A Liberty of London Tulip-Print Dress
Ladies and Gentlemen, let me introduce you to the Mathilda-Georgia-Farrah-Meryl dress. Too many names for you? I agree. But, that seems to be the way of it these days – names for patterns, names for fabric, names for sewing machines. Next up we’ll have names for our presser feet! Won’t that be confusing?!
The Mathilda in the Mathilda-Georgia-Farrah-Meryl dress comes from the navy and white ‘Matilda Tulip’ print silk/cotton voile, part of Liberty of London’s spring/summer 2013 Flower Show collection, that I used for the body of the dress. It’s paired with a solid navy cotton voile, which I had left over from my most recent Dotty top.
The Georgia, Farrah, and Meryl in the Mathilda-Georgia-Farrah-Meryl dress comes from the patterns I combined to make this particular dress using the new Boundless Style book. Georgia is the V-neck bodice, Farrah is the sleeve with the pleats at the cuff, and Meryl is the full skirt. If you’re not already familiar with the book, Boundless Style was written by Kristin Boos of Victory Patterns as a choose-your-own-adventure dressmaking book. As well as basic sewing information, it has five different bodice styles that are interchangeable with five different sleeve styles and five different skirt styles, plus variations on each. You choose any bodice, sleeve, and skirt combination to make a dress perfectly suited for you. There’s even a Boundless Style lookbook app to help you better visualize different pattern combinations!
I chose the Georgia-Farrah-Meryl pattern combination since I thought it would pair well with the Liberty tulip print silk/cotton voile. The silk/cotton voile is very fine and has a beautiful drape, perfect for Georgia’s and Farrah’s soft pleats and Meryl’s full skirt.
Though the star of this dress is definitely the Liberty of London print, my favorite part just may be the zipper. I was particularly pleased with Boundless Style’s instructions on how to insert an invisible zipper. There’s actually an invisible zipper in the side seam in the photo above! Truly invisible with no puckering or distortion of cloth! Even in this delicate silk/cotton voile! Way back in the early days of my blog, I had the hardest time inserting an invisible zipper into the side seam of a dress. I finally got it to work using an invisible zipper foot (if feet really did have names, I’d vote for the invisible zipper foot to be called Isabella) and a bunch of internet tutorials, but I’d avoided side invisible zippers ever since. However, now that I’ve learned the technique Boos included in the Boundless Style book, I won’t have to be afraid of them any more! Boos has you machine baste the side seam as if you were sewing the dress up without a zipper. Then you center the invisible zipper behind the seam and pin it in place. Then you hand baste the invisible zipper to the seam allowances. Then you rip out all of your machine basting stitches. Finally, you use an invisible zipper foot (Isabella!) to stitch the invisible zipper in place.
Aside from a tiny bit of slippage that happened where the midriff band meets, I couldn’t be happier with the zipper insertion! But, next time I’ll try smaller hand basting stitches around areas where matching is important.
As I discussed in a recent post on my own blog, the midriff band was a late addition to help the dress feel more “me”. It was interfaced and hand stitched to the outside of the dress. The neckline band is also interfaced, per the pattern instructions. The instructions also suggest that you machine topstitch the neckline in place, but I chose to hand pick stitch it so as to not distract from the tulips in the silk/cotton voile. I did machine topstitch the yoke though with a contrasting color (I chose a gray from the tulip print) since I thought it would be nice to add a little something to the solid navy. The very last thing I did was hem the dress. After letting the skirt hang for a day or two and trimming off the bits that stretched, I added wide hem lace (since I didn’t like the idea of a small turned and stitched hem for some reason) and then (confession time) machine blind hem stitched it in place (maybe the blind hem foot could be called Betty?!).
Both voiles were very easy to work with. The only little bit of trouble I had was trying to keep nice pleats in place as I sewed. Since I used French seams everywhere I could, including the pleated bodice seams, I found it tricky to keep the pleats in place on the second pass through the machine, the one where you’re finally sewing right sides together in a French seam. I realized only after the fact I could have just flat felled the pleated seams, which would have allowed me to have more control over the pleats, since the yoke was topstitched anyway!
I love, love, love the resulting dress. It’s something I’d wear no matter what I had planned for the day, from a lunch out with friends to a trip to the grocery store to a walk through the neighborhood with my daughter. It’s comfortable yet feminine. It works in the winter with leggings or in the spring with a slip. The only downside: I don’t have a lot of upward range of motion in my arms.
My smile belies the fact that my arm is about as far as up as I can get it before the dress starts pulling up. I can’t remember if I had the same issue before I added the midriff band (which reduced the amount of ease in the bodice through the height of the band since I just cut a rectangle defined by the waist measurement). I need to have a think about what’s going on here before I go to make another. I plan to start by comparing the armscye here to that of the Grainline Archer, a long-sleeve woven top that I know fits me really well. But, any advice is very much appreciated!
Okay, I’m off to take this new favorite dress for a twirl. Or, more likely, take it splashing through puddles with an almost two year old!