Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Wardrobe garment 6: The shift dress

Voila! It’s the Ghana dress. I am in love. I haven’t been this excited about a garment for a while. But I should start from the beginning...

Let me tell you, I was nervous about this dress. As you may remember, the fabric was a gift from Cidell that she got during her trip to Ghana last year. It was this fabric that helped me to settle on my theme for this wardrobe, ‘global wanderings.’ So I had to make something good with it. I went through many dress patterns looking for the right one. Initially I decided on a Vogue maxi-dress, but I kept my eyes peeled for other alternatives because I just wasn’t 100% sold on that.


Patrones 256 (May 2007) Dress by Flamenco, style 24


Flipping for the millionth time through my oft-paged-through-but-never-used issues of Patrones, I found a dress with a silhouette I thought was very complementary to the fabric. The dress is by Flamenco, which is a brand I’ve never heard of before. I’m assuming it’s Spanish. I tried Googling to find out more about this company and maybe see some more dress pics, but as you might imagine, when your search terms include words like “Flamenco, clothing, apparel, dress”, all you get is links to apparel specifically marketed for flamenco dancing. Edited: Thank you Laüra for providing the link to the Flamenco website! Very fun clothes!



Notes on construction/alterations
The muslin
A muslin was a must in this case because of my unfamiliarity with the fit of Patrones patterns. I looked all over for “cremallera” (zipper) in the Spanish text but I didn’t find it, so I figured this must be the kind of thing that will just go over your head. It is. I took in the shoulder seams a bit and made the neckline larger (even before I added the tab collar it was seriously choking me). Otherwise the fit was good enough to proceed.

Bias cut front
To add a little pizzazz to the look, I added a center front seam and cut each of the two fronts on the bias.







Button loops
(This one’s for you, Leslie!) As you can see, the front yoke has a slit down the front which is held together (or not) with 4 buttons. I had planned to form button loops using soutache but I couldn’t figure out a way to hide the cord’s raw edges given the way I constructed the slit (I should have taken pics of how I did this but I was working expediently and trying to stay focused!). The only other option I could think of was to make button loops (a thread bar covered with buttonhole or blanket stitches) like I learned last month during the “Couture Techniques” class with Susan Khalje in LA last month (yup, PR Weekend). Since I most certainly did not remember this technique off the top of my head, I consulted a couple of my reference books and I found it on page 138 of Susan Khalje’s Bridal Couture as well as on page 33 of Claire Schaeffer’s Couture Sewing Techniques. My practice button loop did not turn out great, but in the interest of time I just went ahead and worked them on my garment. One’s wonky but overall the experience was a confidence booster. I can now turn mere thread into a button loop!

Buttons
I found the gold buttons in my stash, they match the button that I used on the tunic with the drawstring neckline (See? There is cohesiveness in this wardrobe :) )




Curved seams
The muslin, thank goodness, gave me a chance to practice curved seams (on the front yoke), which I rarely do so they’re always a bit stressful. There was a lot of staystitching, seam allowance clipping, pin basting and thread basting involved…

Hem
Looking at the pictures of me wearing the dress, I see that the hem is flipping out at the left side slit. Could this be because I pulled the thread too taut when I was doing an invisible hem by hand? Must investigate. The camera never lies, does it?



Conclusion
The overall design of this dress is simple and therefore a good ‘introduction’ for me to Patrones. (Now I’m seriously hooked and I just ordered the latest issue (Joven) from Ebay!)

I prefer the way this looks when I have the collar spread open vs. when the collar is completely closed. Because of the round shape of my face, I think I look better when I have some neck/chest showing to help elongate. In the model photo, the yoke seems to naturally spread open, but mine doesn’t do that unless I really fold the entire collar under.

---

The deadline for the wardrobe contest looms near, and I really have to thank this lady for getting me through some long sewing sessions...

56 comments:

Helen said...

That dress is lovely! I really like the collar both open and closed - very versatile!
Thanks for popping over to comment on my napkins tutorial the other day :D

Berry said...

Oh I'm so jealous even if the camera doesn't lie! I love every single details from fabrics choice (great use of contrasting fabric) to the way the belt is attached. The patrones model just looks dull compared to yours. I just love it!!

Alexandra said...

Beautiful! I love how you positioned the fabric to take advantage of the print.

AllisonC said...

Wow it's even more fabulous than I thought it would be. You've used the special fabric perfectly. My Patrones issues are a bit like yours (used to me) - time to give them a try I think. I like the dress both ways, open and done up, I do see what you mean about the open neck, but done up really shows off the contrasting bands. Fantastic job!

Nina said...

Wonderful! I love Patrones too and always long for the new issue every month. Even without speaking spanish i think it´s easier to sew patrones than burda in my first language.
Best wishes, Nina

Geri said...

this dress is so seriously awesome! I just love it.

Tany said...

I understand your excitement!!! AMAZING dress!!!!! The fabric, the colors, the style... BEAUTIFUL!

Adrienne said...

WOw! your dress is amazing!!!! Beautiful!

LauraLo said...

I love it! And the fabric is so gorgeous!

Els said...

The dress is beautiful.

Gwen said...

