Can you believe it, after nearly three looooong months, I’ve finally sewn something up? Yep, I’ve got sort of organized: I found a super basic Singer at home and decided to give it a go, plus I bought a brand new shiny Bernina 800DL overlocker and with the help of these two, I declared myself ready to sew again! The Singer is doing her job, but oh boy, it really is a pain in the bum sewing with it. The foot is so sleek that the fabric shifts around every few inches and doing a very easy task as a straight seam, becomes a job! Anyhow, I managed to get sort of used to it and made myself a dress. Because I knew the Singer wouldn’t cope with complicated seams or too many layers of fabric, I went for a very easy pattern and chose the Sway Dress by Papercut Patterns.
The Sway Dress is a sleeveless tent dress, very loose fitting and available in two lengths. I went for the mini version as I wasn’t sure I’d like this shape on me and didn’t want to waste any precious fabric. The dress has vertical central seams and it comes with a scooped neck at the back and a V neck at the front, but it can be styled back to front without any changes. It also feature side seam pockets which I omitted, just because I didn’t have any suitable fabric on hand to cut them out.
For the short version, Papercut recommends using a light to medium weight fabric with body, such as cotton, linen or wool suiting, and the one I bought few weeks ago in Bologna turned out to be perfect. This royal blue material is a silk and wool blend and for what I can figure out looking at it, I think the wool is the base, with large blue flowers, and the silk is woven through it creating the smaller flowers floating on top of the others, like a sort of embroidery. It has a beautiful hand and drape and it’s quite soft considering the presence of wool. I know wool should be dry cleaned, but I washed in cold water a small sample and nothing happened so I decided to go ahead and hand-washed the whole yardage. This way I can take care of the dress by myself.
The fabric was quite narrow, I think about 110cm, so I needed more than what the pattern recommends, but I forgot to check how many metres I’ve actually used. Also, unusually for me, this time I followed the cutting layout suggested and positioned the front pieces upside down compared to the back ones. I never do that because I often use directional fabrics, but here I couldn’t do any different, otherwise I wouldn’t have enough fabric to cut the whole dress out. Luckily the print didn’t change much viewed from one side or another.
With Papercut Patterns I fall in between sizes, so I traced in between a S and XS for the bust, S for the sleeve armholes depth, and then grading down to an XXS for the hips, and again S for the hem. I did my usual alteration of ½” forward shoulders – of course to do so I had to decide with neckline I wanted at the front – and I also removed 3 cm from each front and back side seam, slightly reducing the dress hem circumference. I drew the side seam allowances, cut along the line starting at the hem and finishing at the underarm SA and then overlapping the SA at the hem by 3cm, removing the excess. I’m happy with the general fit, but probably I’d raise the armholes a bit if I had to wear this dress in summer, without any tops under it. I think they are a tad too low. Also, the dress resulted being longer at the back, I’m not sure if it ‘s still a forward shoulders problem or I need to address some other fitting problems instead. Any suggestions?
Working with this fabric was quite easy as the different layers of wool gripped to each other without shifting around, which has been extremely good when using the Singer sewing machine. Also, the stitching has been like absorbed by the fuzziness of the material and is barely visible. I love when this happens! This was particularly helpful when I decided to secure the facings down, stitching in the ditch in the side and center back seam.
I really love sewing with wool and to make the ironing easier and crispier, I’ve asked my dad to make me a wooden clapper. He came home with this huge smooth block of untreated wood on which he attached this cute handle he once found in a river. I’ve never used a clapper before and I’m impressed by how smoother the seam allowances are once you let them cool down under the weight of the clapper. The seams are really perfectly pressed and flat, it’s amazing how a so simple tool can make such a difference!
The Sway Dress is a very easy pattern, with just five pattern pieces, if you count the pockets too. It goes together very quickly, but this doesn’t mean the instructions and methods of construction are uninteresting. In fact, the way the facings are attached to the rest of the dress is very clever and it gives a professional finish to the garment. It’s basically the same burrito method used to sew shirt’s yokes, but instead of rolling the body up towards the shoulders, here you do it sideways.
I’ve finished all the seam allowances with the serger and matching blue thread and because the dress was already quite short, I decided to forgo the hem and finish it with a three thread overlock stitch instead. I’m very happy with how this Bernina works and can’t wait to get creative with it, trying new stitches and finishes. Also, as this fabric has a bit of give, I’ve stabilized the V neck and shoulders with some very lightweight tape, just in case.
Here I’ve styled the Sway Dress with a H&M cotton turtleneck, as seen on the Papercut Chameleon Collection look-book. I’m really itching to sew their Rise & Fall Turtleneck, I’ve got already the perfect fabric for it and as I write my knitting and sewing gear arrived safe and sound from Australia!!! Give me just a few more days and I’ll be on a roll and sew all the things!
The Sway Dress has certainly not the silhouette I usually go for, being a very loose fitting garment, but I think I really got caught because of the Papercut gorgeous photos. The length of the dress is almost prohibitive, but I guess it’s what makes a dress of this shape perfect. Plus, I unexpectedly got heaps of compliments the first time I wore it, so it must be a nice dress, right?
I’m off to unpack all my stuff now, I need to find that certain piece of knit fabric I was talking you about! Have a good weekend everyone!
P.S. My BFF Marti Tiso took these gorgeous photos and if you need an awesome young photographer, she’s the one!