Sunday, 27 March 2016

wardrobe essentials 2016 - the Appleton dress

I sewed my first ever knit fabric garment with the scary overlocker.



I made an Appleton dress, a wrap dress I have admired ever since the pattern was published. I was given the pattern by Jenny, the designer behind the Appleton dress. You can find her blog and shop here. I am forever grateful because I am an eternal procrastinator and would have pondered a possible purchase for another year or so before finally taking action. You must go and read her blog, particularly if you are curvy and like to sew. I feel very much inspired by Jenny to make clothes that fit and that look good, and to not worry so much about bulges in the wrong place. I have a long way to go! She is also a co-founder of the Curvy Sewing Collective, where you can read pattern reviews for curvy women and where you can find tips and tricks to adjust patterns, and much more.

The pattern is well designed and the instructions are well written. Every step is explained in detail and if any questions remain, there is a sew-along that will clarify the last doubts. Unlike most commercial patterns, there are multiple cup options (C/D, E/F, G/H) and it is well explained how to decide what cups size is best. It is essential to measure yourself carefully. You may or may not know that dress pattern cup sizes are rather different from commercial bra cup sizes. I chose the C/D as this worked best with the rest of my body measurements. I have a disproportionally large bum and had to grade up two sizes from top to bottom. 


The fabric I chose is a light weight cotton spandex blend with 4 way stretch (60%/40%). I was a bit anxious to use it because it is rather a lighter weight than I would have liked. It has a good drape but felt a bit too slippery. Still, I loved the large daisies and decided to give it a go. Cutting was tricky because of the qualities of the fabric. After I cut the fabric, it remained in my bag for three full weeks. Did I mention that I am a master procrastinator? It was only when I went to the Sunday sewing session at the Stitchery that I finally started sewing. 


The wrap dress has asymmetric fronts. Unfortunately I was not paying attention and muddled up left with right. It didn't matter for the construction but I am glad I made a note in the instructions to avoid mistakes when sewing. There are some sections where it matters what side you are working on. I used stabilising double sided tape for the vertical front edges and fusible wonder web for the other hems (because I didn't have any more tape). I don't think I could have done it without. I sewed these with my normal sewing machine, all the rest was done with the overlocker. I am so pleased that I finally used it. It was awfully fast but fun. 




Quite possibly you remember me writing that this first version was planned as a wearable toile. I think the dress is not perfect but definitely wearable. The fit is quite good and the dress is comfortable. The sleeves are a bit flappy under the arms. This is something I noticed when I sewed the psychedelic Lady Skater dress last summer and the 'problem' must be with my body rather than the pattern. I wonder if I maybe need to move the waistline one way or another, by an inch or so but I am not sure. I might take the dress to the next Sunday sewing session for adjustments to both dress and pattern. 


The crux with wrap dresses is that the front splits open, exposing shabby old bras. The Appleton doesn't have that problem, at least I haven't noticed. Even leaning forward I am covered up. I have not been partying with the dress yet and as such it hasn't been tested to its limits. There is always the danger of a naughty child pulling the straps of course... 




I am not so sure about is the fabric choice. It feels rather flimsy and I don't feel dressed around my bottom (if that makes any sense). I also don't think it is flattering, drawing too much attention to my behind. There is a reason why I am not showing you a full length photo! Still, I hope to get some wear out of this first version of the dress. I am tempted to convert it to a top actually. Jenny has just published a pattern hack to turn the dress into a top. It is free but you do need the dress pattern to use with the additional pattern pieces. The additional pattern pieces are for different waist ties and cuffs. The top looks stunning on Jenny (wearing it with jeans and a skirt). 

I think the next version will be plain and black and made from a heavier weight fabric with less stretch. It may be a while, I need to think about those pattern adjustments first. 

All in all I am pleased. I have found a new pattern designer and I have learned to use my overlocker. I have worked with a fabric that is quite tricky to handle and I have made a garment that is not within my comfort zone (I rarely wear dresses). Not bad eh?

I am wishing you a belated Happy Easter. It has taken me by surprise, there are no Easter decorations in our house and all we managed were some chocolate eggs and Lindt bunnies for the children. I ate one on Thursday, it called out to me, honestly, it did. It had to be replaced as a matter of great urgency. I was hoping to paint some eggs and do some other crafty things with the children but I didn't. Life got in the way, as it usually does these days. We did have a fantastic lunch with friends who were obviously a lot more organised than us. We were treated to pork belly cooked on a fennel bed, roast sweet potatoes, green beans, a fruity red cabbage salad and a meringue roulade with lemon curd cream filling. I am so stuffed I can only just move my fingers. 

