This is my entry into the ‘Dresses’ category in The Monthly Stitch’s ‘Indie Pattern Month.’ If you don’t know already, The Monthly Stitch are hosting four weeks of sewing contests, aimed at encouraging us sewists to sew using patterns from independent companies. This is my first time entering. And in the case of this dress, I’m very grateful for the deadline of this contest. Because if it wasn’t for that, this dress may have turned into one of those UFOs (Unfinished Objects) lingering in the cupboard. It took what felt like forever to make! More on that later.
For now – here she is…
As the title suggests, it’s the 1952 French Gypsy dress by Sew La-Di-Da Vintage. I was given this pattern for my birthday back in February and I thought now was the perfect time to sew it up!
I spent ages choosing a fabric. I wanted something with a French twist to tie in with the pattern. But for various reasons including time running out fast and the fact that the pattern calls for 3 or 4m [I actually used 3.2m of 45″ wide fabric] I ended up ordering some anchor-print fabric I had my eye on in Minerva. I also ordered 4m of navy/white stripe polycotton as a backup. As you can see from the photos, I’m glad I ordered the backup. After ordering the anchor print, they emailed to say it’s out of stock. GRR.
Of course the stripy fabric is very French – and also very ‘me’ with it’s navy blue! So I think it worked out well. The only negative is that it is very cheap and very light. It wasn’t the easiest fabric to handle – well, it would have been OK if it didn’t have stripes that I was trying to match up.
As you can see, the sleeves can either stay up on the shoulders or down, Bardot-style. I think I prefer shoulders up.
I feel like I should hang a string of onions round my neck! And wear a beret!
Let’s talk about those stripes. Check out how perfectly they match up on one side seam of the skirt.
But unfortunately the other side totally doesn’t match up. I couldn’t cut the piece so that it would match on the side as well as the back. So I opted to match it just at the back, which I considered more important.
I hope you can see that the stripes are also matched around the sides of the bodice, and sleeves.
The stripes were one of the things that made making this dress take what felt like forever. I’m not sewing with stripes again in a hurry. At least not with a flimsy fabric like this. My God, don’t they slip out of place all the time? I re-sewed the back seam with the zip at least five times. And it’s still not 100% spot on.
The neckline is bound with bias tape threaded with elastic, and the armholes are just bias tape (although it’s constructed in a funny way to how I would usually do it). The tape is slipstitched in place on the wrong side, giving a nice finish. I made the bias tape using plain navy cotton.
I like the poofy sleeves!
But what I don’t like about this binding part is the join at the back; how it works (or rather, doesn’t work) with the zip. I ended up with this:
Hmm. As far as I can tell, that’s how it’s meant to be according to the pattern. But I can’t leave it like that! So I added a hook and eye. This helps, but I would rather the zip was right at the top! It’s impossible to fasten the hook and eye by myself.
On that note, I must say that this pattern is not for beginners. It’s a good pattern all in all, but some steps are not all that clear. For example, there is no mention of gathering the sleeve hems; no notches or anything. There is no mention of cutting interfacing until you get to the stage of sewing the interfaced piece in. They kind of explain how to cut the bias tape, but not clearly enough for beginners. There aren’t consistent reminders to finish your seams.
But it was rather nice to sew from a pattern aimed at intermediates. I understood what I was supposed to do, so that’s saying something!
I was really good and made a muslin of the bodice instead of diving straight in. This is for a contest, after all! So I’m really happy with the fit. I took a chunk out of the centre gathered upper bodice – I needed to gather it quite a lot to make it fit and there’s a limit to how much fabric you need! – and 2cm out of the lower bodice. The only stupid mistake I made because I just didn’t think about it was that I didn’t take the 2cm out of the front skirt panel too. So I had to create a few tiny gathers in the middle to make the panel fit. I don’t think it’s too bad – you can barely tell – but it’s not how it’s meant to be! Must remember this in future!!
Considering the fabric cost £2.99 a meter, I’m really impressed with how well it suits the dress. It’s comfy, and it’s light and swishy. The circle skirt works really well with it.
Oh and by the way, I did cut the lower bodice panel to have the stripes running vertically, on purpose. Just to break it up a bit!
I didn’t take the easy option for this challenge, did I? Totally new-to-me pattern (and pattern company). Lightweight, stripy fabric. Time pressure; big circle skirt to hem; handsewing. But I did it! Hooray!
Phew. Well done for getting to the end.
Now to think about what to make for next week’s ‘separates’ challenge!
P.S. Hope you enjoyed all the photos – my daughter and I had a fun photo shoot as she’s STILL off school with chicken pox! Don’t ask why I chose the bit of the garden with no grass, though.