I bought the fabric first, which is unusual for me. Normally I have a good idea of what I want to make prior to seeking the fabric, but this was a whim. And, also unusually for me, I bought 3 metres. I knew that the fabric was calling out to be a dramatic, full-length, gathered dress, but I just didn’t know which one. And to be honest, I don’t exactly have much need for dramatic, full-length dresses, but sometimes the heart wants what the heart wants and who am I to reject my own dreams?
When the fabric arrived (it’s deadstock fabric from Sew me Sunshine) I gave a squeal of delight and then immediately wrapped it up again, for we were moving house the very next day. It was a while before I could unwrap it again, and I did so lovingly, pre-washing it and hanging it up so that it was in pride of place, and could be gazed upon every time I walked past.
But still I didn’t have the right pattern. I asked in my stories on Instagram, and got some great suggestions, but still nothing was quite right. That was until I suddenly saw the perfect dress. It was the Fibremood Vikki.
I immediately ordered the relevant magazine from The Foldline, and two days later here it was. I am actually blown away by the magazine: the patterns look fantastic, I love the styling and as a magazine it is incredibly well put together. One thing I really appreciate is how they label the size worn in each photo, making it easy to envision how it will look in your size (and not all their models are stick thin, either). The size range also is pretty inclusive: the Vikki goes up to 57″ in the bust (you make it based on bust size).
I chose to make the size 42 as my bust was in between the 40 and 42, and it’s easier to make something smaller than larger. I ordered some gorgeous seam allowance circles from Jenerates and got to tracing. If you can subscribe you gain access to both the magazine and the pdf patterns, you can buy the pdf separately via the website, or you can buy the magazine and trace.
So trace it was. And now, even though it’s not my favourite thing to do, if it results in more gorgeous patterns like this, I will definitely be brave enough to tackle tracing again. Once done, it was time to get on with the show!
Cutting out of the fabric went nicely: it is gorgeous. Nice and soft – it is viscose after all, but being a twill I found that it held it’s shape. I cut out the bodice and upper skirt carefully, knowing that I probably wouldn’t have room for the facings out of the same fabric – the fabric requirement called for was just under 4 metres. And lo and behold, I didn’t even have enough for my skirt. Giving myself time to ponder, I made up the bodice first.
For the lining I chose a loose-weave muslin fabric. Now, firstly let me say that I realise there is a reason this isn’t normally used for garment making, as the loose weave isn’t suited to heavy wear. But, the colour was a similar tone as my main fabric, it was light and airy, and it seemed like a good idea. We’ll see how it holds up.
I decided to fully interface the front facing and only interface the neckline and the armsyce of the back bodice to stabilise the fabric cut off grain. This has kept the back lovely and airy. To prevent the fabric fraying I overlocked the bottom and edges with a three-thread overlock stitch (a stitch I love that I first used on my Pleiades). All went smoothly, with really lovely details emerging such as the tab at the top of the armsyce where the gathers attach, bust darts in the lining but not in the outer, where the shaping is created with the gathers, and a beautiful finish to the v-neck as well.
Within the magazine, there are pictoral instructions, which cover everything you need, if you have a bit of know-how behind you. In fact, I never once looked up the written instructions on my laptop so I cannot feed back on how comprehensive they were. I loved following the pictures, and felt it gave me courage to go off-piste at times, such as when it came to finishing the bodice. Even now, I have no idea what Fibremood were actually asking me to do (here the diagrams weren’t quite so clear), but I decided to follow the burrito method. This has resulted in a seamless bodice, with all the workings tucked away inside. To say I was pleased with how it turned out is a slight understatement, but there we are. Sometimes projects just work.
For the gathering (and there’s a fair amount in this dress), I followed a new-to-me technique as showcased by Grace aka @wzrdreams on Instagram. An absolute revelation, it involves turned and making two stitches perpendicular to the original gathering line, and then following the first line back. As your row of stitches are level, the gathers are much easier to get even and the whole process is much more pleasant. And another tip (via Rachael of @minimalistmachinist) is to rearrange the gathers with a pin: it drags a lot less than a finger does, and makes for beautiful gathers. This project was a great one to practice on and I am so glad for this community that shares such tips so freely and enthusiastically.
The dress has two tiers underneath the bodice, the lower of which has the pin tuck features on it. Once the middle section is attached to the bodice it was time to move on to my main skirt. With my lower skirt shorter than I imagined (I just cut my remaining fabric in half so as to get the maximum possible) I moved on to making the pintucks. I had wanted to finish this dress in time to take to our holiday to the Isle of Wight, but after spending half an hour making that first tuck, I realised it wasn’t going to happen: these things take time! It was a pity, as it would have been an excellent item to put on on those warm evenings, but luckily* here in Scotland we’ve had more than our fair share of warm weather in which the dress really came into its own.
So, the tucks. Firstly the lower skirt is made into a tube, and then the tucks are made all the way around. There are meant to be 7, but on mine there’s 5 – an attempt to keep as much of the length as was possible. These are my new favourite sewing detail: they are gorgeous! They’re subtle but just catch the light every now and again, and to be honest I like them so much that pin tucks will probably feature on my wedding dress (which is still a daydream rather than a finalised design).
In the end I love the length of dress I’ve ended up with. Despite this dress missing the holiday, I have worn this lots. It is easy to wear – cool and relaxed. The muslin as the bodice lining works perfectly, and the viscose twill is just breezy and floaty and very pretty. I absolutely love the dress, though I haven’t yet washed it so please do cross your fingers that it’ll survive that next hurdle. I wore it to meet my brand new nephew, have jumped on the trampoline, played with my other (slightly older) nephews and had lovely adult chat and chill out time in it as well. It might just be my dream dress.
And as for the Fibremood magazine: I love it. There are several more patterns that have been added to my sewing list, and I am really excited about the look of them all. But for now, I must go and swish about in pin-tucked viscose some more, please excuse me – I may be some time.
PS. As an avid reader of blogs (I love words), I realise that most are becoming shorter and shorter, or even completely stopping. It feels really sad to lose this resource that I love so I have a couple of questions for you all: Do you prefer to read longer or shorter blog posts (as in, are mine too long)? And, do you have any recommendations for other sewing blogs that I should follow?
PPS. Lucky might be the wrong word, seeing as the world is going mad with chaotic weather events. We did have a heatwave in Scotland, where temperatures here went above 27C several times. Although Scottish summers are not normally as bad as people like to joke about, this has been a lot – so lucky is not really the right word in light of why these temperatures are occurring.