Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cynthia Rowley dress in copper brocade & black wool

When I first laid eyes on this brocade at Mood, I thought it was very striking but had no idea what to do with it. I didn't want an entire dress made from it because that would be too fancy for my lifestyle. While perusing some design magazines on vacation, I ran across a dress with a bunch of folds around the neckline that I wanted to copy, but then couldn't find the right pattern in my stash. Enter this Simplicity Cynthia Rowley pattern. It had the fitted bodice that I find most flattering on my small bust, and the cut up design I wanted to show off the metallic bits of the fabric.

I made a muslin of the bodice only as I planned to make the full skirt from the pattern and never muslin full skirts. I only had to make a few tweaks to the pattern to get a good fit. (This design is definitely for the small busted!) The pieces were carefully cut out from a single layer of fabric and I tried to balance the colors all the way around. I used a black wool crepe for the flat piping and skirt.

Sometimes I do not cut out all the fabric for a garment I'm working on in a single session. I do this because if the outer fabric turns into a wadder, at least I can save my lining. Also, cutting out is tiresome. For this dress, I cut the black wool in strips for the flat piping but did not cut it for the skirt right away. However, after I'd finished the bodice I found that I did not have enough black to do the full skirt that I wanted. Oh, did I mention I began this project in January? I set it aside in order to get more of the black with next month's Mood money, and scrambled to make the lace dress previously posted.

When another yard of the black wool showed up on my doorstep this month, I quickly cut out the full skirt and stitched it up. Remember when I wrote I never muslin full skirts? Not such a good idea this time around. It's unique but peculiar shape (see pattern picture below) looked lumpy and bumpy. SO, I ripped off that skirt, threw it in the trash, and cut a straight skirt from my TNT (that's tried-and-true) straight skirt pattern, McCall's 3830. For a little interest at the hemline I included small slits. This wool crepe is a little stretchy, so I added 1/2 inch to the center front and back of my skirt lining to maintain the slightly looser fit.

I just love all the piping on this design! It was time consuming to get it all the same width but definitely worth it. The neckline is also a beautiful feature that I really like. The line drawing on the pattern didn't really register with me, so when it turned out to be a little plunging in the back I was pleasantly surprised.

Dressform pictures:

This pattern directed a lining for the top portion, and I added the lining for the skirt. It is black Ambiance from my stash.

The neckline was finished with bias tape, as were the armhole seams.

I've taught myself mitered corners. You can see them at the bottom of the black wool. They are those diagonal seams coming off the slit corners. I have some RTW (ready-to-wear) skirts that utilize this technique and have always thought it very smart looking. The lining was slip-stitched down around the slits so it wouldn't show while I'm wearing it.

These are the patterns I used:

McCall's 3830

This dress was A LOT of work but I'm thrilled with the outcome. I am not producing nearly as much as I had in previous years but rather am slowing down and really taking my time with things. I want to build a wardrobe of pieces I love and will cherish for years to come.