Monday, 22 September 2014

Completed: Cloth Boho Maxi Dress- Last Dress of the Summer?

Hello folks!

I hope you've all had good weekends. In this post I share with you a project that was a long time in the noggin before I dared make it real. As seems to be the case with most things I get my hands on, this *should* have been a simple make, but either my darndedness or some weird pattern mis-instructions made this a far more complex project than it need be.

Worn with my ma's mirrored velvet hippy jacket
So- this fabric was bought on a whim and was the last 2 and just over a half metres on the roll. But as soon as I had it I was dreaming of a gorgeous boho version of the Anna dress. I even got around to tracing off all the long version pieces and was about to get to seeing if I could tweak the fit on the bodice when other projects got in the way and pushed it onto the back burner. When I finally got around to eyeing it up again it was clear that I wasn't going to be able to get the Anna of my dreams out of only 2.5 metres of fabric, especially one with such a large directional print.

So I had a rethink and decided to go with this Boho maxi dress from the now- defunct Cloth magazine that I subscribed to all too briefly. I only got 3 issues before it folded (as it were). This is actually the first thing I've made from the magazine (as I'm not too keen on the print-it-yourself PDFs really) but I did enjoy how the magazine signposted me to a lot of pattern designers and blogs that I follow loyally today, even if looking back the magazine was actually a bit of a noncommittal mishmash of sewing, refashioning and styling RTW clothing.

I didn't technically have as much fabric as was recommended for the Cloth pattern either, but I was not about to be deterred again. Besides, the printed PDF pattern didn't make any sense to me- it required you to stick on about 6 blank pages for no apparent reason to the finished pattern sheet, and had the bodice of the dress on a detached section even though the instructions told you to cut bodice and skirt as a single section. I matched up all the numbers and the finished sheet looked like the miniature version in the cover sheet, but I don't understand why it wouldn't just get you to stick the bodice piece on top of the skirt, as once it's all printed out you have the flexibility to stick it wherever you want? So I did just that. It didn't seem to quite match up on one side, so I drafted in a new line to smoothen things out and hoped for the best.

Then, using some construction basics I picked up from making the Staple dress I decided to modify the pattern to suit my needs. Instead of cutting 4 identical long sections and having central as well as side seams I decided to cut the 2 bodice pieces on the fold separate from the skirt so that I could maximise the fabric that I had. One the back bodice the eye print is upside-down, but hopefully this isn't too noticeable! I also decided to cut 2 skirt sections on the fold, and had to shorten slightly as I couldn't quite get the length I needed out of the fabric as wax print has the pattern running crosswise to the grain.

Can you spot the upside-down eyes?
Then after this I pretty much made it up! I drafted some facings for the V-neck, then made up the rest of the dress more or less as if it were a staple dress (but with massive side slits and no pockets). I even decided to do several lines of shirring at the waist instead of making the pattern's recommended channel of elastic, because I thought it might look more flattering (and I kind of enjoy shirring now) and because I didn't have the patience for the magazine's instructions! The illustrations are far too sketchy, it's just wasn't clear to me what I was supposed to be going for (as there are no technical drawings, and there aren't even very clear photos of the full length finished dress- the snaps of the magazine spreads above are all you get!).

Anyway, I bumbled through, and so far, so good. Before I put the shirring in I tried on the dress to find the best point for the waistline and it was HUGE. Even though I'd not been able to cut the full required length there was still about 10 additional inches in the skirt (for context I'm about 5 foot 5). And so wide! And the V-neck was so deep! How did all this happen? I got my boyfriend to take some photos of me 'swimming' in all the excess fabric. And then, because he's such a good sport, I even persuaded him to try it on. He's 6 foot 3 and it fit him perfectly! In fact, if he was of a more hippyish bent I would have let him keep it as he looked pretty good in it, and it is basically a kaftan and therefore a unisex garment.

'Scuse the mess and the manic expression- it's late and it's been a long evening of sewing!
However I was too selfish and took it up A LOT then added A LOT of shirring. It's still not the most flattering garment as there was just so much fabric to bring into the centre so it has a lot of volume at the chest (and shows a bit of side bra when the arms are in certain positions), but as I had the skirt side slits hemmed and armholes all finished I was loathe to bring in the side seams more.

Slight risk of side-bra...

So here is the finished result! Not quite as elegant as an Anna, but definitely pretty boho. I wore it out on Saturday night with some flat tan boots and enjoyed floating around in it (although it was a bit tricky to run for the night bus in!). I also added a little 'modesty' loop to control the deep V (which I left at the back and rather like) and used a sweet vintage button from my boyfriend's Grandma's stash.

Going risque with the modesty loop undone!
This is probably the last dress of the summer, the warm weather is fast dwindling although we're still getting a few flashes of sunshine here and there. I'm off to Andalucia soon though so this is a nice easy holiday dress. I was also hoping to make a nice gingham French Gypsy dress before the weather turns too gloomy, but I should really be getting my bonce around print-matching my beloved tartans and do some seasonal sewing for once!

And I leave you with this lovely out-take of me looking like I'm squaring up for a fight! Menacing.

Any one else still clutching onto the Indian summer? I'm still dreaming of other holiday makes that I know won't be done in time!

NorseOtter xxx

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