Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Made by a Fabricista: Seersucker Summer in a Grainline Willow Tank Dress!

I had two goals with my July make for Fabric Mart...

1. I knew I wanted an outfit for Independence Day, so I knew the fabric would have to be red, white, and blue.

2. I really wanted a super quick and easy make from a fabric that would wash and dry quickly and easily.

Luckily for me, Fabric Mart had both a really pretty red, white, and blue seersucker for sale (its red looks a touch more dark pink, but eh, close enough), and the Grainline Willow Tank Dress for sale.  I asked them to send me both, and by the time I got to cutting the fabric and sewing it up, I was one day away from the fourth of July festivities, so I really was hoping that the make would truly be as easy as I needed it to be.  :-)

I am happy to report that the Willow Tank Dress definitely sewed up very quickly and easily, and the seersucker was a perfect match for it.  Since making it, I have washed and worn it a few times, and it is exactly the kind of dress that is perfect for the south in summer, loose enough to be airy, but has enough shape to not look to boxy.  (I sized for a size 4 at the shoulders and neckline, and made sure to grade out to a 18 at the high hip and hem of the tank bit and a size 8 fully in the skirt bit.)

I was a bit nervous that the fit would be too tight, especially in the hips, but once I had made it up, and put it on, it fit great, and since I had lengthened the skirt to the size 18 length, I also had a long enough dress so I could wear it without feeling like too much of my leg was showing.

The darts in the dress are not awesome, and I need to figure out what would make them work better on my frame, since the circumference of the bust area is more than enough ease as is.  There's just a touch of wrinkling, and after I wear the dress for a bit, the seersucker stretches a bit, and then the wrinkles go away.  I don't know if I should even care.  Maybe it's simply the way I am standing in these photos.  Ha.

The one major change I made was to add a square shoulder alteration.  I find if I don't do them on most patterns (I look to see if the shoulder line on the pattern is straighter, which is good for my frame, or sloping down, which is no bueno for my frame), I have an armscye that is way too tight and uncomfortable.  Adding 1/2 inch up from the neck/shoulder junction to the shoulder seamline really helps, and with that alteration, all armcyes feel much more comfortable.

The sizing is generous, especially in the waist.  I like how the dress flows over the body, but if you don't correctly size for your hips, the waist could ride up and create a bit of a baggy area right at the waist, which would not be nearly as pretty of a line on the body.  The 8 worked for me, but if I had made this up in a size 6, the skirt portion would have been far too tight and the silhouette would have been broken up with no extra ease where ease is needed.

The dress almost looks like I made a top and skirt from the same fabric and wore them together, and you can really see that here, but in reality, you make the tank portion, and provided you properly mark your fabric to indicate where the foldline and stitching lines are, you attach the skirt to the tank, fold up the hem of the tank with the skirt upper seamline, press, and then pin at the stitching line.  You then stitch the tank's "hem" by topstitching it.  (The Grainline folks have a few wonderful tutorials on making up either the tank or the dress. They also have some variations you may want to try, too.)

If you were to use two separate fabrics, the illusion would be even greater.  I would like to try it one day.  :-)

You can see the excess fabric at the waist here from the back.  Clearly these large folds come from my position in holding the phone to grab a photo in an awkward position, but it is a lot of ease, which is necessary, though, to keep the very a-line loose shift silhouette in place.  It does make me envy those of you who are a straight size from top to bottom though!  I would love to have a straighter shift like this on me where the bust and waist and hips all came from the same size pattern.  Oh, well.

Here is a closeup of the very pretty seersucker.  This is the nice seersucker you find from the preppy stores, like J. Crew, Ralph Lauren, and Vineyard Vines.  It has no stretch, but will stretch a bit with wear.

You can see here that I chose to cut the top with the grainline, as the grain is vertically striped.  I cut the skirt with the stripes going horizontally.  I figured that since I have a short torso, adding vertical length to my top half is a very good thing, and though I don't LOVE the idea of adding width to my hips, I figured it would be subtle enough overall to work.  I think it did work, and was pleased with the result.

The other major change I made was to use the bias binding (facings) as a decorative feature on the armscye.  I did the proper stitching, understitching, flipping, pressing, and topstitching with the neck bias bound facing, but I really liked how the armscye facing looked before it was meant to be flipped, so I kept it that way, knowing full well that if it didn't wash and wear well, I could always press, flip, and topstitch later.  In the end, the bias binding has some texture, but has not frayed.  I am thrilled it worked.  The extra little bit of fabric there also helps to widen me up there, where I need it most!

I brought the dress with me to Hilton Head, which is where some of these photos where taken.  I wore the dress to dinner one night, and then we took a nice long walk on Coligny beach at sunset.  As you can see, the dress and its fabric are still looking good, even after all the sitting and walking, and wind, etc.  :-)

I hope you all have some fun, easy, quick projects for your summer sewing!  And I especially hope you get to wear it somewhere pretty, warm, and outside!

~Dina, My Superfluities

6 comments:

  1. rhonda grallnickJuly 27, 2016 at 1:09 PM

    hi, i am using the fabric now to make a shirt. love the fabric too.

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  2. Very cute...and great details in your explanation. Thanks.

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  3. Great use of pattern with size changes. Best use for fabric and your size!

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  4. Good use of pattern changes to your size. Makes me ready to resize my measurements!

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  5. I like your dress. It was especially interesting to me that you had to work around high hips. I'm sewing again now, after not sewing for about 15 years, and I'm dealing with the high hip issue, too. I'm in my late 60's, have narrow shoulders (about size 10) and I go up in sizes from there on down. I'm just now trying a top where I have cut size 16 for the high hip. It took me a while to figure out why I had drag lines from the armhole to the hem of the blouse on both sides of my back. I think it's my high hip causing the problem. I'll soon find out. I think there are far more women who have different-size bodies from shoulder to bust to waist to hips, etc. than there are women with the same-size body all over. Different sizes vertically and horizontally.

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