Puff-sleeve caramel dress

Lately I have actively been trying to avoid starting to work on the jacket. Since I’ve never made a jacket before, even the idea of starting seemed so intimidating! So in order to push the jacket further, I ended up starting this incredibly puffy situation in caramel viscose. This dress by Vogue with massive statement sleeves has been sitting in my plans for quite a while. I knew that it will be a tough project – for one, viscose is so difficult to work with! However, still it looked less intimidating than a jacket. Mind you, I spent A LOT of time with this project, in total probably some 3 full days. Clearly longer than justifiable, and shortly I’ll explain what happened. However, the end result is very appealing, I reckon. Am not so sure if that’s the loveliest dress I’ve ever made, but I will absolutely enjoy wearing it as soon as the spring comes!

When I purchased this caramel polka dot viscose back in autumn, I decided that it should work very well with Vogue pattern V1633. The plan got sealed when multiple resources started proclaiming that puff sleeves will be very much popular this spring. Vogue writes – “The puff-sleeve trend is here to stay” and I believe them! I just had to catch this trend as well – absolutely love puff sleeves and all sorts of other statement sleeves.

I cut the paper pattern in merged sizes – 8 for the top of the bodice and 12 for the waist and down. Cutting the pattern pieces out of fabric was tricky, to put it mildly – it is difficult to cut viscose as it does not hold any shape whatsoever. But hey, the drape of the finished garment is just gorgeous, so what to do.

Quite a few adjustments had to be made. First, I chose to close front darts – in the original pattern they are more like pleats, i.e. left open. I figured that this would leave too much fabric around the waist which might look baggy. Even with closed darts, I had to narrow the bodice down a little bit more. Then I made sleeve openings at the back a little bit bigger. I realized that if I left the back as it was, the top portion of the back would be hanging loose, especially near the sleeves. Sleeves themselves had to be shortened, I reduced their length by some 4 cm. My hands are shorter than standard, that is why this is rather usual adjustment. Finally I was planning to install the pockets – they were not part of the original design. But then I forgot – how amusing is that! Realized that pockets got forgotten only when the main body of the dress was stitched together and too much seam ripping would have been necessary to get the pockets in. And so the important decision was made to skip them, here is one of probably only two or three dresses I’ve made that do not have pockets.

The start was slow. The bodice was made, then I realized that it was too wide practically everywhere except for the waistline itself, unpicked side seams and narrowed the bodice down. Drifting from the original measurements, as per usual, meant that the lining process will also be more difficult. It took me a day to make the main body of the dress, install the zipper and line the dress.

Next day started with the instalation of the neck band. Then the most curious part of sleeve making was to start. Interestingly enough, even though complex, making of the sleeves ended up being somewhat easier than I had anticipated. Essentially, these sleeves are mostly about the pleats. When the pleats are made, the sleeves are set in as per usual. It took quite a bit of time to attach the cuff, which was truly tedious process because the fabric was so unstable. And finally I finished sleeves seams using bias tape made from the remainder of the lining.

Eventually the project started nearing the end. I made the bottom of the dress and the lining even and prepared them to get hemmed. Decided to use 6 mm rolled hem foot. It took some four attempts after all – the fabric would slip out of the foot and I’d have to stop, rip a short portion of the seam, go back a little, and start again from there. When the hem was done, I was quite relieved.

The last bit was to attach a small snap onto the neck band to close it at the back and make some sort of a closure for the cuffs. In the original design it was suggested to also use snaps, however I figured that probably buttons would look a little bit nicer.

My major buttons parcel from the UK is stuck at customs (oh, the Brexit!), so at first I thought that I probably would not have any appropriate buttons. But when I checked my meager buttons box, I found these beautiful square buttons made of shell, not even sure where and when I got them. The contrast that the square buttons shape made with the polka dots in the fabric seemed lovely, and I decided to go ahead with them. At that point I was practically running ahead of myself and was thinking of whatever else I’ll be doing in just few minutes, when the button holes were finished and the buttons got attached.

When I made the above photo, I had 2 other buttons to get attached to the other cuff, and that would be the end to this rather tricky project. But it was not to be. As soon as I took the other cuff into my hands, sudden realization struck me that I had managed to make the button holes on the wrong end of the cuff and had already cut them, so it was not that they could be ripped now. Staring at them intently did not help. They were indeed on the wrong end.

I breathed in, breathed out and started thinking of what to do. Considered two easy options: a) to stitch on the buttons regardless and have the cuff closing in a wrong way, or b) to attach buttons on the wrong side of the cuff so that the cuff would be closing correctly but the buttons would not be visible. I would have pretended that this was yet another statement of those “rebellious” buttons πŸ™‚ I did neither. I took the entire cuff apart, flipped it to the other side and reattached again. This exercise extended already long project even further. But finally, oh finally, I was done!

For this project I used Vogue pattern V1633. This viscose fabric is by Eglantine et Zoe, I bought it from Guthrie&Ghani online store, the fabric is called Polka poppies caramel. I used almost 3 meters of the main fabric and some 1.25 meters of light cupro lining. Other notions were: invisible zipper, thread, one small snap, a little bit of interfacing for cuffs and 4 shell buttons. This dress cost me 92 EUR. It was made in the middle of February, 2021.

It is a beautiful dress and this fabric is a joy to wear! Not that same level of joy to cut or sew, though πŸ™‚ I’m still not convinced about the length of the skirt, maybe at some point I might want to shorten the dress a little bit. But not now – making the hem was tricky enough to repeat the experience right away! πŸ™‚ I love those huge sleeves. And that’s indeed what this dress is about – it is about the sleeves!

Let’s all stay healthy!

~Giedre~

3 thoughts on “Puff-sleeve caramel dress”

  1. Pingback: Leftovers project

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