Tuesday, May 3, 2016

A Pretty Tendril for Me Made May!

A tendril is a tiny stem that wraps itself around a host or another structure to add support for a climbing plant. We see them in nature frequently, twining themselves around larger stems and sometimes setting the path for new growth.

I'm not sure if it was intended or not, but A Verb for Keeping Warm's "Tendril" dress seems to mimic the action of nature.  The Tendril is a bias cut dress which shares the common characteristic of wrapping itself around the body, clinging to our curves in the most flattering of ways.  It's no accident that the most luscious of silk nightgowns we love are cut on the bias in this same manner.

The Tendril is an easy pattern, with only two pieces, but as the designer suggests, you will learn a little about French seams and sewing on the bias of the fabric. Won't you join me for #memademay16 and make one of these wonderful bias dresses - it would even make great lingerie!

One of my goals this year is to give an honest evaluation of our indie pattern designs, since we are beginning to focus solely on them here at FabricLady. We want to point out areas that might cause you "pause", as we say, while you are working with Indies. Not everyone will like a particular pattern or designer - we all have individual preferences and aesthetics. So without denigrating the Tendril's beautiful design which we love, the pattern itself may present a couple of challenges for the beginning sewist:

1) The actual sewing directions for the dress is a scant one page without a lot of details about sewing a bias cut dress, and

2) In order to save paper (we're assuming), the front and the back of the dress are printed on top of each other, necessitating the need for tracing the pattern onto another sheet of paper before cutting out. This may not seem like a big deal to some of you, but some sewists (Laurel?) find it unnerving/irritating. (Can I have some cheese with that whine...)

And since we see this more often, we might suggest that you make a trip to Stonemountain and pick up a roll of pattern paper. It can become handy in the workroom as it is sturdier than the flimsy tissue that a good number of patterns are printed on and less bulky that the heavy paper that many of our Indies use.

But let's wrap ourselves around the Tendril. We chose a soft double gauze polka dot fabric, which we think will lend itself very nicely to the flattering bias cut styling. The fabric is a generous 54" wide so the bias layout was a snap.  The polka dots on the bias of the fabric also make it a breeze to cut the bias strip "facings" for the neck and armholes.

The French seam finishing is used in the shoulders. Easy as Pie! The instructions in AVFKW's sewing notes are easy to follow.

Step One:  Sew using 1/4" stitch with the fabric WRONG sides together..

 Step two:  Trim the seam allowance, align RIGHT sides together, sew with a 1/4" seam.

Voila!! A French Seam.

Reading the pattern notes seems to indicate that French seams are also used on the two side seams. But since we want the side seams to have the same soft draping that the bias cut allows, we decided to finish the side seams with a little more give, i.e. stretch, by using a knit stitch.

We tried out several on a scrap of our fabric to find the best machine setting.

After the bias strip facings were completed, we sewed the side seams using our stretch knit stitch and then rather than serge the edges (serging can be tight), we just simply finished off the edges using a big zig zag stitch to keep the seams from raveling.

We added lace hem tape to keep the bias hem edges in check and then sewed the hem in place by hand.  The beauty of double gauze is that if you don't want hand stitches to show on the outside of the garment, your tiny stitches should just catch the under layer.

This dress is so flattering on Zanikan...can't wait to wrap it around my body:)


I'm so excited to have this dress in time for Me Made May!  For those of you who don't know, Me Made May is a month long celebration of our handmade wardrobes.  Many people challenge themselves to wear a certain number of me-made garments a week, or even every day!  You can read more about it here.  And follow us on Instagram to see our daily me-made outfits!

Creatively yours,


  1. I like this dress- is it tricky to get your size from the envelope?

    1. We chose the smaller size for me…my actual bust size is 36 and the smallest is for 37 - it fit great!

  2. Beautifully sewn! I have been looking at this dress for a while. Thank you for the demo and the modeling!

    1. You are so welcome Yavanna! It's really a nice dress and probably will make it again ;)

  3. Chiming in late here! Wonderful suggestions in your pattern review, thank you! Do you think this could be made with a lining, or interlining for the colder seasons and still get the same drape?