OAL 2017: Getting Started!

1 Jun

Hello everyone, and welcome to the 2017 Outfit Along! My apologies that this post is a bit late – I moved house yesterday, and only just got my internet turned on in the new place. Taking a short break from unpacking to get this OAL rolling! Let’s do this!

The official pattern for this year is the Kim Dress from By Hand London. There are a few options for this pattern – choose between a straight or sweetheart neckline, and a gathered skirt with pintucks at the hem or a sleek tulip skirt. I will be making the sweetheart neckline with the gathered skirt, but obviously feel free to make whatever your heart is calling for – whether it’s another variation of this pattern, or a different pattern completely! We want you to love and wear what you make, so don’t waste your time on something that doesn’t check those boxes for ya 😉

As I mentioned in my announcement post, I will not be running a full, in-depth sewalong for this pattern. I will be popping in every week with updates on my progress, as well as tips and tricks (with tutorials!) that you can apply to any pattern you are sewing – not necessarily specifically this one. However, if you are feeling that you need that extra help – there is a great sewalong on the By Hand London blog for this pattern, so please feel free to utilize that! You got this!!

For the first post, I’m gonna keep this one reasonably short and sweet!! This week is all about preparation!

If you still haven’t chosen your fabric, you will probably want to do that first 😉 This particular pattern works well with a smorgasbord of fabrics – from crisp cotton lawn to slinky silk, the sky is really the limit here! The main thing you want to keep in mind when deciding on fabric is how you want the finished garment to hang when you are wearing it. Do you want a more structured garment or one with a soft drape? Choosing a fabric with the correct amount of body and drape is key for this. That cotton lawn will result in a more structured bodice and full skirt that wants to stand out on it’s own, verus the slinky silk will give you a soft, floaty bodice with a skirt that drapes beautifully around your body. For more in-depth information about this, see this post from a previous OAL that goes over the differences in drape and body in fabric.

OAL2017 - my fabric

Here is the fabric I am using this year – a soft rayon print from Mood Fabrics with a nice drape to it. I love wearing rayon in the summer – it breathes really well in the heat, and a dark color/pattern means that sweat is less likely to show. Rayon traditionally can be a little tricky – both to work with and care for – but I ultimately think it is worth the additional effort. This particular rayon is pretty stable and easy to work with, compared to other rayons I’ve used in the past, so I will not be doing any sort of pre-treatment to aid with sewing. That being said, if you are sewing one of the aforementioned slinky rayons – or a silk, or slippery poly, anything that wants to float off the table when you try to cut it – you may want to consider pre-treating your fabric to be a bit more stable before you cut it. You have a few options for this – for something quick and easy with no mess, spray stabilizer works very well. Just spray it on your fabric, allow to dry, and then treat it as usual. Once you are finished sewing the garment, it easily washes out so your fabric goes back to it’s glorious, drapey self. For a cheaper option, I’ve been very happy with the results I’ve gotten from using gelatine. This method is more time-consuming, but also WAY cheaper. You basically boil the gelatine in water, soak your fabric, and then spread it flat (or hang) until it’s dry (Threads has a full tutorial on their website). Again, this washes out easily once you are finished. The major downside is finding space to dry it flat – if you live in a small space, that can be tricky – but it’s a fraction of the cost of using spray stabilizer and works just as well one it has dried. I have used both of these methods with great success, it just depends on your time and budget!

Make sure you pre-wash your fabric before you do anything – you want to make sure you get all the shrinkage out before your pattern pieces are cut. I wash and dry all my fabric the same way I plan on treating it once it’s been turned into a garment. For delicate fabrics like rayon, you don’t necessarily want to throw it in the dryer every time you launder it – over time, this will break down the fibers. But I do think it’s a good idea to use the dryer for the very first pre-wash, as it will shrink up the fabric sufficiently and then if the garment does accidentally end up in the dryer, it won’t shrink more!

As a side note, there are plenty of “dry clean” only fabrics that actually can be washed in a machine. Fibers such as silk and rayon are totally machine washable – you just want to ensure that you are washed them before they are cut, again, so that you get all the shrinkage out. I wash all my silks and rayons on cold water, use the dryer for pre-washing (and hang to dry once they are finished) and have not ruined anything yet. Keep in mind that this will take a bit of the shine and stiffness out of your fabric, but I think it’s worth it to not be a slave to the dry cleaner! When in doubt, test with a swatch to make sure you are ok with how the fabric looks after it’s been laundered.

I am making a few changes to my pattern that are a bit different from how it’s drafted:
– I converted the straps to tie at the top (instead of being a continuous loop)
– Rather than line my bodice, I drafted all-in-one facings to clean finish all the top edges

For the tie-top straps, I used this tutorial from By Hand London. It’s super simple – you just trace your pattern piece, and then extend the top strap by 6″-7″, rounding out the end to a nice shape.

To draft the all-in-one-facing, here is what I did:
OAL2017 - drafting a facing

First, I marked my seam allowances on all the bodice pattern pieces. Since these bodice pieces have princess seams on both the front and back, we want to eliminate those so that the facing pieces are one continuous piece.

OAL2017 - drafting a facing

Once the seam allowances are marked, I overlapped the pieces as they would be sewn together (center back to side back, and center front to side front). Then I laid my pattern pieces on a sheet of blank paper (mine is just kraft paper from a roll, but you can use whatever you have on hand) and traced around the neckline, arm holes, and straps. I drew down the side about 3.5″ and center about 4″, which will be the depth of the facing.

OAL2017 - drafting a facing

I used a curved ruler to connect the center back/front with the side seam, just to give it a gentle curve. Then I transferred all my notches and grainlines, and marked the pattern pieces.

OAL2017 - drafting a facing

It’s a good idea to lay your drafted piece under your pattern pieces, just to make sure everything fits and matches up. Which this one does! Yay!

That’s all for this week! You’ll want to cut and mark your pattern pieces, and be ready to sew next week! Let me know if you have any questions about anything covered in this post or, you know, life in general 🙂


7 Responses to “OAL 2017: Getting Started!”

  1. Deborah Penner June 1, 2017 at 8:35 pm #

    Good to hear that you are in your little house. Always appreciate your suggestions form dealing with pesky fabrics.

    • LLADYBIRD June 8, 2017 at 9:07 am #

      It’s the best little house, I’m very happy here already 😀

  2. Tomasa June 3, 2017 at 3:48 pm #

    Congrats on moving in to your new space! This dress is going to be a beaut!

    • LLADYBIRD June 8, 2017 at 9:08 am #

      Thank you! I’m excited about it – both the dress and the new space 😀


  1. OAL2017: Assembling the Bodice | LLADYBIRD - June 9, 2017

    […] If you missed the first post, you can find it here. […]

  2. OAL2017: Hello Modesty | Logan Stitches - July 23, 2017

    […] Here’s hoping it is done by the end of the month so that it’s on time for the  Outfit Along 2017 […]

  3. OAL2017: My Completed Kim Dress | LLADYBIRD - July 31, 2017

    […] Modifying the pattern for tie straps and a facing […]

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