Friday, 5 February 2016

Black Viscose Seda Dress

 Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Viscose Pauline Alice Seda Dress

So this dress is actually a muslin...and a pretty poorly fitting muslin at that! But I LOVE it. And I have worn it out more than once, admittedly largely because I was determined to have a dress like this to wear to Christmas parties but ran out of time to make the sequin/velvet/other-extravagant-festive-fabric version. Luckily the black is pretty forgiving when it comes to poor fit/poor construction, especially in photos! It's highly probable that this will be worn again too (as I most likely am not going to get around to making that glamorous version any time soon) and I figured that makes it worthy of being shared with you guys.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Viscose Pauline Alice Seda Dress

It's the Seda Dress from Pauline Alice which was released towards the end of last year. I wanted it as soon as I saw a sneak peak she posted on Instagram before the patterns' release! I just love the design, it's definitely got a vintage glamour to it but yet feels so modern in a contemporary fabric. It feels wonderfully feminine and classy to wear and is a different kind of dressed up altogether than a lot of the RTW body-con party dresses that are everywhere nowadays. In general I'm a big fan of Pauline's design choices, drafting and construction. She often includes elements that push the skill level of a pattern slightly and make her designs unique. There's usually an aspect involved that I haven't tried sewing before and the techniques are always well explained. This dress is no exception.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Viscose Pauline Alice Seda Dress

I cut the size 38 as my measurements fell between that and the 36 and I thought it best to err on the side of caution. I definitely should have started with a 36 and done an FBA if necessary though. This has ended up a little roomy all over for my preferences but actually has a similar fit to Pauline's samples so I'd say the grading runs pretty true to size. As there are A LOT of fit changes I'd make next time I'll probably whip up another quick muslin of the bodice starting with the 36. I'd like the bodice to fit much more snuggly in general and would like to try giving it some structure with some boning to add to the 1950s glamour! I can understand why it is drafted with more ease though as it is marketed more as a daywear design. Luckily making it in solid black is pretty forgiving but the poor fit shows best in the side on picture above. It gapes at the back neckline. I've got way too much excess fabric under the bust and the sleeves slip down too low, which may have something to do with my elastic application.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Viscose Pauline Alice Seda Dress

The fabric is a super fine viscose that I picked up in Shepherd's Bush at least a couple of years ago when I found the plaid double gauze I used for my Zeena Dress. At the time I was intending on using the black to line the gauze but it found a better purpose being used as a muslin for this. It was mega cheap so actually has a few flaws and snags in the weave which I didn't notice until I got sewing. It's a shame as the dress has turned out to be wearable, but again the black is pretty forgiving and the dress is generally only going to be seem in dim party lighting! Despite being just what I had to had the fabric is actually a great match for this design as it's lightweight but has great movement and bounce which makes that skirt super frothy.

It was much too lightweight for the bodice though. That fitted shape and those sleeves need a little bit of structure so I underlined all these pieces in silk organza. I know, I know... silk organza for a muslin?! I had high hopes that this would end up wearable and it's one of my favourite sewing techniques/tricks so any excuse to get that in and I do! I really enjoy the hand basting and seeing the difference that the organza makes to the shape of the garment.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Viscose Pauline Alice Seda Dress

I'm generally not a fan of a gathered skirt as I don't like all that bulk around my waist so I adore that this skirt has a yoke that sits snuggly around the upper hips before the gathering starts around your bum. Ot means the skirt still has an amazing fifties style fluffy fullness but still has a slimming effect. It's hard to see in the photos but in the flat picture of the zip above you can see the bodice, yoke and gathered skirt portions clearly. The fine viscose I used helps with the bulk of the gathering along that seam line too.

