Not little black dress, but little bias dress by Vera Venus. She has some interesting free patterns on her site and wow did this one come together so great – I would recommend it, at least the skirt portion. With such a cool vintage feel to the skirt, I decided to switch up the bodice pattern to use the McCall’s 6760, made previously here. It balanced out the figure-hugging skirt, I thought.
Since the challenge for 2nd round of the 3rd annual Pattern Review Sewing Bee was bias, I did some serious thinking. I assumed everyone would do plaid or stripes, so I came up with the idea to use a border print. I’m obsessed with border prints right now, and the border print could be used on the bias to do some interesting things. It is like a striped fabric, just only along the selvedge edge! I even had a double border print, so I could really flaunt that border. So I cut it out.
Well, it didn’t turn out quite right because I lengthened the skirt (I imagined this dramatic maxi length dress) and forgot to widen the bottom frill! Man! I was bummed. Soon, when I go back and finish that dress, I will have to cut off some of the skirt or scrap the frill, but either way, it won’t be the showstopper that I imagined. So I started over.
I went with stripes, and I am so glad I did. This pairing of fabric and pattern turned out perfect. Not all my projects can say that! It is a rayon challis with a little bit of a texture to it and boy did it drape on the bias! That is why the skirt turned out so form fitting. I am wearing all kinds of shapewear under that thing, in addition to sucking it in.
I was especially sad when I started over because cutting on the bias is such a pain! Ugh. This shifty rayon was really difficult, but at least those stripes were on grain. And since I had traced the full size pattern pieces onto my plastic sheeting, I could see through it and see if my stripes were straight all the way down the piece. That was the key and I may employ that tactic on other tricky to cut fabrics.
Another smart thing I did (at least I think so) is I made my rouleau tubes just big enough to be able to turn with a safety pin. I am no good at using bodkins. I have tried and tried. But I’ve made straps before where the safety pin couldn’t fit through, and I got stuck. So, even though sewing less than an inch of bias fabric is difficult, at least turning them was not a big deal. And they turned out nice and round and springy. Pro tip – use a .5 zig zag when stitching the bias straps so the thread doesn’t snap when the tube stretches.
The lining is also rayon, but it had a bit more body, so I cut it about half an inch bigger since I knew the diamonds of the bias wouldn’t collapse as much and it wouldn’t stretch at the same rate as the rayon challis. I was right for once and headed off disaster, because that lining is much more snug than the outer and it would’ve rode up my hips if it was any tighter. Phew!
I didn’t fully line the back because I wanted it to be light and didn’t need the modesty in the back. But on second thought, I wish I had because i don’t like how you can see the facing through the dress.
And I have to mention my stylish and supportive waistband. Basically, when I thought of a whole drapey, bias dress I got very shy. I didn’t want to be wearing a slip around, even a lined slip. So I went with a straight grain, interfaced waistband that held my tummy in and gave support to the rather heavy skirt. Rayon is sometimes heavy, which adds to the beautiful drape but it could have really pulled that bodice out of shape. I have about 4 yards of this gorgeous denim colored rayon and I have not decided what else it will become yet. I do know it wrinkles like nobody’s business, but that will be a consideration. Because the waistband on the dress is interfaced, the wrinkling is not so evident here.
Anyway, the results are in! This dress helped me make it to the next round of the Bee, and the next challenge will be announced Sunday. Here is my full review with lots of sewing notes. As a little palate cleanser I’m making something for the Style Makers Fabric Blog tour. I got to work with Japanese double gauze for the first time and believe me, it will not be my last! It is the stuff fabric dreams are made of! I’ll be back Sunday with that fun project.