It’s been a while since my last post, but now I am happy to be back with a new project! And what a project it was! 🌟
As I’ve shared in few of my previous posts, my creativity has recently been down and I struggled through this last period quite a bit. I have sewed something, but these were mostly my attempts to keep some sort of normalcy in everyday life rather than delightful time dedicated for an enjoyable activity.
My last trench coat project was interesting and all, I am happy with the final result. However, since then I started asking myself questions that many people around have been asking me – do I really need all this? Can’t I just go to the store and buy clothes there, instead of spending hours on end to make them. The only one who has never asked this sort of question ever is my husband, bless his soul! ❤️ Few other, to me very close people, are less supportive – I’d often get an advice or two what else I could be doing with my time instead of sewing. So yeah, I’ve had all sorts of existential doubts, and also I had a lot of household related things to take care of lately that kept me occupied and did not leave much time for sewing.
Luckily, recently within the group of friends we’ve decided to attend a very nice formal event that we usually attend every June. And of course each time we have fun discussions about what to wear to the event. I have quite a few dresses from before that I could choose from, and yet I’ve decided to go ahead and make a new dress for a change. It’s been more than half a year since my last dress project, and so a new dress was to be an answer to my recent doubts about my sewing journey!
Part of my recent lingering was related with my usual lack of conviction about what to make out of what. Even though reluctant to sew recently, I actually continued purchasing new fabrics and new patterns – going on a buying spree appears to be an answer to many problems in life, even if it is such an unfinished business as a piece of fabric! And so I ended up having even more fabrics in my stash to choose from for my next idea. And it was so TOUGH! During this last shopping extravaganza I purchased tweeds, silks, even D&G embroidery which will have to be matched with an underlining fabric (which I can’t quite find yet) to make something wearable out of it. And patterns for those fabrics were flying around too – blazers, dresses, tops, coats (I know, it is summer, but I just love coats!)… Oh yes, I was in a complete uncertainty frenzy! “So how about all these tweeds”, – I thought, – “Shall I make a bunch of Chanel style jackets out of them?” And here this need for a fancy dress arouse, so I took a piece of tweed that was initially bought for a blazer, and decided to make a dress out of it. Without further ado let me present my new dress here. Could not be more happy about it – it is one of my favorite dresses, ever!
What is more, even though I’ve read many horror stories about how difficult it might be to work with tweed, I just love it! That is such a forgiving fabric – stitches, needle poking, interfacing, nothing would faze it much. And it is such a joy to wear tweed, too! This was my second tweed project, the first was my recent spring coat. After making this dress, I got hooked to make more clothes out of tweed!
So here I had a piece of this subdued salmon pink viscose tweed embroidered in silver. While initially the plan was to make a blazer out of it, I eventually had to come to the conclusion that a jacket contains too many pieces for me to somehow make sense out of all this elaborate embroidery. I would have risked to make a shiny mess out of those intricate embroidered motives. So a dress in a conservative cut ought to work so much better for this fabric.
I had to make up my mind on what pattern to use. Few patterns that I’ve used before were considered. One McCall’s pattern I had in mind was the one I’ve used for my Light autumn dress. It features simple sleeves which was what I initially wanted for this tweed, but I recalled that I had had a very tough time to fit the bodice then, and so I was a bit reluctant to repeat the struggle. So my eyes turned to another pattern, the one used for my Lace jacquard dress which I like very much and wear often. Granted, this dress is made of fabric that has a bit of stretch to it, and that might be one of the reasons why it is so comfy. But still, I believed that I should be able to make that bodice work. The downside of this pattern was gathered sleeves that I was unsure about for my tweed dress idea. And also I did not want gathered skirt as in that pattern, so I had to find an A line skirt pattern somewhere. With these few doubts and after substantial amount of deliberation, I ended up settling on this latter pattern. An A line skirt piece was borrowed from a dress in 2022/06 Burda magazine and I was as ready to go as I could be.
My bodice pattern blocks had a number of notes on them from the last time I had used them. I was supposed to add a centimeter to shoulders, a centimeter to side seams at the waist and the bodice itself was supposed to be lengthened a bit. “That’s quite a set of adjustments”, I thought. And so I proceeded with all those amendments while cutting the fabric. Interestingly enough, very little time was spent for careful positioning of all those embroidered flowers while cutting the fabric. Luckily, when the dress is now complete, I have to admit that whatever I did (or did not), the placement of flowers somehow accidentally turned out really well. This fabric has repeating motives embroidered throughout the entire width of the fabric. At one selvage there were only few odd flowers embroidered, but moving towards the other selvage the motive would become more and more intense. So I cut pattern pieces cross-grain instead of usual straight grain way to make my dress balanced in terms of embroidery placement. That is why there are only few odd flowers on the bodice, while the entire skirt is embroidered.
