Tuesday 9 February 2016

Meet Conchetta.

Ah now, that's not quite true. That isn't Conchetta... this is!

Isn't she lovely?? No, just me? Come on, who doesn't adore a full metal beast from the 80's that purrs like a kitten and sews like a dream?

And this 80's lady is super special to me. You might recall we lost my father-in-law last October and he was quite the renaissance man. He learnt to sew as a young boy and went on to sew his own curtains, reupholster couches, you name it, as an adult. This was his machine and it has come home to me to be lovingly safe-guarded and most importantly, used. She was in awesome condition and with a little bit of lubing and cleaning she has proved herself to be quite the little machine.

This dress is the first project I've sewn with her.

Had you fooled for a second didn't I? You thought this wasn't yet another sack dress. But she is a sneaky sack, giving the illusion of some shape at the front, but being all sack business at the back.

I've been intrigued but this pattern since I got my hands on Aoi Koda's Pattern Lessons for Autumn and Winter Wear. Even though it is quiet clearly summer here in the southern hemisphere.

This dress is Lesson 3A.

You can see more detail in the picture from the book sewn up in a plain. But those who know me, know I haven't yet come to the party with a love of plains and so I chose to sew it up in this surprisingly delightful find at Lincraft. A vibrantly printed, mid to heavy weight rayon linen blend I scored in their 40% off sale at Xmas and purchased with a gift card. Win!

It attracted a lot of love from other sewists when I posted it on IG and I ended up going back for more for the lovely Sophie of Ada Spragg when she sweetly asked if I could do so. I mean how could I resist enabling a fellow sewist? In the end, a bit of detective work by Sophie and then myself, led us to see this very fabric made up in these fabulous trousers on Pinterest.

Photo source
No amount of additional sleuthing has helped me to find out the designer or label, so I apologise for that, but hell we don't need to know right? My creation is way better. Bwahahaha!

Don't you just love the design of the front?

You actually cut out a half circle on the front bodice, gather the lower curved edge and then align it with the straight upper edge of the half circle and sew them together. This is followed by creating a pleat to hide that seam and sewing it down. Clear as mud? Hmmm trust me on this. What results is that hi-lo hem and waterfall type front.

The design is drop shouldered as can be seen, and can also be made up with long sleeves. As a result the armhole is hugely gapey. Hugely. If you lift your arm at all unfortunate passersby can see right inside to the chest delights below. I knew this might be an issue and am wearing it with a white tank to preserve my modesty and spare the eyes of others.

According to the pattern, this is the dress length. The sleeveless version is actually designed as a tunic length. I sewed a straight size 7 including the prescribed dress length and whilst that resulted in a much longer hem at back than I would normally wear, the front, which gets hoiked up, could not be shorter or risk indecency.

The fit is just lovely. Since it's so oversized I chose to sew a size with a bust measurement slightly smaller than mine and I'm happy I did. You can see that it drapes nicely and looks "right".

I used a hook-and-eye closure rather than my usual button and loop and I really like the clean finish at the back neck.

The book is not translated from Japanese so some experience working with English translated Japanese pattern books would be useful, to help get a feel for the usual techniques. As I've noted before the diagrams and/or photographs of the construction steps in these books is very clear, especially to a visual learner like me. But just to be sure I used a photo translator app (Scanner&Translator for iPhone) which proved surprisingly accurate.

In the end I really like the dress. I've styled it very casually with flat me-made sandals, but it looks fantastic dressed up with heels and I can see it made up in a silk for a slinky night-time cocktail dress. I was off to a BBQ following this shoot and I was breezily comfy all day whilst still feeling rather stylish. It's a woohoo people, yet another woohoo!

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