Red Letter Day: “A day that is pleasantly noteworthy or memorable.” (Cambridge Languages)
Day Dress: “The perfect all-in-one outfit, a day dress is a versatile and fashionable way to look chic and stay comfortable at the same time.”
Any day I finish a lengthy project (successfully) is definitely a “red letter day.” This dress just happens to be red, adorned with letters, and “back in the day,” as they say, it would have been considered a “day-dress,” although the apt description above is actually from a current website. (DavidJones.com)
I go into a little bit of how this dress evolved in my last post. But of course there were many more decisions to be made along the way. I had to decide:
- Do I underline this crepe de chine?
- If I underline it, what do I use for my underlining fabric?
- Do I also line this dress?
- If I line it, do I also line the sleeves?
- The blouse pattern has floating, released darts at the waist. Do I use that technique for this pattern transformed into a dress?
- What color and type of buttons will most enhance the fabric?
- Do I make bound buttonholes or machine-stitched ones?
So, let’s start at the beginning. Because this was a very soft, fluid, lightweight crepe de chine, I thought it best to underline it. My normal go-to for underlining – silk organza – would have reduced the fluidity of the silk, so I ruled that out. Cotton batiste just did not seem the way to go. When I found a silk batiste on the website for Farmhouse Fabrics, I knew I had my solution.
However, even with the ethereal nature of the silk batiste, I decided not to underline (or line) the sleeves. I wanted them to retain their uninhibited flow.
Once I had the underlining basted to the fashion fabric, I weighed whether or not to line the body of the dress. I went with my gut feeling about this and decided to line it with a soft and lightweight red silk crepe de chine – almost a perfect match in color, as is evident in the above picture – which I purchased from Emma One Sock Fabrics.
In doing so, I eliminated the front and neck facings which were replaced with the solid red lining.
I had worked out the floating dart question in my muslin/toile and decided to use them for the dress. This left above the waist “blousy” and made it more fitted below the waist.
Buttons are always one of my favorite parts of a project. I simply love looking for buttons – and I really love finding the perfect ones. In this case, I knew I needed a large quantity – at least 10, depending on the size I found. I did not think red buttons would do anything to enhance the dress, and I thought white pearl buttons would be too much of a contrast. But then I found these buttons on eBay:
They are probably from the 1940s, cut glass, made in Czechoslovakia. The card held 12 buttons, a good quantity for my purpose. I think of these buttons as “small, but mighty.” They provide the right contrast, and the faceted surface picks up the shimmer from the slight jacquard weave in the fabric. I think they are perfect!
And finally, bound or machine-made buttonholes? I did a sample of each. I have recently started using my automatic buttonholer for my 1951 Singer Featherweight, and I must say, it is an engineering marvel. It makes such amazing, precise buttonholes. And although I do love bound buttonholes, I decided in this instance I would be happier with machine-made ones.
So that about sums it up. I had just barely enough fabric to eke out this dress (which seems to be a theme with me!), so I think it was meant to be. Here’s to Red Letter Days – and the dresses which make them happy.
A Three Piece Outfit for the Holidays, Part 3: The Sash
The sash started it all. After finishing this silk taffeta coat last year, I was left with about 1 and ½ yards of that luscious coral fabric.
I just could not stand the thought of having that yardage sitting in my fabric closet, unused, as I found it so delightful to sew and to wear. That is when I got the idea to combine this fabric with the Guipure lace, also sharing space in that closet of wonders. However, my first thought was to make a blouse from the fabric and also use it as the fashion fabric for a lace skirt, knowing I would need at least one more yard to accomplish this plan. I contacted Britex Fabrics, from whence the fabric came, and to my dismay, they were sold out, with no more available to special order. Undeterred, I then came up with the idea of coordinating fabrics for the blouse and skirt, and using the coral silk to tie it all together. After receiving swatches of several silks from Britex, I settled on the bronzy brown and the apricot colored fabrics for the skirt and blouse, respectively.
A sash should really be straightforward, right? Well, yes; however, I thought it would be good if the sash had a slight curve to it to follow the curvature over the upper hip. That’s when I went to my closet and pulled out a silk sash that I purchased from J. Crew years ago. I had remembered correctly that it had a slight curve to it:
I often think of the tip in the book 101 Things I Learned in Fashion School, page 86: “When in doubt, look in your closet.” Looking at something that is “Ready to Wear” will often help you with construction methods or design ideas.
The J. Crew sash is 72 inches long. A trial tying of the bow proved to me that I needed to add more length to the sash if I wanted to tie a full bow at the waist, which was my intent. I determined that adding 12 inches would do the trick. Then I used that sash as a template to make a pattern, not quite knowing how sewing that long, slow curve was going to work (the sash has one long seam on the concave side of the curve, meaning that some give would need to be worked into that seam.) As it turned out, ironing was the trick to get it to behave correctly, as is so often the case!
84″ proved to be the perfect length to tie a complete bow.
I had to piece the sash in the center back, but I knew that ahead of time and it really does not bother me.
After trying on this completed outfit for the photos, I know that I need to somehow tighten up the interior waist of the skirt (you many recall from my last post, that I added what turned out to be unnecessary width to the circumference of the waist.) My blouse is not going to stay tucked in if I don’t, and the skirt feels like it is drooping on me. I am going to try adding interior waist elastic to straddle the side seams and see if that might do the trick. I am not about to take the skirt apart and remake it! And the sash should help conceal any bobbles in the waistline.
The “concealed zipper.”
It was cold and blustery when I took these photos! I could not wait to get back inside for a cup of hot tea!
Sewing for the holidays is such an anticipatory activity, and one that I love to do. There is already a festive feeling in the air here in late November, and so much more to sew…
Filed under Blouses, Bows as design feature, Fashion commentary, Lace, Silk taffeta, Uncategorized
Tagged as Blouses, Britex Fabrics, fashion sewing, Sashes and bows, silk