Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Summer Crafting: Getting Somewhere with the Hepworth Dress

OK, this dress (as matronly as I EVER intend to wear) is not perfect by a long-shot, but it is, well, wearable. Moreover, the sloper, on the basis of what this muslin has taught me, is now in excellent shape:

No, I couldn't take a good photo to save my life the other day, but I've learned that people don't really care. They just like live-action shots, apparently, gorgeous or no. Alas, vanity is such a bitch.
Intriguingly, this version was almost lawn fodder. So close to being someone else's dress because, the v-neck was too long (aka puffing away from my chest and not sitting flat). Happily, some friends referred to the fix, shown below as, ahem, the deflated upper bust adjustment:


I invested precisely 10 minutes in making the alteration and sewing in 2 pin tucks on either side, where the gape was. I didn't remove the facing (just sewed it together with the outside fabric). I didn't use a ruler (I couldn't be bothered), I didn't make the stitching lovely (you can't see it). But, man, if it didn't fix the problem on the fly!

Everyone was all: I love that neck detail!

Note: I altered the pattern, for next time, to shorten the neck (closed dart) but to deepen the V, which is really still too high. This is an area where depth and length are very different things, though they seem one and the same.

Another problem, in this version of the dress, has been corrected on my newly-minted, hard-won (and sort of accidental) woven princess seam sloper, for the next go round:


See how the back bodice is still to long at the base of the armpit? It produces that little bubble (which is nowhere near the disaster, which occurred at the waistline, in the last version). I've fixed that by taking another dart wedge from the centre back seam tapering to nothing at the armscye. In total, I've removed 3 inches from the back length of this pattern and lengthened the front by 1.5 inches. Yes, peeps, that gives me a level waistline.

Finalement, Andrea (who took these pics at our recent photo shoot) and Sara were on about the fun photos, which was code for doing crazy things with facial expressions or arms. Given that this is the first time I've shaved my armpits in about 6 months, I'm all for showing them off: 


What do I think of this pattern?
  • I have nothing but positive feedback about it, despite the challenges I faced, given my shape and proportions. It's beautifully drafted. It's highly wearable. I believe it will work on many bodies. It can be dressed up or down.
  • Having said that, I do find this dress on the conservative side for me. It really does suit my sister's style more than mine - particularly if made in a conservative fabric (like this rayon challis). Next go, I will shorten it by an inch or two, and I intend to use contrasting fabrics for the bodice and skirt. I'm thinking of making it in more structured (vs drapey) wovens or stretch wovens.
  • This pattern is drafted for a woven fabric and, despite the fact that I like to believe this challis has 10% stretch (to make me feel like fitting will be easier), I've been advised that I'm high on drugs. All the stretch in it is mechanical and it's minimal. 
  • When next I use a stretch woven for the bodice, I'll need to confirm that it has good recovery and minimal stretch. I do have a swiss dot in black that fits that description and I think it would go well with a rayon "denim" skirt (the likes of which I used to make this wardrobe staple).
  • While it's not overly flattering in the photos, it is a very lovely dress in action. I got lots of compliments on it - on fabric, cut and fit. I'll wear it, if only for the novelty, until I have a better fitting version.
So, thoughts or feelings? Would you make this dress? Do you like the fabric? Do you find it ridiculously conservative? Let's talk!

35 comments:

  1. i'm with everyone: I LOVE THAT NECK DETAIL!! woman of sexy armpits, i would not call this matronly. i would call this a win.

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    1. I love it when half-assed fixes look intentional! I'm glad to know you don't find it matronly. I'm still not entirely convinced but I know how to de-matron it!

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  2. I don't this this is overly conservative at all. I really like it and the fabric, and it's great to see you back in the pictures again. You really do have to make it again.

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    1. Oh, I will make it again! And thanks Evie.

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  3. i think it looks great on you! no matronly at all. looks like you have tiny tweaks and it'll be perfect next time! maybe a bigger print would seem more you? i am definitely going to make this - i have a lovely navy sateen with a large scale floral print that i'm intending to use. i am going to have to seriously lengthen it tho - sinbad and sailor patterns are definitely on the short side for me (i'm 5'9").. and i love your new hair and poses!

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    1. Well, thank you! I don't know if a bigger print or no print would appeal to me more. But I think the navy sateen would be lovely. Oh, and I know the skirts are short. I added 1.5 inches to the length. I'd really only be removing it, because I am short and I like a short skirt.

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  4. Sorry... I'm just not seeing matron anywhere. Nice neckline fix (will have to remember that one for next time I'm having gaping woes).

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    1. Don't be sorry! I hope it's all in my mind! And isn't that a great fix? I didn't make it up. Sara and Andrea suggested it.

