Saturday, June 28, 2014

Summer Jazz Dress

I can't remember where I first caught a glimpse of the Snapdragon Studios' Summer Jazz Dress, but I do remember thinking "It shall be mine."  The ladies at Snapdragon Studios had given a sneak peek of the dress back in May, but released the pattern as part of their first collection a few weeks ago... I snapped it up pretty quickly, printed it out and got to sewing.

I loved how relaxed and flowy the dress looked.  It's perfect for, as the designers describe, a summer jazz concert (Oh, DC, how I miss your Friday jazz in the sculpture garden!), but also for throwing over a swimsuit at the beach, heading to the farmer's market, etc. etc. I like the shirt/tunic version, too, for pairing with leggings or jeans.  The neckline was one of the features I really liked: a soft, pretty v-neck.

I decided to make mine out of a rayon challis I have had in my stash for a while: Amy Butler's Sari Bloom.  This stuff is super slippery, silky and soft.  Kind of a pain to sew with due to said slipperyness and also because it shreds like a mofo, but the silky softness wins out.  I feel like rayon challis is the perfect fabric for this dress: it maximizes the drapiness of the sleeves and skirt.  Good stuff.

The logistics of making the dress:

- My bust measurements put me squarely between 2 sizes and I couldn't find finished garment measurements, so I queried the designers to see what they recommended. They thought perhaps I should go down a size and I probably should have listened.  I chickened out for fear of having a too-small dress and went for the larger size.  It's a bit roomy... d'oh!!  Why, Meg, why did you not listen?!

- Soooo, to make up for the extra fabric, I pulled the elastic significantly shorter in the front; I cut it from 9 to 5 inches.  Then I unpicked the darts in the back, cut another elastic casing, and mirrored the elastic gathering in the back, albeit slightly less tight (more like 7-8 inches).  I think it worked pretty well and stayed true to the style of the dress, but gave it a bit more shape in the back.  Next time I'll definitely size down, but I might maintain my elasticized back because I like the symmetry of it.

- Honestly, I had some trouble understand the neckline finishing instructions in the pattern. Instead, I ended up following this tutorial for mitering inside corners with a bias tape facings. Worked pretty well!  I used store-bought bias tape because I was worried making and working rayon bias tape would be the death of me... so fiddly!

- Hemming the sleeves was a chore because they are so round, kinda like a circle skirt.  I couldn't get them to turn under twice without being a lumpy disaster, so I went with a slightly uncouth method: serged the whole hem then turned it under once and stitched.  Gets the job done, but maybe not the prettiest method!

All-in-all, I am pretty pumped about this dress despite my silly sizing mistake.  It's so flowy and comfortable and flattering!  Tim and I are heading to the beach for 4th of July weekend and this dress will definitely make an appearance for shoreside cocktails.