A linen Sway Dress

I absolutely loved reading the comments on my last post.  So many of you were so kind about my dress and how I should embrace what I want to wear - because if I feel good then that is all that matters. Thank you! The best bit was reading everyone's thoughts on their own personal style evolution and how they feel now compared to how they felt at 19. I could relate to pretty much everything and it was so lovely to read so many different stories.  Thank you!

The comments were pretty much unanimous in how comfort in your own skin and feeling more at ease with oneself and one’s style seems to come as we get older and we fundamentally give less of a damn as to what other people think, or have realised that, on the whole, people are too busy thinking their own thoughts to pass judgement on other randoms in the street. I absolutely agree with this. I try to wear what makes me happy, which one day (thanks to all the supportive comments) will be a figure hugging red stretch dress and the next will be this linen tent. 

Oh the joys of fickle magpie fashion tendencies.

Last year, for some reason, I tracked down Gray Line Linen in the Garment District and went a bit mad. I say for some reason, as linen and I don't generally rub along that well together.  I'm not a huge fan of the artfully crumpled look - mainly because I just look like I forgot to iron (purposeful forgetting is usually the case when it comes to me and ironing) rather than attractively relaxed and often the silhouettes that linen fabrics are made into - in RTW - are not to my taste.  I do see the attraction of a beautiful soft linen and its breeziness for sticky summer days, but that doesn't, or at least hasn't to date, really translated into garments for me.  So it was especially strange to be buying a fabric I don't love that was not the finest kind, for that read; it's pretty stiff and scratchy.  But I am a sucker for a stripe and a windowpane, so this ended up coming home with me. 

Only to sit unused for a year.

A while back whilst doing the bi-monthly ritualistic ‘let’s match fabric to pattern and daunt myself with an absurdly unachievable seasonal sewing list’, I had a thought to turn this windowpane into a Lexi top until I realised the pattern called for a stable stretch fabric.  I considered inserting a back opening / fastening but crispness is the order of the day for such a pattern and this linen whilst stiff and scratchy would not stay crisp for very long.  And clearly has no stretch.

I can't remember what lead me to the Sway Dress by Papercut Patterns and this fabric as a match instead - particularly as the pattern held little interest for me when I first saw it - but I do know that I wanted to sew this up as something that would work with the stiffness of the linen rather than fight it and the swingy shape of the Sway Dress enables just that - it creates the perfect tent.  Seriously, I could ditch my kids' play tent and just use this. Double duty. And they'd then have room to swing a cat in their bedroom. 

The Sway Dress is quite possibly the simplest dress pattern in the world - no darts, no fastenings, no real fitting to be done; unless of course you're a lanky giant with an absurdly long chest and swimmer's shoulders (without actually being a swimmer), and an all-in-one facing that means no fiddly binding on the neck and armpits.  

May I just draw your attention to that pattern matching down the centre front seam ...

Simple. But at the same time with lovely details; the close fit through the chest and shoulders that tames the tent a little and the fact that you can wear it with the V at the front or at the back. 

... and down the back!

I chose the back and because I needed to make a half inch forward shoulder adjustment, I can't easily wear it the other way.  I could probably have done with a half inch broad back adjustment as well as I think it might pull a little. I did increase the chest length by half an inch. This is as simple as cutting across the pattern piece through the armhole and inserting some paper and rejoining the armhole.  Which is great (unless there are sleeves involved then it gets a little more tricky), as for me this ensures the armhole isn't too tight and also moves the bust point to, or closer to the correct point.  Even though there are no darts here, I can assume that the bust point will be too high for me as this is a standard fitting issue I have.

Going by my bust measurement, I cut an XS in the longer length - even though I don't intend to use a waist tie - as the short length looks like it would be indecent on me. I did end up cutting 4 inches off the hem (better that way around) as the hem length is crucial in this fabric to avoid this being about as flattering as a bin bag.  

It is such a simple pattern and really quick to sew and I could see making it in a very fluid silk would create such a different dress.   Thing number 218 that I love about sewing patterns - the versatility and never ending options from just one pattern.  

I’m pretty pleased with the outcome of this combination of pattern and fabric.  I don’t always get that right, but increasingly I’m learning what does and doesn’t work for a particular style and silhouette. It again, is a very personal thing that relates to one’s own style and the fabrics we as individuals like to wear - I’m defo a natural fibres girl (to be frank, synthetics just make me sweaty) who goes easy on the prints (large-scale florals aside 1, 2, 3…) 

So I’d love to know how you determine whether a fabric is suitable for your vision (recommended fabrics aside)?

