I wandered to the fabric store a few weeks ago looking for some fun project for Biddi. I actually had a dress in mind like the one I made last Christmas. I found a great rosette fabric in the Special Occasions area, but it only came in pink, and it wasn’t seeming that Fall/Winter. The weather here is still sunny but leaves have been hitting the ground, despite the Indian Summer vibe.
Then Biddi found this lightweight, floral corduroy fabric at the fabric store. She was being fussy so I was carrying her around and she literally lunged at this fabric and almost jumped out of my arms. She definitely has opinions about her clothing and picks out which outfits and shoes to wear on a daily basis. So the fabric was so what I was looking for. It brought me back to the old days of Beverly Hills 90210 and babydoll slip dresses over t-shirts and combat boots–the whole nine yards! I’m not saying that was the height of fashion by any mean, but it is back in style and I am a nostalgic type. I thought it would look really cool with a cream lace and cotton trim accents.
I love to encourage her to have opinions, so I added it to the cart and moved along. I just had to pick the right silhouette–my first thought was this fabric could maybe become floral corduroy overalls? It could be really cute, but there was a risk of spending hours sewing only to complete the outfit and realize it is more Blossom than Brenda.
I decided that a dress would be easier. With tights and a sweater, the dress could work with Fall weather, around the house on cold winter days, or running around the park well into early Summer.
I saw this great floral print dresses and I was thinking about how to translate the look. She had an adorable seersucker top and bloomer set from the summer and I thought it would work for Fall if I could add some length to that basic silhouette–a circle dress attached to a circle collar.
I found a great pattern 6440 from New Look as a base pattern and edited some details and construction methods to make it more appropriate for colder weather: closing the open back, altering the neckline, etc…but that is another blog post.
With this fabric it was really difficult to decide what color thread to choose. With the correct sewing machine tension, the thread won’t show much. It does just a little everywhere there is a seam so picking the right color makes it look seamless, literally. The hem is topstitched with the smaller trim, so that will require the cream thread. At the fabric store, I choose the thread color by taking a small length of the thread and ball it up to see which thread disappears the most(shown above). I was very surprised to see the olive won out. I thought the khaki in the background was going to be the winner. To finish the armhole, I needed bias tape and for that I chose an eggplant color. The color is a definitely prettier than the olive drab color that would have matched better. It will be a cute visual contrast and when the eggplant peeks out it will look crisp, young and whimsical.
The second fabric I bought is a graphic floral, according to the manufacturer. It doesn’t really read floral to me, although I did pick rosettes for the trim so maybe subconsciously it did. It is rayon so it will be lightweight and hand washable which means quick wash and no dryer.
The third fabric I wanted was a denim with a print on it. I made a denim bohemian style dress for Biddi and it is so cute, but so plain. I considered dip dyeing it in bleach or creating a polka dot in bleach, but eventually decided just to embellish with a butterfly patch I had laying around. I thought that dress would be cute if I could find a denim with a print–I really wanted gold hearts, but no luck. The denims were all a little too heavy weight for the type of sewing I do anyways so I gave up on the idea. I don’t have a serger machine to overcast the edges of fabric and prevent fraying, so I use seaming techniques (like French Seams) which leave 4-6 layers of fabric in places. Also, this dress has gathers in both of the lower panels so it will become really heavy and bulky. I moved on and then spotted this cute fabric in another section:
When I got closer and realized it wasn’t denim it seemed like the perfect option because it had the look of denim but not the weight and bulk. The lighter color I mistook for denim is actually the wrong side of the fabric. I really loved it and decided that it would be really cute to use both the right and wrong side as contrasts. The fabric is really lightweight so I won’t be constructing the dress until Spring is closer, since I still want to make a holiday dress. Which gives me a few months to decide if it should be primarily navy or denim…and then change my mind 4 more times.
One final note, an important thing to do before cutting is to wash the fabric! I have heard many people recommend against it since everything is supposed to be pre-shrunk, but I always to it anyways. With the cotton corduroy fabric, I was lucky I did that extra step- it shrunk about 2 inches in width. This meant I had to lay the fabric out differently to get all the pieces cut and I had to shorten the hem about 1/2″. I might change the hem construction method to add back that 1/2″. Once it is finished and I see how it lays I will be able to make a decision. Neither of those things is that dramatic, but had the shrinking happened after the dress was constructed, the seams could have become wonky and caused things to lay strange; around the neckline could have ruined the whole dress. Granted, there is a chance the lace trim could have hidden it, but there’s also a chance it could have drawn more attention to it. Most of the trims that I bought were cotton so making sure those do not shrink once applied is key. Placing trim in a mesh laundry bag is a good idea, so that they don’t get caught in any laundry mechanisms or damaged by heavier weight fabrics.