I tend to wear more fitted styles, so when I first saw the line drawing of the Saltspring Dress, I wasn't sure how I felt about the blousy style. Having wide shoulders and hips, I thought the dress would give me a more rectangular rather than curvy shape. This was the major reason I chose chiffon and satin so that the dress would be very, very 'drapey'. However all niggly doubts disappeared when I tried the dress on for the first fitting. I had an 'Oh wow!' moment, impressed at how flattering it was looking and even surprised that liked how it was going to look on me. And, as a another plus, I've wanted to sew a red chiffon dress forever.
The chiffon and satin are sewn with French seams at the bodice and skirt side seams, so I omitted the pockets in the skirt side seams for this version. I had to add a lining to the skirt as the chiffon is sheer. This involved cutting skirt lining pieces using the back and front skirt pattern pieces and then treating the main skirt and skirt lining as one at the top and at the zip, following the pattern instructions.
It's definitely a dress to make an impression! especially the maxi length. I asked my husband for help with hemming the chiffon and the satin after allowing the dress to hang for a few days. As this absolutely wouldn't be my usual daily attire, he was almost speechless when he saw it on me - the exact words were "you....are like....a......Greek" I'm really hoping he was going to say 'goddess' but he was so stuck for words he didn't quite finish what he was saying!
I had a lot of trouble with the straps, which is no reflection at all on the pattern or instructions, but rather on the fact that I have avoided turning straps at every single opportunity, by using ribbons instead.
This time I wanted to follow the pattern and sew spaghetti straps, so I persevered. I was using the needle and thread method but I was getting stressed and frustrated that I couldn't get the end of the strap to turn.
After checking the Internet I saw a reference to a drinking straw. Amazingly and simply it worked, and I was able to turn these lovely narrow straps! I wrote up a How-to for anyone else who struggles with this.
The zipper insertion looked a little complicated initially because it has to be attached to the bodice lining while also maintaining the blousiness of the back bodice. Tasia's instructions are, again, very clear on this and it turned out perfectly.
Sometimes I have the experience of a pattern literally 'talking' to me, hopefully I'm not the only sewist that this happens to! .......
Saltspring: "I really, really, really want to be sewn in jersey, please please, please?"
Me: "No, that's ok, I'm happy to sew you in chiffon, it's just the right drape for you."
Me: "I don't really have the time to sew two versions so...."
Saltspring: "Mmm, what about using these perfectly matching ribbons for the straps and omit the zip, that will be much faster, please, please, please!!!"
Saltspring: "and you can cut the stripes on the bias for more drape and for fun chevrons"
Me: "ok, ok, ok"
Saltspring: "Yes, yes, yessss!!!!!"
So I just couldn't resist a version in jersey, and it's a medium weight jersey, so I was surprised the dress worked in this heavier fabric.
As this was the second version I sewed, I made some changes.
To sew the chevrons, my first attempt, I added an extra seam in the centre front bodice and the centre front skirt and cut the striped fabric on the bias, matching the stripes.
There was no need for the zip as the stretch of the fabric and the elastic at the waist allow the dress to be easily put on and taken off.
And the real test? I love how these dresses turned out and they have been worn, a few times. The jersey dress has been perfect for the beach in our recent heatwave, and I wore the red chiffon dress going out for dinner on holidays........
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