I have a new dress pattern, Vogue 1312 designed by Lynn Mizono. I’m calling it the Origami dress because of the unusual shapes in the skirt; it actually looks as if it is made of folded paper. I have two pieces of Japanese inspired fabric, Woodcut Geisha and Genmai Tea Cup, both by Alexander Henry, and a bit of indigo denim. I am quite excited.
In my eternal quest for dress fabrics that are quirky, enchanting or just plain awesome I think I have fallen in love.
The design in question is called Genmai Tea Cup from the Indochine collection by Alexander Henry, and comes in Indigo or Sepia. I haven’t found a supplier in the UK yet and postage costs from the USA are prohibitively high. Gen Mai is a blend of green tea and roasted brown rice popular in Japan, and the indigo cloth is very reminiscent of traditional Japanese prints that you might see yukata (informal style kimono) made from.
I am seriously coveting a few yards of this fabric and may yet decide the postage cost is worth it. Unless someone comes up with the name of a local supplier.
The Alexander Henry Collection is a wonderful range of fabrics with delightfully quirky print designs. If you are into dressmaking, home furnishings or crafting, you have probably come across them. Some of the best known designs depict sugar skulls, cowboys and cowgirls, Hawaiian beach babes, vintage cars, Day of the Dead, manga and tattoos, but the collection is vast.
Earlier this year I purchased a couple of metres of “Love City” – the design is a monochromatic cityscape featuring buildings large and small, cats on rooves, flowers in window boxes, lovers under streetlights, joyful pooches, men bearing bouquets, birds in treetops, women leaning out of windows, stars, moons and of course lovehearts. The material is cotton and I’m pretty sure there is a small elastane content as the fabric stretches on the weft (horizontal) thread, making it perfect for dressmaking. Today I finally got round to making it into a dress, which was an enjoyable experience and, as always, has also been an education.
My main lesson learnt is that when you have a fabric with a large repeat (ie it’s a picture or scene) it’s best to cut adjoining pieces on single thickness fabric so you can see exactly what you’re going to see when the garment is made up. I tend to be quite impulsive and can’t wait to get on with a project, so cut my fabric as usual when it was doubled over and the picture was hidden. The back of my dress looks better than the front because there are no joins in the fabric (apart from at the waist) and so we see the complete picture of the fabric design.
The pockets could have been cut better too; with more forethought and more fabric to play with I could have made the pockets blend perfectly with the skirt so they would be almost invisible. As it was, I was very tight on fabric and had to change my neckline and sleeves from my original choice as I just couldn’t squeeze all the pattern pieces onto my layout.
For the first time ever I had my sewing machine sew on my buttons. This entailed dropping the feed teeth (which grab the fabric from underneath and keep it moving through the machine while sewing) and removing the presser foot. With a zigzag stitch selected, the button is clamped beneath the presser foot “ankle” and you can start. As the fabric is not moving through, the needle simply goes from side to side through the twin holes of the button until you tell it to stop when it automatically ties off. It saved loads of time and I will definitely use that feature in the future.
Overall I’m very pleased with my new dress, and although the weather is still a bit chilly here, I am wearing it now with a cardigan on top and thick tights underneath.
FYI my sewing machine is a Husqvarna Lily 530 from 1999. Pattern is New Look 6587.