Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Swiss Dot Love

The sun is shining, the birds are singing, the flowers are blooming... and I'm in love!!!... In love with my vintage swiss dot fabric!

Don't get me wrong. I love my husband and children too. But the swiss dot is fulfilling such a wonderful desire. It's the desire of fabric that sews up beautifully. It doesn't stretch or slip, it doesn't fray, it gathers like a dream and drapes gracefully. ...sigh... I love being in love.

This fabric is such a joy to work with that I've hard a hard time walking away from this project. Sometimes I work out of order from the instruction. I've done so with this project, starting with the skirt. I just wanted to get a feel for how the fabric handles, and I always run a few test scraps to adjust the tension.

Because the fabric is very light weight, if the sun is behind you, well... so I decided to make a simple skirt lining. I chose a beautiful tissue weight 60% linen/40% cotton blend. I wanted something simple that would add a bit of structure (so the skirt wouldn't hang limply) and provide modesty, not fight the shape of the skirt and remain cool and breathable (since this is obviously a summer dress).

Sure, I could wear a slip. But this is a classy dress and I felt it deserves a proper lining. The linen/cotton worked perfectly. I simply cut the pieces identical to the skirt, only one inch shorter, then basted it to the top waistline. Doris is modeling the skirt, although it's not gathered. But it does show how nicely it hangs.

After finishing the skirt section, I began the bodice. It's pretty straight forward. The only thing I had to watch with this fabric is when the needle stitches into a dot. The dot gives a bit of resistance to the needle and gets punched down slightly into the feed dogs. This was easily rectified by placing my fingers to the outside and bottom of the presser foot, just to keep the fabric taught and to prevent the punching.

The detailing on the bodice is oh so feminine. The back neck is actually seamed rather than having a tie or closure. Pleats are pressed at the back neck seam which makes the fabric go to into flattering and gentle folds down the front bustline. The front neckline has a hemline that is folded, hemmed and then edgestitched.

The bottom of the bodice bustline is gathered. Boy does this fabric gather splendidly! After gathering, it is attached to the midriff section. I took my time pinning and sewing this distinct curve. The bustline and midriff are the main design features and most visible so I want my stitching to be extremely accurate for a smooth and crisp line.

After that, I made up the back bodice. It has two skinny darts, just enough to add shaping. The back is then seamed to front at the sides, leaving the left side open for the zip below the dot.

I tried it on and I'm thrilled that fit is coming out perfectly. I knew from my initial tests of measuring the pattern pieces and holding it up that it would be close and require minimal tweaking. But to need nothing... did I mention that I'm in love?

I finished to this point on Saturday. Sunday we went to Six Flags Great America and had a blast! I did type up a blog entry yesterday, but when I hit publish, I got an error message and lost my post! At that point, my sewing time was ticking away so I left the post for today (which I will copy before trying to publish).

I'm nearly finished with the dress (I finished the bodice facing and attached the skirt) and have been thinking about the jacket. Yesterday, I felt that I was running out of time (because of the impending move) and would have stop with the dress only. Today, I want to make the whole ensemble. However, I've changed my mind about using the blue swiss dot for the jacket (with the tan contrast).

Instead, I ordered an ivory linen/silk blend fabric from Thai Silks. I'll use that for the jacket, and still use the tan dot dress fabric for the collar and cuffs. The dots are in fact an off-white ivory opposed to pure white. I don't know if that's how the fabric was originally made or if it's due to aging. I think the ivory linen/silk will add a real touch of class - well, that's the idea any way.


Charity said...

How did I miss this blog, Kellie? I'm glad to have arrived at the party, even if I'm late. And will shortly be adding you to my blogroll. Your swiss dot project reminds me of a vintage dress that one of my sewing students brought for me to see. It belonged to her great-grandmother. It's a shirtwaist from the 40s-50s, not sure of exact date. Still in very good condition. It fit my student beautifully and her first project was to sew a sheath slipdress to wear under it for Easter. You can see a photo of her wearing the dress here.


When Ladies Dressed said...

Charity, I'm so glad you stopped to take a look! I'm having so much fun reading everybody's blog and doing mine - it's so motivational! Thanks for the link - that dress is just classic! What a wonderful and sentimental item to have! I love your projects and enthusiasm for teaching. This is too fun!

Amy G. said...

This dress is lovely--I can't wait to see the finished product! I'm a new reader, too, and so glad I found you! I like to sew for myself and my daughter, and prefer vintage styles too, so I'm in heaven here!

When Ladies Dressed said...

Thanks so much for visiting Amy! Yes, the vintage patterns sure are addictive... the more I work with them, the more I love them! OK, heading over to your blog now!

Bunny said...

Kellie, I can't wait to see this gem. I have really enjoyed watching your vintage garments come alive. You have a real knack for matching fabric to pattern.