A Lesson in Fabric Selection

Two weekends ago, Boyfriend Smash and I went to a wedding for his former roommate (the one I made the photoless retro apron for). In gearing up for Me Made May and a year of self stitched clothing, I decided I was going to make my dress for the evening. After sifting through my Cynthia Rowley patterns, I settled on pattern #2406.

I had 4 meters of navy fabric almost identical in color to the dress displayed (I looove navy!!), I loved the open back concept, and the pattern appeared simple enough that I could whip it up in a few days, no problemo. I opted to go with the sleeveless View D. Thank goodness, because the shoulder straps were a challenge enough given my time constraints. If I had to make the sleeves… well… you can probably guess where this is going. Let’s just say I was tempted to use my rotary cutter for purposes other than intended! :)

My first mistake was my fabric choice – a rayon-silk-poly (??) blend that I purchased on sale for $3/meter. While it looked nice on the bolt, and feels lovely, it creases horribly, was a nightmare  to sew, let alone press and hem, and I had a heck of a time getting my seams to lie flat and not bunch. I realize that tension controls the bunching factor, but after 45 minutes of testing different tension settings and various swatches, I was still having issues. Oi!

Second mistake was only giving myself two days to complete the pattern once it had been cut out and interfacing applied. It never fails that when you are rushed, you make mistakes… ie: sewing the shoulder straps on incorrectly and spending the next hour ripping out your mistakes. Good thing only the cat and dog are around to hear me!

Thirdly, I do not have a serger, and had to finish the seams with my machine’s zig zag stitch. This particular fabric frays horribly, and as such the underside of this dress is NOT pretty. I know that doesn’t really matter to the outside world, but I hate knowing I have ugly seams on the inside!

And finally, the open back feature (which is what drew me to the pattern in the first place!) really didn’t sit very well and needed to be sewn up a little bit. I had read a few other reviews of this pattern indicating the same thing, so I suppose I should have expected as much. Unfortunately, I didn’t do this unit the day OF the wedding, about 15 minutes before we were slated to leave… and as a result it was still an inch too short and my bra was showing. Nothing a cardigan couldn’t cover up, but in doing so the shoulder straps are covered up and it basically looked like I was wearing a shift. Or a paper bag. With a belt. Not what I was hoping for but, this is all a learning process! I will be sure to take some photos and get those up in the next little while.

I’d love to try the pattern again in a different fabric – perhaps a light weight cotton, becuase I do like the style and think it’s an interesting, unique dress for spring/summer.

At the end of the day, I was able to complete the dress in time, but will definitely pay more attention to fabric selection in the future. While I did use a suggested fabric, I had a bad feeling right from the get go given my experience level and the feel of the fabric. Just goes to show you to pay attention to your intuition!

If anyone has any suggestions as far as how to sew garments successful with rayon-silk fabrics, I’m all ears!


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