Friday, 2 July 2010

Red dress


I have finished my Little Folks voile sundress just in time for the wonderfully hot weekend that we are about to have. I have so many thoughts on sewing with the voile, it's a case of where on earth to begin.


Firstly though, this sundress is not the dress that I intended to make...the one that I set about making was a maxi dress, with a cross over top...you can see what remains of it above. It was to have very gentle gathers at an empire line and then skim down to just above the floor, and straps that crossed over at the back. I wanted it to be flowing, but with minimal volume, created through sparing use of the material. But it just sort of went wrong...and it's only in retrospect I know that my lining was the only thing wrong with it. Once made, it didn't flow around me in the way that I had hoped...and actually looked more maternity than anything else. I wish that I'd taken a photo of it, but I was too quick to start cutting it up. You can see the red lining above - it's a very sheer, lightweight red voile, but as I said in my previous post, nothing feels quite like Anna Maria's voile, and this certainly didn't. It had a stiffness to it that rendered the entire garment voluminous and crisp. But thinking it was all about the dress style being wrong, I took it apart and made up this simple shirred sundress instead, which I love (so I don't mind that the maxi dress hasn't yet happened...that's some fun for another day).


I felt fairly convinced that the Little Folks voiles needed a lining when used for dress or skirt making, and perhaps the lighter colours do, but I now think that actually, the maxi dress would have been fine without a lining...I know, because when I finished this shirred sundress, which should be foolproof and completely wearable, this too looked awful...so I took the shears to it and cut the lining out as a last resort (which was easy to do, as luckily I'd constructed the lining and the dress separately for the most part) and it was instantly transformed into something I completely love and actually, not sheer at all [UPDATED: I was so wrong, it was sheer - I reveal all in this later post]. You would not believe the difference in drape and feel. With the lining in there had been little pleasure in trying on the dress and it was most unflattering, the minute it was gone and I put it on, I couldn't believe how much movement the dress suddenly had, how breezy and soft it felt to wear and just how much better it looked.


[The movement of the dress is demonstrated here by my being caught mid-dash to get in front of the camera...that two-second self-timer button is just too fast for me].


So, if I were to make a dress using Little Folks again (which I will at some point), then I would either choose one of the darker prints like this one and dispense altogether with lining it, or I'd spend a little bit extra and buy one of the plain voiles from the Little Folks range to use as a lining...yes, it's an expensive way of making a dress, but I think it's the only real way to get all the benefits of the voile being so lovely in the first place...to line it with anything else seems like a complete compromise (I'm guessing that an acetate lining may have more movement to it and be an inexpensive option, but I'm not keen on the way these look on the bolt, so haven't experimented with them - I would love your thoughts on what linings work for you).


The upper part of the dress that has been shirred does have a lining to it, which I think I'd do again, as it seems kinder to the fabric to have some support when it's being so heavily worked by the rows and rows of elastic.


I've never had a red dress before...it made me think about Sting's 'Roxanne', which I was sure was a song imploring her to see that she didn't have to put on her red dress, but actually, investigation reveals that it was telling her that she didn't have to put on the red light...so not what I was thinking of at all (lawks!). I think it may have merged in my head with Jerry Lee Lewis' 'Put on Your Red Dress, Baby'...which is altogether more fitting, even though the power of his voice in this clip makes me laugh a lot as his it's, um, so overpoweringly scary...in a brilliant sort of way.

Huge thanks to Rachel at Ray-Stitch for very kindly giving me (yes, gulp, gulp, still can't quite believe it) the fabric to make this dress with. I will think of her kindness every time I wear it. I love it. Today it is hanging on my wall...tomorrow it will be sitting in the sunshine with me.

Wishing you a lovely weekend,
Florence x

29 comments:

  1. So pretty!

    (V. jealous of your rack of cotton reels too!)

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  2. I made a dress using the same pattern but in ink (dark blue) and lined it with cotton lawn. I wish I'd used the plain voile instead to line as it made much heavier and lost the lovely soft butteryness of the voile on top. Great dress!

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  3. Thank you!

    Kate - I've just been to see the dress in the blue that you made on your blog - how had I missed that? It's gorgeous...although sorry that you too have had lining problems, yes lining with anything else completely ruins things...

    Florence x

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  4. I made it ages ago on a pattern cutting course I started almost a year ago! I am just about to start my first home pattern cutting project - it's taken me a while!

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  5. there's something magical about a red dress I think {same goed for red shoes really}
    Thanks for sharing your proces. I've been planning to make a summer dress like the one you started with. Long with cross straps. I've not been very succesful finding the right fabric yet though. Think I might have to order it online after all. It's a bit scary to order fabric online for a dress because you can never be sure of the feel and drape.
    Yours looks lovely!

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  6. I have a stash of the AMH voile in Forest Hills Sweet and some froth plain that you may have inspired me to make a sundress from! It was intended for a maxi dress but I'm liking the shirring! I'll have to revisit your shirring tutorial to find out how to make my pattern!! Justine xx

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  7. Yes, completely agree about the red shoes, Leila. With the voile, both the feel and drape are amazing - and I think most places will happily send out samples to you. I know that Rachel and Kate (who's commented above, under M is for Make) will both send out swatches.

