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

Feathers and ease issues

Otherwise known as "the dress whose lining cost three times the fabric" or "the ease straw that broke the camel's back".

So, I don't know about you, but I'm not a mad fan of wearing polyester. I don't like how it feels, it's akin to nails down a chalkboard to me; I get so hot so quickly; and I can't bear the static - I get electric shocks from everything I touch when wearing it.  So I generally avoid fabric with any poly content. Except when I don't realise or when the print is beyond totally amazing.  As with this poly crepe de chine.

I bought this from Girl Charlee about a year ago. I didn't know what I was going to do with it, it really isn't my colour - beige and I are not friends - but it ended up in my mailbox anyway. Consequently it's been taunting me all this time.  I toyed with making a Holly jumpsuit but my wearing opportunities for such an item are very limited and I knew whatever I made would have to be fully lined which I didn't fancy doing on the Holly.

The pattern I ultimately decided to use is the Basic Dress by Cali Faye. The idea of this range of patterns is that they are all wardrobe basics, but to me this pattern has such versatility. It's designed for wovens but I think if you omitted the lining you could easily make it in a knit which would make such a great throw-it-on-and-go-but-look-half-way-put-together dress. On the other hand if you made it in a beautiful delicate silk it could be really special. I love the neckline and low back and the curved hem and it is so easy to wear.

So all going along well - lovely fabric matched to a lovely pattern. However. I get so frustrated as I always seem to get my sizing off.  I carefully read the sizing and finished garment measurements and even measure the pattern pieces but without making a muslin I never manage to get my sizing right. I clearly need to develop a better understanding of ease. Here, based on my measurements, I cut a medium bodice and XL skirt and used the XL skirt length but next time I think I will just go straight medium as the skirt is way too big which results in too many gathers which I don't need over my hips.  And it's a fraction too long. Ha! I have never ever ever found cause to say that a piece of clothing is too long.  This dress therefore deserves keeping for posterity for that reason alone. 

The construction instructions are pretty clever in the way the lining is attached but I have to say that I read, read and re-read the instructions but couldn't fully understand how the shoulders were finished by machine once the lining was connected to the neckline so I ended up slip-stitching them closed. 

I deviated from the instructions by cutting the lining shoulder straps slightly narrower than the feather fabric so that the lining would automatically roll to the inside.  I also understitched the neckline and armholes as far as I could to further minimise any visible lining.  The instructions don't have you do this which I think is kind of essential for a dress like this.

I'm also not entirely sure why the skirt and bodice are separate pattern pieces especially as the channel for the waist tie is added to the outside and is not part of the waist seam.  Perhaps you have to do that to create the blousey gathered effect but I think you could probably join the pattern pieces and omit the waist seam. 

The pattern prescribes a self fabric tie but I wanted to add some definition at the waist so I used some dark grey cord from Pacific Trimming instead. I copied the idea of a contrast thread finish on the cord ends from a RTW skirt my daughter has.

I wanted to use a bemberg rayon lining but couldn't find any in a colour that worked so I scouted around Mood and eventually found a lightweight silk cotton mix.  I mentioned in my last post that I'm not great at finding a bargain and even when I do in the case of this crepe, I manage to quadruple the cost of the dress by choosing a non-lining lining and spending $15 a yard. And I bought the amount the pattern recommended which was far too much. Ugh.

On the upside, I've already made a top out of the remainder and have enough left to make something else as well.  The other upside to that investment is I have silk/cotton next to my skin and that combined with the style of the dress means I don't get hot and it feels gorgeous.

It's a lovely pattern and I adore the fabric and am particularly pleased with the print placement around the neck.  I just wish I could get my sizing right but I won't be unpicking this anytime soon so this is probably the way it will stay.  And that's OK.

Do you struggle to pick the right size without a muslin / toile? And if you do how do you get it right?  

See you soon x