Curlew dress

Can you guess I’m on holiday? I’m getting lots of sewing done! This dress is a pattern from the Merchant and Mills Workbook, and it’s a bias cut dress with long sleeves. This was the first time I have sewn sleeves, and first time I’ve sewn something on the bias properly!

The fabric:

I made a mistake when choosing the fabric for this dress (why do I always make bad fabric choices?!). I chose a cotton poplin, which I now know doesn’t work well for bias cut clothes because it is fairly heavy. However, it did mean it was quite stable to sew and cutting out was a breeze.

The pattern:

As mentioned, this was from the Merchant and Mills Workbook. After comparing my measurements to those specified in the book I decided to go for size 12 for the top, and 10 for the bottom. I just joined the lines up inbetween. But once I started sewing it quickly became clear the top was far too small, so I reduced the seam allowance until it just about fit. If my fabric had had more bias stretch I might have got away with it.

The challenges:

I took my time with this because I thought it would be really hard, but actually it wasn’t too bad. The main challenge was figuring out the bust darts – I ended up re-sewing them three times! The first time they were too far into the bust and looked like nipples. The second attempt stopped too short and left some excess material. On the third attempt I put it on and pinched out the excess and sewed that and now they’re okay. Thankfully the material wasn’t damaged by my attempts!

I found setting in the sleeves okay and I tried really hard sew it all flat, but there are one or two puckers…

Another challenge was deciding how to finish the seams. I don’t have an overlocker and I needed to allow for stretch so couldn’t do bounded seams. I decided to make some bias binding and use Hong Kong seams, apart from at the shoulder where I used bounded seams.

The final result:

Sadly the dress is still too tight up top, and feels too tight in the shoulders. I’m going to try and let out the seams a bit more (although there isn’t much allowance left), and see if I can stretch the fabric out a bit.

As a dress I quite like it, but it feels a little dowdy. I’ve been thinking about putting a bit of embroidery at the bottom, or perhaps shortening the sleeves, which might help. If I made this again I think I’d use a really soft denim.

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