from the stash which is why I went with it. Plus a white or cream colour would never work with a grubby two year old in my life.

Here's my finished product:


To be honest I'm a bit meh about this. My initial plan was to make this a shapeless shift dress and cinch it in with a belt, but it turns out that I'm a bit vain and I don't want to look shapeless when I'm not and the belt really just bunched the fabric around my waist in a rather unattractive way. So I put some darts in the front and back to give my waist some definition, but I really should have done a swayback alteration before cutting the pattern out to get a close fit. As you can see from the side it still pooches out at the back:

Nothing like a blog photo to show you how bad your posture really is!

I'm also not sure that a belt is right for this dress either, because it competes with the horizontal stripes of the fabric both with a thin and a thick belt:


In fact I like it even less paired with red accessories, which surprises me because usually a red shoe will improve anything!

The other problems I encountered with this dress was that I originally sewed this without a lining, but after I had sewed it together and basted in the invisible zip for fitting I realised the cotton wasn't as dense as I thought. So I had to unpick the yokes and sew in a lining from a thin cotton in light grey, also from the stash.

And then when I put the darts in the front and back it made the dress puff out under the armholes where the solid fabric meets the grey fabric, so I had to unpick those yokes again, take it in at the side seams and sew those yokes back down again. It still does a bit, as you can see in the photo below, but I couldn't take it in too much because it was getting too tight to get on and off.

Phew! So much work for what was supposed to be a simple summer frock.... But I will wear this now, since it took so much effort to create.

25 comments:

  1. I can't do shapeless either. It makes my curvy figure just look frumpy/fat. Shapeless garments are best worn on shapeless people...if they didn't look so good in them though darn it!

    You could also just lop off the dress and make a tunic like top...then there would be less stripes to compete with. In the winter put a gray or red turtle neck under it and pair it with black pants. I've been wearing a few of my zip-up structured sleeveless tops like this all winter here and get lots of positive feedback.

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  2. You know, I think you just need to accept the "shapelessness" of the dress and rock it. I mean, a shift dress isn't supposed to show off your waistline - it's supposed to be easy and carefree, and I think your dress has accomplished that. I think it's just fabulous. The color combination is stunning. Perhaps you're wary of it because it's unlike most of the pieces you sew that are more defined?

    I made a similiar blousy 3/4 length sleeve Burda shift dress back in December from Carolina Hererra fabric. I think some people didn't like it... it even took me some getting used to b/c I usually wear pieces that are nipped at the waist.

    Embrace this new shape as something different from the norm; perhaps you won't sew this shape a lot, but you may like having it to throw on on days when you're sick of the pieces you wear often.

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  3. I agree with Rachel from A Sewn Wardrobe. This isn't a shape that you normally wear, but you are totally rocking it. Oh, and get rid of the belts, I totally like it without them. I love the color combination. Even though it was a lot of work, you did a fantastic job!!!

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  4. It's a pretty frock you could take anywhere. I like it belted, but I'd limit the belt to black or dark grey, or another very dark tone, maybe a deep burgundy. Love the red shoes (shoes don't have to match other accessories any more).

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  5. I like your dress paired with the black belt. I think it helps tremendously with the poofyness in your small back area. Great dress all around though! I agree with you on the red accessories as well.

    Michelle

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  6. Whew, this dress was a long journey, but it turned out so well. I think it looks very flattering on you. The solid black yoke is what attracts the eye first (at least mine). It balances your hip area, and the stripes are so narrow, they don't detract from the fitted silhouette created by the darts. I like it without the belt from the front, but a belt definitely improves the fit in the back.

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  7. I think the dress looks great on you unbelted. The darts add enough shaping to it that it doesn't look like you're wearing a sack. Thumbs up from me!

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  8. Cute dress. But, I like it without a belt breaking up the horizontal stripe.

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  9. I think it looks very flattering without the belt. If you would prefer a belt, I think a belt made from the same fabric might work well and not cut you in two quite as much if you belt it loosely. Just an idea. I adore grey and think people with red hair and fair complexions look particularly marvy wearing it - makes me so envious!

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  10. I understand what you mean-- I tend to not like more shapeless clothes on myself either. But I do think it looks nice with the black belt.

    If it makes you feel any better, I haven't finished any garments yet this year either! And not for lack of effort...

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  11. Have to say....I love it! And my first thought on scrolling down was how good the red looked, then I read your comment that you didn't like it Lol.

    IMHO shapeless only looks good on the a body without much shape, doesn't matter much the size of the body, just the shape.
    is there any way you could take slightly larger darts in the back if the back bothers you?

    Good look anyway ;-)

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  12. P.S. On re-reading my comment I was trying to say that the small amount of shaping you put in looks good.....I think if you had left it completely shapeless it would have been less flattering. I don't see it as a shapeless dress even if it has less shape than is usual for you.

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  13. I'm with you. I'm always worried about *no* shaping. I think it'll always looks terrible on me. I like that you added the darts and I like the red accents. I really applaud you for going back in an adding a lining. I don't know that I would have it in me!

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  14. Well, I like your dress. Especially belted. I also don't like shapeless dresses on me.
    Oh, and how I hate to unpick anything!

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  15. You may be "meh" but my first thought was "ooh!!". I really like this on you, actually, and I think the black belted view is my favourite. Sometimes I have to wear a lukewarm garment a few times before I decide I actually rather like it! Maybe this will turn out the same for you?

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  16. I don't think it is shapeless. My only comment about the potential for mehishness (my new word) is the balance. I'd be inclined to balance it out by adding black to the hemline. There is a similar dress in the window of Max Mara that does this.

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  17. I think it looks really nice. What about wearing it with just the red shoes and no belt at all? I agree with A Sewn Wardrobe. It doesn't look shapeless, it gives the hint of your shape underneath quite nicely.

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  18. That looks very nice . I dont think that you need to worry about the hem . One thing that i have done in similar situations is to put a facing cut on the cross n the hem . This way you get the weight which can be important to the hang of your dress. Tre Chic!!!

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  19. I think it looks really nice. Maybe you just need some time to let it grow on you.

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  20. I think it is cute! I think the thin stripes look very chic. You are right, it does not need a belt - I think it what it needs is a big brooch in the plain black yoke. Maybe something gold with pearls - very Chanel!

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  21. You are way to hard on yourself. I love the dress without a belt - first photo is my fave. There's something about the simplicity of it.

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  22. I think it looks quite lovely without a belt. And still has enough shape.

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  23. I think you should add a little belt like thingy from the side seams to the back. It would solve your swayback challenge yet still give the appearance of a shift in the front...I mean if you are up to picking out some more seams!

    Or you could add a fantabulous necklace and call it a day!

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  24. ...oh btw...I really like the dress!

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  25. Hey, how about a thicker obi-like belt? I think that would look great.

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