Swish and Bloom

Given that I made a pledge to catch up on all my unblogged items, and given that I have almost THIRTY THINGS TO WRITE ABOUT, I’m gonna try and write every day – or, heh, on this evidence, every OTHER day, at least.

This lovely little number also has the honour of being the latest thing I’ve sewn! I completed it a few days ago, which sounds kinda efficient but REALLY REALLY ISN’T.

Why? Because I’ve had this dress cut-out and ready to go since LAST SUMMER.

The fabric is a rather thin viscose from FabricLand. At only £4.99 a metre it’s not the challis I was looking for TBH (which I used in a friend’s dress), so I’m kinda dreading trying to iron it after it’s inaugural laundering (don’t worry, I pre-washed the yardage before sewing!) However it IS lovely and cool, and the print is lovely, even if it’s now VERY last-year, sigh…

The pattern is one I picked up for a song from a craft fair; Cotton and Chalk’s Olivia dress;

It was originally a freebie with Simply Sewing Mag, back in 2016. It’s now sold out (obviously), but lots of copies of the pattern are available across t’internets.

But! Here’s a weird twist! It is IDENTICAL to a current Kwik Sew pattern K4156;

Seriously! The line art is FREAKIN’ IDENTICAL;

So .. Has Cotton and Chalk/Simply Sewing done a cheeky copy? It seems unlikely. Perhaps they’ve simply bought the Kwik Sew pattern and reprinted it as their own? WHO KNOWS.

I used a French seam to add the frill. Can we just take a moment to acknowledge how CRAZY that is??

What I DO know is that it’s a lovely simple pattern. Or else, it would be if I wasn’t working with such not-brilliant fabric! Honestly, it took FAR longer to construct than it should have done, simply because I had to enclose EVERY SODDING INTERNAL SEAM to stop the damn thing from fraying.

(I have a geriatric serger in my possession. I think I need to get to grips with it, so I can finish seams far faster than my selection of French, Fake French and bias-bound seams currently allows…)

As for alterations; yes, there were a few. The most obvious is the hemline.

I eschewed the high-low look for a more SEDATE one-level, purely because the fabric is printed and, I don’t know, having the plainer reverse of the fabric being SO visible didn’t jive with me, man.

I recut the whole top of the dress from a size S to a size XS at the armholes and upwards because I realised FAR too late that the armhole depth was too deep for me.

(This is a regular problem I have with RTW, too. Being a modest 5’2″-ish, I find petite stuff fits better although it CAN mean that the sleeves are too short, because I have a FREAKISHLY wide wing-span for my height, apparently. I had to return a whole bunch of stuff to Oliver Bonas yesterday, purely because it’s made for someone a good 4″ taller than me, sigh…)

I also ditched a pattern alteration to remove 1cm in bodice length, which I’d made BEFORE realising that I needed to recut the shoulders etc (which automatically removed 1cms in length). Luckily this just meant that I had to remark the elastic casing line (hurrah for lack of shaping!), which was more of a faff than anything else, but a lesson learnt for next time.

I also made the world’s most OBVIOUS pattern alteration; I added pockets! Seriously OF COURSE I DID.

I don’t think I can EVER make a dress without checking if I can add in-seam pockets, as they are practical, cool, and allow you to pose for a photo with the kind of insouciance that mere mortals wearing pocket-less garments can only DREAM OF.

So here it is. A much-delayed, totally-behind-the-trends, swishy and feminine dress. I have ZERO ruffles in my wardrobe, but I do feel nice in it. Pretty, even. I LOVE the bishop sleeves, gathered into elastic at my wrists (I used lingerie elastic, so that they’re more comfortable to wear especially if pushed up – top tip, peeps!)

I also really like the elastic waistline! It feels comfortable and adds a touch of casualness (is that a real word?) to what is, as ever, a garment that’s ever so slightly/completely more formal than my lifestyle will EVER require. Plus a tie belt, yay!

Will I make it again? Look; even before I assembled THIS ONE I was planning a maxi version in a heavier (thank GOD) black viscose with tiny white dots, a yardage that’s languished in my stash for FOREVER. I picture Vs 2 to be perfect for the autumn, teamed with my leather jacket and some biker boots.

But right now? I’m enjoying being a rather elegant lady *swishes skirt*.

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