Have a lovely week! xx

24 comments:

  1. Hey Christina,
    Oh you have a look of Monroe in that picture. Seriously fab, my friend. And what a bonus that this gorgeous dress hides a shabby bra. Surely the holy grail of every working woman ;))
    Easter came as a shock to me too. I thrust hastily bought eggs from the Co-Op at the older two, and poor Olly had the most lack lustre egg hunt in the whole world. Must try harder. There wasn't even a roast tea. Just a sort of carpet picnic. Have a lovely evening hardly lifting your fingers.
    Leanne xx

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  2. Well I think you look fantastic in it and you did a terrific job. I could not wear that pattern as I am near a AA cup size and frankly not much is made for that small of a chest, maybe training bras and junior sizes, but that is all. I am envious of curves and shapes. Happy Easter. I was suddenly stricken with a panic last week when I realized Easter was today, Luckily for me the Eater Bunny came and everyone was happy without too much bother.
    Hugs,
    Meredith

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  3. Good for you, Christina! I think you did great for your first try. It looks good on you and I'm sure the next one will be even better with more practice. Soon, you'll have a whole wardrobe full of them. I saw the shirt version last week and I think it would be a great look for you too. I'm glad the overlocker worked out for you. I still remember the first time I ever tried one; my fabric was sucked right out of my hands. It was a lot like the first time I used a serger with a knife; I lost half my fabric to the blade. I hope you had a lovely Easter!

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  4. I don't know how the whole dress fits, but from the parts you've shown it looks good, I like the print. I like wrap dresses, I find them flattering for us round folk.

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  5. Happy Easter, Christina. I very much admire your bravery in sewing...and the lovely result! I hope you have a happy week as well :) xx

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  6. I think the dress looks lovely on you Christina - I like the print. Husband got into deep trouble in our house because he ate teenager's Lindt bunny. Happy Easter!

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  7. Love the dress and the fabric. It's great when you find a pattern that suits you. I'm looking for the right pattern at the moment; my problem is my knees! Sounds like you had a good Easter never the less. That belly pork sounds yummy. Enjoy the rest of your holiday. B x

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  8. This dress looks absolutely great on you! Very flattering, and the dark colour with the pale flowers suits your colouring really well. X

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  9. It looks great on you. Like Meredith I can't wear that style either. I do love those daisies even though the fabric was a swine to sew.

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  10. That dress looks wonderful on you. I've been thinking about which pattern I could choose for a summer dress and after reading your post I've decided to sew a wrap dress,too.Thanks for the inspiration! Irune

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  11. Christina - you did an awesome job! I am so impressed with your willingness to try new projects that are outside of your comfort zone. You are a talented seamstress - I think it totally looks like a bold patterned Boden tunic! I like the way that the wrap neckline lays - I tend not to wear wrap designs myself because I have a smaller chest that never fills them out.

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  12. Christina that is one amazing dress, you look fabulous in it. Have you tried wearing a nylon petticoat underneath it? I wear one with loads of my dresses especially ones with that drapey viscose which sort of sticks to your pants! I also wear my petticoat under my bettine dresses, and my coco tunics. It also helps so that I can wear leggings with them all. I really must show that on my blog and how to make one, it is the sort of thing you don't blog about because it is not really photo candy! Jo x

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  13. your dress looks great, and having someone else cook the Easter feast, what a treat! x

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  14. Well certainly the bits we can see look good on you and I was impressed by the fabric. What a great treat to have friends cook for you. Take care.

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  15. Now I really want to make a summer dress :-)

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  16. Bravo to you for making your own dress! I think the fabric is neat as it reminds me of my hippie days. ((hugs)), Teresa :-)

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  17. Your dress looks terrific on you and I love the fabric. Have a good week Christina... I am aiming to avoid chocolate but think I might fail!

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  18. I like the dress, I like the fabric, but best of all I like the expression on your face in the photo. Well done on this step in your sewing journey, it seems to be like you are an actual proper seamstress now! xx

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  19. It looks really fabulous, Christina! Looks like you have slim arms so you could probably take them in in the future - it's pretty easy just to narrow them at the side seams as you're sewing (because of the method of construction). Can't wait to see your future versions!

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  20. Well done you, the dress looks fabulous. I'm very much a dress person & have the same problem with gappy wrap dresses. Now I have a craft room or rather will have one in a few months it means I can have an overlocker. It really is a splendid dress I shall look out for this pattern xx

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  21. Well done Christina for trying out your overlocker. The dress looks terrific, and the pattern is great. I'm a procrastinator too, so totally understand how you could cut it out then let it sit for several weeks before actually sewing it. I'm especially bad if the project involves a new technique or tool.

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  22. Gorgeous! It looks great on you, it looks very similar to the fabric I recently bought but mine is not a knit, you said you had something similar. I know what you mean about not feeling dressed around the bum I find very thick opaque tights help with that although not a good solution for summer. Well done. xx

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  23. That's a fantastic dress. I'm always keen to see a wrapover dress you don't need to wear a vest with! You're so talented...what a great make! x

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  24. Great fabric! Such a great achievement.

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Thank you for visiting and leaving a comment, I love to hear from you, I really do. I sometimes reply by email but I am not all that reliable... Christina xx