Tag Archives: dress

Completed: The Kalle Shirtdress

18 Sep

I’ve still got a few more summer projects that I haven’t shared yet, so bear with me here! Although, to be fair – we should be well within the throes of summer heat for at least the next month here (yes, it did warm up again!).

Chambray Kalle Dress

I made this dress a couple of months ago, so what you are seeing a dress that has been worn, washed, and loved quite a bit before taking photos! As a result, it’s probably not as crisp and perfect as it would have looked fresh off the sewing machine – but on the flip, it’s definitely something that I’ve had time to move around in and really get to know fit-wise in ways that might not have been so apparent immediately after finishing it. Plus, you can really see how this fabric looks after several trips through the laundry. For ages, I was firmly in the camp of photos before I wore anything I made, but I’ve really softened up on that lately. This makes more of a delay in posting (since nothing is stopping me from putting that shit on RIGHT AWAY), but I think it can also create more of an honest post, in the sense of seeing how something feels after it’s been worn around a bit.

Also, about these photos – sorry about the dark door background? I did take my tripod outside, but I had one neighbor chopping tree limbs in one yard creepin on me, and another literally sitting on her front porch just straight-up staring at me and it made me way too anxious hahaha. I may need to get something to hang over that door when I take photos (this is the door that leads to the back half of my house – where the bedrooms are – from my living room), but at least the light is pretty!

Chambray Kalle Dress

ANYWAY, back to the dress!!!

This is the Kalle Shirtdress, from Closet Case Patterns. I made view C in a size 2, with no alterations. This one is straight out of the envelope! I was so excited when this pattern came out and my finished dress did not disappoint – I wear it as much as I think I can feasibly get away with! The good thing about dressing kind of bland (simple shapes, solid colors, etc) means that people are less likely to realize you’re repeating an outfit. Or maybe they do and they are too polite to say anything, I dunno and I also kind of don’t care.

Chambray Kalle Dress

Chambray Kalle Dress

I made my dress up in a beautiful, lightweight linen from Mood Fabrics (which apparently is sold out now, sorry!). This fabric is great – it’s light and airy, and almost translucent. It is perfect for those hot summer days when you don’t want anything touching your body. The deep indigo color means that it will also transition nicely into fall – it still looks a bit autumnal, but I won’t be sweating to death in it. Plus, it layers really nicely for those chilly mornings and evenings – it looks great with a cardigan and boots.

I washed my linen three times before cutting it, as I wanted to make sure that it wasn’t going to shrink at all post-sewing. I believe this also helps keep the linen from wrinkling so much – Carolyn, was it you who told me this? – and I think that may be accurate since this fabric doesn’t really wrinkle much at all now! I’ve worn this dress on all my travels since finishing and it looks great going from suitcase to hanger. I have found that I do need to lightly press the sleeve bands after washing, because they get slightly bunched (probably because the bands aren’t interfaced), but the rest of the dress is fine without any ironing. In these photos, that’s exactly what I did not do. Un-ironed linen dress, y’all!

I finished the insides of my dress with French seams, and topstitched with navy thread. For interfacing, I used this super lightweight fusible interfacing, and then only sparingly – on the button band, upper collar, and outer collar stand – to keep the fabric supported but still soft. The hem is finished with a bias facing, which is an easy way to work with that exaggerated curve. The navy shirt buttons are from Textile Fabrics – and in the true spirit of Textile Fabrics, they are fancy and imported from Italy and cost over $1 each. Ugh. Who knew it was so hard to find navy shirt buttons? Anyway, they look good!

Chambray Kalle Dress

One thing you should know about this dress – it’s not a short dress, but the upper curve of the hem is quite high. And the arm holes are quite low, which means that the dress moves upwards if you need to raise your arms. See how high the dress goes when I reach the sky? Ok, granted – I rarely need to raise my arms *that* high, but it is something to keep in mind! For comparison’s sake, I wear my shorts very very short and only the bottom rose of my leg tattoo sticks out of the hem. If the dress hiked up any higher, you would literally see my underwear. FYI!

