Well, I put together this dress out of Liberty of London’s Hurren in the ivory colour-way earlier this year.
I changed the Simplicity 3877 pattern around a bit, as detailed in my pattern review. But I wasn’t really happy with this dress. I’m totally in love with the fabric. I mean, if you want to sew something cotton, then I really can’t think of something nicer to work with than a Liberty tana lawn. You can read about the history of Liberty of London at fuzzylizzie.com. My love of Liberty prints and tana lawn started with smocking a red Carline dress for one of my daughters. I loved the fabric, so I went hunting online for more. And I found quite the supply:
ebay was my first place to look, since that’s where I’d found the original RED Carline that got me hooked. I just searched “liberty tana lawn” and WOWEE – there’s a lot of people selling Liberty fabrics for a lot less than Liberty’s website.
One of my favourite blogs about Liberty fabrics is La Plus Belle Collection de Tissus Liberty. It’s the blog of Stragier Couture in Belgium, the biggest importer of Liberty in Europe. It looks like they have every Liberty fabric currently in print and a lot of older prints. You can also check out TrueUp.net for an excellent list of where to buy Liberty of London fabrics from wherever you reside on the globe.
Anyways, back to my unhappiness with this dress. Like I said, I loved the fabric. I mean, what’s not to love about this print and all the glorious colours in it? But I really thought the original design would look silly with the big collar: the design elements would be lost in the pattern. Hence the trim in copper silk duppioni. Yet still…… it’s so matronly somehow. So I hauled it out of my closet and came up with some changes:
First, I shortened it by about 3 inches. I really really didn’t want to do that because I liked the fullness. But the longer length just wasn’t working for me.
Second, I added the binding to the sleeves, only it’s not really a binding. I topstitched a narrow width of the silk to the existing sleeve, with the silk under the sleeve edge. Then I fell-stitched the edges of the trim to the lining of the sleeve to keep in securely in place.
And third, I added the collar. I was really kicking myself about not doing the collar as all the designs in the Simplicity pattern have either a mandarin-style collar or the nice big one I decided to use. I actually went hunting online for some more Hurren to re-cut the top in the mandarin-style bodice as I’m not completely thrilled with this mock wrap style bodice.
Yes, well…. the collar. Hmm….uh, well, that was a case of doing things completely backwards. First, I piece together the collar from the trimmings from the hem. I’m annoyed that it didn’t match EK-ZACTLY, but I had no choice because of the way the godets and skirt pieces were cut – this was as good as it was going to get. The seam actually grades from about 1cm in width to about 1mm at the point where the matching is going off. Oh well….
Then I cut the collar proper from the silk, sewed it up and turned it, making sure the corners were as pointy as possible. After all, that’s part of the glamour of this collar design! Then I appliquéd the Hurren piece-together-collar to the silk and bound the neck edge of the collar in silk. Once the collar was pinned in place along the neckline, I fell-stitched it into place. The fell stitches don’t show very well – that’s the beauty of a fell-stitch! They’re strong and almost invisible! And then slip-stitched the bound neck edge of the collar to the bias binding of the neckline.
And here’s the final collar modeled on me, and also the interior so you can see how I ended up with a nicely finished neckline.
I’m liking this version better than the old one! And it was fun doing all that fussy creative trimming along the way!