Joanna Dress

When I first saw the Lliria dress pattern, it was love at first sight. It has everything I like in a dress: the overall silhouette, the sleeves, the yoke, the gathers, I could go on… And when my friend Hibbis almost magically dug out not one but two 1,50 metre pieces of this lovely black and white floral viscose from a messy stand during our last visit to the Stoffenspektakel, I immediately saw it as the perfect fabric for my Lliria.

And it was. But man was it a pain to sew! I had already sewn with viscose, but never with such a shifty one, and paired with the curves of the Lliria dress, it was an absolute nightmare. The waistband in particular got so distorted that its two ends didn’t match at all once sewn up: I had to unpick and re-sew it, which was not fun at all, but I think worth it in the end. I also had to unpick and re-sew the hem a couple of times… and once more after my bike chewed up a piece of it during its first outing! 😱

The flat button is inside the waistband.

The buttons are vintage. They are the same I used on this blouse. And by “the same”, I mean five of them were stolen from said blouse. They were too perfect for this dress, and not that comfortable on the back of a blouse.

I’m really happy with the fit of the finished dress. I had to blend quite a few different sizes to get there: size 42 for the shoulders, 40 for the sleeves, 38 for the sleeve cuffs, 36 for the bust and waist and 42 for the skirt (with a size 48 length at first, but I had to chop off a few centimetres after the bike incident and I think I got back to the original 42 length). It’s kind of all over the place, but that’s what I thought would work after comparing the pattern pieces measurements to the measurements of well-fitting garments, and it did: it’s incredibly comfortable and I feel like a million bucks in it!

I also made a couple very small modifications to the pattern: I added side seam pockets and I interfaced both facings and sleeve cuffs. The only one of these changes I wouldn’t replicate on a future version is interfacing the skirt facings since it takes away some of the fluidity of the skirt. The rest I’m happy with.

Surprisingly, I’d say this is probably the most difficult pattern I’ve ever sewn, because of the type of fabric it requires coupled with the curved shape of some of the pieces, which made it impossible for me not to distort them despite all my precautions. But I’m sure it would have been much easier had I not used that particularly fickle fabric, or had I maybe thought to stabilise it with starch or something…

And the result is so worth it!

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21st of July Playsuit

July21.1Remember I teased you about an upcoming refashion project? Well, it took me a looooong time, but I here it is at last!

July21.2

I heart pockets.

I almost threw in the towel numerous times on this one… At first I didn’t have a playsuit in mind but a dress, but it was impossible to get all the pattern pieces on the fabric. Then I thought of a playsuit after seeing one in a book I was reading, so I dug through old issues of Burda magazine and found this pattern. I thought it would be pretty easy to shorten the legs and add shoulder straps (I don’t do strapless), which it was. I also thought I would it would be easy to place the pieces of this small playsuit on the fabric of the huge eighties dress… which it was not.

July21.3

Do you see any bra straps showing? I don’t!

The dress was very old and there were holes and black stains in a few places, which made it a real headache to place every pattern piece on the fabric. I had to think about it for two whole days before I found a solution. And it was the layout that determined the length of the legs, so I was afraid the whole time that they would be too short.

July21.4You can see on the above picture that I used black seam binding inside the hem. It helped me keep as much length as possible. About the hem: I actually didn’t have a fabric piece big enough to cut the second leg, so I had to add a scrap of fabric to fill the gap. That scrap of fabric from hell was almost the end of me: I don’t know why (well, I think the grain must have shifted while sewing it or something), but it sat in a weird way that made the hem of the shorts awfully uneven. I don’t know how many times I had to redo that small part, but I was ready to give up.

Finally I got a tolerable result so I decided to power through… and now I don’t really see the problem if I’m not looking for it specifically. This is so often the case with my sewing projects: I obsess about a detail almost to the point of tossing the project away, but once I wear the completed project I completely forget about that detail…

July21.5I was really afraid such a playsuit would not suit my figure very well, so when I first tried it on I was relieved to see that it was actually pretty cute. I’m not used to seeing such an ample top on myself, but with the flowy fabric I think it works.

Also the length of the shorts had me doubt, but with the heat we’ve had these last few days I’ve gotten into the habit of showing my bare legs again and I don’t think it looks that scandalous.

July21.6I cut a size 36 for the top and graded up from a size 36 at the waist to a size 38 at the hips for the bottom. I have plenty enough room even though my hip measurement would be closer to a size 40. As regards the two elastics, I have no idea of their length because I pulled them around my waist/bust until I found them snug enough so I didn’t measure them.

I used black cotton voile for the pockets and for the wrong side of the shoulder straps. You can see it peek out from time to time, but I think it looks nice against the black polka dots (which, come to think of it, you can’t really see in the pictures because they are so small), so there’s no real problem here.

The buttons I used came from an old cardigan of mine.

July21.7I finished the playsuit yesterday, which was Belgium’s National Day, so it was quite suiting that I wore black, yellow and red, which are Belgium’s national colours! These are colours I don’t usually like together, but with only a touch of yellow (my rubber duck earrings, and you could also count my golden sandals and straw hat as yellow), I think it works.

So even though this won’t be my most worn garment (playsuits are not renowned for their practicality), I still find it cute and will most definitely wear it in the unexpected heat of this Belgian summer and in Spain where I’ll be spending three weeks in August.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I can also totally see it worn in Fall with black tights and a black cardigan… Or is it just me? Well, if the frail vintage fabric holds up until then, that is!

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To Be Refashioned…

Before1Is this the most flattering dress ever or what? I mean, the shoulder pads, the billowy sleeves, the hem length, what’s not to like? 😀

I bought this dress two weeks ago from the sales rack of a local vintage shop because, despite its 80s awfulness, it’s made from a very nice fabric, a drapey red viscose with tiny black polka dots.

Before2There are a few dark spots on the skirt portion (which is why the dress was so cheap I guess), but I think I can either cut around them or cover them up with black ribbon or something.

Stay tuned for the result (hope I didn’t jinx it by showing you the before and not having even begun to cut yet)!

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