all my own work by ann

Sewing and textiles with Ann

The Aspen Dress

img_0589After the success of the Claire Cami by Serendipity Studios, I bought another of their patterns back in July. It was always intended as a winter dress, and it’s been made just in time. Serendipity Studios patterns are not for the faint-hearted, but I am finding them to be good.

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They come with so many options, and requirements are broken down to garment sections, so that you can mix and match fabric. It’s essential to read the pattern before you start and then calculate how much you will need of everything (and then convert into metres, as it’s all in yards, being from the US.) In principle it should have been straightforward to calculate for this dress, as I had always intended it to be from one fabric, and embellished. I bought the fabric at Fancy Silk Store during SewBrum, so it came with 10% discount. However, I have bought far too much fabric, despite the calculation tables. Maybe she just cut too much, but I have enough for a jacket and am therefore contemplating which jacket to make and how to embellish it.

I’ve had a few months to think about this, and gather together the trimmings. I used some satin bias binding from Birmingham market to pipe the yoke seams, and as a late addition, decided to pipe the sleeve cuff seam as well.

The buttons were bought in Leeds during SewUpNorth, so these sewist Meets Up events have a lot to answer for! The blue / grey buttons match the piping very well.

I know you can cheat with piping, but there is piping cord inside the bias binding,  and it was all tacked into place before sewing with a zip foot. The buttons are for decoration only. There are no buttonholes as the dress is designed to go over the head.

The crepe was a good choice of fabric as it is hanging very well, although I am wondering about finishing the bottom with a hem band. I think if I do it again, I will just add 5cm to the dress length, as it slightly spoils the drape. A hemband is part of the suggested finishes and it worked well with the Cami maxi dress.

For me, the hardest part was probably the sleeve trimming. I measured the sleeve band based on the widest part of my hand, as I often have trouble getting things e.g bracelets, over my hand. I should have checked the measurement of my lower arm as well, as they are a bit tight, but OK. With gathers in the fabric and no ‘give’ in the material, sewing the sleeve cuffs and piping in place was quite fiddly. That were 5 layers of fabric and not a lot of space for manoeuvre.  I was even more concerned about the prospect of finishing it with the overlocker, but with care, attention and a slow foot on the pedal, it worked OK. Again, i tacked before any action!

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The pattern uses a very strange way of inserting the elastic. It uses the seam between the bodice and skirt to create a casing for the elastic, with the result that you’d be sticthing through the casing if you stiched the side seams. So the elastic is inserted into the front and back of the garment, then the yokes are sticthed on, and then you sew the side seams.

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It means that you have elastic flapping, and it felt like all parts of the dress hanging around between partially inserted elastic. But after all that, it worked and the finish is comfortable. I couldn’t think of another way to do it!

I still like Serendipity Studios patterns (just wish the name was a bit easier to type!) I acquired another pattern at SewUpNorth, so there could be a summer dress waiting in the wings. Although the short sleeved version of this one would make a rather nice floaty summer dress if made with a lace yolk, and soft floaty fabric for the bodice and skirt (and no hemband!) In fact, if you lengthened the skirt to maxi length……

They are very creative patterns. If you fancy the challenge i recommend that you take a look.

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