Chambray Kalle Dress

Chambray Kalle Dress

Chambray Kalle Dress

Chambray Kalle Dress

See how sheer the fabric is? It’s not noticeable when I’m wearing the dress, and also, I wear nude undergarments (nothing patterned).

Chambray Kalle Dress

Chambray Kalle Dress

Chambray Kalle Dress

Chambray Kalle Dress

I think that’s about all I have to say about this dress! I really love this pattern and I am excited to try the other versions in different fabrics. I also realize that this is like, my fourth chambray/denim shirtdress – but you know what? I don’t care. At least I’ve figured out what I like, I guess 😛

Chambray Kalle Dress

** Note: The linen fabric used for this dress was provided to me by Mood Fabrics, in exchange for my participation with the Mood Sewing Network. As always, all opinions are my own!

Completed: My Maid of Honor Dress

18 Aug

Here’s a fun fact about me: I have never been a bridesmaid before. Never! I would almost say I’ve never been in a wedding at all, but I did get to carry the bride’s train in a wedding when I was really young (I think 8 – it was for my mom’s best friend). Is that a bridesmaid? I don’t know, let’s not get nitpicky here. My point being – I’ve never, as an adult, had a friend get married and ask me to be in their wedding. I think it’s kind of a rite of passage for most women at some point – but I’m not complaining, because I am not keen on spending $$$ on a dress I’ll never wear again!!

Anyway, that’s a moot point now because I was just officially in my first wedding last month! My very best friend in the entire world – my BFF, my life partner, and my favorite person everrrrr – was married in July and asked me to stand with her during the ceremony as her Maid of Honor. The bride, Morgan, is a really laid-back person and wanted a laid-back wedding – so I didn’t need to buy an expensive formal dress, or plan a ~cRaZy~ Bachelorette party (sidenote: did you know Nashville is now officially the #1 destination in the world for bachelorette parties? Yeah. And it’s awful. If you’re thinking about coming here and ~getting wild~, please don’t.) or anything like that. It was a small wedding – the bridal party consisted of me + the best man – held in their backyard, with a short ceremony and lots of food, alcohol, and dancing. There wasn’t even a “theme” or particular colors for this – which meant I had a lot of creative freedom when it came to choosing what I was going to wear. Which, of course, I wanted to be handmade by me!

Gertie Surplice Bodice Floral Dress

Since the wedding was going to be outdoors in July, this limited me to only looking at natural fibers (y’all can defend polyester all you want, but this sweaty gal is not gonna wear that shit under the July sun in Tennessee at 5p girl bye) – I needed something lightweight and breathable. The only thing Morgan said she cared about design-wise was 1. That the dress was not white (obviously); 2. That it had a light, neutral background; 3. That it had some kind of floral design that wasn’t super bright. Finding a fabric that matched this description was surprisingly hard – most floral designs are either really bright, or on a dark background. Or they were polyester! I probably spent an entire month just combing through every fabric website I could think of, and coming up short and a little desperate.

Gertie Surplice Bodice Floral Dress

Gertie Surplice Bodice Floral Dress

I actually found this fabric at the shop I work at, Craft South! It’s a 100% cotton barkcloth from the Outback Wife collection. We had a ton of colorways, and while I admired them when they came in the shop – I didn’t buy any because florals really are not much my thing these days. I love looking at them, but I don’t really like to wear them. That being said, this particular colorway was perfect for the wedding – the fiber content was right, Morgan loved the colors and florals, and I got that sweet employee discount on it (yay!). I bought the last of the yardage (sorry!), but we still have the dark colorway in stock FYI! And here’s the same colorway I used in some random Etsy shop, too!

