Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Mod shift dress for spring

I last left you with images of little sister's new dress for spring.

When it was older sister's turn to choose fabrics, she picked out a rose-print woven cotton pique, purchased for $4/yd during a FabricMart sale last year. I was curious about the fabric's lineage, and thanks to the magic of Google, discovered that it was from a Land's End dress line a couple seasons back.

It's funny, if I had seen this dress at Land's End, I would have thought "meh," and scrolled past it.  I don't think the lines of the dress make the best use of the fabric.  But when I saw the fabric swatch at FabricMart, I couldn't stop thinking about it until I had purchased it.

During my Google investigation, I also found a few projects using the same fabric, including this incredible ball gown.  I think it is stunningly beautiful, so click over and have a look!

It took me a few days to figure out what pattern to use.  Big sister is so skinny and the print was so big that I didn't want it to overwhelm her.  Ultimately I decided on a simple silhouette.

I got Simplicity 4927 at a thrift store for 50 cents.  View A, with sleeves, looks very Becky Homecky to me.  But View B, a sleeveless a-line shift, is a classic design that reminded me of the dresses my Babushka made for me when I was a girl.  

The dress is simple enough - three pattern pieces if you don't count the facings.  And I didn't.  I wanted the dress to be cool and summery and facings felt a little fussy for that.  I decided to try an invisible bias finish on the neck and arms instead.

As you can see, I did not achieve a perfect finish.  Though the neckline does pucker slightly against the stitching, it now lays flat against the body when worn.  Not so with my first attempt, which was poke-out city.  I had to take it out and redo it, helped in large part by this great post from Grainline Studio.  I had neglected to clip the neckline sufficiently the first time around, but another go-round with the scissors fixed the problem.

After it was all sewn up I decided that it needed something.  I searched the stash and found some trim that I had picked up at the grocery store (yes) when we lived in Georgia.  I think it suits the lines of the dress and the fabric perfectly, and it further reminds me of things my grandmother used to sew.

A big yellow button from the stash to complete the mod feel, and I was done.

I searched for a photo of myself wearing the dress that I was thinking of when I sewed this, but I couldn't find one.  However, I do still have the doll dress that my Babushka made to match.  When I pulled it out (after the dress was all sewn up) I couldn't believe it - it was exactly the same dress with exactly the same construction.  Granted, this construction was not at all difficult.  I did have to modify the back opening after I opted out of the facings, and it makes me smile to know that I did it the same way Babushka did when she made this little doll dress.

A-line shape - check.  Cool structured fabric (in this case cotton faille) - check.

Invisible bias neckline - check. Seamed back with simple button closure - check.

However, Babushka's bias-finished neckline and armholes didn't pucker at all.  And she finished them by hand.  I could have learned a lot from her.

She would have loved the dress.


  1. I love this one so much!! So I have some thoughts on the bias facings, although I'm by no means an expert. First, I stay stitch the curved necklines so they don't stretch. When I'm pinning the bias facing on I'm careful not to yank or pull those curves. After I've sewn it on I snip the seams, then I understitch, only THEN do I trim everything nice and short inside.

    After all that, though, I don't know that mine really look that much better than yours! Ha! Hand sewing is also gentler and will be less likely to stretch things out so I think that's part of why it lays flatter. You're basically sewing two bias edges together and it's a bitch!

    I really love the simple shape and finishes of this dress, and I love that it's so like the doll's dress!! Wonderful make.

    1. That makes sense. My dirty secret: I skipped the stay-stitching on this one. I figured "this will take no time to sew, how much could it stretch?" Bad Masha. I think that definitely contributed to the problem.

  2. I have never found bias edges 'quick', in fact i don't find any finishes quick. I guess I am just slow.
    Very sweet dress and a lovely story to boot!
    xx N


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