Saturday, 12 July 2014

April Rhodes Date Night Dress (aka muumuu)

I planned to ease myself back into sewing when I returned from Arizona.  I thought this dress would be the way to do it.  It's listed as easy, for beginners, and only has three pieces (front, back, sleeve) and no darts.  Initially I bought the pattern together with this amazing 1970's flowered rayon at Pacific Fabrics, intending to use the fabric to make the slip that comes with the pattern.  I had eyed the dress online, and read through some of the reviews. 

When I realised the slip is extremely basic, I changed my mind and thought I'd just make the dress itself.  I didn't recall anything particular from the reviews, although if I had I might have shortened the dress a bit - most people rave about it! 

The rayon is a wonderful, no-stretch woven with a great drape, and was actually a bit difficult to cut - my floor is sometimes quite slippery and it makes cutting slippery fabrics twice as hard as it would be on a table.  (And yes, I am cutting everything on the floor these the impromptu setup...not...but at least I get loads of natural light that way.)  Since I had planned to make the slip, I had just barely enough fabric for the dress, which obviously uses quite a lot more with its huge, long shapeless skirt.  I cut a S based on my bust measurement and should have cut an XS. I had measured the length and double checked the pattern, which says finished length is 27", but I didn't realise that was a front measure instead of a back measure.  I could have saved some fabric if I had noticed that as the pattern piece itself was really long, and in fact the finished dress came halfway down my calves prior to hemming. 

The pattern was hard to get used to.  As a "super-beginner" pattern, it has color pictures denoting what to do and walks you through every step of a french seam...on each seam.  And that didn't help me at all, too much information?  I still did one sleeve inside out, and the side seams inside out, and didn't notice!  I will blame being sick - recovered from a feverish laryngitis and clearly still pretty dizzy, which is why it took nearly a week to get this baby put together. 

So seams notwithstanding, when I finally tried it on I realised my worry about the pattern (it seemed huge) was spot on - it was a huge shapeless muumuu.  I don't wear belts so I had zero interest in belting it.  I love the fabric and didn't want to waste all those french seams...I knew I had seen a shirt version somewhere - here it is: Jenna's shirt version, and I knew right away that was the way to salvage this.  So I went ahead and redid my entire sleeve the right way, and then experimented with narrowing the sleeves, but that didn't work and I took it out.  I ended up cutting the dress to make a shirt, just guessing about where I wanted it, and then I took a pie shaped piece out of each side seam (total 2" out at the bottom, I'd guess.)

I know everyone has liked this pattern.  Most people also seem to agree that it truly is beginner friendly.  My issues, other than the drawn-out detail on french seams, was that every hem is rolled.  The sleeves have a rolled hem.  The hem itself should be rolled.  And the technique for doing this is one that has consistently failed me - to fold at 1/2" and iron, then fold that in again and iron the smaller fold, then tuck them together, before you pin and sew.  I might just be bad at rolling hems of all types, but it seemed like a crappy technique to call "beginner."

This dress is a bit out of my comfort range, because of the flowy sleeves and the generally flowy dress.  I can see on other people that it is not inherently totally shapeless like it was on me, but my first try with it doesn't convince me to make it again.  I do, however, quite like the top that I ended up with.

1 comment:

  1. You look v displeased in the dress photos especially! hah! I like the shirt quite a bit. And perhaps the dress in a XS would be much better... Also love the fabric. What will you do with the part you cut off? skirt?