Put a bird on it! More specifically, put four red-crowned cranes (Grus japonensis) on it!
(thank you, PepperReed for the bird ID!)
After making Holly's wearable muslin of the BurdaStyle Shift Dress 04/2016 #115, it took me a few weeks to woman up and make her "Put a Bird on It" dress. I think I was a bit apprehensive about working with the brocade fabric, particularly sewing and ironing it. But brocades are in, apparently, so it was worth it.
Since the bust area was too big on Holly's first dress, I started to do an SBA on the pattern. The darts were fairly small to begin with, though, so I ended up removing them entirely. Then I decided to just trace the back pattern piece with the front neckline.
Before I cut into the bird fabric, I sewed up the lining with the bust changes and had Holly try it to make sure it would still fit. The fit was great, and since the front and the back were the same but for the neckline, Holly liked the idea of having it be reversible. I left the back neck band thing off and now she has a reversible dress! She can go round neck or v-neck in the front, depending her mood!
I also agonized over the placement of the birds on the dress- the fabric is a panel design, with 4 panels running from selvage to selvage. There was no way to cut out the narrow dress without getting bird butts on the side seams. I complained on Instagram and my peeps provided some helpful suggestions (thanks, all!), but none of them seemed quite right for this particular situation and small amount of fabric. We decided to wing it (hahaha) and just went for it. In the end, it's totally fine; no one is going to notice the bisected bird butts on the side seams except you guys because I pointed it out.
After cutting, I decided to serge all the edges except the neckline before sewing because the brocade was quite prone to fraying. I also turned the heat down on the iron all the way because I was worried about melting or scorching the fabric, but found that the low temp wasn't accomplishing anything. I incrementally turned it up until it was hot enough to actually press, but not so hot that it melted the fabric. I had to press all the seams a ton because this thick fabric didn't want to stay flat.
Unlike last time, I drafted the cuffs and sewed them on. Although I used lining fabric for the underlayer, I am still finding them to be a bit bulky, particularly at the seamline. I wanted to remove them to keep the dress sleek, but Holly liked them, so we kept them on.
I did lots of understitching and clipping to get the neckline flat. For the in-seam pockets, which I cut from the lining fabric, I used these great instructions from Sewaholic (sewing them to the bodice using a smaller seam allowance) to make sure they stayed inside. I sewed a blind hem on the outer skirt with my machine and tacked the lining to the seam allowance at the shoulders and a bit above the hem so it wouldn't pop out.
In the end I added bra strap carriers to the dress because the neck is juuuuuust wide enough that they occasionally show and without the strap to keep it in place, the shoulders slip a little bit. I sewed them through the lining and onto the seam allowance of the outer dress fabric, which I figured would help keep the lining inside. I was going to follow this tutorial from Dixie DIY, but it turned out my snaps were really tiny and I didn't have a ribbon narrow enough. Instead I used a tiny crochet hook (1.7mm) and crocheted a doubled thread to form a strong chain to attach half the snap. Worked pretty well! I used some Fray Check on the knot to make sure it doesn't come untied.
We both love the final result! Holly looks smashing in the yellow and killed the accessorizing with her cobalt pumps. A statement dress, for sure!