Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Year of the Dress: Simone Dress by Victory Patterns

We are christening 2015 as the "Year of the Dress!" We will be featuring different dress patterns and fabrics great for dresses on our blog, newsletter, and on our sister blog, Fabriclady.

Independent patterns are kind of an obsession for us here at Stonemountain. We are always looking for companies who have interesting designs and will appeal to us and our customers. Some companies we have carried for many years, like Decades of Style and La Fred. Often, we know the pattern designers personally and some, like Sandra Betzina who has her designs carried by Vogue Patterns, have taught at our sewing school!

When searching for new pattern lines, we read up on sewing blogs and search the internet, but most of our "leads" come from our customers. That's how we learned about the Canadian company Victory Patterns. We love the details they use like tulip sleeves, bib fronts, waterfall hemlines, big bows, and how they encourage contrasting fabrics and fun prints. Reviews from other blogs as well as our customers have been favorable, so we started carrying them about a year ago.

SuZan, the daughter in Stonemountain & Daughter, showed off her Satsuki top by Victory Patterns on her Fabriclady blog. Made with a flowy rayon batik, this top is perfect for days in hot weather. She now has a silk knit version, that we all covet.

Our own Victoria made a version of the Satsuki dress using a moth wing printed cotton voile.

While everyone loves to see a finished garment, we know everyone also likes to hear about how the pattern came together, how well the instructions were written, and how it fits.

Now, let's take a look at a different Victory pattern. Our own Mary Jane has a special date night with her husband coming up and wanted something simple yet sensual. She also wanted to move away from her "go to" colors red and black and wanted something different from her preferred 1950's/1960's styles, which work well on her hourglass shape. She fell in love with the Victory Pattern Simone.

Simone is a semi-fitted style featuring a contrasting placket and tab detail in which pleats extend, creating fullness. A fitted neckline opens at the front and is secured with a hook and eye. The back features a contrasting racerback yoke. Style variations include a dress with an asymmetrical hemline as well as a tank top. The garment has a side seam zipper closure. Optional piping can be sewn along the front bib placket and back yoke seams to add additional texture and contrast. 
Mary Jane had a striking graphic orange print silk crepe from her Stonemountain fabric stash that has been begging to be made into a dress. The pattern suggests using lightweight fabric with a soft flowing drape: cotton, rayon, linen, or silk. This silk crepe will work beautifully. The Simone has an option for contrasting fabric for the bib front and back yoke.

We would agree with the pattern's level of difficulty is "intermediate." (It is better that you have made a few garments from patterns and are familiar with sewing techniques such as under stitching, making and attaching piping -optional-, pleating, topstitching, attaching bias facings, sewing darts, curves and points).

One of the first challenges is cutting out the right size. All those different dots and hash marks representing the different sizes can make you go cross-eyed trying to follow the right one. If your eyesight is poor, you may need your reading glasses for this pattern: when cutting out the paper pattern takes some concentration to follow the right size.

If you have a tough time following those dashes and dots, try using a highlighter and mark the right size line, then cut it out. It takes a little more time, but makes the process easier and much less frustrating.

The pattern uses 5/8" seam allowance throughout with only a few exceptions, like on the tab. It also instructs that your finish (serge/zig-zag) certain seams before constructing the dress. Mary Jane wanted to just pink the seam allowances (using pinking shears after sewing the seam) instead.

The pattern calls for iron-on interfacing to be used for the tab, bib from and neckline bias facing. Mary Jane hates iron-on interfacing, so she used sew in interfacing instead. She also used different weights depending on what was in her interfacing stash. She used a medium weight interfacing for the tab, a slightly lighter weight interfacing for the bias, and a lightweight interfacing for the bib (she didn't want it too stiff since the dress should be flowing).

You don't have to do this; a good medium-light weight interfacing will work just fine. She just chose to since it was late at night, and why not use up those scraps?!

Mary Jane decided not to make her own piping (instructions are included in the pattern) so she bought some pre-made double piping in a similar bright orange hue.

The next challenge was putting the front yoke/bib together. Remember, if you use your seam ripper often, that's GOOD! It is a necessity with more challenging projects. If you have to undo a seam or five, it's fine! The art of turning fabric into a garment is like creating a sculpture. Its never a masterpiece from start to finish. But, oh boy, when it is finished…

Let's not get ahead of ourselves. The rest of the pattern was easy to put together. It helped that Mary Jane has taken our Pleats class for the pleats in the front and our Fearless Zippers class for the side zipper.

There is some hand sewing required for finishing the neck, and the armholes are machine finished with bias. She also used a cute glass fish button in blue from our amazing button wall for the tab for the bib front.

And ta-da!

Mary Jane accessorized with shiny metallic heels, a iridescent clutch, and a chunky turquoise necklace. The fit in the front is blousey and the side and back drape beautifully over her curvy figure. She used the pattern size twelve for her 40"- 33"- 46" proportions. It took her two full weekends working about six-eight hours each day (so about 30 hours) to finish it. If you wanted to make it in our Beginning & Beyond classes, you would need to take two classes (fifteen hours over five sessions each), without homework (working on it at home).

We love this dress. Its so far from how Mary Jane normally dresses up and that makes it feels special and fun!

What have YOU made that is far from your normal projects that you love? Tell us about them! Email us at fabriclady3@gmail.com.

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