As well as not being a fan of wearing a gathered waist I'm also not a fan of the process of gathering! Has anyone got any tips for making this quicker/more enjoyable? I've done the quick trick of gathering under the machine by pushing the fabric under the foot with the end of your seam ripper when gathering meters and meters of tulle on my tutu course...but that method doesn't work when you're trying to make even gathers a particular length on something like this.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Viscose Pauline Alice Seda Dress

The pattern only calls for the bodice and yoke sections to be lined but as this viscose is so lightweight it's practically sheer I opted to line the skirt too. I used the viscose to line the bodice and yoke as it's lovely and soft against the skin, but I didn't have enough to get those big skirt pieces out too (I think I had about 2m in total). Instead I used a cotton lawn which despite being a lightweight soft cotton, actually has a much crisper hand than my outer fabric. The addition of this really gave some oomph to the skirt shape which I'm delighted with. I hemmed the lining using my rolled hem foot; this usually gives a slightly fluted edge which adds to the bounce and fullness! The skirt itself I hemmed using my usual method for a long curved edge, which is to stitch a line 5/8" (the depth of the finished hem) away from the raw edge to begin with. This gives you a handy guide to press up along and the tight stitches also help to ease the long hem edge into the slightly smaller curve above.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Viscose Pauline Alice Seda Dress
Sleeve construction and under-stitching

I was really intrigued by the construction of the sleeves when I first saw the design but they are actually very straightforward to attach, just like you would any other sleeve. There is a small piece of elastic attached to the seam allowance across the of the sleeves to hold them in place which would work well if I had got the tension right when sewing it on! I found it tricky to tell how tight to pull it and should have gone tighter but I didn't want it to end up looking bunched up. However, the fact that it is attached to the seam allowance rather than the lining or fashion fabric itself really helps to keep a smooth finish on the outside.

Having the elastic there does make the under-stitching along the neckline tricky as you don't want to catch the elastic in the straight stitching and prevent it from doing it's job. The under-stitching is absolutely essential for this style though, the lining would definitely keep making it's way out of the neckline if you skipped this step. I also under-stitched my pocket openings to keep those pocket bags in place and it also adds a bit of extra strength to a seam which sees a lots of wear.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Viscose Pauline Alice Seda Dress
(Yes I have just discovered the burst function on my camera...)

There is so much to love about this dress, I'll definitely be making another and attempting the nail the fit. I love how it flares out from below the hips when dancing and did I mention that there's in-seam pockets too! The design does also include a simple gathered skirt and also a version which includes a shoulder yoke and optional long sleeves for those of you who don't want to/can't go strapless. I absolutely love Pauline's velvet version with the dotted tulle yoke! I've got my eye out for fabric like that now.


Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Black Viscose Pauline Alice Seda Dress

40 comments:

  1. You wear this so well! It's not at all the sort of dress I would ever wear, but I completely agree on the all round fabulousness of Pauline's designs - always interesting and just, well, gorgeous!

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    1. Thanks Jo! I thought maybe I'd feel really overdressed in it because of the off the shoulder style combined with the full skirt but I feel super comfortable!

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  2. This may not work for your lightweight fabric, but zigzagging over a cord (or bobbin thread) is a way of making gathering a bit easier. Megan Nielson did a tutorial on this: http://blog.megannielsen.com/2015/06/tutorial-how-to-gather-heavy-fabrics/

    I've also been thinking about trying this one, which might be better for your lightweight viscose: http://www.danamadeit.com/2011/10/technique-gathering-fabric-the-proper-way-and-the-cheating-way.html

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    1. Ah brilliant, thanks Liz! I had heard of the cord method before actually, but it totally slipped my mind when I was making this! I hadn't heard of adjusting the tension though and I absolutely think that would have worked on the delicate viscose! Might have to give that a whirl

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  3. (beautiful dress by the way, I can see why you wear it, and certainly better fit than RTW! Can't wait to see the finished version!)

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    1. Thanks Liz, I can't wait to see it either! Hopefully I'll get some time off to get stuck into a big project soon

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  4. I just bought this pattern, right after reading your post - I wanted to get it for a while, but was never quite sure if it would look good, but yours is beautiful! Thanks for convincing me! :)

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    1. Ah I'm so pleased that I inspired you to give this one a try! It's such a gorgeous pattern and unlike any other designs I've seen. Looking forward to seeing what you make with it!

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  5. Lovely! Either run two rows of basting either side of the seamline to gather, or in a sturdier application you can run a zigzag over a length of very fine cord or pearl cotton and then draw it up.

