Hello from the jungle that is my vege garden. As you can see the caterpillars are making a feast of my cauliflower plants, the caulis themselves have been a bit of a disaster so I’m leaving them to it. The cabbages however are going great guns, if you like coleslaw & wind, my house is the place to be!
It’s been a quiet few weeks here at Plum Towers, perfect for tackling what must be one of my most challenging projects yet, the Waikerie Dress , from Muna & Broad. This is an extension to their Waikerie Shirt pattern, and I should note, not an especially complicated pattern, particularly given the excellent instructions & the You Tube sewalong .
So why so challenging? Well friends, I had a vision. Not a “Joan of Arc” type vision (although given the state of 2020 so far, quite frankly ANYTHING is possible), but a very particular idea of a dress I wanted, inspired in part by a dress a colleague has been wearing. It’s a brown animal print chiffon number, not to fitted but not super loose, midi length with long sleeves. I found the following pics as inspiration on Pinterest, I think they are Zara.
I knew the right fabric would be critical to stop me veering into “she’s wearing her nightie” territory, so I was VERY pleased to come across the perfect animal print chiffon on the bargain table at Spotlight. I’m a sucker for animal print, but I don’t normally love polyester (Sweaty Betty raise your hand…) I figured the print was spot on and the price even better ($8 a metre, whoop), so even if it ended up being a total disaster I wouldn’t feel too aggrieved.
So was it a total disaster ? Absolutely not, I’m thrilled with this dress, and how close it is to what I originally had in mind. Did I love the process? Mostly. Did I make a couple of absolute clangers that had me reaching for a bucket of Chardonnay? Dear reader, would you expect anything less?
In my defence, chiffon is tricky! Poly chiffon has a bounce that makes it harder to deal with than say silk, but with all the slippery minx qualities of both silk & satin. The edges fray into annoying little bits , plus it’s rather sensitive to heat , but more on that later (sensitive readers be warned, it’s really quite terrible…)
BUT, it has a fab drape, a super fun design, and is inexpensive. Given I was making View A with long sleeves, and needed a generous 4 metres of fabric, cheap was good, if it all ended up a terrible mess I hadn’t emptied my sewing account for naught (don’t laugh, I really do have a separate savings account called the Fabric Fund:)
The first drama was cutting out. Lets just say cats, a slightly blunt pair of scissors & metres of slippery fabric are NOT the ideal combination. I did use a new technique to me, and interfaced my piece of fabric BEFORE cutting out my facings & collar, the interfacing made the fabric so much easier to deal with, and saved time. I can highly recommend The Fabric Store iron on interfacing, various weights, sold by the metre and it doesn’t come away from the fabric .
I’ve used Muna & Broad patterns before , including a wonderful cami & pants combo and their fab Torrens top, so I knew roughly where I should be size wise. I made the Size C, which I knew to be a few inches smaller than my hip measurement, but the final garment measurements indicated plenty of ease through the hips so I went for it. I also drove to work on Friday with the petrol light on, and didn’t fill up until I was half way home Friday night. I live life on the edge hey!
The bodice & collar came together much more easily than I anticipated, I did take my time, using French seams where I could. A reader on Instagram suggested using starch & water to stiffen the fabric when sewing & I will definitely try that next time. But if there is one thing I’d recommend to a newbie when sewing this kind of fabric it’s use a busy print, way more forgiving then a sheer plain that shows every flaw!
I originally intended to have long cuffed sleeves, but when the dress was made up it just felt a bit “much”. So I took inspiration from my colleagues dress & used an elastic hem, but on shortened sleeves. The elastic draws the volume of fabric gently in, I think its a better silhouette given the volume in the dress itself.
Things started to get hairy when I attached the dress to the bodice, that is a LOT of gathered chiffon. The bottom of the bodice was also fraying terribly, next time I would add a narrow line of interfacing as soon as I cut the pieces out, by the time I added it there was already a lot of hairy fabric . Sewing the dress to the bodice went reasonably well until I then went to overlock the seam (French seams had gone out the window by then!) I discovered a small area where I had caught the seam with the overlocker. Out came the unpicker, surely my most used sewing tool. Sigh.
All was going well. Then it wasn’t. A small rip had appeared right where the bodice meet the dress. Not ideal, but not a total disaster. I thought I would add a small piece of interfacing, then hand sew the tear together. So what do you think happens when you add a too hot iron (I swear it was on the wool setting but apparently not…) to a polyester fabric, when you are so busy focusing on a small area, oblivious to what else your lovely iron is currently singeing? This.
I was surprisingly calm. A couple of fairly heavy duty swear words, and then somewhere a few synapses fired and I remembered we were dealing with a bodice here. I had omitted the side seam pockets from the original pattern, thinking chiffon was just too light , but maybe Cinderella would go to the Pocket Ball after all…
It was a pain in the butt to sew, but I’m so glad I did! I reinforced both sides of the hole with interfacing so it wouldn’t get any bigger, then covered with a square pocket. Discovering the rolled hem function on my overlocker was another win, not only did I edge the pockets before sewing onto my bodice, but it was a lovely finish on my hem , approximately three miles of it.
I’m so pleased with this project, I used a fabric that I knew would challenge me, produced something that, while no means perfect, I’m actually really happy with and learnt some new techniques for next time, that is a win surely? Just don’t let me stand anywhere near an open flame…
Just incase you think I’m a totally rubbish gardener, may I present my cabbage. Don’t hear that every day do you?
Next project? I found this glorious linen at The Fabric Store, its a vintage wash so quite soft, and how about that colour (called Marmalade) They have recently released a robe pattern, so in an effort to up my tragic nightwear game (scrubby tees & pants for the win? No…) I have downloaded the Lucie Robe , perfect shape & generous sizing. I was heading to the counter (honest!) when I spied 20% off on Liberty , so thought maybe a lovely tana lawn for a nightie/PJ situation? I’ve never sewn tana lawn , but gosh it feels beautiful, most important for night wear (there’s a reason so many of us wear those worn tees, they are so soft) This fabric jumped out at me, doesn’t that just say Spring?
Lounge wear fabulous here I come…
Have a lovely week friends, stay safe xxx