This barkcloth is a little stiff on the roll, so I prewashed a swatch to see what would happen. It ended up softening quite a bit and getting a nice little drape, although it is very prone to unraveling. I prewashed the entire yardage (cold wash, regular heat in the dryer) and set it aside while I could locate a pattern.

Gertie Surplice Bodice Floral Dress

Gertie Surplice Bodice Floral Dress

Gertie Surplice Bodice Floral Dress

Finding a pattern also took foreeeever! I didn’t know exactly what I wanted in a dress – since the fabric had some structure to it, it couldn’t be a really swingy/draped design. I wanted a loose skirt (so I could move about freely during the evening) and no sleeves (sun’s out, gun’s out amirite lol). I ended up finding just the thing in Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book – which I had won ages ago in a giveaway and hadn’t actually made anything out of yet! This pattern is the Floral Surplice Dress – which features a crossed over bodice, a separate midriff piece, and a side-pleated skirt. Done and done.

A few notes about this book – the pattern pieces are overlapped all over one another (like a BurdaStyle pattern), which means you have to trace them. The first half of the book goes into detail about fabrics, seam finishes, special techniques, and fitting – and then the patterns themselves have very brief instructions on how to put them together (assuming that you would flip back to the relevant section in the first half to get full instructions if you need them). I like this sort of layout as I don’t need the hand-holding, and appreciate just having a list of ordered steps. Finally, the pieces are all designed to mix and match with one another – so you can swap out the skirt for a different one, or add sleeves, or whatever. I liked the design of this dress, though, so I stuck with the suggested pieces and finishing.

I did make a muslin before cutting into my fabric, as bodices like this tend to gape on me. I’m VERY glad I did this, because there is a big sizing error with the midriff piece! It’s about 2″ too small – even after measuring and walking the pattern pieces. I thought I was going crazy because Google wasn’t pulling up anything, until I saw in a forum where someone briefly mentioned it in passing. So I’m not crazy. And also, if you make this pattern – just know that the midriff piece will need to be adjusted to fit your waist (unless you’re in denial about your size and consistently pretend like your waist is 2″ bigger than it actually is, that’s your prerogative). I cut my muslin to the biggest size, then added 1″ seam allowances, and fiddled around with it until I could get it to fit the bottom edge of the bodice (the bodice is graded and sized correctly, as is the skirt waist. It is just the midriff that is incorrect). After I fit my bodice, I took the pieces apart and used them to make new pattern pieces, then made a second muslin bodice to verify that it all fit correctly.

As far as other adjustments, the only things I did was take a little 1/4″ wedge out of the neckline so it fit closer to my body (using this method), and I also shortened the skirt by about 2″.

Gertie Surplice Bodice Floral Dress - front

Gertie Surplice Bodice Floral Dress - back

Right after I cut out the pieces, I realized that the dress was going to look like a total clusterfuck unless I did something to highlight the seamlines. So I tailed it to Textile Fabrics and bought a pink linen/cotton blend to create piping (ideally, I would have loved a darker color that wasn’t pink – but this was the only thing they had that matched, and my options are very limited here in town). I added piping to the top edge of the neckline, and both sides of the waistband. This not only breaks up the seamlines so the dress doesn’t look like a hot mess, but also visually separates that neutral background a bit from my skin (which matches a little too close for comfort, in my opinion).

All that aside, the rest of the sewing was pretty easy and straightforward. I used a serger to finish all the seams, which I pressed open. The piping is topstitched with matching neutral thread, to help it lie flat. The zipper is a simple lapped zipper that is pick-stitched by hand. I also added hooks and eyes at the piping intersections in the back, again, to help them lie flat and stay closed. Didn’t want anyone creeping on my zipper! Finally, the hem is serged and blindstitched by hand.

