Monday, February 24, 2014

Cynthia Rowley Mix-Up Dress: A Sateen Sheath

It has been a month since I last posted! And just over a month since I returned to work. Hmmm… I'm doing 4 days a week for this semester only. I'm lecturing again - a first year course with a lot of students (about 200). Dipping my toe back in the lecturing pond has been both exciting and exhausting. It's been almost 5 years since I last lectured in Queensland - I'm on a bit of a (re) learning curve. Plus I really have extremely limited time to sew. Little M is with Michael on the fourth day, and I don't think has completely adjusted yet. Despite him being her father and being an excellent, hands-on, caring, wonderful father. The mother-kid relationship is certainly an intense one!

Anyway, I'm sure you'd much prefer to hear about my dress! A while back I asked my Instagram friends which of these patterns I should make for Ruthy's (my sister's) first engagement dinner:



Interestingly, everyone bar two said 1873, with the full skirt. I did make 1873 for the engagement dinner (post on that to come!) but I got obsessed with having a dress with the slim skirt. I really liked the skirt portion of 1688 but felt the bodice was not what I was looking for at that point in time. So I spliced them together:


Okay, be honest please. Is the placement of that bottom white flower a bit interesting…….?! Michael assures me it is not, but I have paranoia. I do wish I'd spent more time cutting and thinking about the placement of the print.


The fabric is a cotton sateen from Tessuti - one my mum gave me for Christmas. Ruthy tells me it is a Ted Baker print. It is gorgeous anyway!


I had to make a lot of alterations to get this to fit nicely. Here we go:

  • I took 10cm out of the neckline - a standard adjustment for me, but I do wonder what is going on drafting wise. 
  • For the under arm seams only, I used a 2.5cm seam allowance tapering to the standard 1.5cm at the waist.
  • I took a 2cm horizontal dart out of the skirt the entire way around as I had some very odd pouching just above my hips. 
  • I extended the back darts by about 1.5cm as I had excess fabric there. 
That's only four adjustments - but it felt like a lot. The only thing I am left wondering is whether I should alter the bodice so it is not so cut away at the sleeve-armhole area. The straps do not seem to come in so far on the model in the pic - what do you think? 

I also lined the entire dress, and because I forgot to lengthen the skirt, I bound the hem and sewed it by hand (I would have done it by hand anyway, but usually I turn up the hem twice). 



Like the colour of my lining? Only colour I had in my stash - but I love it!

I really do like this dress and have another one half made (has been half made for some time….). I wore it to work today to attend orientation for my students and felt pretty swish. Professional but young(ish) and not too conservative. I do need to get used to not wearing a sack though. I wear them so often that when I wear anything fitted I feel exposed. Does anyone else have this issue? Which do you prefer a sack or a more fitted garment?

36 comments:

  1. I think you look gorgeous :-) And the flower looks slightly too left to make me think of what you're thinking of - but I now think I've thought too much :-P

    I am looking forwards to seeing your 1873 :-)

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    1. Thanks Elizabeth - and sorry for putting that image out there!

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  2. Very beautiful dress. I think this style suits you just as much as your lovely "sack" dresses

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    1. Thank you Kaitlyn, I actually think I'm more into a fitted dress than a sack at the moment!

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  3. You look gorgeous Rachel, very pretty dress and fabric.

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  4. Beautiful! And I can't see anything wrong with the print placement!

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    1. Soooo relieving to have you say that!

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  5. Love it, the fit is fantastic! I always think a great print is a good for a more fitted dress to avoid feeling so exposed. You look fantastic in the dress and great work on combining the 2 patterns.

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    1. Thanks Emma - and I agree about the print leaving you feel a bit more 'protected'!!

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  6. I have been waiting all day to see this post after your sneaky photo on instagram. I just love this silhouette on you and that fabric is just fabulous. Love love love!

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    1. Thanks Kirsty! Gotta love Instagram.

