How often do you have one of those projects that from start to finish work out EXACTLY as you hoped? No glitches, secret bodges or ‘design features’ Yeah, not that often for me either! I can honestly say that this is one of my favourite makes. For a garment to be on my favourite list, it not only has to feel and look how I hoped, but I strongly associate how stressful or enjoyable the making process was to how I feel about the final result!
Have you seen the collection of fabric recently dropped by Atelier Jupe at Lamazi fabrics? The designs and colours immediately caught my eye. For this project I chose the pink 70’s style print to make a Jenna dress from By Hand London; in my opinion, the perfect paring!
This is a lightweight, beautifully fluid viscose and I absolutely loved sewing with it! It is listed on the site as being sheer. Although you couldn’t describe this a fully opaque, after making a dress with it, I wouldn’t say it needs lining to preserve your modesty, so that is always a win! There is something unique about the quality of this fabric. It has a really lovely matte texture to the right side, which was a really pleasant surprise. I don’t know if this has been woven differently, but it seemed to behave better than other lightweight viscose fabrics I have used. It also doesn’t seem to have the propensity to crease like I have experienced, certainly with cheaper viscoses.
You may already know I try to adhere to a specific colour palette, to be sure of what suits me. My colour palette is warm and muted. By doing this, not only do I shop with more confidence of what suits me, but it also helps me to build a wardrobe that coordinates without much effort. So, for example the jacket I made for my previous ‘Lamazi summer capsule wardrobe’ can be worn over this dress for cooler evenings.
Due to the scale and variation of the print I didn’t attempt any pattern matching. As it is very busy, I don’t feel like the absence of matching stands out on seam lines. The skirt of the Jenna dress is on the bias. With some directional repeat prints, you obviously need to consider if it is appropriate for a bias skirt as you may have images running at 45 degrees. Although this does have a repeat and directional pattern, I think this works well for a bias garment.
I was apprehensive in cutting a lightweight viscose on the bias. I didn’t know how it would behave and whether it would stretch out of shape. In practice, this fabric proved to behave well for cutting and sewing. I ensured I kept the pattern pieces pinned to the fabric and importantly, kept it on a flat surface until I was ready to sew with it. This seemed to stop any unwanted growing of the fabric before sewing.
I followed the advice on the By Hand London tutorial for sewing on the bias. I finished the skirt side seams with pinking sheers and pressed them open after using a lightning bolt stitch. This has resulted in a beautifully smooth side seam, with no bulk showing through from seam allowances, and no unsightly rippling.
Most importantly, do not forget to hang your bias cut garment for at least 24 hours before hemming. This allows the fabric to settle and stretch vertically and prevent an uneven hemline. Surprisingly this needed very minimal levelling. There was about 1/2” at the centre back which needed to be trimmed and the rest had remained where it belonged.
When using a lightweight fabric, I have learned (through people with more experience than myself) that it can be preferable to press and finish seams together as opposed to open, as is often directed in patterns. This results in a more robust seam on delicate fabric. This is something I have adopted into my sewing practice for finer fabrics. In this instance, as the bodice is lined, I overlocked and pressed the outer/shell towards the back and the lining seams to the front for the shoulder and side seams
The other difference to the pattern construction I made (which was completely by accident as I had sewn and overlocked the outer and lining to the skirt) was that I inserted the zipper to both the outer and lining fabric and overlocked the seam allowances. Although this is not as neat on the inside as the instructed method (see my previous Jenna) where the lining is hand stitched to the zipper tape afterwards, it does feel like it has given a sturdier outcome for this lighter fabric.
If I am being very picky, the only thing I wish I could go back and change is to be more mindful of the pattern placement between the bodice and skirt. The pattern repeat is too close together on one side for my liking, but that certainly doesn’t ruin the look for me. I think as sewists we sometimes notice these things more than other people and are far more critical of our own work.
In choosing this fabric and pattern combination, I wanted a fun flirty summer dress that I could still wear on days that I need to use my wheelchair and crutches. This absolutely fulfils that brief. The combination of colours and the style marry together so well. The bias cut skirt is the perfect length for being seated and is slim enough to avoid any wheel related tangles! All I need now is the weather to warm up!