Monday, October 05, 2009

The Summer Into Autumn Dress

Back in the day when I used to do embroidery, one of my favourite designs was Summer into Autumn, by the Drawn Thread. I loved everything about it - the rich colours, the threads used, the texture of the specialty stitches. But most of all the colours.
(I miss stitching, but the days are just too short, and stitching does not fit in with my current activities anymore. I used to stitch in front of English-speaking TV series. Maybe some day the right time will come again - days are short, but hopefully life is long :) )

When I first tried this dress on, I was instantly reminded of the above-mentioned design.

Simplicity 3678, with optional kitty
(Funnily enough, the dress also matches the beautiful mosaic of the flat's tiled floor.)

I wanted a dress that I could wear to work. A dress that was both fit for the summer weather that's been going on and on down here, but that still felt autumnal and hence constituted "back-to-work" material to my poor, North-oriented, psychorigid mind. ;)
The fabric comes from Boeken's in Amsterdam. I bought it a year ago, on my last stay there - it was beautiful, high quality (this dress only uses 1.5 meter but probably cost 18 euros to make), and therefore stayed in my stash long enough for inspiration to strike and for me to gain confidence in cutting into the fabric. Karen just wrote a great post about this exact feeling.

I used this pattern almost two years ago. Funny how changes in the length, sleeves, neckline and the overall outfit make the two versions utterly different.
The pattern once again came together easily and beautifully. This is from the Threads collection, so extra attention was paid to details. I still hold by my review of the first version.
My only change was the addition of a back tie to help cinch the dress a bit.
I hemmed the dress by hand with an invisible stitch. I love the way it makes the hemline hang - not just visually, but also in the way the dresses falls on me.

Oh, and just as for the maxi dress - here is a picnic pic :)

It is better to see these clothes in action than just see me standing uneasily still in front of a tripod, isn't it? ;)

Have a good week, everyone. :)

Friday, October 02, 2009

A long black dress for the end of summer

(For some reason Blogger is making my pictures all blurry upon upload, so I'm using Photobucket today)

Bonjour, bonjour !
I'm glad you guys thought I could wear long dresses, because - here is another one. :) This one isn't quite long enough to be classified as a maxi, but it's still ankle-length.
This dress was pretty work- and thought-intensive. It all started when I spotted the fabric during my first visit to a fabric shop in Montpellier. That crinkled black cotton screamed it wanted to be a long, flowing dress.

Now, I usually don't "do" black dresses in the summer because I usually remain very pale, and black obviously emphasizes it. I avoid the sun as much as possible because my skin just doesn't like it - it usually burns before it gets to tan ever so little. This year, though, no matter how careful I was, I just couldn't help getting some sun exposure. Montpellier is the sunniest city in France, and I arrived right in the middle of summer. However, I was super careful in that I didn't go out during the most scorching hours of the day, and I slathered myself with sunscreen. For the first time ever, I got a gradual tan (mostly from evening sunlight), but I didn't burn.
I am still way lighter-skinned than most people here, but I felt I could sport a black dress for the end of the summer, when the days weren't quite as sweltering and black wouldn't feel too hot against the skin.

I had a very precise idea of the dress I wanted. Empire waist but with a deep midriff section to avoid any ballooning effect; a V-neckline and large straps; two layers of fabric in the skirt (which would have otherwise been see-through), one being shorter than the other.
After a good deal of thinking and hesitating (and obsessing), I ended up using bits of different patterns to have the dress match my idea. To create the bodice, I combined Simplicity 3803 (with which I made my first maxi) with Newlook 6774. I also used NL 6774, with alterations, for the bodice back, midriff and skirt. (I made a first dress out of this pattern last year - another dress that got a lot of wear this summer; every time I put it on, I thought I really should re-use that pattern.)
I added a slit to the back of the skirt for added fullness and movement at the front.
I did a rolled hem on my serger. It seemed to me the easiest and probably prettiest option for a fabric that was both sheer and crinkled.

Because the fabric is crinkled, see-through and so flimsy, I decided to underline the bodice with cotton voile. The bodice being lined, I ended up therefore with 4 layers of fabric. I like the hang this gives the bodice - especially the back. It's amazing how adding some extra support will enhance the look of a garment and give it a classier style.
The added puff of the crinkles probably makes me appear a bit fatter, but oh well. I should have made the midriff entirely out of cotton voile, but when I realized this all the seams were serged and there was a high risk at this stage of ruining the dress instead of improving it. I guess I can live with it. :)

***
And that's it for now... No more pictures in my backlog.
I still need to take pictures of and review:
  • another dress (Simplicity 3678)*
  • a couple of tops (New Look 6470, view A/C and view D)
  • a skirt (again from NL 6470).
  • almost forgot - another retro dress, Butterick 5214. Love that one!
Right... I'd better set up that tripod soon. ... As soon as I've finished the oodles of work I have to do. Life has been just a wee bit busy lately.

* Am I the only one annoyed at the way Simplicity redesigned their website? Browsing through their patterns is so much more of a pain, and the URLs are not intuitive at all. I'll be linking to the PatternReview pages rather than the Simplicity/Newlook pages from now on.