A Silk Dominique

Ah Dominique, je t'adore.  

And there endeth the extent of my hazy recollections of A Level French.

What a truly wonderful pattern the Combinaison Dominique is.  I've had it for about six months and finally summoned the energy to tackle the French instructions the week République du Chiffon released the pattern in English.  

But, you know what, it actually wasn't that hard.  The diagrams whilst few, are very informative and as with all sewing patterns, the instructions are very repetitive so once you've worked out what "endroit contre endroit" and "surpiqûre" and "parementure" mean, you can pretty much work it out.  (Oh and I think that's "right sides together", "topstitch" and "facing" in case you were wondering.)

And there's always Google Translate ...

I've been wanting to make a jumpsuit for a while but none of the patterns I could find really appealed until I saw Isabelle's version of Dominique which is the perfect combination of structured and casual due to the pattern design, her fabulous choice of fabric and the fact she is so effortlessly cool.  

Around the same time I was also hunting for fabric for a skirt I was making my wonderful aunt for her birthday.  I don't know why but I decided on silk noil not really having a clue what it felt or looked like and thought this would work well for both projects and promptly ordered 4 yards in navy from Fabric.com.

When it arrived I loved the weight and slubby nature of the weave, and it was a gorgeous deep rich navy but the smell, well I wasn't expecting that.   And then when I washed it it faded a lot to a more french navy, didn't entirely remove the smell and it developed a more mottled appearance.  I was pretty disappointed as it wasn't what I had envisaged for the skirt at all.  

However, for the jumpsuit it turns out to be pretty perfect, it feels absolutely glorious, the mottled appearance of the fabric fits with the relaxed design and it has enough weight to hold the pleats and the shape of the bodice.   In these photos I'd been wearing this all day and it doesn't look too baggy in the rear.

Over the last few years I have become much more content with my figure.  Not that much has changed, just now I accept that this is my body and I need to look after it and appreciate it for what it does and has given me, rather than give it a hard time and worry about the bits that aren't as I would like them.  That said, my BF bottom has always been my 'asset' of choice for denigration and, despite the above declaration of recently found love for all my assets, I am still less than convinced about my rear view in a jumpsuit.  But you know I can't see it and I love the jumpsuit, so who cares ...

After spending a long time looking at the pattern measurements and measuring and re-measuring my body and asking instagram for advice on the best time to make alterations - i.e. before or after making the first muslin / toile - I made a number of alterations to the pattern which seem to be fairly standard for me.  I added: 

  • an inch to the bodice at the bottom of the yokes,

  • two and a half inches to the length of the trousers,

  • I then did a full butt adjustment adding one and a half inches to the back crotch length and one inch to increase the back hip measurement.

I was so completely pleased with myself when I tried the muslin on and aside from a few minor tweaks, it fitted really well.  I am slowly getting better at intepreting what changes I need to make to accommodate my figure.

The additional alterations I made included:

  • Adding an inch to the shoulder width - I've recently become aware of how square and broad my shoulders are.

  • Adjusted the length of the placket facing to accommodate the bodice changes I made initially

  • I also had to add some height to the pocket pieces to ensure they were caught within the waistline seam. I don't think this is an error with the pattern as it is beautifullly drafted, but can't think why my other alterations would have made them too short.

  • I then also added a further inch to the back bodice at the centre back waistline, blending it to nothing at the side seams. This probably isn't technically correct, but I only needed extra length there and the resulting fit is pretty good as it gives me more room to move and increases the blousey appearance of the bodice.

I can't tell you how much fun this was to make.  Sometimes more complex, muslin involving projects can seem like a bit of a slog to me, but I enjoyed every minute of this, even when my french failed me and I really didn't know what I was doing.  The silk is beautiful to work with and I love the details of this design, such as the way the collar pieces are curved which you think is going to make it impossible to attach to the neckline, but you work it out and the curve then gives the collar some volume and doesn't sit completely flat.  I love that attention to detail. 

I kind of mimicked the whole 80s vibe République du Chiffon had going on with their sample versions and chose embossed gold 'metal' shank buttons. I've realized that 3/8 inch buttons are my preferred for button down blouses, bodices etc. I'm not sure proportionally if they work, but I always feel half inch are too big.

I'm not sure I need another jumpsuit in my life, but I'd really like to make this again; perhaps a short version for next summer.  Or using the bodice for a pleated shirt dress might be fun.

I have at least five other RduC patterns and this is one of the more challenging ones, so now I know I can make sense of 'les etapes de montage', I really should get on with the others.

Have you tried any of République du Chiffon's patterns?  And isn't that just the perfect name for a sewing related company?!

See you soon x