I was trying to be a good student and wait patiently for the next Crepe sewalong post, but patience is not one of my virtues and posts seem to be a bit thin on the ground at the moment! I appreciate there’s been a Christmas holiday break and I’m sure Gertie is super busy, but the pace is just way too slow for me (it started on 6th December and we haven’t even started sewing yet!)
So I fell off the wagon and actually started sewing the dress together and I’m glad I did. I’ve been itching to sew for weeks, so it was good to get back into it. And here’s the result - my lovely Crepe dress….
|Behold - my lovely Crepe dress|
I’m so pleased with the finished dress, it’s got a vintage-y look but it’s comfortable enough to wear as a day dress AND it’s got pockets!
|Pockets - hoorah!|
It’s a very girly dress, you do feel like you should be skipping through a meadow with a basket of flowers whilst wearing it. Or trying out for a Timotei ad. Nice and old fashioned.
Which brings me on to the fabric, which has an old-fashioned look I really like. I’m glad I went along with Gertie’s recommendation to use a lightweight cotton with more drape in it rather than a stiffer, quilting cotton. I used a cotton lawn I picked up on eBay, with a red contrast sash. I also underlined the dress, which was another first for me. I used very thin grey/blue cotton for underlining. Cotton law is a sheer fabric, and underlining gave the bodice and skirt a bit of structure and neatly solved the whole potential “backlit Lady Diana wearing sheer skirt” horror. Gertie’s method of underlining was a tad laborious though. It involved hand basting each piece to the underlining fabric before cutting it out.
|Basting underling to the pattern pieces - like watching paint dry|
I dutifully did this for the bodice pieces but then realised there were SIX mid-length skirt pieces still to do. I wanted to do each stage by the book, but this was way too much a labour of love – I cut the pieces out then basted them, which still took hours, but at least I wasn’t flailing about with metres of fabric trying to hand sew whilst retaining a straight grain line. I don’t think the dress suffered either.
So, what did I make of the pattern? Well, I’ve used Collette Patterns twice before (Sencha blouse and Beignet skirt) and they were both a dream to work from: simple, clear instructions, nice detailing and a good fit. The Crepe instructions were as clear and explanatory as usual, perfect for a beginner, which is the level the pattern was aimed at. The only negative thing about the pattern was the fit, which was a disaster. Collette Patterns are made with the curvier figure in mind, which is great, as that’s what I’ve got. But the bodice was way too roomy and wide – I had a lot of fitting issues (see here for more details if you’re interested) and this was when Gertie’s detailed fitting tutorials came into their own. I learnt how to move darts, how to shape a dart for a more flattering fit under the bust and how to do a small bust adjustment. I think I just about ended up with a fit I liked in the end.
|The front view….|
|... and the back view - a good fit in the end|
Sewing the dress together was easy peasy, all very straight forward. I also used my new tailor’s ham for the first time and now can’t live without it. I’d really recommend you get one, especially for pressing those pesky shaped darts and shoulders into shape. There was only one blunder… Gertie advised us to stay the neckline with silk organza to avoid it stretching. I bought what I thought was silk organza and stayed the neckline (another laborious process), so far so good. But when it came to adding the facing and understitching it to lay flat, nothing was happening. The neckline just kept jutting out and was really bulky. A conversation with one of my new blogging friends – Danielle - who I met yesterday IN REAL LIFE (more on that in the next post!) confirmed that what I thought was silk organza was actually polyester organza (duh). And polyester organza’s purpose in life is to stick out. Ho di hum. I very calmly sat down last night and carefully cut out every last piece of the polyester imposter out of my dress. And the result? A neckline that behaves itself (yes!). Thank you Danielle!
|I am pleased with the dress, even if I don't look it in the photo!|
The final touch I added, which was recommended in the pattern, was to encase the waist seams in bias binding for a neater finish. Because the fabric is so thin it does tend to look a big straggly at the edges so this was a good finishing touch. Usually I don’t like to spend too much time looking at the inside of the clothes I make – the zig-zagged seams always look a bit scruffy for my liking. But in this case it gave me a little rush of pleasure to look upon my dress (inside and out) and notice just how substantial and finished it looked. One sewalong project completed, three more to go…