Now, for the mistakes that I made! At one point, I did sew the midriff upside-down and didn’t realize until after I had finished applying the piping – serged and topstitched and everything. I tried to convince myself that it was ok, but honestly one of my favorite parts of the dress design is how the side seams curve down at the midriff – and it didn’t look right when they were flipped the other way. Oh, and it didn’t fit right, either! It was not fun to unpick that mess and re-sew with teeny serged-off seam allowances, but I’m glad I did it. I also originally inserted an invisible zipper, but it was toooo hard to zip up due to the bulk at the intersecting back seams (with the piping). I had visions of the zipper breaking while I was at the wedding, and didn’t want to put myself through that mess. So I unpicked, and added the lapped zipper – which is much easier to zip and unzip!

Gertie Surplice Bodice Floral Dress - bodice front

Omg, I’m like nowhere near done with showing pictures. I’m sorry.

Gertie Surplice Bodice Floral Dress - bodice side

Gertie Surplice Bodice Floral Dress - bodice back

Gertie Surplice Bodice Floral Dress - zipper detail

Gertie Surplice Bodice Floral Dress - bodice flat

Gertie Surplice Bodice Floral Dress - bodice back flat

Gertie Surplice Bodice Floral Dress - bodice interior

Gertie Surplice Bodice Floral Dress - hem detail

Whew! So that’s a big ol’ post for a big ol’ project! The dress ended up being perfect for the occasion – I matched the aesthetic of the wedding, I was comfortable, and I had room to eat and dance! I am also pleased with myself for remembering to add pockets – those were super handy for carrying things like my sunglasses and hankies for when we started crying! It was a fabulous wedding and I’m so honored that I was able to stand up there with my best friend and be a part of such an important day.

I am going to leave y’all with some photos from the wedding, if you feel like creeping! All photos were taken by Lilika Strezoska, who is based out of Macedonia but came to the US to shoot this wedding. Lilika did an incredible job capturing everyone in a beautiful and candid way – I have really loved looking through all the photos!

Morgan's Wedding!

The ceremony. That giant cloud of a dog is Bootes, who absolutely had to be nearby.

Morgan's Wedding!

Here we are looking nice and like adults.

Morgan's Wedding!

And here we are jumping. Also, I would like to point out that this shot actually captured my shoe flying off hahaha.

Morgan's Wedding!

With my bestie! ❤ (she had her dress custom made by a seller on Etsy, I am not sure who the seller is though!)

Morgan's Wedding!

Here we are giggling together and having a BFF moment.

Morgan's Wedding!

And, finally, this is me carrying the Marriage Certificate over to be signed! I was so excited!

Ok, that’s all! Thanks for sticking around for this exceptionally long post 🙂

OAL2017: My Completed Kim Dress

31 Jul

Good morning, everyone! It’s the last day of July, which means the deadline to finish + share your OAL garments! Today, I’m going to show y’all my finished dress – because my sweater actually isn’t done yet! LOL for being the worst host ever. Whatever! It’s been a crazy last few months, I’m not even going to apologize. Instead, I am going to celebrate actually FINISHING something! Yay!

OAL2017: Finished Kim Dress

Another thing worth celebrating – actually going outside to take photos!  Another yay! Now that I’m in a house with a semi-private yard (I share the space with my upstairs neighbor, and we are on the corner of a somewhat busy street. Also, there is no privacy fence!), I feel more comfortable going outside to take my photos. The lighting is certainly better, and the background a bit prettier than a white wall 🙂 I still go outside really early so that it limits the amount of people rubbernecking as they drive by, but, you know… baby steps. haha. For someone who doesn’t give a fuck about a lot of things, I DO give a fuck about my neighbors watching me take ~fashun photos~ with a fucking tripod in my backyard hahahaha.

OAL2017: Finished Kim Dress

OAL2017: Finished Kim Dress

OAL2017: Finished Kim Dress

Not too much to say about this one, since I covered all the construction in previous OAL posts. To summarize – the pattern is By Hand London‘s Kim Dress, modified to include tie straps and a facing (no lining). I used polka dot rayon challis from Mood Fabrics – both for the outer and the facing – and added an invisible zipper and pleats at the hem. All seams except the gathered waist are finished with French seams (you can totally French seam a gathered waist seam, FYI, but I just didn’t feel like unnecessarily torturing myself haha).

