Festive Christmas dress

Different ideas fell into places like a jigsaw puzzle for this project to get created. Back in spring I somehow impulsively bought a small piece of beautiful silk organza embroidered in vibrant ginkgo leaves. It was meant to go into the lined skirt, but then the summer came and I was in no mood for dark colors.

In late autumn, when the first look of Burda 2020/12 came out, I noticed this awesome black festive dress which featured embroidered bodice and sleeve detail, and thought – hey, that’s exactly what I need for my chic ginkgo fabric. To make this dress I needed to also get plain black fabric for the main body of the dress, which I was quick to purchase from the Fabworks online store. It is 100 pct wool, which is great – for winter sewing I continued buying almost exclusively wool fabrics. When my purchase was delivered, the time came to plan the dress. At that time my husband said: “it’s either going to be exquisite, or a disaster – there is no middle ground for this idea”. Well, arguably I managed to make a truly beautiful dress, the optimistic scenario ended up materializing and I absolutely love my newest festive Christmas dress!

It was not a simple project. But it was also not something painstakingly tiresome. This dress has all sorts of things going on: the set of pockets and flaps on the bodice, another set of in-seam pockets, buttoned-up front, cuffs, collar. I complicated the matters even more by deciding to fully line the main body of the dress. I knew from the very start, that it will be quite an undertaking. However, the good news was that the pattern appeared to be rather reasonable. Even though I had to make few adjustments, it was not like my last two projects, where basically everything had to be adjusted. Simply taking pattern pieces, cutting and sewing them up was quite a relief and pleasure.

The first step was to make bodice pockets and flaps, which took quite a lot of time honestly. Then I attached the yoke and proceeded to join the bodice pieces at the side seams. I had cut size 36 which was the smallest provided in the magazine. However eventually it became clear that some 1 cm will need to be taken off on each side, that’s for starters. I continued by installing the pockets into the skirt, attached the skirt to the bodice, and installed the sleeves. Along the way sleeves seams got finished using bias tape – it was necessary as the ginkgo fabric is thansparent. Eventually I finished the hem of the main skirt as well as the lining, for which rolled hem foot was used.

When the main body of the dress was done, the most tricky part started – I had to attach the front band and the collar. The front band is cut as a separate long piece of fabric that needs to get interfaced and attached to the front of the dress. This is not ideal because after attaching it to the main fabric and the lining, with all the seam allowances involved in the process, the front band becomes quite bulky. I think it would have been more optimal to have the front band as a part of the front bodice pattern pieces, and to get it folded up and top stitched. That’s how I usually sew shirt dresses. Ah, but then the band would also have a waist seam, which is far from ideal; maybe there is no real fix to the bulky front band after all.

After attaching the front band I realized that the dress was actually still quite wide around the waist. To fix this I decided to unpick few long seams, remove the front band and narrow the bodice down. All in all I have had quite a hard time attaching the band – sewing through all those layers meant that the top stitching was not accurate from the wrong side of the garment. This fiddle took me like 6 hours. At the end of it I was already tired and was thinking that the collar would cause even more trouble. But it was actually not the case. Collar got made at my first attempt. It was quite a relief as this was my first time in making a proper collar with a collar stand ever.

Finally I made the belt and attached sleeve cuffs. Ended up making them a little bit wider than the pattern suggested, and that was necessary because while cutting the sleeves of the ginkgo fabric I had made them a little bit too short, so had to compensate by adding wider cuffs. Sleeves tend to cause quite a bit of frustration for me. It is the second project in a row, when I mess them up. Since my hands are shorter than the standard, I have to adjust sleeve length while cutting sleeve pattern pieces. However, arguably I am not too good at choosing the necessary length of the sleeves to fit me well. Will need to improve at that.

The last bit was to make buttonholes and sew the buttons on. Interestingly enough, that bit ended up being rather peculiar and took me probably 3 hours to complete. The main challenge was related with the front band being rather thick, which meant that my buttonhole foot was having a hard time to perform as expected. I actually had to unpick three buttonholes which were incomplete. The foot would get stuck and would not complete the entire cycle of the buttonhole sewing. I have to admit that unpicking tightly sewn buttonhole is quite a feat, I really did not enjoy that! Luckily, the fabric was stable enough to persevere during all of that abuse. Eventually all the buttonholes were done, the buttons were stitched on and… I was done with this project!

Pattern #122 from Burda magazine 2020/12 was used for this project. I cut it in size 36 and had to reduce a little bit. Fabrics used were the following: a) Silk organza in rayon embroidery that I had bought from The Fabric Store online – 0.75 m (of 0.90 m width), b) Black premium wool twill suiting that I had bought from Fabworks online store – 2 m, c) black cupro lining – 1.5 m. Other notions were: bias tape, a bit of interfacing, thread, 11 buttons, belt buckle and few black eyelets. The dress cost me 44 Eur. It was made in December 2020.

This was a lovely and rewarding project indeed! It took me quite a lot of time to make this dress because the process had many stages to it and many details had to get completed. I thoroughly enjoyed the entire process, and am sure I will thoroughly enjoy wearing the dress for this upcoming Christmas! Since the lock-down will make this Christmas very different from what we are used to, we will try to make this time festive using all the means possible and legal, the dress included! 🙂

Let’s all stay healthy and Merry Christmas everyone!

~Giedre~

2 thoughts on “Festive Christmas dress”

    1. Oh, thank you so much Elizabeth! My husband is my biggest supporter and he is also good at giving style advice. So yes, he approved the dress and also made all the pictures! 🙂

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