I have this pattern (dress only no coat sadly) for quite a while and have been looking for any excuse to try it out, I adore the shaping, and I also think that the ladies white hair in the illustration could have swayed me also!
I had a semi formal event in September and it seemed as good an excuse as any, however finding the fabric was a chore. I wanted something with a bit of depth and not prone to creasing, and as I am far away from shopping choice I ended up settling on a denim on sale in the local fabric shop. (The only other were some synthetic crepes – that were both flat and loud). I had already made the denim cigarette pants from the same denim and at 8euro a metre I would get the dress for 24 euro, so even if it didnt work, the pattern pieces were so large it could easily be remade into something else……………………and the denim also looked lovely with my silver shoes.
I washed the denim to soften it a bit, and my main worry was the weight. I really should have worried more about grading the pattern at the hips. I graded it fine in the main, but forgot to add to the the other side as its an asymmetric cut – but I was able to compensate later as it sewed up.
Not a lot to say about the construction. The dress went together pretty quickly, and the main difficulty was the weight of the pleats, and the omission of grading on the other side of the hips. For the back pleat I used a length of black binding to give me the extra to meet the side seam (the pleat is sewn onto the seam allowance here. If I was sewing it again in a heavy fabric I would take the kick pleat out of the back and make it a slit and have it hang straight down – ie not anchor it at all, and I would consider something similar for the front pleat. The sewing instructions also had the back pleat hang from the facing but I hand-stitched it down a few inches as the fabric seemed to drag it away from the body. I probably should have hand-stitched it further, but I was afraid if I did too much, the sewing may get caught up somehow.
The back of the dress is 4 layers of fabric and when you factor in the darts that’s 6 layers so after I steam pressed the facings, I used bulldog clamps to make it look less bulky (and it worked a charm).
The dress was incredibly comfortable to wear and if I ever see a potential swanky fabric I would definitely like to make it again. I am going to take the back pleat from this dress and turn it into a more casual summer dress.
When I planned the dress last spring, I forgot that September weather can be changeable so had to rustle up a shrug. I made a modified version of the studio faro balenciaga top – and gave it extra tailoring from a vogue picture I saw. I drafted up the pattern again, the last sample I did got used as hand bag lining, but I remembered I had drafted it far too big so I used a close fitting block as my starting point. I was using some left over grossgrain type fabric and would have liked to have done a bias cut and absorbed some of the darts, but as the fabric has a raised stripe, it was easier to cut on grain. I did a toile from an old sheet first, and fixed the darts using that, and also cut a curve in the back of the ‘sleeve’, and used the cut and fixed toile to alter the newer pattern. I was going to put in buttons and did some trials but thought buttonholes looked a bit fussy so I left it was was…….. a really useful shrug for an empire line dress.