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)
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!