Republique Du Chiffon leopard print Violette Dress 6436

DRESS UP

Well haiiiiiii guys! I think I can safely say that we’re back onto the fortnightly posting schedule now 🙌🏻

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I’m pleased to report that the mask-making has dwindled to a shadow of its former volumes, and we can now have evenings and weekends back. Yay! My broken machine has had it’s seized bearings fixed and now purrs like a kitten, and my new machine has seen some quilting action. Well, I say quilting action – it’s sewn some seams of the quilt blocks, so I guess you could say it’s just regular sewing really… but on a quilt. So that makes it quilting action. Sort of 🤔

The husbeast is off furlough and now back to work (-ing from home), which means that I don’t have someone bringing me cups of coffee and preparing my lunch for me – but hey, I’d rather his employer paid his salary and I made my own lunch, and he kept his job, obvs 😂

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I’m well into my knitting and quilting still, but with a slowly creeping returning enthusiasm for perhaps sewing clothes. Maybe it’s slow because I’m living in ‘comfy’ clothing all the time right now and don’t feel like wearing ‘real’ clothing… I dunno. I haven’t yet figured it out. Using that logic though, you’d think I’d be wanting to sew sweats and T-shirt’s, but I’m not really so much. With the totally savage hot weather we’ve been having recently, I’ve been wanting to make more of my go-to hot-weather dress: the Seamwork Catarina. I’ve made three of these in total, with the first one (made with an £8 remnant of viscose I scored off eBay) being the only one I actually wear. The second one I made in silk looks too poofy on me with the lining in the skirt (needed though, as the fabric is slightly sheer), and the third satin version is just ick, because polyester. That first one though is actually one of my fave dresses, and that’s saying something given that dresses are totes not my thing. I tried to recreate the success with those second and third versions, but in the end realised that viscose (or rayon, as I understand they’re basically the same thing) is the way to go. So – I’ve gone and done it. I’ve bought fabrics! After saying at the start of the year that I wanted to sew up the stash and not buy any more fabric, I’ve bought more fabric. I’m like my fussy-arse cat, who will turn his nose up at Whiskas cat food and say he’s not hungry – but if you’ve got sardines, then we might be able to talk. The fabrics I bought are my sardines. I’m hoping they’re going to lure me back to sewing clothing again – if I can just make that first step, maybe the rest will follow. So I’ve bought some rayons, and two more Catarina dresses will be made. Hurrah! I also went hunting through the stash to see what I had that could tempt me, but there’s a lot of heavier-weight fabrics and not a lot of summery stuff. I’ll report back once the dresses are underway. The hands-print silk that I used in the failed Catarina dress is going to be repurposed into a Sew Over It Libby Shirt – my first time making this sort of shirt for me, and my first Sew Over It pattern.

Seamwork Catarina dress in Opening Ceremony geometric silk

Admittedly, the shirt looks a bit meh on the pattern envelope, which is likely due to that awful fabric choice:

Libby Shirt

But this version is more what I’m seeing in my mind:

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Let’s see if it translates into reality.

So this week on ze blog, I have yet another not-very-successful dress for you. Surprise! 😂 It’s the Violette dress from Republique Du Chiffon. This dress is something I made at the tail end of last summer, and it’s an almightily epic fail. I think I wore it to work like once before it got donated in a charity bag. I’ll run you through the drama. Grab your cuppa ☕️

Let me set the scene: I was searching for some summer dresses that weren’t Kielos. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I lovvvvve the Kielo, but I’d like some variety, and it’s not always the best choice of dress if it’s sweltering and you don’t want layers of fabric wrapped around you like a sausage roll.

I went rummaging in my sewing patterns, but I don’t really have many summer dress patterns in the stash – I don’t tend to gravitate to dresses, which is why my search turned up nothing. So I had to start from scratch, seeing what took my fancy online. I started by looking at brands I’d sewn before, because I didn’t have a better idea.

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(On that note, is there like a sewing version of Ravelry? Where you can filter all sewing patterns available to see what fits your criteria? If there isn’t, someone needs to do that. I know The Fold Line has a few filters that you can use to narrow it down, but sometimes that doesn’t quite go ‘specific’ enough).