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  7. Ohhhh, lookin' very fancy. I know exactly how you're feeling. I always feel a little exposed when things are very fitted. You look gorgeous though - work that womanly shape!

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    1. Thanks Bernice! I'm not really used to workin' my curves, but I'll get there!

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  8. the dress looks lovely, love the fabric and the fit is perfect.

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  9. I think this is gorgeous, the slim skirt is really flattering on you Rachel! And no, I really don't think the flower on the skirt front looks weird ;o)

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    1. Thanks Marie - I'm so glad about the flower!!

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  10. This dress looks absolutely beautiful on you! I didn't even notice the skirt flower until you pointed it out and I still had to focus on which one you meant. So it certainly isn't as obvious as you think it is! I WANT to wear sheath dresses but from the side they make me look like an very bumpy and lumpy human. Never flatting. haha I'll stick to my circle skirts for now.

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    1. Thanks Chrystal - and I know exactly what you mean about sheaths - they are not pigging out dresses!

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  11. This is lovely Rach, Def a good choice of pattern combo.

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    1. Thanks Christy. I'm going to make more…. when I actually feel like sewing again.

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  12. I definitely didn't notice the flower placement until you pointed it out :) Your dress looks fabulous!! I agree with feeling exposed - having spent a few years at home in the mum uniform anything fitted does feel unusual.

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    1. Thanks Renee - and yep, my mum uniform is anything loose and comfy.

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  13. I didn't notice the flower until I read the blog post properly and saw your comment about it. I think you look great in these fitted dresses, show off that hot bod! Your sack dresses are cute too, but this is way cuter!

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    1. Why thanks!! I will be whipping out some more I think :-)

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  14. This is a great sheath dress and really looks lovely on you. I am with you on baggy dresses; relaxing and comfortable and I can be myself. Sheath dresses which I love; formal and I feel I have to behave myself!! Don't know why but maybe living in QLD does that to you.

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    1. Thanks Marjorie. Maybe it is the QLD influence!!

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  15. Ooh, it's lovely! And I honestly don't think there's an issue with the flower placement from a viewers perspective. I know what you mean though, I'd be worried about the same thing. Gorgeous fabric though! I'm forever a fan of uber bright lining :)

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    1. Thanks Mel - the fabric is pretty awesome. Wish I could get more!

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  16. I'm with everyone else--lovely dress and the flower placement is not problematic! I think we sewists are very discriminating with our own makes but I would imagine there are millions of RTW garments with much poorer placement that go unnoticed.

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    1. Thanks Sarah - I agree, we sewists are very hard on our own sewing. But it is still a lot of fun!

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  17. Lovely dress and great fabric. I work in a corporate environment and so tend to wear more fitted clothes except on Fridays. A couple of the ladies I work with know I sew so if I wear something new or 'nice' they always ask me if I made it. It makes me want to sew better garments when I know they get noticed! Pressure!

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    1. Thanks Ingrid. I used to work in an extremely corporate environment (the police) and would always wear fitted clothing. I think that is in part why I make so much loose stuff for 'at-home' - being forced to wear it for the better part of the week turns you off slightly. And I get asked that too - and then feel weird when I'm wearing something I've bought!!

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  18. I wear sacks because they hide the multitude of sins round my middle luff the frock LUFF the lining! x

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  19. Your dress looks gorgeous and I only even thought about the flower when you mentioned it! I am always too scared to pick prints as I find it hard to visualise how they will look on me, and then I see dresses like yours and just love how they turn out.


    The neckline on the model is very wide as drafted. I am wondering if when you reduced the size of the neckline did you do so by pinching it out? If so, you may have taken some fabric out above the bust area, and in doing so, resulted in pulling in the armholes a little? Possibly you could just redraw the neckline higher/narrower, do a quick muslin and only pinch out as required as a result of gaping (which should be a lot less than 10cm) - and then check the armhole placement.


    Also, you have a really lovely figure and I think it looks amazing in a fitted sheath :)

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