Ultimate autumn dress

Last spring, while browsing RTW catwalk pictures on Vogue site, I came across this light presumably silk shirt dress in a very nice print by Dior. After saving the picture, I suddenly realized that there is somewhat similar fabric sitting in my stash, which was bought during my very first fabric haul at my local fabric store. Back then I had not even tried sewing anything, but was happy to buy fabric to feed my conviction that I would be sewing eventually πŸ™‚ Color palette of that fabric was clearly asking for autumn, and so, now it was just a perfect time to cut into it!

I needed very specific loose fitting shirt dress pattern for this project, and found it on Fibremood site. It is Feliz dress, and this pattern worked really well for this fabric, which is silk and viscose blend.

This was quite an easy project really. However mistakes were made too. It seems that lately I make mistakes often, should perhaps reflect on what it is that does not allow me to concentrate properly. But let me start from the beginning, as the majority of the project went really smoothly.

Fibremood patterns are downloaded in pdf format and then glued together to make one big sheet of which pattern pieces are then cut out. Here the main mistake was conceived. It was obvious from the pattern sheet assembly instruction that the skirt piece would be just one big rectangle of fabric that will get gathered. Being all in economizing mode and eager to save paper and everything else, I thought – why should I print like 20 pages for one skirt pattern piece provided that it is just a simple rectangle. Surely, I’d be able to figure its measurements out by comparing its relative proportions with other pattern pieces!

I started by cutting only bodice and sleeves pattern pieces and left the skirt aside for a moment. The first step was to make chest pockets and attach them to the front bodice pieces. Then the yoke got attached to the back piece – I ended up cutting two yoke pieces and installed yoke facing too. To install it I used oh-so-great burrito method, it helps me each time when making shirt dresses. Next was a bit of fiddling with very narrow neck binding. It is quite normal that finishing shirt neckline with either binding or collar takes up quite a bit of time and requires sticking to seam allowances meticulously.

When the neckline was finished, I breathed a sigh of relief – the most tricky part was over. Supposedly. The work continued on the sleeves. First, tabs got installed to allow for rolled sleeves to be held in place. Then sleeves themselves were attached to the bodice – for that I used flat sleeve method this time. I hate installing sleeves when side seams are closed. So lately I seem to use flat sleeve method quite often. Finally, I closed side seams and thus the bodice was complete.

At that point the time finally came to start calculating the size of the rectangle for the gathered skirt. I gave zero thought to it at the beginning because I thought – “my whole fabric piece was 2.25 meters long and 140 cm wide, I still have a lot of it left, that should be enough for any skirt”. I calculated length and width of one skirt block (front was the same as back), and suddenly realized that the width of one section was so wide that I would not be able to fit front and back pieces onto 140 cm wide fabric piece. Instead I’d actually need two lengths of the skirt – one for the front and another for the back. And then I was like – “oh, d*mn, I don’t have enough fabric for two skirt lengths!” Very quickly it became clear that if I cut my current piece of fabric in half lengthwise, my skirt would be approximately 15 cm shorter than designated.

I sat there, on the floor next to my fabric and stared at the wall for good 5 minutes. All sorts of ideas flew through my mind but not one was solving the problem at hand. Apparently the thought “make the skirt less gathered, but as long as you want” was not among them! πŸ™„

And then I was like “come what may”, and just went straight ahead and cut the remaining fabric piece in half lengthwise. For some reason it hadn’t occurred to me to try and gather the width I had calculated before cutting the fabric. Only later I tried to gather the fabric while holding it in front of the mirror and see how much gathered my skirt would be. Shockingly, something was off – the view in the mirror was nothing like the dress in all the pictures on Fibremood site! My skirt looked heavily gathered, while the skirt in all those pictures was gathered just moderately.

I thought intently what was happening here and decided to go ahead and print few pages of the pattern to actually see the top of the skirt pattern piece instead of guessing (why on Earth hadn’t I done so in the beginning?!). And then I SAW! It struck me like a lightning bolt – I had calculated the width of the skirt as meant for the largest size provided in the pattern, which was size 30. My size is 8. For my size one block of the skirt was supposed to be just 60 cm wide – I would easily have fitted two blocks next to each other on 140 cm wide fabric piece. But it was too late – I had already cut the fabric in half before realizing that my calculations were wrong.

The result of this mishap is that my skirt is quite a bit shorter than intended. I tried to save as much length as I could – instead of proper 4 cm hem I ended up hemming it using 4mm rolled hem foot. The hem is minuscule, but it hasn’t quite saved the skirt.

This is a truly fine dress! It is light, loose fitting and very comfortable to wear. But I see – each time I see the skirt being a bit too short, shorter than intended, shorter than it would be looking really nice. We have this saying – measure 9 times and only then cut. Should have done literally that!

For this dress I used some 1.75 m of beautiful viscose and silk blend that was bought few years ago at my local fabric store. The pattern used here is Fibremood Feliz dress, I cut it in size 8 (European 36). Other notions were – a bit of interfacing, 7 nice metal buttons which I bought from Textile garden online store, and coordinating thread. I do not know how much this dress cost me because I do not have any records on fabric price. It was only later that I started taking notes on my sewing related expenses. This dress was made in September, 2021.

I truly hope that this huge disappointment about screwing up skirt length will not weigh on my enjoyment wearing this dress. I love styling it with heavy black boots or white Dr. Marten brogues. I had actually run a poll on Instagram which shoes work better with this dress – black or white ones. Received many votes and the distribution was roughly 2/3 for black and 1/3 for white πŸ™‚ My husband voted for white shoes and commented that his choices are β€œusually unusual” πŸ˜…

For cold autumn days this fabric is probably too light, and I might be cold in this dress. But hey, Indian summer is hopefully still ahead!

Thanks for checking out this post! Let’s catch up next time!

~Giedre~

2 thoughts on “Ultimate autumn dress”

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