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    1. The two rows of basting is what I did for this, I just find it so painstaking pulling up the threads and trying to get the gathers even! I will definitely try the fine cord next time thank you!

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  6. Definitely a winner, Fiona! You look great in it and I would love to see the fancier version when you get round to it; it is a pretty dress indeed.

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    1. Thanks! Hopefully I will get around to it soon, I can't wait to get stuck into a big project like that again!

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    1. Thanks very much! i'm quite a fan of it too!

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  8. I LOVE this dress! The gathering starting lower is great for me since I'm pear shaped. I may just have to go pick this pattern up.

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    1. O it's the perfect style for pear shaped I think! Thank you! I hope you do give it try

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  9. Lovely dress! I gather using my serger. Andrea at Four Square Walls has a great tutorial: http://foursquarewalls.blogspot.com/2014/08/how-to-gather-fabric-with-serger.html.

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    1. O this is really interesting thank you!!! That has shot to the top of my list of techniques to try. Love Andrea's tutorials

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  10. El mejor complemento para un vestido siempre es una bonita sonrisa. :)

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    1. Ah thank you so much, that's a lovely comment!

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  11. Lovely! If you hadn't pointed out the fit issues, I wouldn't have noticed. I hope you keep wearing this beautiful dress!

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    1. O good thank you! They seem glaringly obvious to me but I think the solid black fabric helps! I'm definitely going to be getting some more wear out of it

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  12. Congratulations, your dress is very lovely! It fits you like a glove. I completely agree with you about Pauline Alice's style, I love it too. I bought this pattern a few weeks ago but I started with the Alameda Dress, which you might enjoy too. I look forward to seeing your next version:-)

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    1. O I did eye up the Alameda a while back but it had slipped my mind since, definitely going to take another look at that idea! Thank you

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  13. Such a fun dress! You look great!

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    1. Thanks Margo, I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out, for a muslin!

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  14. This is beautiful, Fiona! I also wouldn't have noticed the fit issues, without explanation, because it looks so fabulous on you already. This is the sort of pattern I could *never* pull off, but absolutely love to see others make. It's super glamorous on you!

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    1. You absolutely could pull off this dress Mary! I could so see you swishing around in the full skirt. Thanks so much for the lovely comment, I'm glad the dress as a whole distracts from the fit issues!

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  15. How lovely you look Fiona, and it's clear this dress makes you VERY happy too - what more can a seamstress ask??
    I'd also been taken by the design of this pattern which is extremely versatile. I liked that a sheer yoke (maybe even flesh coloured) would give the appearance of "off the shoulder", while still supporting the bodice. And the option of elbow length sleeves are great for someone like me whose upper arms are fast heading down the bingo-wing route :)
    BRAVA
    baci Sxx
    sarsaparillasal.blogspot.com

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    1. Thanks so much Sally! I quite agree, if the dress make you happy who cares about the fit and finish!
      I whole heartedly agree - I think it's wonderful that Pauline has really thought through how this design might appeal to many. A mesh yoke sounds like a great idea!

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  16. Gorgeous, I absolutely love the neckline. Looks just right for a glass of wine in Italy.

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    1. Oo Mags what i wouldn't give to be enjoying a glass of wine in Italy in this dress right now! Maybe I should plan a little trip for it! Haha!

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  17. This is gorgeous! I love Pauline's patterns: not only they well drafted, but they always bring an element of surprise (in a very good way!)

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    1. That is such a great way of putting it! An element of surprise is exactly what they have, just that little extra something to set them apart. I totally agree about the drafting too. Thanks!

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  18. Very cute!!!! Hope to see your glamorous version soon!!
    Agree about all the RTW body cons "evening dresses" that are every where these days, I definitely feel more elegant and dressed up in a fuller skirt.

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    1. Thanks so much! I could so see you in this one in a beautiful bold floral print!
      I used to love a full skirt but have veered away from them in recent years, I'm sensing a return!

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    1. Thanks Sonja! I really love this pattern, so unique

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  20. Looking very pretty, I love the off-the-shoulder look!

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    1. Thank you Alessa! I really love this style, especially combined with the flattering full skirt!

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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!