The Challenge has a great twist this year. Rather than make two new dresses, the idea is to take a dress you’ve made but ignored, and make it more wearable by adding to the look. The challenge fit perfectly with my recent efforts to curate my wardrobe (inspired by the show, Tidying Up!). I’ve really been reviewing my me-mades in an attempt to figure out what works for me, and what doesn’t, a challenge I hope will illuminate my future me-made efforts.
My Basic Dress
Even though I used a lovely rayon knit to make this dress last year, I felt it was just too plain for me, and the color made me feel a bit like I belonged on the flight crew of a local airline, LOL! Yet, the rayon jersey is as comfortable to wear as silk, so I just couldn’t toss the dress. My first order of business for this challenge was to modify my original dress slightly, to give it more style by adding a ruffle to the sleeve, a design element I noticed in the Max Mara Spring line – – there are cool ruffles everywhere!
The pattern for this dress (McCalls 6886) is a simple one I’ve used many times before, so modifying it was really fun. To add the ruffle to the sleeve, I sewed a long, double-faced ruffle 1 and 1/2 times the length of the sleeve and three inches wide that I gathered with three rows of gathered stitching. To insert it on the sleeve, I first unpicked the sleeve from the bodice (since I’d already made the dress, LOL), and unpicked the sleeve seam itself so that I could lay the sleeve flat. From there, it was easy to sew on the ruffle, aligning it with the center of the shoulder, extending the ruffle to the wrist. Then, I re-sewed the sleeve seam, and inserted it into the bodice of the dress. The process was time-consuming, but the sewing was easy.
Once modified, the dress had more appeal to me, but it still didn’t feel that versatile. To work in my life, a dress work at the grocery store, at a business meeting, then to dinner with friends. So, to make this dress more functional, I added my favorite go-to accessory, a ‘topper’.
DAY LOOK: Adding some edge
For my day look, I used a Lisette pattern, Butterick 6169, a basic moto jacket pattern I know I’ll use again.
My fabric is a lightweight wool blend and I love the cozy feeling I get just looking at its fleece-like pile.
Construction was straightforward and the pattern fit without modification. Adding the zipper looks harder than it is, I’m pleased to say! This cropped jacket will be a favorite, I can tell as I can imagine how it will look with my ginger jeans, with skirts…with everything I own! I love how its funky animal print vibe gives a bit of an edge to my fussy-looking dress.
NIGHT LOOK: Adding BLING
To create my night look, I added another topper, a jacket with some sparkle (There are little sequins imbeded in the boucle. They’re hard to see in the photos.)
I used a long-favorite pattern of mine, Butterick 5569, a coat with a vintage vibe and a big wide collar (OOP but available on Etsy.)
I fell in love with this glitzy fabric without thinking much about how it would be to work with.
Wow – – It was a challenge and a half. This fabric unravels if you just look at it wrong and it doesn’t move easily under the presser foot. So, I had to layer tissue paper over each seam before sewing to keep the fabric from bunching. It was a time-consuming effort, but I love the result. Not only that, but I learned how to sew with a special fabric, something that normally intimidates me. I’m so glad I decided to line this coat with silk. It will always feel special to wear it. I know this jacket is going to be in heavy rotation…It will work with dresses, skirts, even with my Ginger jeans!
I loved the Day/Night Dress Challenge this year, and I learned a lot from taking it on. From a wardrobe perspective, I’m definitely a girl who loves to wear a good ‘topper’! For me, a jacket/sweater/wrap can take a basic dress from Ho-hum to a keeper. I also learned how to sew with a challenging fabric (sequins!). I know I’ll never be intimidated by glitzy fabric again:).
Thank-you Elizabeth, for the invitation to join and for hosting the challenge. It’s an honor to be featured here with these talented sewing friends.
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First, the Burda top…..My box of precious fabric bits and lacy remnants is overflowing these days, so I’ve adopted a new ‘tidying up’ rule. If I can’t find a use for a remnant within six months of adding it to the box, it must go. So, I was thrilled to find this lovely pattern that seems designed to use up my bits and pieces.
Burda Style 12/2018/103 ticks a lot of boxes for me. Since my daily uniform of choice is a knit top with jeans, this one has the potential to stretch my every day wardrobe significantly. I also have a thing for peplums (here and here), so I couldn’t resist this assymetrical version. Then there’s the opportunity here to mix fabrics…a big plus when you’re working with remnants.
Because I could see lots of potential here, I decided it would be worth the extra step of tracing the pattern from the magazine insert (usually a hard sell for me!!). Luckily, this pattern only has four pieces to trace (a front and back bodice, and a front and back peplum) so it took me less than a half hour – – Score!! Also, since Burda patterns don’t include seam allowances, I’ve taken to tracing a size up to avoid the process of adding seam allowances to each piece. So far, this method has worked well for me.
Recommended fabrics are knits for the bodice, and softly draping blouse fabrics for the peplum. I used a rayon knit for the bodice of both my versions. On the white version, I used a remnant of eyelet lace for the peplum and a remnant of silk for the blue peplum.
The blue silk was a bit tricky to work with. It’s sheer and my Bernina wanted to eat it:). I’ve found that to sew with silk, I have to use the right needle in my machine..the sharper the better!
The sheer fabric really dresses up the top, so the torture was worth it. I used my rolled hem foot to put a narrow hem on this peplum. I didn’t have enough of the bodice fabric for the sleeves so I cut them from a remnant of solid blue rayon jersey – – another piece from the pile!! I always feel so virtuous when I use a remnant, don’t you?
This top was an easy sew. The neck is finished with a bias strip, and I used my twin needle to hem the sleeves and the lace. All of the seams are serged, but you could use a zig-zag stitch as well. Instructions on Burda Style patterns can be a bit brief, but in this case, there really wasn’t much of a need to elaborate. One other note…the fit on this top is loose and very forgiving, so I didn’t find I needed any adjustments.
I was able to complete both of the tops in an afternoon. There’s nothing like a quick project on a Sunday afternoon, don’t you think?
In other news, I visited the Dior exhibit in Denver last week and was completely blown away by the exquisite designs and fabrics and finishings. Here are a few shots to enjoy…
(If only I was a better photographer…) The first dress here is embroidered with branches and leaves and flowers…so beautiful! The green dress was worn by Nicole Kidman to the Oscars. It has netting, embroidery and fur trim! And let me tell you, this dress is….well, tiny.
The dress on the left is covered with equisitely made tassels. The red dress here is embroidered with flowers and studded with pearls and sequins. The white dress is tassled too. Touching these gowns was out of the question of course, but wouldn’t that be fabulous? We sewists are tactile creatures, aren’t we? After leaving the exhibit, I could hardly wait to get home to sew.
This week, I’ll be working on my look for the Day/Night Dress Challenge. I’ll be posting my look on February 22. There’s a community challenget too and prizes…join us!