And which are you most likely to change to suit - the fabric or the pattern choice?

Thanks again for the uplifting and generous comments. This is truly a special community to be part of.

See you soon xx

Copycat: Sewing the Echo Dress

So here starts the documentation of my inspirational thievery.  

You know when you walk into a store and see something and think, "That's lovely but I could SO make it myself."  And then your eye gets caught by all the other pretty things and quickly your little brain gets totally overwhelmed and you walk out of the store and promptly forget everything you just saw as it becomes an indecipherable vortex of colour and shape. Yes? No? Dramatic, much?

But you know what I mean - all those many things you see and love and want to make but there is simply not enough brain space or time for them all. 

So then you need to introduce some kind of One Step Programme for Sewing. One day at a time, one garment at a time, one piece of (p)inspiration at a time. And focus. And with focus, i.e. the opposite of flitting from one pretty thing to another, comes actual realisation of your vision, which can be pretty ace or can be really not.

Happily for me, this first Copycat, which I've oh so obviously named the Echo Dress, falls into the former bracket.  

In the equation of sewing:

The below Pinterest goody = Emma One Sock abstract print stretch denim + Papercut Patterns Saiph Tunic. 

I love this dress and I knew as soon as I saw it that the Saiph Tunic Variation 1 would be perfect to recreate it. The difficult bit was finding a stonewashed denim that was suitable for a dress. No luck whatsoever, so I allowed myself to be distracted by the other pretty things until I was browsing the Halls of Deliciousness that is Emma One Sock's website and found this absolutely gorgeous light to medium weight stretch denim. It's not stonewashed but it has that air to it and more importantly it reminds me of white clouds on a sunny day which is reason enough to buy any fabric to my slightly sentimental (and at the time spring-starved) mind.

I have made the other variation of the Saiph Tunic before and it is a lovely pattern - I like the relaxed fit, dropped waist and and I love the deep keyhole closure at the back. I made my first attempt too large, in beige silk with the most horrid interfacing on the neck facing and so it's not the most wearable.  Not least because I should never EVER wear beige.

My alterations

Aside from fit alterations, there weren't many changes to make to achieve the look of the copycatted dress:

  • Cut a size smaller than last time round and didn't grade between sizes at the hips as I usually do.
  • Lowered the french dart
  • Shortened the sleeves (reversing this tutorial) to 20 cm / 8 inches
  • I was going to move the pockets to the side seam à la inspiration, but had sewn the pattern directed waist seam pockets before I remembered that.
  • I couldn't decide whether to use the facing or a bias bound neck, but ultimately I wanted a clean finish at the neck so opted for the facing.  I didn't interface it though and I made it out of lining fabric rather than the denim to reduce bulk. I'm not sure it's wholly successful and think perhaps the facing could be wider which might make it sit better.
  • Added 3 inches to the bodice length and a further 3 inches to the hem length to ensure I can wear it as a dress without leggings etc. 
  • Serged all seam allowances before I sewed the seams which has created a lovely clean finish inside but I did cheat a bit by hemming the sleeves before sewing the side seams / undersleeve seam which I know is a no-no, but they meet up fine and I don't think anyone other than me will notice.

What else could I do?

Aside from finding a true stonewash denim, the only other change I would make to replicate this dress in its entirety would be to slightly taper the skirt down to the hem, but I don't think that would be as flattering on me. 

I am so pleased with how this turned out and it got its first proper outing today in the most glorious Brooklyn Spring sunshine.  It is really comfortable, and I felt great in it.  It's a little on the short side but one of the things I love about this city is anything goes and no-one cares what you wear so I think I can get away with it!

I've just been catching up on the many many blogs I read and saw this post by Marie and was really interested as to her take on copying RTW clothes.  For me it's an opportunity to emulate something I love and make it fit better and be more affordable, but for her it is a bit of a cop-out in the creativity department.  Which it probably is but I'm ok with that as long as I like what I make. 

So how did I do? 

So, and this makes me feel like I'm competing in something like iceskating or trampolining, I'm going to, in a very self-congratulatory manner, score my copycats' merits in terms of fabric selection, shape and style lines and overall success and .....

The Echo Dress here gets 3 out of 3.  Yep that'll be a gold medal for me then!

What do you think?

See you soon x