Pattern: Chloe Dress without the cold-shoulder sleeves. Sewn up in a size 12, graded to a 10 thorugh the bottom half. I added a silk panel at the bottom.
Sometimes I want to wear an easy dress in Winter. I have a bunch of fitted dresses that I can layer for cool weather. And I do. I wear turtlenecks and tights under many of my classic, fit and flare dresses. However, I love loose, floaty dresses too. I have several simple, shift-style dresses that I love to wear in Summer, but none for Winter. The Yuki Dress fit this wardrobe gap perfectly for me.
I used the Yuki pattern from Tessuti Fabrics. I made it up directly from the envelope. My body traverses three sizes in their patterns but because of the style of dress, (and to keep things simple), I chose the largest part of my body (bust) and selected my size in accordance with that. The dress is quite roomy through the body. I will probably grade the sides down a little next time.
I toyed with lengthening the dress. I normally lengthen everything I make (I’m 5″10). However, the pattern pieces seemed long to me when I was laying them out, and I wouldn’t have minded this style of dress being a little shorter. It did turn out quite long. It may be a little longer due to my choice of hem. I did a narrow hem on my dress, but I couldn’t tell you what the instructions ask for in this respect.
The fabric I used was a lovely rayon crepe in navy from The Fabric Store. It’s a gorgeous colour in real life, but like black, so hard to photograph to show details. I had to overexpose the above photo which makes the fabric look sheerer than it really is. I would love to make this dress up again in a wool crepe, a heavyweight cream linen, or perhaps a heavy silk satin. It’s a lovely pattern.
I’ve already worn this dress quite a bit. It’s a stylish, yet easy to wear piece that I can easily wear to work with a turtleneck and tights. I’m looking forward to sewing this one again one day!
Up until this year, I’ve never really given velvet a second glance. I used to walk past the carefully perched rolls of velvet at Tessuti Fabrics and sigh, and perhaps tentatively stroke them, but I couldn’t really see how such a lush fabric could fit into my wardrobe.
This season is different. I’ve got images of velvet playsuits and blazers stuck in my head. I’d actually like to make all the velvet things but I had to decide on just one. I toyed with the idea of playsuit, but opted for a more classic style of dress instead. I think the simple design of this dress will have more longevity in my wardrobe.
You’ll have to forgive the scrunched up sleeves and trust me when I say the fit is pretty spot on. I could scoop a smidgen more out of the lower back curve, but with normal walking/moving, those wrinkles aren’t actually that noticeable. I really just need an assistant to straighten me up before photos.
The dress is a faux wrap design with a crossover bodice and wrap skirt. The fabric is a woven, not a knit. It contains some stretch, but not so much that would eliminate the need for darts/gathers or closures. I chose to add gathers to the bodice design and a zipper in the back. I hid the back darts in the back curve of the waist seam. I prick stitched the back zipper in place, adding a tiny glass bead with each stitch. I also made a detachable leather tassal. which I will secure to the zipper pull to aid dressing. I’m just waiting on a little spring clip in the mail.
With regards to the fabric, I had my heart set on a deep teal, navy, or bottle green velvet. I couldn’t find what I wanted so I decided to dye the fabric myself. I purchased some natural stretch velvet and the necessary chemicals from Dharma Trading Co. I find their website quite informative and simple to use, particularly when trying to figure out exactly what I need for something I know nothing about.
I used a Fiber Reactive Procion dye, regular table salt, and soda ash as the fixative. My velvet is a silk/rayon blend. It only stretches on the cross grain and is reasonably light weight (for velvet). It doesn’t require lining, but I’d consider lining it if I was working with a light colour. I’m actually really pleased with the quality of textile and absolutely delighted with the dyeing outcome. It’s important to note that the fabric shrinkage was quite significant after the first wash, but that information was on the website so I was able to order the extra yardage to account for this.
The dyeing process was extremely simple. I used my front loader washing machine, set on the hottest, longest cycle. I read somewhere that a front loader holds about 8 gallons of water so I made my dye calculations based on that (however, I was hardly precise about anything!). Here’s a quick summary of my dyeing process:
- Pre-wash fabric with Synthrapol
- Begin long/hot cycle. When water has filled the machine, pause cycle.
- Dissolve dye powder in water. Dissolve salt in water. Open machine door and pour in dye and salt. Close door and resume cycle.
- Run cycle for 15-30 min and then pause again (you need about 15min remaining for the soda ash).
- Soda ash should be dissolved in hot water – add this to the last part of the cycle.
- Close door. Finish cycle.
- Start new cycle to wash out leftover dye, using Synthrapol as the detergent.
- Remove fabric.
- Clean machine by running a cycle on empty.
In terms of sewing with velvet, this was my first time. I knew to respect the nap, both in cutting direction and pressing, but I also learned a few other things along the way.
Velvet is shifty to sew. I wonder if the slight stretch in this particular velvet made it worse. My Pfaff has a walking foot which helped immensely. My serger hated the velvet. I only attempted one edge with the serger and then decided to pink the remaining raw edges. Hand-basting and lots of pins also helped deal with the shiftiness.
Velvet seams finger press open beautifully because the pile shifts and locks the seam in place (a bit like Velcro). When ironing, I used a thick, doubled up towel, but I’ve heard another upturned piece of velvet works well to press on too. Velvet is a dream to blind stitch as the pile hides the stitches so well. I machine stitched the centre front edges of the skirt before I realised this (so I’m not very happy with the ripple along one side). The neckline, sleeves, and hem were all hand-stitched (the neck with bias binding) and the finish is much nicer.
What do you do when a pretty little dress gets ripped to shreds? Well, shreds might be a slight exaggeration, and to be completely fair, it probably wasn’t entirely the fault of the child. The dress was getting a bit too snug across the chest, which was probably causing undue stress on the fabric. This child is a champion grower. She’s going to be taller than me.
She is also, by far, my roughest customer. I can’t tell you how many knees and bums and legs she’s worn through in this past Winter. I’m at the point where I won’t make anything below the waist for her anymore. It’s more sensible to buy cheap RTW leggings and trackie pants during the sales. In the past few weeks, I’ve been converting some of the salvageable ones to shorts for Summer (like the cute pink pair below). Even Miss Three doesn’t cause as much damage as her to clothes as this one does.
This dress refashion was very simple. I cut off the yoke as high up as I could and simply attached a waistband. The waistband is a scrap of lycra from my recent swimsuit. I gathered the (circle-shaped) skirt to fit the waistband and threaded some elastic through it for a little extra security. The blue was the perfect match for the skirt.
She looks like such a little lady here!
The length of this skirt is so grown up. I like the look of it on Miss Five even though I know the length is going to be subjected to all kinds of horrors. No doubt I’ll end up cutting off a torn inch here and a torn inch there, like I do with all her other dresses, until it ends up as a mini. The only thing that seems to withstand this child is silk CDC and quilting cotton.
However, I don’t think sensibility should always get in the way of fashion, especially not with little girls who like length and swish. It’s become an instant hit, which is a relief. I wasn’t quite sure how she would take the idea of me refashioning one of her favourite dresses.