Monday, 18 December 2017

Winter Roses

Let me start by saying - this dress has been a long time coming! The fabric was bought during our trip to London in 2015 with this particular project in mind. Then, the first muslin was made back in March 2016 and the fabric was cut out last winter. The dress was mostly constructed back in February and March of this year and was then halted because I needed a different purple fabric for the collar.

This is, of course, the Emery Dress by Christine Haynes, the quintessential classic late-50's-early-60's dress and the ultimate blank canvas pattern to use with crazy printed fabric. I fell in love with this pattern when I saw some beautiful versions online, this and this in particular.

Now, everybody has had rave reviews of this pattern and the miraculous fit straight out of the envelope. For me, this was only the case with the back piece, which to be fair might also just be the best fitting back piece I've ever sewed.
For the rest of the dress, I have so far gone through 4 muslins of the bodice and 5 of the sleeves, whereof the last 3 sleeve versions have been self-drafted. I think the bodice fit is on point by now, but I might never be truly happy with the sleeves.

My struggle with fit is in no way the patterns fault, but instead a consequence of my weird "body quirk" combination:

- narrow shoulder
- sloping shoulder
- forward thrust/rotated shoulder
- hollow chest
- small bust
- round back
- protruding shoulder blades

Notice how these all affect my back, shoulder, and chest. Together, they make it almost impossible for me to be comfortable in woven sleeves without the addition of gathers or pleats. Add to the list, that my arms are super skinny and anything with a bit of ease around the bicep makes my arms look almost sickly thin.

Well, enough about the fit. This dress was always meant to be a "wearable muslin" for the bodice and sleeves. and by that it has met its purpose and I will still wear the dress occasionally.

The fabric was, as previously mentioned, bought during our trip to London in 2015. I got is from a shop on the shopping street in Walthamstow. The fabric was sold as a cotton bedding fabric and was 220 cm wide with the beautiful rose borders on both selvages. I got 1,5 meters for about 4 £.

I used both of the borders for the skirt and cut the bodice and sleeve pieces from the middle part of the fabric. I had to compromise a bit on the skirt length in order to allow enough fabric for the bodice pieces, and the skirt is a smidge too short because of it. For reference, my pink petticoat (24") shows a bit of petticoat at the hem, as shown in these pictures, and my black petticoat (20") gives a bit of a lampshade effect at the bottom. It seems like I need a 22'' petticoat in lilac or perhaps sew a little purple ruffle on the hem ;)

The bodice is interlined in a white cotton batiste, as the bedding fabric is a bit sheer. The pink petticoat shows a bit through the skirt, but it is not too noticeable thank to the gathers.

All in all, I have mixed feelings about this dress. I love the fabric and the bodice fit, but I feel like the sleeves are a bit too restricting for it to be comfortable. I prefer to wear sleeveless dresses and layer them with cardigans when I need the warmth and coverage of sleeves. I will modify the bodice to be sleeveless and report back soon!

If, by chance, you know a magic fix to my sleeve fitting problems, PLEASE let me know!


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