Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Made by a Fabricista: Spring Linen Fringe Sundress


Hey guys! It's Elizabeth from Elizabeth Made This, and I'm so pleased to be popping in here on the Fabric Mart blog every once in a while.  Today I'm sharing my first project.  Spring is in full swing here in Colorado, which means that linen season is upon us!

Linen garments are the gifts that you sew for yourself to make summer enjoyable

Linen is one of those fabrics that is as much a treat to work with as it is to wear, especially when the weather starts to warm up.  I took full advantage to glory in linen love with this dress, choosing the lavender Designer Quality Linen.  While I think that this soft purple is perfect for Spring, there are tons of other colors of this fabric.  It has a lovely drape and a good heft to it like all really beautiful linens, so I know you're in for a treat no matter what color you choose.

Design inspiration


From the outset of this project, I was bent on recreating Milly's denim linen apron dress.
Image result for milly denim linen apron dress
I love the mermaid shape and the raw hem details.  There's a lot of cool contrast in this dress between the sleek, fitted upper part to the flouncy jagged edges of the swishy skirt.  To say that I had all the emoji heart eyes for this dress was an understatement.

Pattern work

117a_large
For the bodice of the dress, I chose Burdastyle 11-2010-117.  It's a great bodice for any kind of summer sundress style, though the full, gathered skirt was not going to work for this particular knock off.
Instead, I self-drafted a rather short pencil skirt for the middle portion of the dress and an equally short circle skirt for the bottom section.  No doubt my version is proportionally shorter in all 3 sections that the Milly dress, clearly worn by a model who is not 5'2.5" as I am.  For reference, each of my skirt portions are 12" in length.  Typically, I prefer shorter skirts, but this was a good compromise to get the feel of the wide hem drapes.

Hem drapes


To create the drapes for the lower skirt, I cut 4 full circles the same size as the circle skirt, but only 4" in length.  There's a 5th drape that is just a half circle that is on top.
In studying the original dress, It sure looks like the drapes make up the entirety of the lower skirt which might explain the extreme angles.  I opted for something a little softer and simpler to construct.  The drapes were hand-basted to the lower skirt while it was flat.  They overlap each other in a rather freeform manner.  To anchor them to the skirt, I zigzagged the top of each drape to the skirt.

Shoulder ties


The original dress has a crossover design to the back on the shoulder straps.

Image result for milly denim linen apron dress
I opted for ties instead.  Because linen relaxes in the wearing, I didn't want straps that would be at the right level one right after washing, and drifting down past the point of comfort another day.  I've tied them in the crossover shape here, but you can also tie them straight in the back or even in a halter configuration. 

Fringed hem

One of my favorite properties of linen is how it frays.  There are some fabrics that fray in a rather wild, uncontrolled, messy manner.  Linen's fraying nature on the other hand can be a beautiful thing that you can manipulate to your advantage.  Incorporating a little bit of fringe into my linen projects is something I do frequently, so here's the low down.
1/2" from the raw edge of both the lower skirt hem and the drapes, I sewed a 2.2mm straight staystitch.  Next I sewed a 6.0mm width, 1.0mm length zigzag 5/8" from the raw edge.  It's not 100% necessary to add a zigzag stitch.  A straight stitch is totally sufficient for any fringing work you want to do, but I rather like the added decorative nature of the zigzag.  Next comes the fringing, and on this dress, there's no less than 12 yards worth of it!

Making the best fringe

Fringing comes down to pulling out the horizontal threads so that the vertical threads create the fringe.  Making the best fringe comes down to controlling how you pull out threads.  It's the work of a little patience, but a nice thing to do while watching a movie.  Here are some tips for creating some fabulous fringe.
  1. Use a sharp needle or a straight pin to begin the fraying process.  Insert the needle about 3/8" from the raw hem edge and pull gently towards the raw edge.  Some threads will loosen.  Continue this motion, inserting the needle into the fabric ever 1/4" or so, teasing out the loose threads.  Don't worry at this point if some are longer than others. 
  2. It will be tempting to start pulling all of the threads that come undone, but if you do, the fraying could become uneven or worse yet, you might make the hem look positively bald in places.  Restrain yourself and just keep pulling out the threads with the needle.  The nice thing about using a needle is that it tends to keep the threads from fraying past where you insert it.
  3. Fraying on edges cut on the straight grain are easy, but what about the bias?  Because the warp and weft threads of linen come together like most woven fabrics at a 90 degree angle to each other, there's no bias threads to speak of.  In theory, you could end up with a hem with holes in it right where the bias comes into play.  To fake it, just keep teasing out the threads with your needle.  When you get to a bias section, gently move the straight grain and the cross grain threads so that they fill in the space evenly.  Be careful not to pull out the threads too much in bias areas.
  4. Keep fringing as much as you'd like.  1/4" to 3/8" is a nice length for most applications, and longer fringe is great for more drama.  Apply a fray blocking liquid like Fray Block or Fray Check right where you want the fringing to stop.  These liquids dry clear and they'll make it so you can launder your fringed project without the fringe suffering too much.  To be careful, I always wash my fringed projects on cold on a gentle cycle and let them air dry.

Do you love linen?  Have you ever incorporated fringe into any of your projects?

Happy sewing!
~Elizabeth from Elizabeth Made This

14 comments:

  1. Beautiful, Elizabeth! Such a nice fit, and that fringe is amazing. The color and design really suit you. Thanks for sharing your tips on fringing on the bias. I've tried it before, and ended up with a "bad hair-cut" look. I'll try your method next time.

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    1. Thank you Ann! Bad hair cut is definitely a good way to describe what can happen, LOL! I've noticed that especially is a danger on linen blends. Slow and steady wins the race!

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  2. Love your dress, Elizabeth! Live the color and the fit! And your fring and technique are amazing!

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    1. Thank you Carrie! I was so happy to find this shade of lavender--it is positively my favorite!

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  3. Beautiful as always Elizabeth - that colour on you is just outstanding :) I do love linen - in fact it's my latest favourite :) I have several pieces sitting beside my cutting table right now that I've purchased here and there over the past year mostly in navy but some in black and white stripe too. I'm on a making spree with summer dresses both for around the house (yes! reviving the old "housedress" idea in light liberty cotton lawns) and for wearing out as well. You're so right that there is nothing cooler than linen dresses in the heat of the summer. I'm even considering a nice pair of shorts in linen as well.

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    1. Thank you Kathleen! Also, sew the linen shorts--you will not be disappointed!

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  4. I love your dress, so much better than the inspiration dress. I absolutely love linen. You have certainly shown off its best features here, the drape, the fringe, really lovely! Your fringe tips are really helpful and I'm sure I'll have an occasion to use them soon!

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    1. Thanks Linda! Fringe sisters unite! Linen is such a beautiful fiber--there's so many possibilities! That it can be structural, have drape, and become it's own trim is the best of so many fabrics all rolled into one!

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  5. This dress looks beautiful on you! The color is a great transition from Spring to summer.

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    1. Thank you Marica! It's a favorite color for sure!

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  6. Elizabeth, I simply love everything about this! You look stunning and I am so envious of the green grass that has GROWN! You also have blossoms on the trees! Enjoy wearing this lovely dress and wrap. :)

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    1. Thank you Sue! We've been lucky this year to have gotten a bit of snow and rain this Spring to make up for our rather dry winter--the trees have been just beautiful everywhere!

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  7. Oh my gosh! This dress is absolutely stunning. You are a sewing genius. It fits you perfectly. I love the color and the style.

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