Here are all the tutorials from the OAL, in case you missed them!

OAL2017: Finished Kim Dress

OAL2017: Finished Kim Dress

This is a great dress for summer – it’s a bit more loose fitting than what I would wear in the past, and the rayon is nice and breathable. So it’s super cool in this humid heat we’re going through right now, and the navy + white polka dots is the perfect print + color combination! Black bra straps aren’t necessarily the best choice for this look, but I’m hoping to make a strapless (currently creeping SO HARD on the Esplanade bra pattern! Soon!) before summer ends! Navy bra straps would also work, which I need to get on making. I have several tops that would benefit from a bra with navy straps!

OAL2017: Finished Kim Dress

OAL2017: Finished Kim Dress

OAL2017: Finished Kim Dress

OAL2017: Finished Kim Dress

OAL2017: Finished Kim Dress

Considering I talked a LOT about this dress during the OAL, there’s not much else to say! One thing I will point out is that this particular project was going on while I was in a big funk earlier this summer – I completely, 100% lost my sewing mojo and pretty much all creative energy (I continued knitting, but mostly because it was something to do with my hands while I watched tv -so that I didn’t feel like a complete lazy loaf). Knowing that I had to finish this dress due to my commitment to the OAL was the only reason why I even started it – and it’s also what eventually reignited my creative energy. I may talk about that more in detail in a future post, but basically – I’m back! I feel good and I’m sewing up a storm again! It’s pretty amazing!

OAL2017: Finished Kim Dress

How is your summer sewing going? Did you participate in the OAL this year? LET ME SEE YOUR PROJECTS please and thank you!

* Note: The fabrics used in this post were provided to me by Mood Fabrics, in exchange for my participation in the Mood Sewing Network.

Completed: Deer & Doe Réglisse Dress

23 May

I feel like it’s been a long time since I’ve made a pretty dress. To be fair, it’s also been a long time since I’ve felt like wearing a pretty dress – something about the cold and winter just makes me want to dress in head-to-toe black, and only wear pants (very, very stretchy pants, I should add). Once the sun starts heating up our side of the world, though, I’m ready for pretty dresses, bright colors, and fun shoes!

Deer & Doe Réglisse dress

I was anticipating this a few months ago while still stuck in a winter spiral, so I planned for this one early. I knew I wanted to make the Deer & Doe Réglisse dress – it’s a pretty design, without being toooo frou-frou (I admire everyone who can stick to that look, but my style has really evolved to that point where that is totally not me anymore).

The original plan was to make this out of a traditional white/blue striped cotton seersucker, which I bought several yards at Metro Textile while I was in NYC. Unfortunately, my fabric – ok, actually the entire load of laundry – was victim to a laundry mishap, and now I have a bunch of indigo-dyed stuffed that was not supposed to be indigo dyed (and as of now, indigo dying and myself are NOT FRIENDS and don’t try to get us to kiss and make up, it won’t happen). I can probably salvage some of that yardage by cutting around the spots – or even re-dye the whole thing – but I was feeling a little over that particular piece of fabric so I decided to make the pattern out of something else entirely.

