Kim Dress: The Siren Call of a Pretty Print
I was trying to sew tonight, but just couldn’t really get into it. As you may have seen if you follow me on Instagram, I’m working on a peacoat for my husband. I’m so not in the mood to be sewing wintry items, but if I put it off until fall, I’ll need to be working on kid’s coats instead and I’ll never get to it. I did work on it a bit tonight, but then I thought “I really should finish up blogging about stuff I took pictures of last year”. It seems only a serious lack of sewing motivation can get me to finish those up. Of course, it isn’t like they have an expiration date. I usually plan to wear things for at least a few years after I make them, but still, I’m starting to lose track of what’s been blogged and what hasn’t.
Tonight here’s one I know hasn’t been blogged yet. This is the By Hand London Kim dress made up with the full-skirt version, but without the tucks. This dress has pretty much given me nothing but trouble. It started off wonderfully early last summer when I stumbled into a garage sale where I found a random piece of fabric labelled $10 that just happened to be in the perfect colors for me. The group running the sale gave it to me for $5, so how could I pass it up? When I took it home I found that there was at least 4 yards and it was a generous 60″ wide. A burn test, however, revealed a significant polyester content and a trip through the washer/dryer led to the revelation that whatever I would make would be prone to picking up static. My original plan of a drapey maxi dress was scrapped because it’s terribly annoying to have a dress that looks like it should be breezy for summer, but that is actually the sartorial equivalent of wearing a thick layer of plastic bags. So I made a shorter, full-skirted dress, with the plan that I could wear a crinoline under it to cut down on static if needed.
An informal tissue-fit/compare the finished measurements with my own dimensions session led to the conclusion that the Kim dress would be quite low-cut on me, especially since I wanted to use the sweetheart neckline version of the pattern. I modified it to raise the neckline a bit, but as you can see, it’s still pretty va-va-voom. I probably should have taken a wider seam allowance at the shoulder to make it overall shorter above the bust-line, since I’m finding most things fit better when I do that. The bodice seems wrinkly and a bit short. I’m wondering if part of that is a need for a little more ease, or maybe it’s just fitting around my actual shape, since the low cut in front and back means that the bodice needs to be fairly closely fitted. Probably it’s a little of both combined with a fabric with very little body of its own. The length of the bodice, even though it looks short on the hanger, actually hits exactly at my natural waistline because I’m incredibly short-waisted.
I first put the tucks into the skirt as the pattern called for, but the pattern was designed for cotton-y fabrics with some body, not this poly-faille faux-silky stuff that slips all over. I hated the tucks because they weren’t completely straight, and with the busy print, even if they had been straight they weren’t adding anything to the design, so I took them out. It took forever to unpick around the entire width of the skirt three times, especially since I had to be super-careful not to leave any holes, but I felt better about wearing the dress after I did that. Before I took the tucks out I was worried about the skirt ending up too short for comfort, especially since I was thinking I’d like to wear a crinoline under it, so I faced the hem with this extra-wide vintage bias tape. I like the weight and structure it gives to the hemline.
It did end up being the perfect dress to wear to my cousin’s outdoor wedding last summer. I do like having dresses that are just a little too fancy and/or just a little too sexy to wear everyday available for such occasions. Sadly, I don’t think the poly fabric is holding up well. It frayed while I was working on it, and seems to be continuing to fray into the seams, despite having finished the edges. It just isn’t quality fabric and it just isn’t up to what I’m asking it to do. I may end up needing to cut off the bodice, where the seams are more stressed and refashion the skirt portion into just a skirt, possibly with a waistband in a sturdier fabric. Ordinarily I wouldn’t bother, knowing that the fabric quality isn’t great, but I do really love the colors and I’d like to be able to keep wearing them. I do have some fabric left over, which I had originally thought would be pretty as a jacket lining. I still think it would be pretty, but I hate the idea of having to reline a jacket after a few wears if the fabric falls apart. Has anyone else been hoodwinked by a pretty but fragile fabric lately?