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.