Winter Velveteen Vintage Simplicity Dress
Good morning, Mood Sewing Network! After sewing cute basics for a few months, my project this month veered back into fancy territory. When browsing Mood Fabrics in December, I fell head-over-heels in love with this Black and Brown Floral Cotton Velveteen. It’s a lovely, medium weight black cotton velveteen, with an allover copper brown baroque-inspired floral pattern and a surprising amount of cross-wise stretch. I snapped it up immediately, daydreaming about wintery dresses and jackets.
The dress, obviously, won out in the great velveteen race! I had a copy of the above vintage pattern, Simplicity 5238, in my stash, which specifically recommended using a medium weight fabric, like velvet or velveteen. The original pattern has kimono sleeves, a box-pleated skirt, and a one dart bodice. I changed it up a little bit, adding a side bust dart during my FBA and rotating the pleats toward my hips. The bones of the pattern, however–those lovely sleeves, that structured skirt–remained. It ended up being the perfect showcase for this lush, dramatic fabric.
Sewing both velvet and velveteen can be a bit of an adventure, of course. Its pile is easily crushed and bits of cotton fluff fly off in all directions, as you sew. Precautions can be taken, though, so there’s no need to fear these pretty pieces. (Elisalex, of By Hand London, recently wrote a fantastic article elucidating the best ways to handle it.) The biggest issues happen during cutting and ironing, since it’s both slippery and has that weft to consider. I used a rotary cutter when cutting out and laid all the pieces in the same direction, with the pile running up, so that each matched in coloration. While ironing, I’ve found that using a towel in place of press cloth, paired with a light hand, goes a long way toward preventing the dreaded pile crushing. Those little fluffy bits? They’re inevitable. I recommend not wearing a pretty light-colored dress, while sewing velvets! (Ask me how I know…)
The actual sewing up of this dress was such a blast. Thanks to that gorgeous pile, stitches and seams absolutely disappear into velveteen. The center front of this particular pattern is seamed, which is barely even noticeable in these photos–with correct pattern matching, the velvet blends together beautifully. Since velvet is a bulkier fabric, I used an Oscar de la Renta black silk organza to face the hem, neckline, and sleeves. The organza is so crisp that it turned corners and the hem beautifully, lending a bit more structure to the velvet. I just serged it to the velvet, right sides together, flipped it to the inside, and catch-stitched it in place by hand. (Close-up of said hem facing and visible catch-stitch above.)
Even after two bodice muslins, there are some tweaks I plan on making to the pattern (a lower neckline and some dart fiddling, specifically), but it turned out really well. With the gorgeous pattern of this velveteen and the simple lines of the pattern, it’s a gloriously dramatic little piece. I’m not sure I’ll ever be an all-basics sewer, when fancy pieces like this one are such a blast to sew up. Even better? There’s a little bit of practicality in this dress. With chilly nights like we’re currently having, this velveteen is heavy enough to keep me nicely warm all night, while still looking chic.
Have you ever sewn with velveteen or velvet before, kittens? What is your favorite technique for dealing with this notorious, but lovely, fabric?