by Elora Ledger
Hello! Hi! How’s it going?
My name’s Elora. Thanks so much for having me and indulging me in my love of talking all things sewing and fabric.
I’m sure many of you saw A + R’s call for blog post contributions a little while ago. I immediately loved this idea. Bringing together all kinds of different voices, perspectives and expertise in one place just sounded like so much fun. So I’m sure you can understand that I was beyond thrilled and flattered when Trin contacted me saying she liked my blog post idea and wanted me to get started on it right away!
Trin has so many beautiful fabrics on her site it was hard to pick a favourite, but I couldn’t go past the glorious hand woven ikats. They immediately conjured up images of floating around on a warm summer’s day, large fruity drink in hand, maybe a yacht? Maybe just a picnic blanket (budget constraints…) Either way, the way our summers deserve to be after the year we’ve all had.
A perfect dream like that needed the perfect pattern and I thought Vogue 9253 was just the gal. Minimal seams, release pleats, floaty sleeves and a beautiful drapey skirt all perfect for showing off the qualities of this unique fabric. Plus it seems like everyone and their dog has made this dress by now and I was suffering from some serious FOMO. Word to the wise on this one though, she’s a bit of a fabric hog and with centre front and back seams you’ll want to be mindful of pattern placement.
After a bit of a fight with Australia Post my beautiful fabric arrived and I did the unthinkable and chucked it straight in the washing machine…
Now this fabric is very delicate, loosely woven and frays like it’s 1995 and starting up a grunge band. These characteristics however are the things that make it so special. Because it’s handwoven it’s narrow and prone to pulls and snags, but it also means every cut of fabric is unique. Every triangle is a little bit different from the next, the colours and shapes shifting and bringing incredible depth - like the most expensive salon hair colouring. It also feels like you’re wearing a cloud. It’s so soft and snuggly it almost feels like double gauze but with more solidity and a heavier drape and is completely opaque. No linings needed.
That being the case, I would advise handwashing this fabric. I however, am no domestic goddess and if something can’t be lobbed in the washing machine it will never be worn. So in it went on a cool gentle cycle and then dried on the line - as I do with all my fabric. It survived this rough treatment with no colour running or distortion, however it did cause some minor pulls that I marked up while ironing to avoid when cutting out. I recommend cutting something like this on the single layer. This allowed me to pattern match down the centre front and back and to fit the four wide skirt panels on the narrow fabric. Due to fabric constraints I didn’t match down the side seams. This doesn’t worry me at all, but is something to consider when deciding on yardage. I had 4 metres and needed every inch for my size, but I do have some fairly large, strangely shaped offcuts I look forward to doing something fun with in the future. If you’re using a non-directional print you could get away with a much smaller yardage.
My measurements place me all over the size chart, b:104 w:70 h:104, but I cut a straight size small with a few minor adjustments. I moved the shoulder seam back 1.5cm, took a huge triangle out of the centre back from neck to waist and stopped topstitching the bust pleats about 1cm short of the pattern. I always have to make an FBA but the combination of release pleats and large grown-on sleeves make for a very forgiving design that fits lots of different shapes and sizes.
The sewing of this dress was straightforward. It’s a Very Easy Vogue pattern for a reason. Combined with a soft but nicely stable fabric there’s nothing in here to trip up an adventurous beginner. That being said, I wanted to do this beautiful fabric justice by making the insides as beautiful as the outsides and keeping the fraying under control.
I pretty much ignored the instructions and started by binding the back neckline with some coordinating bias binding leftover from a previous project, finishing with my neatest topstitching. I then staystitched the front neckline before folding the seam allowance under. I was very mindful of that large front V getting stretched out and distorted. It is on the straight grain but will get tugged around a bit so to be certain I enclosed the raw edge with a bit of static ribbon from my stash, topstitching it down, using lots of pins.
This adds stability and structure to the neckline as well as making for a very pretty finish. I then sewed down the bodice pleats and darts. With all this topstitching going on I decided to flat fell the shoulder seams.
This makes for not only a neat and attractive seam but also a strong one, great for shoulders that get tugged around and rubbed constantly by bag handles. With both necklines already finished the shoulders come together much cleaner than the method used in the instructions.
Onto the skirt! Following along with my topstitching theme I sewed the front panels, right sides together then ironed the seam flat. I folded the seam allowances under and then just topstitched them down. Simple but effective.
Next came the only really tricky part, and only because I had to work it out as I went. Side seams. First let me just say that I LOVE these pockets. Having pockets come out of the waist seam makes them so much sturdier and allows you to hide any amount of treats without distorting the shape of your skirt. This was common practice in historial dressmaking and for some reason, we no longer do it! I also want to say how much I love French seams. This is my standard seam finish. I have never owned an overlocker and as long as you remember to start WRONG SIDES together first they are a super easy, very pretty alternative. Plus you get to feel fancy. Now french seamed inseam pockets aren’t too complicated but I was worried about doing it with this different pocket shape. Turns out, after a bit of head scratching, they were actually easier to do than normal! But to save you from any head scratchings, here’s a run down:
First, sew your skirt side seam to your pocket side seam, matching dots, WRONG sides together using as narrow a seam allowance as you’re comfortable with.
Next trim down seam to ¼ of an inch. Sew the same seam again, this time RIGHT sides together.
Repeat the first two steps with all four pattern pieces.
Next line up front and back skirt panels with pockets WRONG sides together, pinning pocket seams towards pockets. Sew.
Easy. Just finish off by sewing the side seam closed by stitching along the pocket seam line to the pocket opening dot.
All that’s left to do is to french seam the bodice sides and sew the bodice to the skirt. I finished off the waist seam by pressing it down and enclosing it in the same bias binding I used for the neckline. An invisible zip goes in the back and I finished the seam the same way as the skirt front. Finally, I felled the hems by hand with a narrow double folded hem. (Yes, this took ages)
This was a very enjoyable sew. There was nothing too hard about it, I took my time and made sure everything was finished off in the cleanest way possible. The fabric sews and presses like a dream and made the whole process so satisfying.
Now that V. It’s easy enough to sew the centre front together and make a bra friendly dress, there are lots of beautiful versions all over the internet but I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone a bit. For too long have I looked on smaller-busted girls with envy as they pranced around in little summer dresses, unencumbered by underwires and sweaty scaffolding. No more! I have embraced a braless summer, and let me tell you - It. Is. Comfy.
You can see more of Elora's makes on Instagram!