I reckon I have time for one last post before I leave! :P
May this dress be forever known as one of the bitchiest I’ve ever sewn. Sewing silk crepe is a challenge enough of it’s own – but throwing plaid into the mix? I don’t know what I was thinking when I bought this fabric (probably something like, “Ooh! Plaid silk crepe! My favorites! lololol”), but the fact that I not only sewed it up but actually finished the dang project is something of a miracle for me. It certainly didn’t give me an easy time.
The pattern I used is Vogue 1395, which is a Rebecca Taylor design from last summer. I’ve made the pattern before in cherry printed silk crepe, and it’s one of my favorite summer dresses. It’s SUPER comfy, but still pretty cute! I knew I wanted to make a second one, but I wanted to try to figure out a way to make it without the back overlay. I love the back overlay, but it can shift over the course of the day and kind of make the arm holes hang weird. Plus, I wanted to improve on my first version (namely, the low arm holes that had to be emergency-raised and thus the seams are pretty wonky).
First, my pattern modifications. Remembering those awful armholes, I shortened the depth by a good 1.5″ or so. I actually wanted to shorten them more, but I was afraid I’d really fuck up the pattern, so I erred on the side of less. This gives the arm holes a much better depth (much more suited to my petite proportions), although you can still see a tiny bit of bra if I move a certain way. Ah, c’est la vie.
I kept the front bodice the same (other than the arm holes). I re-traced the back bodice and copied the shoulder width from the overlay to the shoulder area of my new back bodice (the OG back bodice in the pattern has narrow shoulders, and the overlay matches the front piece. This probably doesn’t make sense if you haven’t seen the pattern pieces). I redrew the bottom armscye to have a little curve, similar to the front (the overlay also doesn’t have that – it just goes straight, since it’s supposed to pull across to the front). Aaaaand that’s about it! Pretty easy modifications.
Sewing up the actual pattern – again, with modifications, since I was omitting the overlay, as well as the skirt lining – was simple. Sewed the front and back together at the shoulders and side seams, added the bias binding for the necklines and arm holes, and then sewed the front closed. I sewed the skirt side seams, attached the skirt to the bodice, and then folded up the seam allowance and topstitched it down to create a casing for the elastic waist. The skirt has a simple rolled hem, and all the interior seams are french seams. Because of the bias binding, there’s quite a bit of topstitching on this dress, which I really like.
Sewing – and cutting, for that matter – silk crepe actually isn’t that difficult. Of course, it’s marginally harder than sewing, say, quilting cotton, but it’s not this terrible beast that you have to wrangle and beg and plead with. The spongey texture of the crepe gives the silk something to grab onto, so it doesn’t really shift much while sewing. It can be a little floaty when you’re trying to cut it, but I just make sure my table has enough space to hold the whole yardage and that helps a lot. You’ll want to use a sharp, new needle for sewing, and silk pins for pinning.
What gave me the most trouble with this damn dress was the fact that it’s a plaid fabric. Cutting was a NIGHTMARE – like I said, silk crepe is sorta shifty at best, but as long as you’re staying on grain and getting the pattern pieces straight, it’s not too bad. Throw in strong horizontal lines and some plaid that has to match, and then it becomes an epic journey. I gave up on trying to match the plaid perfectly, and instead just focused on getting the lines to match across the seamlines. This was something I also had to focus on while sewing – again, a little shifting and/or growing is ok when you’re sewing a solid color or a busy print, but for these strong lines, you have to pay attention to make sure everything matches up at the seams. I pinned the shit out of things and used a walking foot while sewing, but man, thank god there are only a handful of seams in this dress. Otherwise, I might have ended up flipping a table over out of sheer rage.
Overall, though, everything matches up pretty well! The center front seam is a bit unfortunate looking with how the plaids lined up – but whatever. The back bodice does not quite match the back skirt – the lines are unbroken, but they’re the wrong lines (whoops). The elastic waist really helps to hide that, though, and at least it’s not at the front! The shoulder seams don’t match at all, but that’s the nature of
the beast this pattern. Ya gotta pick your battles.
When I finished the dress, I was a little underwhelmed with how it looked on me – I wasn’t a fan of how the bodice bloused over the elastic (the overlay ties over it and flattens things, but since I didn’t have the overlay, I had the blousiness). Belts are usually my solution for this, but those looked strange, too. So I made a little self-fabric tie, out of my remaining scraps. The dimensions are as much as I could get away with from the scraps. I just sewed a tube with bias ends and turned it right side out.
I also didn’t like the length, so I cut it REALLY short. Go ahead, judge me :P
Final thoughts of this dress – love it, was totally worth the effort. The plaid matching, while not perfect, is good enough for me. I really love this silk print and I’m glad I pushed through to finish, although I don’t think I’ll be picking up any more plaid silk crepe anytime soon. Sewing this pattern made me want another of the unmodified version, though, so I made one last night – and it turned out beeeeyoutiful! You can see the Instagram peek here. Stay tuned in a couple weeks for that blog post, I guess!
I took these pictures in the woods because the sun was SUPER bright, and it’s awesome how much coverage the trees give! This is right outside my door, too. Amelia was sitting at the screen, complaining at me. The woods surrounding our house are on a bit of an incline, hence the slight bobble-head vibe I’m throwing here. Also, in case you were wondering and/or freaking out – I’m not allergic to poison ivy :) haha :) I don’t think any shows in these photos, but it’s aaaalll over the place back there!
With all that being said, I’m taking a blog sabbatical for the next couple of weeks! My trip to Peru leaves tomorrow afternoon, and we will be gone through 6/18. I am not sure if I will have internet access while I’m away – definitely will be off for at least a week while I’m in Iquitos, because there’s no reception where I’m staying – but I’m not bringing my computer, so I can’t really answer emails. Fair warning in advance if you try to email me or holler with a question, because it’ll probably go unanswered the whole time I’m gone! I’m looking forward to spending some time unplugged and exploring another continent with my bestie, though!
See y’all in a couple of weeks!