Thursday, 17 September 2015

Viscose Midsummer Night's Dream Dress

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Whistles Viscose Papercut Patterns' Midsummer Night's Dream

I've had my eye on the Midsummer Night's Dream pattern from Papercut Patterns for quite some time now, probably since I sewed up my first Papercut design over two years ago! I don't know why I've been deliberating over purchasing it for so long; I've seen Rachel's gorgeous version in the flesh a couple of times and every time I've thought 'I really need to make that dress!'. I'd been waiting for the perfect fabric to come along then coincidentally when I spotted this lovely viscose print the pattern had just been released as a PDF and was on sale! A project that was meant to be I think!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Whistles Viscose Papercut Patterns' Midsummer Night's Dream

I found the fabric on a meet up a couple of months ago at Walthamstow Market. Katie had already used some of it and was buying more she liked it that much! She told me that it was actually a fabric from the last Whistles collection which speaks for it's quality and was an absolute bargain at less than £5/m. It's got a lovely smooth hand and drape and was absolutely perfect for this design because of the way it hangs on the body. I can't remember exactly which shop it was from but it was on the left hand side about half way down if you are walking from the station. I know quite a few of us bought a bit of this (Katie who made an awesome pair of culottes from hers!) so maybe one of you can jog my memory! (UPDATE - Thanks to Claire and Katie I've found out it was Fabric Mart/Market at No.132 on the high street)

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Whistles Viscose Papercut Patterns' Midsummer Night's Dream

As for the pattern itself I like the design even more now I've sewn it and understand how it all comes together. It's really unique with good proportions and it was fun to sew something so different to dresses I'd made before. Plus no fastenings to deal with!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Whistles Viscose Papercut Patterns' Midsummer Night's Dream

The one thing there is to tackle though are metres and metres of bias binding! Binding is probably the sewing technique I'd avoid if I could, it can be so tricky and tie consuming in a difficult fabric but I liked the design of this dress so much not even that could put me off! I was actually really pleased with how my binding turned out on this dress. I wondered if my slippery smooth viscose might be troublesome but it handled and pressed beautifully. I'd recommend selecting a fabric which presses well for this dress for that reason; you want nice crisp and even binding. For the back neckline and centre front edges of the bodice I followed the binding instructions from the Emmeline Tee as I've had continual success with this method. It is quite time consuming as there are lots of steps and lots of pressing but not cutting corners pretty much guarantees a neat result. The binding of the underarms are long pieces which also form the straps and for these areas I followed the pattern directions to make the binding and then fold and press it in half along the centre so you can just slot it over the raw edges and stitch it on in one go. I think there's more room for error with this method but I used lots of pins to keep it securely in place!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Whistles Viscose Papercut Patterns' Midsummer Night's Dream

I cut the size XS based on the measurement chart and my previous experience with Papercut and I only needed 1.5m of my 150cm wide fabric, despite the huge skirt pattern pieces! It's pretty simple to fit as you have room for manoeuvre adjusting the waist or shoulder strap ties. I might be tempted to size down to the XXS next time as when I first tried this on it was slightly gapey under the arms no matter how I tied it. I pinched out 1/2" on the double at the top of the side seam to combat this, grading out to nothing about half way down the side seam. As I'd already bound the armholes I just had to take this out like a dart, luckily giving this lightweight fabric a good press means the excess fabric isn't noticeable. I will probably shorten the bodice ever so slightly next time too as the waistline is a little low on me but it's not noticeable when the dress is tied.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Whistles Viscose Papercut Patterns' Midsummer Night's Dream

I had no trouble with the instructions, everything came together smoothly including creating a clean hole in the side seam for the waist tie to feed through. I love how it pleats into the waist where the waist ties join the bodice and how cleanly it is all finished inside. I used my overlocker to finish the seam allowances. There's very little hand sewing involved, just to finish the end of the ties once you've turned them through. The style has got just the right amount of ease for me, the way it skims the figure feels flattering and the skirt has just the right amount of flare and fullness.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Whistles Viscose Papercut Patterns' Midsummer Night's Dream

This project reminded me about the importance of simple choices like taking the time to make sure you get the hem length right for you. When it was first finished it was very much midi length on me, finishing a few inches below my knee. I felt a little out of proportion. Taking it up to my preferred just above the knee length made such a difference to how I felt in the dress! It's hard to say how much length I took off because it dropped to all kinds of different lengths when I left it to hang! The uneven hem was due to a combination of the delicate viscose and the fact that the two skirt pieces (which are cut from a HUGE pattern piece by the way!) are cut on the grain along the centre back seam meaning the front wrap sections are on the bias. I worked out how long I wanted it and then measured down from the waist seam to that length while the dress was on my tailor's dummy. I'm 5ft3" and I ended up cutting the skirt to 47cm long including 2cm I used for the hem.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Whistles Viscose Papercut Patterns' Midsummer Night's Dream

Because of the tight curve of the hem I did consider doing a rolled hem but that often gives a slightly fluted effect and I wanted to keep the hem flat and smooth. So I just did the standard turn it up twice and edge stitch. To prevent any trouble with trying to turn the wider curve into the tighter curve I kept it fairly narrow and also did my usual trick of making a line of machine stitching at the width of one turn up before beginning. This is really useful for two reasons. The first is that the stitching pulls the fabric tight and helps to ease the wider curve into the narrower area above it. Secondly the stitching serves as the perfect guide to press up your first turn; no painstaking measuring of the hem depth all around that long hem!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Whistles Viscose Papercut Patterns' Midsummer Night's Dream

I think that's about all I have to say about this one. I'm hoping I can layer this one up with boots, tights and knitwear as autumn has well and truly arrived in London now. I've already got my eyes peeled for more fabric I can make this in too!

