I was in two minds about the name of this post – should I call it Wine and Roses and should I call it Cruelle de Ville. As she’s always been a bit of a heroine of mine I decided on the latter.
I found the fabric on a recent trip to Ditto’s in Brighton. They still have it on their website. I’ve been wanting to make a digital print dress for a long time but haven’t found one I like. Once I saw this I immediately knew was destined for a shift dress. The fabric is cotton, I think a sateen, with a bit of stretch, not so much that you have to use a stretch pattern, just enough to make moving around a little more comfortable.
Marianna recently made a lovely lace shift using the Laurel pattern, so my original thought was to use the same pattern. Unfortunately I have a bit of a problem with Colette patterns which generally just don’t work on me. This one was no different. On my toile I got a good fit across the shoulders and bust but somehow it all looked a bit wide. The lower part of the dress was just weird and made me look like I had the most enormous hips. So I started again.
This time I used my block which I have turned into a simple dress pattern with long darts front and back and small bust darts. All I had to do was to make the dress up with the bust darts in place but leave the other darts unsewn. The advantage of this is that the pattern on the fabric remains virtually in tact. I rather like the boxy shape it gives me in the middle but it has enough fitting around the shoulders, bust and hips to ensure it doesn’t look like a tent. The one bit of Laurel I went with was the neckline (yes buying the pattern was a bit of an expensive mistake when you consider I only used the neck line).
Once I had decided on the pattern making it up was relatively quick (three weeks of toiles and adjustments and general fiddling around and then one afternoon to make the dress).
The PDF file that you can download to go with the Laurel pattern described how to use bias binding to face the neck line. Coincidentally I came across this tutorial from Ami about how to use my bias binding maker at roughly the same time. I’ve had one of these for a while but the instructions on the back were rather misleading (ok incorrect) about the width of fabric to use and I hadn’t managed to get any decent binding out of it. Ami’s tutorial is wonderfully clear and helped me work out where I was going wrong. Finishing a neckline in this way is my new favourite thing. It’s quick and simple. produces a lovely finish and you don’t have problems with facing flipping out when you put the dress on.
We discussed the dress as a family and agreed that it looked like there was wine all down the front and the negative/positive print on the back gave it a Cruelle de Ville look. It’s a very comfortable dress and I feel quite smart in it. I have a friend who says the trick is to get the best fabric, I think she’s right; you don’t need complicated designs, the best dresses are just dependent on a good fit and a lovely piece of fabric.