A Special Dress

I think this might be my favourite thing I’ve ever made. It’s the dress I made for my 30th birthday last month, and it feels perfectly me! The fabric is my favourite style of small-scale abstract print, in my current favourite colours, and the style is comfortable but also dressy enough that I think I could probably wear it anywhere. A win all around really! (Thanks to Emma for taking some photos of it while we were having a drink on the waterfront last week!)

Photo 2-03-18, 6 20 09 PM

Photo 2-03-18, 6 20 23 PM (1)

I used the Named Helmi Tunic pattern, with a couple of small modifications. I wear my first Helmi all the time, but I usually end up wearing a belt with it so that I don’t feel swamped by all that fabric. I really like the drawstring waist feature on my Southport dresses, so this time I added an internal casing and a self fabric drawstring to cinch the waist in without the fussiness of a belt. It was a really easy adjustment to make, I just cut a narrow strip of self fabric and sewed it to the waist seam when I was sewing the skirt to the bodice, and then turned the raw edge under and top-stitched it down to create a narrow channel and to hide the waistline seam allowances. The drawstring passes through two tiny buttonholes that I made in the skirt in line with the edges of the button placket (before I sewed the drawstring casing closed, obviously). The other change I made to the pattern was to shorten the sleeves to cap-sleeve length. I used the Scout Tee sleeve as a guide for how long I wanted them, and then drew in a slight curve to the hem using my french curve.

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Photo 2-03-18, 6 21 21 PM

I used the collar pieces from the shirt view of the pattern, it has a lovely shape and I really like the size. I do find that it wants to overlap at the centre front a bit when I have it buttoned up to the top, I must have not been precise enough with some of my seam allowances. One thing I did try really hard to do was avoid any twinning in the pattern across the front, and as you can see I failed miserably! I forgot to take into account the concertina fold that makes up the hidden button placket, and ended up with some serious pattern replication across the front. I was pretty bummed when I first laid the two front halves together and saw that I had done, but I’m hoping that that’s one of those things that only someone who sews would notice! I used little pearlescent pink buttons, which match the pale pink smudges in the fabric, but I didn’t realise that even the one at the collar would be essentially covered up! I added some hand stitches between the buttonholes at the edge of the covered placket to stop it from flapping open, which I’ve noticed my black one does, which helps to hide the buttons even more.

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And now about the fabric… I love it so much! It’s an Atelier Brunette viscose print called Moonstone, in the blue colourway. I bought it from Miss Maude specifically to make this dress, and I was so happy when I opened the parcel and ended up with a lap full of this gorgeous fabric! It’s so smooth and soft and cool to wear, just gorgeous. I’d love to buy some more, just in case (but I’m not going to, because stash busting). It was pretty expensive, but I love it enough that I don’t mind! I gave it the full VIP treatment, it’s all french seamed on the inside (including the armscye seam) because I couldn’t stand the thought of putting it through the overlocker. Unfortunately I forgot that Named uses a 1 cm seam allowance, so I have some very tiny french seams… They were a bit of a fiddle to sew, but I got there in the end and they look lovely and neat! I considered hand sewing the hems, but I decided to just sew them on the machine. They match the topstitching on the collar and the waist, and the tread I used in an exact colour match so it isn’t very obvious.

Photo 2-03-18, 6 21 10 PM

I wore this dress to a couple of birthday celebration drinks (I managed to spread my birthday across an entire week, I would recommend it!), and was very comfortable in it. I love it even more now though because it’s also the dress I was wearing when Hamish asked me to marry him. I love that I have so many happy things associated with this dress, it makes it even more special than the fact that it’s just my favourite handmade garment!

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(I said yes, of course)

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40 thoughts on “A Special Dress

  1. Big congratulations!! And what a beautiful dress, the fabric looks gorgeous and I love your addition of the drawstring waist. I’ve a few of your recent blogposts I still want to comment on as I’ve loved so many of your makes!

  2. Congratulations! Now all you need is a bridal fabric from Atelier Brunette :). Having made 3 Helmi tunics, I like th idea of the drawstring for a 4th! My collar turned out a little odd too, but i hunk it was my fault rather than the pattern.

  3. Congratulations! Thatβ€˜s so lovely news.
    I like how you altered the dress. I always have to make the Helmi dress. I already used the bodice pattern for my Lanvin inspired dress and made a drawstring like you. I even split the string at the back inserting a short elastic strip to make it more comfortable.
    You chose the most lovely fabric for your dress. It suits you well and I suppose that it is so lovely at the skin. Now have a great time anticipating your wedding! πŸ’

  4. Congratulations! Hamish is a lucky man (but I’m sure he knows that well!) πŸ™‚ Beautiful dress! I always find I’m so happy when I’ve splurged on a nice fabric that I just know will work beautifully with what I have in mind…and it DOES!

  5. This is so perfect on you! I love the pattern and fabric combination- that fabric is so good! I also feel a bit shapeless in slowly dresses like that, the drawstring is a great addition. Congratulations on your engagement!

  6. This is gorgeous! I have plans for another Helmi (so far I’ve made 2 and actually put darts in so the fabric around the waist didn’t swamp me), this time I’m going to shamelessly copy your drawstring waist.

  7. Brilliant news – congratulations, and happy birthday! Your dress is gorgeous, it works really well in this fabric and I love the extra details you’ve added.

  8. It’s a beautiful dress, Kirsten! I really like your idea of adding the drawstring casing to cinch the waist. Congratulations on your engagement!

  9. Congratulations lovely lady, on both the big birthday and your engagement to Hamish! And the frock is so lovely. I’ve got 2m of that fabric in my stash just waiting until the post baby body settles down…. I hope I do it justice too!

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