Thursday, 28 August 2014

Linen-Look Silvia Dress with a touch of Dior!

Today I've got a project to share with you which I started over a year ago (!) and it's a make which I've got mixed feelings about. I snapped up the Silvia Dress Pattern from Salme Patterns right back when I first got really into sewing. It was exactly what I wanted in a chic summer dress and is a shape I find generally suits me. It was a little advanced for me at the time (featuring some very clever construction it's rated as intermediate) but towards the start of last summer I just couldn't wait to wear it and dove straight in. Work then went crazy for the next six weeks or so and before I knew it the heat and sunshine had departed and the dress was only half finished. The lure of sewing garments I could wear straight away called; queue me only picking it up again this August.

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Salme Sewing Patterns Silvia Sundress in Christian Dior Silk Blend

I wish I'd found the time to get to grips with this and more of Eliza's patterns as especially for summer I'm a big fan of her classic and wearable styles; looking at the website I'd pretty much wear every single one over and over again! They are all only available in PDF format and the good news is they are all very affordable. I did have a couple of little niggles with the pattern, although please bear in mind that I bought this pattern a LONG time ago (probably about 2 years) so changes may have since been made. Firstly there are no seam allowances included. I find this really irritating as I think (with the exception of your personal alterations or PDF assembly) patterns should be ready to go. You also have to draft your own strap and waistband pieces which is not difficult as they are simple rectangles and clear dimensions are given, but again I feel it's something that should be included. The main issue I had was that the dimensions given for these include seam allowance and it's the recommended seam allowance of 3/8". I had added my preferred seam allowance of 5/8" to the main pattern pieces so when it came to attaching the waistband this led to some confusion.

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Salme Sewing Patterns Silvia Sundress in Christian Dior Silk Blend

Aside from that the instructions are compact but great and I particularly liked the tip for stitching along the princess seam lines and curved neckline before assembly with a long stitch. Not only does it prevent these curved areas stretching out, it gives you a great guidelines to match up when pinning the pieces together and easing them in. I also really loved the inclusion of a facing as well as a lining for the bodice (for which separate pattern pieces are provided which is awesome). I think it makes a project just that bit more special inside and makes the neckline nice and tidy with no chance of lining peeking out. Aside from fitting which we'll get onto in a minute the only change I made to the pattern was to add a lining to the skirt to make it fully lined.

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Salme Sewing Patterns Silvia Sundress in Christian Dior Silk Blend
Inside Front Bodice

What I'm most excited to share with you about this make is the fabric! It's extra special to me for two reasons. Firstly I bought it in Paron Fabrics in New York's Garment District when I visited with my sister last April. Secondly it's Christian Dior!! It's a stunning silk and rayon blend which I found in the 50% off section at the back. It has the appearance of linen but none of the wrinkling and also has a really exquisite sheen which seems to come from within the fabric rather than on the surface if that makes any sense! I knew as soon as I handed over the cash that the first thing I wanted to make with it was a sundress; the mint green and the luscious drape were screaming for it. I also picked up some coordinating lightweight rayon lining in the same shop.

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Salme Sewing Patterns Silvia Sundress in Christian Dior Silk Blend

Ok so onto the real issues. As much as I love the fabric and design of this dress the fitting of it has been a bit of a disaster. I'm getting wrinkles in strange places and I think I need a sway back adjustment as I'm getting a lot of pooling of excess fabric in the lower back. It does in general actually look a lot better than it did as I took a giant dart out of the back to bring it close to matching my measurements. When I completed it, it was at least a couple of inches too big all over and because of the way it is constructed it's really tricky to adjust once the facing or waistband are attached. However I love both the style and fabric so much I couldn't bear for this to turn out unwearable so turned into a naughty makeshift seamstress! It's definitely more wearable now and I'm kinda pleased with how the dart turned out if you consider how badly it could have gone! I wonder how much the fitting problems might be solved by simply going down a size? I think I will need to make up a muslin of a smaller size before the next version rather than trying to make adjustments based off this one.

