Thursday, December 23, 2010

According to Karl Largerfeld (as quoted in October BurdaStyle which has ONLY JUST arrived here), you are either born with style or you are not. I can almost imagine him sighing whistfully as he added, "it's unfair."

I think style is on a cline. Some people have oodles of it and are way down one end, some have next to none and are down the other. All the rest (of which I include myself) are somewhere in the middle - good days, bad days, successes and failures some great looks, some not so great.

Although I admire stylish people tremendously I do not feel great envy that I am not in their camp. I am much more interested in following ideas though, and as I have said before, I have a soft spot for ugliness and frumpiness that will never see me looking sharp and chic. That's the way I like it. I would never in a million years pay a consultant to tell me how to dress.

All of this is a long winded way of saying that I was drawn to this fabric, a silk crepe, because of its ugliness. The colours I knew would suit me, but this fabric had an unpleasant nannerish quality that repelled a lot of people (hence on the sale rack) but suckered me in.

While I was flicking through some summer back issues of Burda I kept coming back to this dress, although I had a lot of doubts about the pattern, my instinct was to give it a shot.

Burda 06-2010-106

Because silk crepe is very slippery I had to take a lot of care on what would otherwise be a very straightforward pattern. I stabilised the neckline with bias strips of interfacing cut from the pattern measurements to hold the neckline and stop any gaping, and I interfaced where the zipper was going in to firm it up. I also did some hand basting, which is the most effective way I know to tame slithery fabric. I didn't even toy with the idea of french seams, because I didn't make a muslin and so wanted to be able to alter the seams quickly and easily.....there, I've relieved you of the torture of impeccable finish but an overlocker (serger) is plenty good enough for me.

Front view

Back view

The one regret I have is that I didn't hand baste the sleeves. Because they were set in the round I was lulled into a false sense of security that there was not too much easing required but they are not sitting flat which means there was far more curve in them than I thought. Never mind - who's looking at my shoulders with a neckline that low?

This pattern was designed to be an apres beach cover up and its relaxed style meant I felt no guilt at all at using a rolled hem finish on the sleeves and hem. (rolled hem: right needle 4, top looper 4, bottom looper 6.75, width medium, rolled hem setting length 1.25) Yes very low end ready to wear but once I'd decided to neaten the edges on the overlocker I was well on the way of that slippery slope called nice'n'easy construction.

So that's my very last sewing achievement for this year. I am off to Nelson for Christmas to bully my sister into letting me help her sew a dress. She wants to sew it herself blog friends, and she doesn't want to do a FBA but insists on making everything 2 sizes too big instead. I cannot allow that to happen, especially if beautiful fabric is going to be harmed in its making.


  1. I was just about to sit down and cut the pattern out two sizes too big. The amount of technical skill required to perform an FBA freaks me out. Good thing you'll be here.

  2. I love this pattern. It looks like the perfect summer dress! Nice job.And thanks for all the info on it!

  3. How cool for me that you make up the exact pattern I'm thinking about doing in the Xmas/New Year break! And include details about construction and post pictures..thanks.

    Now I'm going to selfishly ask more questions and extract even more benefit for me from you (isn't the internet marvellous!)..

    Did you line the skirt? It looks like you might have, or perhaps what I think is lining is the change in background from light pittosporum (or whatever exotic kiwi plant that is) to dark fence.

    Does this style really need a zip? Have you tried pulling it over your head without undoing it?

    Now, your style comments. This dress looks great. Not what I would call nannaish, but I see your point about the could have gone that way with a different style. You look great in it, nice sandals too ( and they look comfortable..).

    Hope mine turns out as good as yours. I'm not planning on using exotic silk, just plain ol' cotton voile

  4. Sewingelle - Ok, it is a great top this one and I'm sure you'll make a great job of it. Best of all it is so cool and floaty for this hot weather we've been having!

    Now, to answer your questions, I could not get this on without the zipper - the waistband is supposed to hug your waist so there's no way to get it over my bust without a side release, and yes, I did try! If there's not much difference between your bust and waist measurement you could do it. Or if you don't mind stretching out the waistband every time you put it on.

    I didn't line the skirt I am wearing a full slip. The neckline plunges below the bra line, but you know it is supposed to be a beach cover up so with a bikini underneath it would be no big deal. I wanted to wear it as a dress for everyday wear hence the slip.

    Cotton voile would be perfect - the fabric needs to be light so that it hangs properly - there's quite a lot of gathering on the front waistband which be very unflattering in a heavier bulkier or stiff fabric.

    Good luck! Looking forward to seeing your version!

  5. It looks so cool and light. I want one. It does not look nannerish as you have styled it.

    Fast and easy are not necessarily dirty words!

    Good luck with your sewing sister wrestling.

  6. That is a fabulous dress. Stunning. And I love the fabric - floaty but serious. Nicely done.

  7. Low end techniques!? It looks OK to me! I am *l a z y* if I had a serger I'd do it all the time. The fabric doesn't look nanna-ish at all made up into this pattern. In fact the pattern really suits you. You look all hour-glassy in it. It's a pattern that I've had my eye on, but seeing how good it looks on you makes me think it might not be so successful on me (alas, I am STILL waiting for my boobs to grow! sigh)

    Merry Christmas!

  8. Looks perfect for wearing in this weather! And that plunging neckline defies any nannaish-ness!
    Have a great Christmas!

  9. That's Nanna-ish fabric? Well put me way down the stlye list then. Maybe it looks so lovely because the style of dress is so perfect for it. In any case, the dress looks great!

  10. What great fabric! You must have the funkiest Nana Styling - no hot pick crooked lipstick or teal eyeshadow. Enjoy your holiday in the sun.

  11. Great dress! Looks perfect for the season. Your sister is lucky to have your expertise -- wish mine could teach me the principles so I could apply to SBAs in all forms...

  12. You had me at, "I am much more interested in following ideas through".

    That's why I love your style Mary Nanna! This dress looks great on you. Clever choice of construction techniques to get the job done without agonizing over the process.

    enjoy this fun dress!

  13. I don't know what's wrong with that fabric because I think it looks fabulous made up as that dress. Beautiful! Great ideas on how to speed up the construction process!

  14. :-) sometimes we must fly to fabric's rescue, even if the sister herself refuses to be rescued :-).
    This fabric isn't that bad, you should just point out to the doubtful that it could be Japanese. Just don't specify it'd be for a Japanese lady 30 years older than you.. In any case silk crepe will very comfortable at the beach, which is a very good thing.