Project 6 : The Serena Dress

The inspiration for that dress comes from two different directions.

First, I had this beautiful fabric that my friend Carole brought back from India (along with the fabric of The India Dress -Project 3). While beautiful, this fabric, which is very light and very fragile, is hard to sew. It slides a lot under the machine's foot, modifying the shape of the project all the time.

Secondly, I must confess that I watch the TV show Gossip Girl (for those who don't know, it is an American soap where extremely rich teenagers use New York as a playground for their mischiefs and manipulations). Rather than for the most of the time upsetting characters, I watch it (or "pretend to watch it") for the high end fashion and stylist work that is put in each and every scene. The clothes are coming directly from the last runway shows and are beautifully accessorized. One of the main characters, Serena, has a tendency to wear boho dresses, very airy and intricated at the same time.

The combination of those two facts made me try something very adventurous: I made a dress without using a pattern. Keeping the Serena style in mind, I listened to my fabric, cutting it the less possible and using the existing length and combination of patterns in the best way I could.

It results in a maxi dress, with a double layer to correct for the transparency, elastic bands at the waist (which were challenging!) and an altar top. I didn't fix the straps, so I can wear them in different ways, according to the mood. I like the way the dress floats when I walk. The top is very naked, but I guess it will be wearable during summers (maybe not British summers though) and holidays. Unless I dare wearing it the way it shows on the top picture: with wellies and a blazer!

Project 5 : The Cape

No one could have missed it: the cape is "the" coat to wear this winter. It started invading our wardrobes last winter and now it is definitively a 2010/2011 must have.

I thought this trend was for me the chance to sew something different from skirts and dresses, using some new kind a fabrics. I hate cold weather and I generally need tons of layers to feel warm. I therefore picked a 100% British wool from the Croftmill website and polyester lining. The lining is really thick and protects even more from the wind. More importantly, the print is colorful and break the all-black mood of the outside. I have always loved contrasting lining and I absolutely wanted one for that project.

The pattern I used was again from Simplicity. It didn't involve lining though, so I had to figure out this part by myself. I put three buttons instead of the one planned by the pattern, so the cape doesn't open too much (I said I hate being cold!). The buttons have a vintage feel, and there are actually old: I bought them from a Save the Children charity shop.

I was very pleased to see that my sewing machine worked very well with the thickness of the wool, even with 4 or 5 layers -at the collar for example. The tricky part was the lining. I thought I had to cut it the same size as the outside fabric, but I should have cut it bigger. It would have given a less rigid feel to the cape. At last I tried for the first time to do buttonholes. The automatic sizing didn't work on my machine, so I had to run a couple of trials. The result looks neat and fits the buttons well. Buttonholes, check!

Overall I would say that I reached my goal: the cape is really warm, and I can wear my biggest sweater underneath, and still feel perfectly comfortable. No need to say this piece is becoming my best friend for the winter. I may even do another one, trying to add pockets, or holes for the arms, or changing the collar. Possibilities are infinite.