Winter is the perfect time for sewing with my favorite textile: wool!
It was also the perfect opportunity to try out a silhouette that has intrigued me for some time but I was never quite brave enough to attempt.
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Step 1: Testing the Pattern
It is always a challenge to work with patterns made by a pattern company with which I am not familiar.
Added to that is the fact that Burda Patterns are downloadable which means I have to do a bit of arts & crafts to get my pattern when I would much rather jump right into the sewing.
With all of that cutting and taping out of the way, the next step is making a muslin of the pattern that will eventually become my pattern. Another reason for the rest run is that the shape of this design is quite different than my usual style, and I wanted to make sure it turned out to be something I might actually wear before I cut into my beautiful wool fabric.
Step 2: Cutting Out the Underlining
Because the pattern gives the stitching line instead of the cutting line, it is the perfect project to use an underlining.
The muslin mock-up with marked stitching lines is ripped apart and used as a pattern. With a tracing wheel and a sheet of tracing paper the stitching lines are transferred onto a layer of silk organza.
Step 3: Basting Underlining to Fabric
Those traced lines are then basted to the wool fabric creating a double layer of fabric that will be treated as a single layer for the rest of the process. I like to add additional lines of basting along the center line of every dart and tuck so the two layers do not pull apart during construction of the garment.
Step 4: Construction
And then the construction actually begins! After each seamline is stitched, the basting threads are removed and the seamline is pressed into place. This process continues with each dart, tuck, side seam, shoulder seam, to the set-in sleeves, etc.
Step 5: Adding a Lining
I think that most garments can be improved by the addition of a lining. Not only does it cover any raw edges, it also helps a garment to hang better on the body. This particular pattern does not call for a lining, but it is easy enough to add one.
In most cases, a duplicate garment made of a lining material will work. For this dress, I eliminated two of the pleats on the back bodice to cut down on a bit of neckline bulk. It is also helpful to press darts and tucks in the opposite direction as the garment so they are balanced.
Step 6: Finishing Details
When an underlining layer is used in a garment, it is possible to catch-stitch raw edges in place using that layer so the stitches do not show from the outside. It is an extra step, but one that I think it worth it in the long run.
The raw edge of my facing was encased with rayon seam binding as a nice finishing touch.
The sleeve lining was slip-stitched to the hem of the wool sleeve. And because of the extreme peg to the skirt, I created a facing (which was also finished with rayon seam binding) instead of folding up the raw edge. I left the lining hem free, but used two thread tacks at each side seam to keep the lining from rotating around the body.
Step 7: The Finished Dress
And here is my new wool dress. It is incredibly comfortable and cozy, and surprisingly warm - hooray for wool fabric! Since I generally wear a fitted waist, it feels slightly bizarre to have so much excess fabric in that area. But I really do love the sculptural design and am going to call this one a success!