Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Project Notes: Woomera Dress

Thanks all for your encouragement! You're the best. I'm still trying to get things settled with my vision of what I want this space to be, so until then, here are some pictures of a project I made back in August. I thought it would be a fun way to share my latest projects and related tips/rants/lessons learned.

First project: The Woomera dress by Liberty Jane Clothing

Fabric: a yellow bird-print chiffon. I really wish I'd bought more of it, it's really cute (although chiffon is a major pain to sew). The chiffon is silky and the colors look great, though it doesn't iron very well.

This pattern was a real challenge; the label says "intermediate" but it felt more like "advanced." I'm really bad about making mock-ups before breaking out the good fabric, but I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to do that. See where I attached the back left yoke backwards? This is something that you should figure out with your cheap practice fabric, not with the good stuff. (Especially since chiffon frays like crazy, so it's good to minimize the number of seams you have to tear out and redo.)

Also, did you see the bottle of Fray Check in the photo above? I used to swear by it, especially when sewing with chiffon, but after getting through this project I'm going to minimize how much I use it. For those who aren't familiar with Fray Check, it's a fluid that effectively "glues" raw fabric edges so they don't fray. This sounds great, especially since not everyone has a serger to finish raw edges, but it leaves behind an awful crunchy residue. It's also impossible to remove, which is great when you finally get the bodice to look right and then spill Fray Check all over it and have to start over. Moral of the story: don't use Fray Check or similar products. 

Sewing over the edges of chiffon pattern pieces with a tiny zigzag stitch is a much better way to keep pattern pieces from fraying, and is the method I'll be using from now on (as you can see in the photo above). 

Speaking of zigzag stitches, the pattern calls for a zigzag stitch to keep the gathers at the shoulders in place. For some reason, that never worked out for me - maybe the zigzag stitches on my machine are too big? Running a straight stitch over the gathers worked, though. 

Some notes about the pattern that I would change the next time I make this: the opening in the back of the skirt doesn't need to be that big, so feel free to sew up the back of the skirt higher than the instructions say. Also, while French seams are a major pain, they're really good for sewing fabrics that are prone to fraying. I'll also make the skirt longer - while it looks cute as is, the extra length would give it some more drama, especially with the uneven hemline.

My biggest tip, though, is to match up sleeve seams with side seams. Few things are more annoying than the seam closing the sleeve not lining up with the seam in the side of the garment. You can avoid this whole issue by sewing both the sleeve and the side as one seam, which is my personal favorite technique. Here's a good explanation with photos.

And here's Sabriel Madeleine (can't decide which name she'll go by) looking adorable in her new dress. I don't have any fold-over elastic, so I haven't made the slip that goes with this dress, so a white sleeveless top will have to do. I'll also take some better photos when the lighting isn't so gray and abysmal.

I hope you enjoyed this episode of Pattern Notes. Any suggestions for future posts?


  1. Where can i get that pattern?

  2. Thanks so much! Anonymous, the pattern is available from Pixie Faire.

  3. I'll have to make that! It is beautiful!

  4. Replies
    1. The dress or Project Notes posts? Likely both, I actually have another post in the works but have to wait until I can get the finished product nicely photographed before sharing it with you all. Sorry for the delay, you know how crazy life can get at the most inopportune times.

    2. I am working on my novel, and oh my goodness. I'll be like, in a groove, when something comes up that I HAVE to deal with.


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