Thursday, May 23, 2013

Celadon Dress and Other Goodies

Hey, I’ve been busy with the camera so we finally have some images. Yay!

Celadon Dress

Begun:  sometime ca 1997
Completed:  May 2013

Fabric:  my own handwoven fabric, cotton/rayon yarn, celadon green, weave structure: 8-shaft advancing twill, sett 36 epi, 30” wide, 8 yard warp length (some of this is waste and some was used for sample swap). Woven in 1997.

Pattern:  McCall’s 7974, from 1995 (OOP), button-front dress with front and back bodice pleats, scoop neck, several sleeve options.

M7974Notions: Small amount of unbleached muslin for facings, both straight and bias strips. 10 buttons, my own handmade polymer clay. Polyester seam binding, cream. Polyester serger and sewing threads.

Mods:  I removed the facings from the fronts and neckline and re-cut the shoulders and armholes using my personal sloper. I couldn’t find any more of the fabric (not that I looked too hard!) so I chopped off 8” from the hem and cut short sleeves and 2 ties for the back from the remainder. I replaced the front facings with muslin strips and the neck facing with a folded bias strip. These were topstitched into place. I tried the dress on many times in order to continue the pleats down to a more pleasing level just above my waist and tighten them into a more shaped fit. I also took the side seams in a little at the underarm and waist area. The back still looked a little too loose so I added ties to the innermost pair of back pleats.

Comments:  This dress was a very long time in the making! The poor thing sat in my closet for 16 years languishing after I had partially finished it, tried it on, and realised it was lumpy and terribly unflattering. At least now I know more about how to make things fit me better. I’m pretty happy with the results. I did have a little trouble with the unforgiving polyester seam binding that I used for the hems. (Remind me to stick with rayon binding or just overlock the darn things in future.)

CeladonDress_hanging I was a little concerned when I washed the finished dress that the buttons were fragile so I was careful to do it on the gentle cycle. Unfortunately that left the fabric very wet and it took forever to dry! I hung it up outdoors on the bean net in the sunshine to hurry it up. Happily it dried in time to wear it and most of the red dressmaker’s carbon marks that had been there for 16 years came out.

After wearing this dress once I noticed that there as been some slippage of weaving threads at the pleats where it’s a bit tighter at the waist. The thicker threads of handwoven fabric and the slippery nature of rayon is the problem. They don’t grip each other tightly or felt slightly to hold together. I will have to iron on some stabilizer on the back to prevent further damage. I really would like to finally get some wear out of this dress now that it’s been resurrected from the Dark Closet of Doom!

Right after the dress I cut out and sewed the next project. Instead of lurking about in the stash for years, this fabric barely had time to land on my cutting table after bringing it home from the shop and immediately washing and drying it.

Mint Pants and Capris


Completed:  May 2013

Fabric:  French terry, fibre content not available, probably cotton/lycra, light sage green. 54” wide, 2 metres long from Dressew.

Notions:  3/4” waistband elastic, 6 mother-of-pearl buttons from Granny’s button collection (for capris), polyester and serger and sewing threads.

Pattern:  my own copy of a favourite pair of yoga pants.

MintCapris_cuffs Comments:  These are pretty much identical to the Chocolate Cake Pants and Capris that I made earlier. The hem on the capris is 1/2” less deep due to a slight shortage in length of fabric. I wanted to note that I used the 4-thread safety stitch and the 1.5 differential feed on my serger to avoid stretching the seams out. This fabric is very stretchy in both directions. The terry loops are on the inside and the feel is really quite soft but substantial. The light green colour goes with a lot of pieces in my closet and is especially nice for warmer weather. I also like being able to use up some of the odd buttons from the stash. Two more bottoms for mixing and matching!

While I still had the green thread in the sewing machine I dragged out this very elderly dress in black and green gingham print:


I’ve had it forever and it’s very faded and nearly completely worn out but I just can’t bring myself to chuck it. The problem was the bust is ummm…. a little snug on me. I decided to pop in a gusset on each side to give me a smidgen more room and since the Mint Pants fabric is a similar colour, I used its stretchiness to advantage:


It looks a bit funky but so does the whole dress! It’ll probably wear out completely in the next wash or two so no big deal. I plan to use this pattern with an added FBA to make another dress very soon. This mid-calf length style is so cool and comfy in summer. Obviously I love it enough to have hung on to this beast for so long. 

But that’s not the next project on the list. Right now I’m working on Marcy Tilton’s V8876 View A with the cap sleeves in hand-dyed linen/rayon. Goodness, this is not a simple dress. There are 14 pattern pieces for this version! And I have to make my usual shoulder and armhole adjustments. At least I’m getting much better at fitting as time goes on and I get more experience. My results are much more satisfactory now than they used to be in the Bad Old Days of humongous baggy clothes. See the Celedon Dress above for proof!

Hey! I have curves and I know where they are. At least until life and gravity plays some more tricks on this old body.

So there’s another FO too but I’ll save that one for later.


Heather said...

Wow - a hand woven dress! It looks lovely, well worth all the work to resurrect it. I like the odd buttons on the pants, and that Marci Tilton pattern is really something! I quite like it and am even tempted to make it for myself, so I look forward to reading of your experience with it. These rainy days are great for staying inside and sewing.

Louisa said...

Thanks, sweetie! It was great to get that beast finally sorted. BTW the buttons are not quite as mismatched as they seem in the photo. They do tend to play with the light! Yep, rainy days were meant for sewing.