Deer & Doe Réglisse dress

Anyway, it ended up working out in the best way possible because I am super happy with the end result! The Réglisse can run the risk of looking very juvenile if you’re not too careful – which, again, isn’t a bad thing, but it’s definitely not my style these days. Using a solid fabric really toned down the sweetness of the design, and also makes the dress a little more versatile. I’m trying to make myself be better about repeating outfits, and it’s easier to repeat an outfit when you know it’s not an entire statement piece on it’s own, you know? This solid navy is a great neutral for me, and goes with pretty much all of the rest of my wardrobe. Including all my shoes 🙂

Deer & Doe Réglisse dress

Deer & Doe Réglisse dress

The fabric I used for this dress is just a simple lightweight woven cotton, but it’s quite special to me because I bought it when I went to Egypt! It’s very soft and a little translucent, so I knew it would be really lovely to wear in the heat. Again, the deep navy color is a color that I wear a LOT, so it goes with most of my wardrobe. I only bought 2 yards, so I had to be a little creative with my cutting layouts – like, the undercollar is pieced, instead of cut in one piece – but I was able to eek it out!

I sewed this dress over the course of a few days. It was a nice, relaxing sew, which I really enjoyed. I cut a size 34, which is a little bit smaller than my measurements. I decided to do this because some of versions of this dress I googled seemed to run a little large, and I didn’t want it to be too blouse-y on me. As it stands, I think the arm holes are a little too deep – any lower and they would definitely show my bra – but the overall fit is good, and I am happy with it. I chose the elastic length by putting it around my waist to determine what was comfortable. My experience with using elastic is that I tend to pull it too tight, and it ends up being so uncomfortable that I never wear the dress (which means that, right now, I am in the middle of Operation Remove All Elastic And Replace With Longer in my wardrobe). So I left this one a little loose, which ended up being sooo much more comfortable.

All the seams are finished with my serger – I used 3 threads instead of my usual 4, since it’s a little narrower and worked better with the delicate fabric – I serged them individually and pressed the seams open as instructed. The bodice and skirt are cut on the bias, so I made sure to really stabilize the neckline with staystitching before handling it, to prevent it from stretching. The skirt needed to hang on my dressform for about 48 hours before I could hem it, and it was super uneven after all the bias settled and dropped. I did make a couple of changes to the construction – added some topstitching where it wasn’t required (mostly because I thought it looked better that way) and I sewed the elastic waistband casing so that there are no raw edges. I don’t have any pictures of the inner construction, so, sorry, you’ll have to trust me on that one haha.

Deer & Doe Réglisse dress

Deer & Doe Réglisse dress

Deer & Doe Réglisse dress

I was a little afraid up until the very end that I wasn’t going to like this dress – the sweet little collar and bow were making me a bit nervous. But I am happy with how it turned out, and I think the solid dark color helps with that! I experimented with tying the neck ties so that it’s more like a necktie, but I actually like it as a bow. I knotted the ends because, I dunno, I like the way it looks haha.

I see that Deer & Doe have updated their pattern to include an option without the bow – which I may try in the future. I’ll have to draft it myself, though, since I have one of the older paper copies, before the rebranding.

Deer & Doe Réglisse dress

I think that’s all for this dress! BTW, as a side note – I have some more workshops coming up! And don’t forget about the OAL, which is kicking off very soon! 😀

Garment Sewing Weekend July 14-16, 2017
Three Little Birds Sewing Co., Hyattsville, MD
Come spend a weekend working through a sewing project of your choosing with meeee as your guide! For 2 glorious days, work on the project of your choice in the Three Little Birds Sewing Co. space. The beauty of this workshop is that each students get to choose their own project. Do you need help with fitting? With construction? Interested in bra making? Perhaps you’ve had your eye on a garment you don’t feel comfortable tackling on your own.  I will guide you through all of these and more!

Jeans Making Sewing Intensive August 11-12, 2017
Workroom Social, Brooklyn, NY
Let me show you how fun and fulfilling it is to make your own jeans! In this class, we will work out way through the Ginger Jeans pattern (my personal favorite!), learning the basics of fitting and construction for making your own jeans. We will also go over all the fun extras that separate jeans from mere pants – topstitching, fancy seam finishes, and installing hardware. Yay!

What are your sewing plans for this summer?

Completed: Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

3 Jan

Happy 2017, everyone!! I’m going to kick off this year with one of my last makes from 2016 – featuring some uhhh-mazing leopard print silk charmeuse!

Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

Having spent the last 1-2 years of my sewing working on essential wardrobe basics, my handmade wardrobe is quite practical these days. Lots of pants and jeans, lots of tshirts and button ups, lots of comfortable and stylish casual sundresses. I feel really good about where I’m at when it comes to those needs, and as I mentioned before – right now I am just updating the old/worn out and not really scrambling around to make new stuff anymore. WITH THAT BEING SAID, I ended up with a surprising hole in my wardrobe – fancy dresses! This is somewhat hilarious to me, considering I spent the first several years of my sewing career endlessly making frilly party dresses that I rarely wore (or stopped wearing after I got over the novelty of wearing a party dress to, say, the bar. Hey, if that’s your jam, you keep doing you! Me, I will put on leggings and a giant sweater instead haha). I ended up with a closetful of impractical clothing, and have spent all these years trying to rectify that with the practical. I also did a bunch of purging with what was already hanging around, getting rid of things that no longer fit (or never fit right in the first place) or in colors/styles that I didn’t feel like suited me.

I have done such a great job that once the holiday season hit, I quickly realized that I have nothing to wear. lolwut.

I still have my glorious Marc Jacobs birds dress (which is still my favorite favorite thing EVER), this blue cotton sateen dress via the Sew Bossy challenge, and my sparkly brocade skirt. Both of these have been great to have for festive holiday parties, or the occasional wedding ceremony, or that one fancy date that I get to on on like every 6 months. I am also totally not opposed to wearing the same thing multiple times – having been the sort of person who needed a new dress for every occasion, I would rather now just have a handful of things I really really love that I know I look and feel good in – I felt that it was time to give myself permission to make another fancy dress. Just in time for the holiday season to end, ha! Whatever, I’ll take myself out for a steak date and wear this shit!

Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

After some deliberation, I ended up with Simplicity 6266, cos I just can’t get enough of that 70s mock-wrap neckline and those sweet tulip sleeves. Honestly, I wanted to make this version with the long sleeves – but I didn’t have enough fabric to cut everything (which, in restrospect, was probably for the best – I think that sort of style would do better in a solid color. That much leopard print could be overwhelming!) because I’d already cut a little bit off and used it to make a bra. I’ve made this pattern before twice (one and two), and yes, I realize that I basically just made a duplicate of the first version. I totally still have that dress – after a couple rounds of alterations when my weight started changing – and I love it, but the polyester content of the fabric makes it not such a great choice for summer. I’ve always wanted to make another version in a more breathable fabric, so here we are.

My leopard print silk charmeuse is from Mood Fabrics, and while it hung around on the site for months after I bought it, it’s sold out now. I think it was originally Rag and Bone, and it’s been in my stash since 2015 hahaha. It’s a nice weight with a gorgeous drape, and I gave it a cold wash before cutting which helped make the shiny side a little more matte (and now I can wash this dress like any other old thing in my laundry basket, ha!). The shiny side was still a little too shiny for my tastes, so I used the matte side as the right side of my fabric. The added bonus to doing this is that the dress feels REAL nice on the inside now, heh heh heh.

I wanted to try a new way to stabilize the silk for this project – in the past I’ve used Sullivan’s Spray Stabilizer, which works GREAT but it can be $$$. I was tipped off to try using gelatine – yes, basically unflavored Jell-o – and I decided this was the project to test this theory with. You can read the full instructions on how to do this here, but basically – you cook the gelatine in water until it boils, add more water, stir in your fabric and let it sit for an hour to soak everything up, then wring it out and lay it flat to dry. I folded mine in half lengthwise and then used a series of chairs and my drying rack to get it as smooth as possible so it would dry reasonably flat. Once the fabric was dry, it had a much more stiff body – similar to a silk organza before you pre-wash it. To remove the gelatine, you just wash the garment as normal (so, this will only work with something that’s been pre-treated – you can’t use it to sew something you wouldn’t wash, such as a coat lining that’s not removable) and it will soft right back up to how it was originally. It’s still not the easiest thing in the world to sew – I mean, we are talking about silk charmeuse here, y’all, it’s never going to be completely fool-proof – but it was a HELLUVA lot easier to manhandle than it had been before the treatment.

