The Starry Night Dress

Despite what almost everyone in blogland says, quilting cotton is one of my favourite types of fabric to sew dresses with.  The prints are generally awesome and the fabric quality is brilliant… but they’re generally upwards of $16/m.

Usually Spotlight has a little selection on sale for $8/m, which I usually limit myself to, when looking for dress fabric.  But… when they have a 40% off all fabric sale, it’s really just an excuse to have a look at all the pretty non-clearance quilting fabrics – at far more palatable prices.  Yes, I know I’m cheap.

front-manneAnd didn’t they come up with the goods this time!  This is from the ‘Tribute to Vincent’ range, which has about half a dozen different van Gogh paintings available as fabric.  Starry Night has always been my favourite painting, so this was an easy choice.  I actually gasped audibly when I pulled this out.  Not joking.  It was  a little embarrassing.  I don’t think it’s hugely obvious on the dress that it’s based on a painting, but the colours make this dress quite out-there anyway, I think.

starry-front-handI thought a lot about which pattern to use – I didn’t want something too straight and sleek, as I always think the more out-there prints look better on full skirts.

I actually had my flash of inspiration while lying in bed that night – the Anna bodice with a gathered skirt!For the first time, I went with the V-neck Anna and I used my de-tuliped Elisalex skirt pieces, ignoring the pleats and just gathering until it fit the bodice.  I’d call it an AnnaLex, but I’d say that’s probably a bit of a stretch!starry-front-live

This didn’t go terribly smoothly.  I’d only bought 2m of the fabric, as that is all my recent Elisalex dresses had required.  Um – not enough for an AnnaLex with 115cm wide directional fabric!

I cut out my skirt pieces – then try as I might, I couldn’t get both my bodice pieces to fit on the remaining fabric.  In hindsight, I should have gone back for another 50cm, but for some strange reason I didn’t think of that.  Instead, I patched two pieces of fabric together and cut one of the back bodice pieces out of that.  I think it looks fine… not my finest moment, perhaps, but it’ll do.

back-joinsOf course, this meant that I didn’t have enough room to match the pattern on the back seam.  I really don’t know why I didn’t just change my mind and go for the Elisalex, but I was particularly bull-headed the morning I cut it out.

starry-back-liveYou can’t see the join from a distance… but I really wished the back pattern matched!  Lucky I can’t see it when I look in the mirror.  🙂

Other than that, it was a nice and easy sew!  The insides are all overlocked and I used a cute contrast fabric for my facings.  Not a design feature – not enough main fabric!  I tacked them down at the V and shoulders, but they still flapped around and drove me mental.  So a few days later I catch-stitched the whole thing down.  It’s a lot more wearable now!

facing-catchstitchCheck out the zipper!  I decided it was about time I conquered my fear of lapped zippers.  I first tried them when I was a newbie sewist and they mostly went horrendously wrong.

Then I discovered invisible zips and the By Hand London tutorial for inserting them and I didn’t look back.  I put invisible zippers in everything.  But then Spotlight’s range of invisible zips got really crap and I realised they were $3.50 more than regular zippers.  So this is my first attempt at a centred zipper.  I used the instructions from the Colette Sewing Handbook and it was a lot easier than I expected.back-manneIt’s not perfect – I tried to line up my presser food with the edge of the zipper tape on both sides, despite the fact that it was the other way around.  So, one side is perfect and the other side… isn’t.  Oh well.  It’s 1000x better than my previous attempts.  So I’m being lazy and leaving it.  What a rebel!  Oh, and next time I’d sew the facing down AFTER I insert the zipper.  It makes it much neater, but it’s been so long since I’ve used a facing, I forgot.

Despite all the mess-ups in construction, I love this dress.  I love the look of the Anna bodice with the gathered skirt.

And the V-neck!  How have I not done this before!  It’s lovely.  It’s nice for summer too, as it makes for a looser fit than the slash neck.  (Ugh, that phrase freaks me out – slash neck.  It’s like something from a horror movie.)

starry-front-closeI’m really loving the BHL patterns right now.  Their Love Children totally inspired me – and they mix and match so beautifully!  That’s the beauty of the internet – it never would have occurred to me that mixing patterns was an option, but I’ve seen so many gorgeous versions (especially from Dolly Clackett – man, I just want everything she sews) that I’m totally inspired.

I really love the idea Sonja from Ginger Makes described as the Saturday dress – easy to throw on, cute and comfy.  That’s pretty much all I wear and what I’d love my entire wardrobe to be.  The BHL patterns are coming up trumps!

Another easy, complete-outfit dress in a fairly out-there fabric.  Win!

The Maths
Fabric: 2m @ $10.19/m = $20.38

Dress zip: $1.79

Facing fabric: stash, free.

Total: $22.17

A Summery Brown Elisalex

This dress was heaps of fun to make!

brown-elisalex-front-live I saw the fabric on the quilting fabric clearance table for $8/m while picking out buttons for my Marion Cardigan.  I resisted, then went back for it a week later.  It’s not an impulse buy if you can’t get it out of your head!  It’s… uh… research.brown-elisalex-back-liveI’d already muslined the bodice for my Got Your Back Dress, so I made it straight up, without fiddling with the fit at all.  It was super quick – for the first time ever for me, I sewed smart.  I pinned all the seams I could at once, sewed them all, then ran them through the overlocker one after the other.  It was so much faster!brown-elisalex-inside-backI have no idea how it happened, given the perfect length of my first Elisalex, but the skirt was way, way too long.  I took 9 1/2″ off the skirt to get it just above the knee.  This was a shame really.  I’d been really keen to do the short sleeves, but didn’t have enough fabric.  If only I’d take the excess off at the start, I would have had plenty of room.

Oh well.  I added lace to the inside hem (given to me by the lovely Hannah), which more than makes up for the lack of sleeves.brown-elisalex-inside-hemThe fit is actually a bit looser than I was aiming for – it’s a little big through the bust and waist.  I was a bit disappointed at first, before I realised it was actually my perfect dress – light fabric, loose, breezy fit, still looking put together.  So I’m actually really happy with it for summer – I’ll make a couple more this size, I think, then put some time into getting the more fitted look.  The weather is warming up and I’m in dire need of summer clothes.  I didn’t bother lining it, so it’s even cooler.

It was quite an enjoyable, relaxing sew.  I’d had a bit of a crap day, not feeling well, so it as nice to just get home and sew through a nice easy pattern I didn’t need to adjust.

brown-elisalex-inside-shoulderI went speedy too – I skipped the lining, bias bound the raw edges.  I also overlocked my seams.

I started cutting at 5pm, sewed til 9pm then finished it off in the morning between 6 and 7am.  Not bad – especially considering I only bought the fabric that afternoon, prewashed it, ironed it dry and then started cutting out.

I’m a sucker for a quick sew!


The Maths

Fabric: 2m for $8/m = $16

Thread: stash

Bias tape: stash

Lace hem: from Hannah in the Spring Sewing Swap

Zip: $3

Total: $19