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  5. I'm a fan of the dress. I think it's just the floral print that is making you feel a little out of your comfort zone. I can see how you might want to lower the neckline a little but it's not matronly at all. Casual, fun, it really looks like it suits lunch on a patio.

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    1. Bizarrely, that print is kind of like butterflies and hearts that look like flowers?! It's really not me! And I'm going to go with casual fun! It's very work appropriate. Thanks, C!

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    2. I wonder if some of the print issue comes from working close up while sewing but people mostly see it from a distance. I struggle with some pinstripes for that reason. I should have noticed the hearts and butterflies on the neckline picture.

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  6. I'm with everyone - You look great! I'm so excited that through helping your sister you accidentally fell into such a well-fitting pattern! (I know you've made lots of alterations, but not as many as you've needed on other pattern, right?) I think your two-tone version sounds great for summer!

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    1. Isn't that karma?? I can't believe it either. And so true, I've made many more alterations on other patterns that just didn't make the cut. So I am very happy about this one. Thanks G for your lovely comment.

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  7. Matrons don't show their arms or curves. This is a win, and the next version will be a big win. I love rayon challis - I bet this feels all soft and drapey on.

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    1. Ha! I hope the next version will be all the thing. And I love rayon challis too. It's the first time I've sewn with it. I'd never touched this type of fabric till it arrived by post. Thanks, T!

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  8. I don't think it looks matronly - but if it feels matronly to you, will you wear it, or should you consider it your final (wearable) muslin, and send it out to the curb now?
    BTW, I think I saw the same fabric in the Kate and Rose Etsy shop. I was thinking about getting it, but I don't just want to be a K-Line poser! :)

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    1. Look, it's going to have a limited lifespan. I can tell. But I'm going to wear it a few times, to see how I feel. Whenever else will I wear a dress like this? And most definitely get the fabric! No posers, just like-minded sewists!

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  9. That's pretty cool! And now you have a woven sloper, which is arguably the best thing. :-)

    I like the way it looks on you. I feel that if you make it in a fabric with less drape you might want to change the skirt a bit - it's quite full from the patten drawing. But it should look pretty good!

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    1. That totally is the best thing. I might reduce the fullness of the skirt if I go full on woven, but the rayon denim has quite a bit of drape, even as it's heavy.

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  10. Yep it's a win! I like the lines of that dress.

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  11. Looks great on you!! Fit is really nice! Now I want to try the pattern. :)

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    1. I really recommend it. Give it a go. And thanks!

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  12. I got free shipping on the swatches, it came in a regular size envelope. Should be free for you too! I'd call to check.

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    1. Thanks F: Free shipping is to US only, I believe.

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  13. I totally want to try this pattern. Mind you, I'll have to spend the next several months improving my sewing skills in order to do so, but who doesn't like working toward a goal?

    This think this looks fantastic on you. I love the print and the inadvertent neck details – I'm really looking forward to your next version!

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    1. Oh, c'mon! What else are you doing for the next few months? :-)

      Thanks for your comment - I'm looking forward to the next version too!

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  14. Um, have you seen these pictures? Cause there is nothing remotely matronly about this dress on you. I do like the idea of lowering the neckline and making it into a two-toned affair. Also, you look great on film (digital?) Ms. K-Line, and I love that first shot with the pursed lips.

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    1. Well, you're biased Ms. Photog :-) I'm trying to get with the photography scene however. People seem so happy to see me - which is very lovely.

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  15. this dress is a definite win! not matronly at all! gotta go with the crowd on this one... love the neckline pleats! and rayon challis technically doesn't have stretch, but it sure can feel like it does! from experience, it doesn't fit the same way a cotton lawn (or the like) does, so be careful about over-fitting if you switch fibers! also: nice to see you in photos every once in a while :)

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    1. OK, you see what I mean about the challis! And I hear you on being careful when I switch fibers. Is there no rest for me??? :-)

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  16. I think the proper adjective here is sexy. ;-) Love this dress on you, and being challis it's got to be soft and silky against the skin. Your on-the-fly fix was perfect and actually makes for a cool detail. :-) So yeah, you could say I'm a fan. ;-)

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    1. It's very soft and silky, well said! I wish I could take credit for that neck fix. Well - I did enact it, so I'll take credit for the execution.

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  17. Not matronly! It's very classic and chic. I have to take loads out of the back bodice and add to the front too... Yay I'm not alone! (Though Idon't have the excuse of having a fantastic set of lladies like you do ;) ) love seeing the photos. Well done!

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    1. Oooh, I love classic and chic! Thanks J.

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