I've seen it done many times in a knit fabric, but I really prefer cotton - so much cooler here in south Florida. And I wanted to have some fun with my interpretation. So what would a little French vintage house dress look like? In my closet, ankle length and print fabric!
My main fabric is by Alexander Henry, from the Vie en Rose collection, which is based on Matisse's muses. The inset is also from this collection, done in Amelie Rose in sage. Both are 100% cotton from Hancocks of Paducah. I have noticed, though, that the Vie en Rose prints are increasing difficult to find, even described as retro! I bought the fabric several years ago.
The hemline drop at the sides as seen on the envelope are not at all evident in the woven version, perhaps because of the lack of stretch in the fabric. While I added 13" to the pattern, I did not alter the hemline.
Alterations I did make:
The pattern calls for turning the v-neckline seam allowance in twice to make a narrow hem. I am seldom in favor of this finishing approach - particularly at the neckline which is the focus of attention of most garments! I drafted a facing (2 pieces before stitching) for the back and front neckline. I simply serged the edges before turning.
That done, I turned my attention to the shirring on the front inset, again a focus element of the pattern. Marcy actually makes a bit of a fuss over this piece, including providing a YouTube tutorial (forgive pls if this link goes away) on how to stitch and iron. Her approach to the shirring is to zigzag over a string of perle cotton fastened at each side of the bodice.
The string is then pulled to gather, adjustments are made, and 2 additional lines of straight stitching are applied, one on each side of the zigzag stitching. hmmm I went ahead and did this, because I wanted to follow the pattern instructions and to be able to provide a fair review to my friends. So - here is the result of the suggested approach. I really do not like it! It simply does not have the finish that I want for my garments. Call me a snob!
I unpicked the above and redid the shirring my preferred way:
- Prepared the inset shirring before insertion in the sewn bodice front/back.
- Hand-basted slightly above the 3 shirring lines using 1/8" stitches and a doubled colored thread.
- Pin-fitted the inset in the dress and adjusted the shirring gathers to fit.
- Unpinned and stitched the shirring using 1/4" twill tape to secure.
- Removed the basted gathering stitches.
It's a house dress after all. So here are some pics inside the house.
I have been so unsure of my feelings about this dress! It has been hanging in my view for over a week. Just yesterday I finally took the photos. Today I wore it out for the first time - and enjoyed wearing it. I felt so ...je ne sais quoi!
A bientot! Coco