Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Too Early for a Red Holiday Dress? Never!

Every fitting and planning day at Stonemountain with Laurel and our staff, there is a frenzy of fabric bolts being brought to the cutting table for my consideration for the FabricLady's wardrobe. I have been known to get into my comfortable design aesthetic:  similar pattern choices and familiar fabric colors and textures. That's why it's so great to have input from people who may see you differently than the image and perceptions that you hold about yourself and your personal style.

Me (in front of the mirror): "But I never wear red."

Them: "But look in the mirror. See? You can wear this color!"

Me: "Mmmm...I don't know...."

Them: "Come on Zan...a cute little red dress?  Everybody looks good in that!!"

I succumbed to the persuasion.  After all, I consider my staff to be rather fashion forward, so if they say I look good in red, I'm all in. And frankly with the holidays approaching, perhaps I could use a "little red dress?"  The fabric they chose for me is a soft lightweight ponte knit and the pattern, Sewaholic Patterns' "Davie" (#1503).

The dress features princess seams, a keyhole front and cap sleeves - and no zipper! It's not a difficult dress to make at all, but it takes time to do all the top stitching of the seams.  You could eliminate that step, but we think that's what makes the Davie dress special. This is a dress that you could make in one day (start in the morning and be party-ready by 5:00). It took Laurel about 4-5 hours to complete.

We also wanted to use a jersey bias tape for the neckline and sleeves.  We love this finish, but the best laid plans don't always work out. Laurel used a stretch stitch on this ponte knit and the first application of the bias tape didn't pass muster - totally wonky and uneven! Stretch stitching is excruciating to rip out, so she ended up cutting off the entire neckline and attached bias tape (we love that she's not afraid to admit mistakes!) The second attempt was better.

Don't forget that when you're using a stretch stitch on your knits, the top stitching should have some give to it as well.  Laurel adjusted the stretch stitch on her machine ever so slightly for the top stitching. (Don't you love that little keyhole at the neckline?)

Because of the misstep, there was not enough of the jersey tape to finish off the armholes. Necessity is the mother of invention, and so why not just make a traditional facing?  On cap sleeve armholes, the curve can be pretty severe and a self-made bias strip out of a ponte knit can get unwieldy on the curves.

Making a facing using the dress pattern is pretty easy:

1) Before you sew the side seams up, lay the open dress on top of two layers of fabric, making sure all the wrinkles are smoothed out.

Cut around the armhole/cap sleeve. Remove the dress from the two layers of fabric beneath.

2) Mark the facing at about 2 inches in width, and then cut the facing out.

3.)  Serge the edge of the facing and then join the right sides together and sew up the facing at the side seams. Sew up the side seams of your dress and then apply the finished facing to the dress, right sides together.

Trimming the facing helps remove bulk...and don't forget to clip your curves!

5) When you add a facing to a garment, it's always a good idea to "understitch" along the top edge of the facing - this will help the facing lie flat.

6.)  Once you have completed the row of understitching, turn your facing to the inside and secure it to the bodice.  Because Sewaholic's Davie features top stitching, Laurel top-stitched the facing down, just as she had done with the neckline bias tape.

When top stitching along a curve, be sure to let your fabric flow under the feed dogs, keeping the curve in tact.  You will need to slow down if you want it to be even! Laurel will often use the edge of the presser foot itself as her guide for the row of top stitching.

Three or four bobbins later (a lot of top stitching!), the dress is finished.

The Davie is short, so I'm thinking some great black tights.  And if I want to wear it at work - Boots!
On fitting day, I just happened to be wearing both.

We noticed the armholes were a little big - a recurring problem for me.  Note to self - adjust the shoulders to raise the armholes next time.  But since it's a little late for that, we decided to just doing some ripping and repair...ugh (Laurel's favorite thing!!).

Looks so adorable with this black stretch denim Grainline Studio's Morris jacket. I guess I'm becoming a believer in that "everybody can wear red!"

Thank you all for joining me on this adventure - it's not just about sewing clothes, but inspiring each other with our creations. I love hearing from you when you share about your projects and even better when you wear them into the store!

We are so lucky to have so many indie pattern lines to explore and choose from. For us at Stonemountain & Daughter, this is the future. All of the bigger pattern lines now sell directly and discount to the consumers…are Fabric Stores a thing of the past? 

There are many new questions facing the indie Fabric Store as we look to the future. If you are interested, perhaps I will share more of my thoughts as we navigate all these changes while staying in business! 

We love our sanctuary here in Berkeley and hope that you continue to support us and all the indie fabric stores that are left.

Happy Sewing,