30 comments:

  1. Oh, this dress is lovely! I have bought this pattern two months ago for a nice silk fabric to make me a dress for september. At first, weather here was too hot, and now, it is too cold to wear such adress, so it has to wait until next spring. I love your dress and I hope you can dress it with tights and a cardigan to enjoy it quite now! :)

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    1. O I think there would be no harm in making it now so it's ready to wear when the weather is just right! Sometimes the making of a garment is the best part! thank you :)

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  2. wow this dress is so beautiful! I love it. The fabric looks lovely, totally my style...
    It might be cold but it is navy, navy will blend in with the fall colours. I bought my first papercut pattern this spring (soma bathingsuit) and I was hesitant because of the price, but for me it was worth it and now I'm drooling over all their other lovely designs.

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    1. They are gorgeous patterns aren't they?! There are so many that I'm tempted by! I think the prices are pretty reasonable compared to other indies considering the shipping is free!
      Thank you, I've been having a rummage through my wardrobe to try and work it into an autumn outfit and think I've got a winner!

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  3. this is so lovely! props to you for getting over the challenge of all the bias binding. it was definitely worth it!

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    1. Thanks Rachel! It definitely was! Dare I say it I even kind of enjoyed attaching the binding!

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  4. Oooh that looks like a fun one to put together (and I LOVE bias facings, ha ha). The shop's called Fabric Mart I think. Nice to see our twin fabric in action!

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    1. O great thanks Katie! I'll add that into the post!
      I love how bias facings and binding look when you get it right, it's just how fiddly and frustrating it can be!

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  5. Such a lovely summery dress Fiona! I remember the day that that fabric was bought - and it was from a shop called 'Fabric Market' at No. 132 on the High Street :-) I think that I bought some too (I'd have to check the shameful pile of bags in the corner of my sewing room LOL!).

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    1. Haha Claire! Thanks so much for having such a good memory! I'll be sure to update the post with that info!

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  6. This dress is so pretty! The bias binding looks perfect too :)

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    1. Thanks Mia! I am pretty proud of my binding! :)

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    1. Thanks Christine! It's a winner of a pattern!

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  8. Beautiful dress - it looks GREAT on you!
    I just bought some Viscose Elastane Jersey Knit Fabric (for the first time) - and as far as I can tell, washing might ruin it, or that's what my web research tells me. So, I guess I better not pre-wash it. And, dry clean the garment later, as needed. Appreciate any tips...
    :-) Chris

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    1. Hi Chris, sorry that it's taken me a few days to reply! I usually just wack my viscose in the washing machine to prewash it, on a 30 degree cool setting as I know it can't take much heat and it turns out great! I don't want to say for sure that that's what you should do and then you end up ruining your fabric as I know I'm always taking a bit of a risk ruining it but that's how I've always done it as I want to be able to machine wash my finished garments! Be careful how you dry it too so it doesn't stretch out of shape. Flat is probably best but quite often I hang it and just make sure it's all nice and smooth. Good luck!

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  9. Oh, purdy! Really really suits you too. And I like the new look sans fringe (even though the fringe is lovely).
    You've pushed me to drag out my pattern and not be put off by the bias binding.....urgh///

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    1. Hoorah! Just don't attempt the binding when you're in a rush! It needs patience!
      Thank you. The no fringe look is really just because it needs a cut and I'm weighing up whether to try and grow it out or not!

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  10. Oh, Fiona, this is so lovely! It really suits you!

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    1. Thanks Sonja! I'm really pleased with it

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  11. Beautiful dress Fiona, you look lovely. And I might have to pay a visit to Walthamstow to get my mitts on some of that fabric! x

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    1. I very much recommend it Jane! It was a little while ago but there was a big roll! Thanks Jane

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  12. This is so cute! love your fabric choice and the whole finished product- looks fantastic on you!

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    1. Thanks Erin! I'm really pleased with how it turned out, one of those moments of perfect fabric and pattern ending up together!

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  13. This looks just lovely on you! so summery and fresh and pretty. You've done an absolutely beautiful job with sewing it too :)

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    1. Thanks Carolyn, it feels fresh and summery thanks to the lovely fabric!

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  14. Such a nice dress! I love how neat a finish you get on your makes, keeps me dreaming!

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    1. Thanks Sara, that's such a lovely comment! It's something I really try to focus on as I want them to last and it makes me feel even better wearing them!

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    1. Thanks Margo, it was a really satisfying garment to sew!

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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!