Because of the gelatine treatment, assembling this dress was reasonably easy. I used a brand new, 70/10 sharp needle to sew it, and finished all my seams with a serger and then pressed them open (I know that traditionally you sew silk with French seams – and this is what I usually do – but I was anticipating alterations with this. More on that in a sec). For the hems, I turned them under 1/4″ twice and blind-stitched them by hand. The stiffness of the fabric only moderately affects things, if you’re a fit-as-you-sew kind of person (I am!) – as in, the fit is still accurate, but everything just kind of hangs weird because it’s lacking that drape. My sleeves in particular looked RIDICULOUS, but they are fine now that they are soft again. I left off all the topstitching, except at the waist (only because I felt like the silk needed the topstitching for extra stability), and sewed the ties together into a removable waist tie instead of attached at the side seams. Oh, and I used an invisible zipper instead of a lapped zipper. I added a strip of fusible interfacing to both edges of the dress where the zipper would go, which keeps the area smooth and supported.

Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

I did have some snafus with the fit on this dress, which at least I was anticipating. See, my pattern isn’t exactly my size – it’s for a 33″ bust, and I’m closer to 32″. This is why I had to take in the original cheetah version, and I had some fitting tweaks that needed to be made on the polka dot one as well. With both dresses, I didn’t actually record my changes – so I had to start from scratch, again. Awesome. For this dress, I sewed the side seams and shoulder seams at 3/4″, instead of the usual 5/8″. This helped a bit – the dress still isn’t super tight, but I like the drape of charmeuse with a little bit of ease. Interestingly, it was the sleeves that gave me trouble with this dress. First, I sewed them with the wrong side on top – and I didn’t notice until after I had finished the dress (including all the serging) and I was comparing it to the original cheetah version. They look really awful when they are the wrong way, in case you were wondering – and I had to unpick and resew them. Also, the shoulders were strangely wide on this dress – the armscye was the correct depth (thanks to that 3/4″ seam allowance), but the sleeves started past the edge of my shoulder and it was channeling some serious linebacker shit. Of course, I noticed this AFTER I had fixed the sleeves – and I wasn’t about to unpick that shit again! So I added a 1/2″ tuck on top of the shoulder, which only goes about 2″ and then folds into a soft pleat over the bust and down the back. This was enough to pull in the sleeve cap so it actually started where a sleeve cap was supposed to start – and also made the bodice fit a little better, too. It’s not the most elegant of solutions – it’s a total hack job, tbh – but it worked!

I also tacked down the center front invisibly, because the dress wanted to gape open (probably cos my boobs don’t quite fill it out lolz).

Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

As a side note, I am trying a new spot to take photos. I had a few people tell me that my other location was too distracting, and, well, it totally is haha 🙂 I don’t know why I never tried this wall – it’s pretty empty and gets ok light. What’s weird is how different it looks with me standing there vs the dress form (I took all these photos in one session). The background is boring as hell but it’s not like anyone is here for my stunning photography. Also I’m not really sure how to get rid of that giant shadow behind me.

And because I’ve gotten some comments on it recently – the thing I’m holding is my camera remote (my camera is old and the only remote that works with it has a giant antennae), not a screwdriver hahaha.

Leopard Silk Simplicity 6266

Anyway, thanks for all of your great comments and insights on my last post. I had a great time ringing in 2017 and I look forward to what this year has to offer!

Note: The leopard print silk charmeuse was purchased with my allowance from Mood Fabrics, as part of my participation in the Mood Sewing Network.