Now here’s a pattern I’ve been meaning to make ever since it was released – the Clover dress by Papercut!
With its loose fit and pull-over style (you wear it cinched in with a belt) it seemed like a perfect dress to make for those months after pregnancy, while one’s body is still going back to it’s “usual” size. Plus, a centre front seam makes it ideal for wearing while nursing – simply add one invisible zip and you’re good to go!
When I joined the Minerva Crafts Bloggers Network (yay!) and got to choose my first three projects (double yay! and a super fun way to lose a few hours), it seemed like a good time to make up the Clover dress.
I found this gorgeous feathers print rayon, and once I’d decided between the red and the pink colourways, spent some time debating what to use for the contrast v-inset on the bodice. Since the base of the feathers rayon is black, and it’s quite a busy print, I thought I’d match it with a black lace with a larger scale design. And I found this one – a crochet look rayon lace. Perfect!
(Speaking of the print of the rayon, check this out – teeny tiny Hummingbirds, hovering amoungst the feathers! So cute!! And also so hard to spot – can you see them? I didn’t spot them until a friend pointed them out, thanks Mel!)
Crazy though it may sound, even though I’ve been sewing “properly” for over 17 years (I’m not counting those making-scrunchies-as-a-child or home-ec-classes-at-school years), I’ve never sewn with rayon. Most of my sewing is cotton or wool, or knits that ideally have a large portion of one or the other of those fibres. Time to branch out, don’t you think?!
I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed working with rayon. It’s lovely and soft to handle, doesn’t shift around too much (or this one didn’t, anyway – I’ve heard some rayons do?), and presses like a dream. I’m now a rayon convert!
The Clover pattern was nice and fun to sew, and the contrast inset gives lots of opportunity for fun ways to use scraps or pretty bits of fabric. The only thing I’d watch for is what you use for the contrast inset – it sits on the upper curve of my bust, so I’m going to have to be careful about what bra I wear with it as the top half an inch or so shows through the lace.
I did, of course, make a couple of changes to it though. (Because that’s how I roll, oh yeah.) First up, the length. I’m tall, the pattern is short. So I added 12cm to get it hitting just above my knees. Higher than my usual hem length, but I discovered that with the raglan sleeves and the higher scoop neckline it starts to look a bit frumpy when hitting below the knee (I originally added 20cm in length). So, above the knee it is for this pattern on me!
I also added pockets, because, well, pockets. They may look pretty low, but they’re the perfect height for me to still be able to get my hands into when carrying the Smallest Guy around in the front pack. For the pockets, I just drew a basic pocket shape around my hand (to make sure it was big enough!) and sewed them into the side seams. Easy!
And that aforementioned nursing-friendly pattern hack – the addition of an invisible zip in the centre front seam at the neckline. Along with a hook and eye to close the binding above it.
I applied some vintage iron-on hem binding to the seam first along where the zipper was going to go, to stabilise it on the drapy rayon, which worked really well.
(After wearing this dress around all day for yum cha and gelato with some of the Wellington Sewing Blogger girls, I can attest that both pockets and zip do their jobs nicely. Also, rayon is fun to wear! It feels flippy and floaty and feminine and fun. Yeah!)
Now, this actually took me blinkin’ ages to make. I decided that this would be the perfect time to try out a new-to-me technique, and also get in some hand-sewing practice. (Much as I hate hand sewing, I’m determined to get better/faster at it this year!) After reading about it on Lilacs and Lace, curiousity got the better of me and I bought some Hug Snug seam binding. And oh my gosh this stuff is awesome! I think this is the start of a long-term love affair with this seam finish. Check it out – bound seams!
If you haven’t used Hug Snug before, it’s great – made of rayon (I spot a theme with this garment…) it’s very lightweight so it doesn’t add bulk to your seams. It presses well, and is nice and smooth to wear. Plus, it comes in all sorts of fun colours. I may need to add some more to my collection so I can have pretty colourful insides on all my garments from now on….
The other great thing about it – it finished the edges of the lace insets really nicely. Since the lace has quite a large design, if I’d overlocked/serged it instead a lot of the thread would have had trouble catching onto anything in those gaps between the design. But the Hug Snug? A nice, neat finish.
The only seam I didn’t bind was the centre front seam. Since part of it goes over the front lace inset, I didn’t want the yellow of the Hug Snug showing through to the front, so I just did a basic overlocked/serged finish on that seam in black to make it less conspicuous.
I finished the hem of both sleeves and the skirt with the Hug Snug, then hand stitched them up. Luckily, it was Great British Sewing Bee day, so that kept me entertained for about half the length of the skirt. 😉 I’m glad I took the time to do the hand sewing though, as it’s more-or-less invisible from the front and it makes me happy to look at it. 🙂
And of course, the finishing touch:
Overall? Pattern – win. Using rayon for the first time – win. Pattern hacks – win. And bound seams – win. Yep, I think this one is gonna be getting a lot of wear!