Saturday, January 16, 2016

First Garment of the New Year

My chapter of ASDP (Association of Sewing and Design Professionals) had its holiday meeting last Sunday. Most years we plan this as a museum visit followed by lunch at a restaurant, and we schedule it for early January to avoid conflict with everyone's holiday events.
This year two of us wanted to host a social gathering, so Donna and I invited everyone to my home for an afternoon tea. The response was terrific, and the event was a real success. Lots of wonderful food, a huge number of teas to choose from, great company and stimulating conversation. Sonia shared these photos on our Facebook page -

Such fun to be able to pull out my good china and Donna's best tea cups.

Some of the NE ASDP chapter members.

So much good food - from traditional scones with clotted cream and lemon curd, to finger sandwiches and tons of goodies. Donna's floral arrangement is in a blue teapot, complementing the theme. The tablecloth is one of her treasures - crocheted by her mother.

We challenged each other to wear or bring something to show what we'd been working on, so I took the opportunity to make a new dress. One of the last purchases I made while still working for Sawyer Brook was yardage in a lovely dressweight ponte knit, in both black and navy. I'll probably use the black for something for Dr. Erin, but the navy was destined to be my version of an LBD (I don't do black unless I absolutely have to, like for chorus uniforms.) I wanted a tailored dress, not quite a sheath, with some nice details. I chose Simplicity 2404, one of the Amazing Fit line. This is the second of this group of patterns that I've tried, and I do like the fit options they've included. The bodice pieces come in cup sizes, and the skirt on this particular pattern also includes either curvy or slim fit options for the back piece. I made view B, but added the sleeves - extended to 3/4 length.

I made a muslin of the bodice and top of the skirt, to high hip level. I didn't know if I could trust the full bust alterations needed to magically happen in the provided pattern pieces. I'm glad I did - the bodice fit beautifully across the bust, but felt a bit skimpy in length below the front bust, even using the D cup variation. A comparison of the pattern pieces shows just over 1/4" extra is added to the length for the increased cup size, and the resulting seam sits too high for my taste. I had allowed a 1" seam allowance at the waist seam on my muslin, so I was able to lower the seam 1/2" across the front from side front seam to side front seam. Even then the seam was hitting just above my bra underwire. For the actual garment, I lowered the front empire seam a full inch. In my soft stretchy ponte knit, I probably would have been fine with just the half inch added, but if I do this again in a woven I'll want to allow the extra just in case.

Here are photos of the dress on my dress form Gwendolyn - she's not quite as well-rounded as I am, so you won't see how it fits. 

Here's my review:

Pattern:  Simplicity 2404, View B + sleeves from View A, lengthened.

Fabric: Dressweight rayon/nylon/spandex ponte knit -  "Cosmopolitan" in navy from Sawyer Brook. Interfacing - Pro-Tricot Deluxe fusible from Fashion Sewing Supply
Size: 14 neck, shoulders, armscye and sleeve caps; 16 bust, side seam at underarm, 20 waist and hip.

Amazing Fit variations used: D cup front bodice pieces. Even so, I added 1" in length to the front and side front at the empire waist seam, tapering back to the original seamline at the side seams. As I am pretty flat in the seat, the regular fit skirt back was used.

Construction details: Seams sewn on the Bernina, pressed open and edges serged separately. Exception: waistline seam allowances were pressed towards bodice and serged together, but split open at the center back seam for less bulk in the zipper. Neckline finished with facing, invisible zipper in center back. Hems at sleeves and skirt are serged at the edge machine blindhemmed with my blindhemmer. I didn't like the look of the coverstitch hem with this tailored style in the ponte, but it was tough to get the blindhem stitch deep enough to hold without an indentation on the outside. Maybe too fussy, but I may go back and restitch the hem by hand.

Did it look like the pattern when finished?  Yes - the seam details are hard to see in the dark fabric, but they're there.

Would I do it again? Yes. The drafting is good, no errors found in the way the dress goes together.

The lines of this dress are really lovely - it feels good on,  and I was comfortable all day wearing it. The box pleat dart release in the front skirt is a nice touch. I used the tricot interfacing on the zipper seam and the neckline facing, giving just the right amount of body to this super soft drapey ponte. If I do another one in this weight ponte, I may line the bodice instead of using the facing, but then I'd need to find a way to get the interfacing along the neckline. I'm not fond of the lumpiness of the seam allowances over the bust princess lines, but I'm not certain a lining would have helped with that. The better choice might have been to use a two-thread overlock stitch rather than three-thread.

Working with the ponte knit, I did have to be very careful when pressing - particularly when fusing the interfacing. It was so easy to overpress and have iron shine/show through on the fabric right side. I did a lot of steaming from above, and layered my silk organza presscloth both on top of and below the area being pressed, and that seemed to help. Where I needed to use additional pressure to fuse,  I added a layer of self fabric below the garment piece,  as I would do for pressing velvet.

So, it's only mid-January, but I've completed one garment (for me, no less!) I've also got the first custom client of the year booked, a mother-of-the-bride for an August wedding, and an appointment with another client for a custom prom gown coming up. Plus, I've been asked to teach private lessons to guide a new student in jacket making - so it would appear that 2016 is off to an amazing start! 

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