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Salme Sewing Patterns Silvia Sundress in Christian Dior Silk Blend

Completing this project now, a year after starting it, has made me realise how much my sewing, and especially fitting skills have improved in that short space of time. I was very lax with fitting, never made a muslin, always just ploughed on in and hoped for the best which is exactly what I did with this. Kind of a silly thing to do as every previous experience with a Salme pattern had resulted in a too large garment. I used to put this down to my lack of sewing knowledge but after making this one I'm thinking there must be a large amount of ease built into Salme patterns as standard. There are no finished garment measures included so it's hard to tell if that's intended but I cut a UK 10 which should only be very slightly bigger than my measurements so there's something funny to do with ease going on!

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Salme Sewing Patterns Silvia Sundress in Christian Dior Silk Blend

Aside from my dodgy dart fitting I made a couple of changes to the pattern as I went along to account for my height. I took 2" off the length of each strap but I actually wish I'd taken a little more as they feel like they want to slip down. The clean finish of the bodice of this dress is gorgeous but it does mean it's pretty much impossible to make little changes like adjusting strap length once you have moved past a certain point! I took a whopping 5.5" off the length (and using 1.5" for the hem) which was probably more to do with how short I wanted it than the length of the pattern as it it. With the shape of the skirt I felt a little overwhelmed by it when it was knee length and I fancied having some shorter dresses in my wardrobe.

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Salme Sewing Patterns Silvia Sundress in Christian Dior Silk Blend

I definitely should have added twill tape to the seam allowances of the neckline to keep it sitting flat against the chest. If I had eased this in right up close to the stitching line it would have helped it curve slightly inward instead of gaping away as it does.

I am however incredibly pleased with the invisible zip. It was my first time inserting a side seam zip which doesn't extend all the way to the top of the dress. The dress is sewn closed both above and below the zip. I was a bit nervous about this as invisible zips can be a little tricky anyway, particularly when it comes to keeping both sides even and waistband seams e.t.c matched up. I took it slow and made use of all the little tips and tricks I've picked up from different projects and was really happy when it came out like this first time! I used my regular zip foot to attach the lining to the zip after inserting it, keeping everything sleek and tidy inside.

Diary of a Chainstitcher: Salme Sewing Patterns Silvia Sundress in Christian Dior Silk Blend
The close up also gives you an idea of the texture of this beautiful fabric.

All in all not a roaring success of a project but I learnt a lot from it. I actually even wore this dress on my birthday last week as there is still so much I love about it! I really like how the dress comes together in such a neat and clean way as well as the general style of it. As with all of Eliza's designs it's really simple, classic and chic with beautiful lines. Despite my fitting issues I'm still really pleased I chose to use some of my special fabric for this dress as I think the chic luxuriousness of it is a perfect match! Luckily I still have over a metre and a half of this gorgeous fabric left as this pattern only used less than a metre. Those little princess seamed bodice panels don't take much fabric! Now to plan what you use the remainder for...

26 comments:

  1. Beautiful dress! I normally don't go for pastels but this pattern/colour combo totally rocks. That invisible zip; well done!

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    1. Thank you! I'm so proud of the zip!

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  2. Such a lovely dress! I think that sweetheart neckline is one of the most flattering for a little dress. I do agree with you that you can use the smallest fabric pieces for a princess seam bodice :)

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    1. I love a sweetheart neckline too! As well as those princess seams for using such a little amount of fabric!

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  3. Gorgeous! I love the color and your finishing is perfect, especially the zip. Well done!

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    1. Thanks! I'm really pleased with how nearly it turned out on the inside, mainly down to the pattern instructions than anything I did though!

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  4. Wow, I don't think I've ever seen such clean insides in a dress! I have no idea how to get the zipper installed so perfectly! That does seem like a lot of ease... I'll be careful if I use a Salme pattern.