It's beautiful! The bias cut for the front is such a cool and clever idea and really adds to the dress! I would have never thought of trying something like that on any of my garments, but now that you've explained it, I'm definitely going to keep that possibility in the back of my head. Thanks! :)
--Gwen

Lori said...

Amazing dress, it looks wonderful on you. I like the bias front and your button loops are spetacular.

Beatrice said...

Wow! I admit that after seeing the technical drawing I was really wondering why you picked this pattern but your finished dress looks great. I especially like the bias cut skirt idea. It shows off the fabric nicely.

Beatrice in Germany

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

What a fabulous dress...all of the special details make it so! This is a wonderful addition to your wardrobe!

toya said...

This is stunning!
and what a great post, I felt like I was with you every step of the way, I can really see all your hard work, YOU look fabulous in this dress

Mardel said...

That dress is just fabulous and you efforts to maximize the print of the dress really paid off. And not only do you have a great new dress, but you look really stunning wearing it.

Kathleen said...

I love this dress and how you've used the fabric. The fit is perfect and I love the contrasting trim - well done :)

Bonnie D. said...

Fantastic dress! You did the fabric proud!!! I love how you used the fabric in three different orientations to create such a great look. And it looks so good on you.

cidell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lashell said...

I love your dress. You picked the perfect pattern for your fabric.

cidell said...

Ummm, I want that fabric back. What? It's already cut into the most AMAZING DRESS EVER? Well, then send me the dress. I'm with Beatrice. I was 'meh' about the pattern you selected. But, what vision and insight Christina! Never in a million years would I have thought about this. I adore. No, I love, love this dres. No wonder you are so proud. And a well crafted post to boot. Good grief this is fabulous.

Debbie Cook said...

Seriously awesome dress!! I love how you used the print, and the colors are so nice with your coloring.

Shelley said...

Wow - it's just gorgeous! I'm so impressed - and jealous!

Melissa said...

Gorgeous dress! I have one issue of Patrones and I'm scared to try something from it. Afterall I do have so many BWOF in English that I should be using too - so much to do, so little time! ;-) You look great and I like it best unbuttoned a bit too.

Lynn said...

Wow, that is beautiful! After I saw it was in your plans I started looking on ebay for Patrones... but I chickened out in the end. I'm so glad to see you love it!

melissa said...

Very nice! You've done this fabric proud, and used the dark contrast exactly where it was needed...

Leslie said...

I am SO impressed by you Christina, it's amazing when great skills, beautiful fabric that has a story behind it, trying new techniques, superb design decisions, and a genuine love for sewing all come together in one lovely garment!! You must be so proud. Just wonderful. (And it sure didn't take you long to perfect those button loops!)

Nneka said...

I can't tell you how much I LUV your dress! It is so near & dear to my heart to see traditional African fabrics made up in contemporary designs! My foremothers would love & thank you for this!
-Nneka

Elaray said...

Great dress! Wonderful use of the fabric. I give it a 10!

flanthrower said...

Lovely! I especially love the added front seam and the two pieces cut on the bias. That reminds me, I totally need to go home tonight and put that last sleeve into my burda top.

loopylulu said...

Boy, you didn't disappoint! This dress looks so well thought out and the use of the brown trim is the perfect compliment to the fabric. Beautiful!

Lilia said...

FA.BU.LOUS!

Laüra said...

Lovely dress, the fabric is perfect for it. Here's the link to Flamenco clothing: http://www.flamencochic.com/

Dkswife said...

Lovely dress!

Anonymous said...

Awesome dress for your special fabric! Perfect use of contrasting trim and orientation of the print on the bias. Your sewing is inspirational!
Anita

Sewfast said...

Christina! Your new dress is amazing...good call!!! Mary

Vicki said...

Fabulous job on this! Great use of the pattern on the fabric. Cool;

Lisette M said...

This dress is wonderful!Great construction. Congratulations on your first patrones

Faye Lewis said...

Lovely dress.

Dawn said...

Love. Your. Dress. Really, it's great.

Reethi said...

Huh. My comment didn't show up, for some reason. Amazing dress, Christina, just amazing! I love the details, and the overall effect is so wow!

Maja said...

Absolutely stunning dress! The fabric fits the style perfectly!

Angelia said...

WOW! Great colors that compliment you very well! So does the style of the dress! You look beautiful in this!

Cennetta said...

Lovely dress. It fits you perfectly.

Adriana said...

Gorgeous and utterly unique!

Kelroc said...

This pattern play up the beauty of this fabric well. You did a fabulous job.

Charlotte said...

This dress is simply beautiful. Congratulations !

JohannaLu said...

Your take on this dress is just so great, I love it! I have this issue of Patrones too, and now I am really tempted. Very inspiring!

yaiAnn said...

I love it!! You did such a great job on it, especially making it fun by cutting it on the bias!

lasandrou said...

I love everything the fabric, the dress ! You did a very good job ;-)

Isabelle said...

A-ma-zing dress, Christina! And you wear it so well :)

Linda said...

Great looking dress! Great use of the fabric gift from Cidell.

Katrin said...

Very beautiful dress. You look great wearing this!

Regards,
Katrin

Anonymous said...

I agree with Barry. The patrones model just looks dull compared to yours. I just love it!!
Congratulations !!!

ed said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
single wardrobe said...

this dress is so seriously awesome! I just love it.