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