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    1. All down to the pattern really Sonja! I am pretty bloody proud of that zip though!

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  5. This turned out really great. A sweet little dress; bravo for the Dior.

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    1. I don't know who would have been able to resist this fabric! I can't remember exactly how much it was but less than $10 a yard!

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  6. I'm swooning over the colour, just gorgeous. Thanks for the info on the fitting, I've been thinking about Salme patterns recently so this is perfect timing. I'm impressed with the inside - the facing and lining is a great detail.

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    1. The way the inside finishing is thought out is the best part of the pattern I think. I love nearly all of the salme designs and I pressume the construction methods will be as good on all of them but I do recommend making up a muslin first!

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  7. I think this is really cute, and I'm sorry you're not completely happy with it. I've made the buttonless shirt dress by Salme, and had to take it in at the sides by quite a bit when I'd finished. I wasn't 100% sure whether it was a case of having a lot of ease built in, or if it was just too baggy for my taste, but I'd probably try a size smaller in their patterns in future.

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    1. That's really good to know Laura, thank you. At least it's not just me! I'm definitely going to still try some more Salme patterns but will try a muslin in a smaller size as you say

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  8. Great review and dress! I have two gorgeous fabrics and I can only picture them in this pattern, but have been sidetracked with other patterns. The insides are really clean, do you think adding bra cups to the lining would work here?

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    1. Oo that's a good question! I've never added bra cups before so I might not be the best person to ask but I'm sure it would be possible. You'd need to make sure you had a good fit to start with then fiddle around with cup placement but the structure for it is certainly there if you use a good lining. I'll keep my eyes peeled for yours!

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  9. I am still on that initial phase of sewing for real, so I had to stop and stare at your wonderfull zip. Little victories!

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    1. Hoorah! I love the satisfaction of getting a sewing technique right for the first time! Good luck with your sewing!

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  10. What a cute dress! I'd never heard of the Salme patterns before so thanks for sharing, though it sounds like a muslin is a good idea if I want to try any of their fitted styles.

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    1. O I'm glad I could share them with you then, there's loads of lovely designs. But yes, I definitely recommend a muslin or sizing down!

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  11. Hello Fiona - don't suppose you've got any tutorial links for that lovely side invisible zip do you? It looks great, I want to try but am flummoxed as to how you don't put it in all the way to the top! A sweet sundress, sorry you're not totally happy with it, but looking forward to seeing what you make next with the rest of that beautiful fabric!

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    1. It seems even harder to decide what to do with it this time as I will be using the last of it! I haven't come across any links for this particular type of zip I'm afraid, I'm not sure what it's really called to google it either. I just used my usual method for invisible zip insertion and spent quite a lot of time working out the correct placement of the top of the zip. I think inserting it accurately is really key. The instructions for this dress get you to sew up that small seam at the top before inserting it if that's useful for you to know in any way...Sorry I couldn't be more help at the moment, good luck with your top!

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  12. Fiona, after a few drinks this evening put this dress back on and forget the drama of making it and blogging it and then realise how awesome it looks. I can't believe how little time you've been sewing for btw

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    1. Haha! Thanks Nissa! It's been loitering in my cupboard for a couple of weeks now so perhaps tonight is the night to try it back on and realise it's not so bad after all!

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  13. Hi Fiona,

    The wrinkling at the back of your dress suggests you have excess fabric there. The waistband seems to hit you at the right place and the fit around the chest is good. I think by shortening the bodice pieces you can eliminate a lot of your fit issues. Maybe this helps?

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    1. Yes that's a big help to be pointed in the right direction thank you! I was thinking that I needed some kind of sway back adjustment because of the huge amount of fabric back there but was wondering if my slightly maverick alteration to take it in in general had made this worse. I really love the style of it so am going to try making up a muslin in a smaller size so then i can work out how much length to remove. Sometimes it's hard to see what the fit issues actually are when so much seems to be wrong so it's great to hear that some parts do look ok! Thanks so much

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!