Things have been so crazy lately that I almost forgot to share the details and finished photos of my windowpane check dress! I originally conceived of this dress for my birthday, but given the pandemic and all… we never actually went out to dinner wearing it :( BUT- there will be ample time in the future to whip it out because it’s that good!
First up, the inspiration. I wanted to make a dress with some different shapes than I usually make, even if it is not exactly as flattering. WHAT, you say? No really, I mean it. I wanted something with a slightly boxier shape, a shortened waist line, and structure through the neckline, sleeves and hem to make it stand away from the body a bit. I envisioned something along the lines of Carven or Miu Miu, almost a doll-like shape, balanced out by the masculinity of the fabric.
The fabric I chose was a stretch wool suiting from Mood Fabrics. I absolutely LOVED working with this fabric because the drape was substantial and it could clearly hold a bit of structure. It also didn’t unravel easily, which made working with it fairly easy.
I sketched a few designs and put together this quick mood board, and quickly got to work draping the neckline and petal detail. In my original sketch and my pattern making of this dress, I actually designed the detail differently than I ended up sewing it. Originally it was more of a folded cone shape on the bottom half of the petal, but there was too much weight pulling down the structure of the dress. I had completely run out of fabric, so I needed to use the shape I had already cut, interfaced and sewn together in order to make a new detail to balance out the upper petal.
In the end, I landed with a small rosette. Typically I am not a rosette girl but I think it works nicely with the petal detail and most importantly, could be done with the remaining fabric I had left!
The shape of the sleeve took a muslin to make, because I needed to add width for gathers, but almost 4 inches of height to the sleeve cap to get the gathers to stand up the way they do. That is a patternmaking step that many people forget to add or think about when they are hacking their own patterns. You really have to add height to create a puff sleeve, and even when you think it’s enough, often it isn’t!
Let’s talk about the innards of this piece. I used to HATE creating facings and linings and would invent the easiest ways to finish garments so that I wouldn’t have to do create new pattern pieces for these items. However, recently I have become obsessed with doing things correctly (it only took 15 years) and I love the idea of my pieces being couture quality, or at least quality enough to pass down to my daughter. Some of my earlier projects I would rush through at the end, only to know they were never going to make it to Marina. This one for sure, will stand the test of time. I bought a satin crepe for the lining as I dislike most apparel linings because they feel too plasticky, and created an easy lining for the bodice, and facings for the bodice and sleeves. Not sure why the lining looks blue in the photo below, it most certainly is black.
After getting all the pieces lined, the facings ironed with interfacing (the better for structure my dear) the rest came together quite quickly! I was running low on fabric for the skirt but I just HAD to add pockets to the side seams so I squished them in using a few scraps. There is a ton of hand finishing on this dress, from the facings to the sleeve hems, to the lining covering the back invisible zip, to the front heart shape (better than trying to make that tight of a curve on my machine) to the petal detail (my machine wouldn’t go through like 14 layers of fabric here!) to the horsehair braid I sewed into the hem for extra shape and stability. In the end, I did so much hand sewing that I still maybe cheated a little by using the rolled hem stitch on my Huskylock to finish the hem of the skirt, which I think actually worked perfectly and saved me another hour of my life.
I love it I love it I love it, and hope that I get an opportunity to wear it out to dinner again soon!