    Justine - I'm so pleased - and the shirring makes things so much less stressful as you just know that it will definitely fit.

    Kate, I'm intrigued about the pattern cutting course and am just going to dig out my adult education brochure to see if we have one...

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  8. What a beautiful dress!! It looks so lovely on you. It makes me want to buy the fabric and whip up my own. After I learn to shirr, of course :)

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  9. I really really love it too! Fantastic colour which really suits you and the style looks really good, very summery cool and pretty. It's hard to make/wear floaty things without them looking like maternity and I think it can look even more so when you are very slim to begin with - I think because it's loose people think there must be a reason. There is an undefinable someone who does flowy, smocky stuff effortlessly without giving rise to questions but I'm not sure what their qualities are! The lining possibly made the dress billow out instead of a more natural drape. Please do make the other dress again though - I really liked the crossed over effect.I had a look at the Jerry Lee Lewis video - it is funny isn't it? But amazing at the same time. Loved it!
    Siobhan

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  10. Lovely dress - so cheerful. I would say never even consider using an acetate lining on a summer dress; in my experience the lining feels horibbly sticky and you go right off the dress!

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  11. This is adorable! I still can't find AMH voile where I am. I may have to order online. As Leila said, it's a bit scary to order fabric online for a dress. Having said that, from what I read and seeing your dress, AMH voile is a pretty safe bet!

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  12. The dress is lovely Florence. And it's my favourite print from that range too. The red and white would have been perfect for Canada day (yesterday)!!! And better that you thought of Sting than Chris de Burgh I say!

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  13. Great dress, Florence. I eventually succumbed today and bought some voile (patterned and plain)from Rachel - 20% discount was too good to miss!

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  14. Thank you for reminding me what summer is like Florence - it's miserable here in Brisbane in the middle of winter. That colour looks so gorgeous on you and I can only reassure anyone who is worried about buying this fabric on line that it is beautiful to work with. If you are worried about the sheerness, why not simply wear a separate slip underneath?

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  15. Siobhan - I think that person is The Potter that I talked of in my shirred hairbands post - I'm sure she wears voluminous things and doesn't look pregnant in them.

    Lina...I'm embarrassed to say that I thought of Chris de Burgh too...I just didn't mention it. Happy Canada day! Hurrah for thematic dressing.


    Jane - I think you will love it.

    Thank you so much for your lovely comments. x

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  16. You look amazing in this - great colour on you. In fact, I have the same colouring as you... hmmm. I'm using the AMH voiles as head scarves at the moment - just a long quarter (which makes two), cut along its longest edge and then hemmed with a zig zag stitch. Worn either with a big bow on top (a friend of mine works this look well) or tied at the back. Jo

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  17. The dress is so pretty Florence and thanks so much for all the tips on working with the voile and to line or not to line - I had been wondering exactly the same thing and was also thinking that a solid from AMH's range would be the best way to go, if anything. I think the acetate would feel a bit sticky - isn't that the shiny lining? Not good in summer.... I also thought of Chris de Burgh - shudder....!

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  18. It is a great dress and I will definitely be trying the voile. It is weird watching you sew so many lovely things from the other side of the world as now I am filled with longing for voile and sunny sundresses at a time when my wardrobe is crying out for wool and more wool. Tracy x

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  19. so so pretty. I have the same voile for my daughter. I really want to make a similar dress but I'm not sure I can pull it off, I'd have to go buy new shoes and get a makeover or something. :)

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  20. Fab-u-lous.... absolutely beautiful! The style of dress is really flatering to your slender figure and the color is, well it's my favorite so I love it! Thanks for the inspiring posts!
    PS there's something about the idea of mixing another fabric with the voile that seems, just wrong... like somehow it cheapens the AMH voile.... lol, funny how much a fabric can feel so valuable...

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  21. The dress is beautiful and I'm very pleased you've posted on the voile before I get going with mine. What a stroke of luck to have that information first.

    Kate x

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  22. Gosh Florence, you are inspiring so many of us with your dressmaking posts. I even gave myself a whole-ish day today to sew just for me which was bliss and have managed to get in some shirring too: a dress for Isabella and a skirt for Lucy. Both very pleased with their goodies which I hope to blog about next week as dear Dave has absconded with my camera! Noted on working with voile would be good as I am not sure my own method is the best!

    Pipany x

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  23. Love your dress, it's super cute. I made a red and white stripey one (almost identical) the other week. There's pics on my blog.

    Be back soon, lovely blog x

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  24. That dress is so lovely. I love, love red dresses. There is something about them that makes them stand out everywhere, in a good, sexy and fun way. This one is beautiful! (And makes me really want to see if I can find some AM voile around here)

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  25. Thank you so much for all your lovely comments. x

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  26. You made the dress I had on my head! So glad it works :)

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x

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