When all darts were made and I tried the bodice on, it became clear that I had a problem. Even with all that added width as per my initial notes, the bodice was too narrow for me at the waist. After multiple adjustments that helped me squeeze out few centimeters for the waist circumference (reduced seam allowances mostly), I ended up concluding that in fact I should probably omit back waist darts altogether to accommodate for my wider than usual waist circumference. Will try this adjustment next time I use this block.
Somewhere in my thought process I had come up with an idea to add trim to the waist seam to decorate it. And later I decided to use the same trim to finish sleeves and skirt hem. How otherwise I would have neatly finished them? Simply hemming the skirt so that the stitch would be visible on the right side was not an option. So I started by making myself 4 meters of straight grain trim. The trim itself is 1.5 cm wide and I left another 1.5 cm of fabric as seam allowance. For my next project I might consider wider trim actually, but for this dress I think this somewhat narrow one looks fine!
Making the skirt was easy, I installed pockets, so it took a tiny bit longer because of that. When the bodice and the skirt were joined together, I still had to conclude that I was operating at a very narrow margin when it came to waist circumference. When I thought more carefully, I recalled that the same problem I had had with that other pattern that I had decided not to use. So yeah, there is something with my relatively wider waist that standard patterns don’t quite accommodate.
Next, the zipper went in. At first I tacked it in, tried the dress on and identified which portions of the zipper should be adjusted to improve the fit, tacked it again and stitched in place. Then the lining had to be sewn up. With all known adjustments it was quicker to make the lining. When the lining got attached to the main dress, I started getting the feeling that this might turn into a really fine dress.
Another step was to deal with sleeves. The sleeves in the original pattern were gathered and a bit puffy. Before attaching them I had decided to first finish the hem using the trim. Sleeves are the only part of the dress that is not lined. However, this tweed with its silver embroidery thread is a bit coarse, so I wanted to close all parts that would touch my body and would potentially scratch. So first of all I finished the underarm seams using some bias binding made out of lining, then closed sleeves. For the hem, first of all I attached the trim, trimmed its seam allowance to reduce bulk and attached bias tape on top to finish the inside of the hem. After a bit of pressing I ended up slip stitching the bias tape thus enclosing all the remaining bulk of hem allowance and trim seam allowance. I find this finish really delicate and nicely looking. And oh yes, it prevents the raw hem allowance from scratching my arms!
Finally I had to set prepared sleeves in. At first I gathered sleeve heads and then tacked sleeves in place. The dress looked fine. It was left to hang on my dress form overnight, meanwhile I took a bit of time off on Pinterest collecting ideas for my next tweed project. And what I did not see in any of those tweed dresses there were gathered sleeves! That made me think about my sleeves. And suddenly an idea crossed my mind that for such a sleek and well defined dress gathers do not really work, but pleats can! So the next day I removed the sleeves and made few pleats on the sleeve heads. My first attempt was not great because sleeve heads had too much volume to them making sleeves too protruding to the sides. So I remediated that by removing a bit of fullness of the sleeve heads – pleats became smaller and sleeves got less full. It took me four attempts to set those sleeves in, until finally I was really happy with them! Sleeve setting seams as well as underarm seams are finished with bias binding too to prevent any scratching from the raw edges.
The last bit of work was to finish the skirt hem with the same trim and slip stitch the bias finish from the inside. It took quite a bit of time actually, and usually I really do not like hand stitching, but this time around I found it oddly satisfying. And with that my fancy tweed dress was complete!
For this dress I needed 2 meters of salmon pink viscose tweed that is embroidered in silver thread, this fabric was bought at my local fabric store. For the lining I used some 1.5 meters of same color viscose blend lining. The pattern loosely used here is McCall’s pattern M8032, the skirt is borrowed from Burda pattern #110 in 2022/06 magazine. Other notions used here were: a bit of interfacing tape for the neckline, zipper installation line and pocket openings, invisible zipper, and coordinating thread. This dress cost me 80 Eur. It was made in May, 2022.
I like my new dress very much! 🥰 It looks awesome styled with pink heels and matching pink clutch. Should work absolutely great as a cocktail party dress. Perhaps too flashy for the office, but certainly quite a statement piece for a concert or summer dinner party. I like tweed so much because it envelops the body like a second skin, I can perfectly well see now why it is so valued by many couturiers, Chanel being perhaps the most prominent. And I found it so enjoyable to work with tweed too, so only positive experiences here, and I definitely expect to continue this new chapter of my sewing adventures! Meanwhile, I certainly hope to enjoy this dress in the upcoming summer opening event that my friends and I are expecting to attend in few weeks!
Let it be peace in the world! 💙💛