I’ve used a few Republique Du Chiffon patterns – their Gerard coat, their Suzon blouse, and their Jolaine shirt. I’ll admit, the Gerard isn’t really suited to my shape (as in, I have hips and this is not meant for people with hips), the Suzon blouse fit me but it’s awkward as arse to iron that ruffle so it doesn’t get worn, and the Jolene shirt had serious armscye issues. So, not roaring successes to date, but you never know when you’re gonna find the one, right? Their Violette dress gave me visions of a floaty, cool, boho-style summer dress, which I could possibly carry off.

So I took a chance, and bought the pdf.

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When I downloaded the pattern, I realised that there was no A0 file, only a zillion A4 sheets. Erm, what now?! FFS. There was NO WAY I was gonna stick together all those A4 pages for a dress with massive tiers of fabric on it. Just no way. Usually, I send my A0 files to be printed on tissue, and I’m away. But there was no A0. And then it dawned on me that there MUST be a pattern printing company that will print an A4 pattern – surely?!

I went to my go-to for pattern printing – patternsy.com – and it looked like they only printed A0. Poop. It seemed that they used to provide an A4 service, but it was suspended a little while back when they got inundated with a boat load of orders in a short time. But then I saw those golden words tucked away on the homepage – the A4 service has been resumed. YAY!

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With their A0 patterns, you pay by the amount of paper that the pattern takes up. So the more pattern pieces you’ve got, the more you’ll pay. They do offer a free service where they will re-arrange your pattern pieces to take up less paper – and I take advantage of this every time. With the A4 service, you pay 40p per sheet, and there’s no option to rearrange the templates to reduce the cost. This dress cost £16 to print, which is the most I’ve spent getting a pattern printed in a LONG time. Maybe ever. Add that £16 on to the cost of the actual pdf pattern, and we’re talking a lot of dollar here. Even the Thread Theory Goldstream Peacoat that I had printed, which is a LOT of pattern pieces, only cost £10.21 for the A0. That cost was after a 40% discount to squish the pieces onto less paper, but even then, at full price that’s like £16. Which is the same cost as this dress, but there’s definitely more paper for the coat than there is the dress. I realise that there’s probably more effort involved in lining up those A4 pages to print onto one larger sheet, and that’s why the cost is high, so I guess it’s all relative… but still. I’d rather pay £16 than stick all those pages together, FOR SURE.

Once my printed pattern arrived, I began.

The Violette can be made with two or three tiers – I went with three, because I’m not a fan of too short skirts, even though I’m less of a fan of sewing gathers. And you know, at my age I don’t want to be flashing my dumpy knees 😂

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The leopard print is a poly crepe-y chiffon that I bought off eBay many moons ago, which when it arrived wasn’t quite what I wanted at the time. I think maybe I didn’t know what ‘crepe’ was back then, but I know now that I don’t like the rough feel of it and never buy it. But I really liked the colours, so I kept it. I think keeping it was the first foot wrong along the path – I should have donated it once I came to the realisation that I didn’t like to sew with either poly fabrics or crepe. I don’t buy them anymore. But on this dress, the fabric isn’t against the skin as the dress is fully lined, so I convinced myself it would be okay 😂 I chose a rayon to line it with, something cool and comfortable against the skin, foolishly thinking it would counteract the sweaty-plastic-bag-ness of the polyester sandpaper.

I really wasn’t looking forward to cutting the crepe – it’s super shifty, and things like that always end badly for me. This time, I had a brainwave – I would baste together the selvedges of the fabric, along with the cut edges. It was a sealed fabric sandwich. That way, all the pieces that were cut on the fold (so, every single piece basically) would be nice and straight – hopefully – and not droopy on one side like it’s just been to the dentist and had a filling. I’m pleased to report that the plan actually worked, and pretty well at that. It’s defo going to be my method of choice for cutting slippery fabrics in the future. (Previously, I’d also tried sticking the selvedges of the fabric to the cutting board with masking tape – this also worked, but is obviously more faff and you have to keep re-taping when you move the fabric around).

The skirt has a separate, non-tiered lining (thankfully) but for lining the bodice you just cut the same outer pieces again. You can also make an unlined version of the dress, which does away with the lining (obvs) and uses bias tape to finish the armholes and neckline – I’d consider it for a nicer fabric, but for the poly I wanted something better against my skin.

The dress starts off somewhat confusingly, with you sewing the lining front to the outer front, and then the same process for the back pieces. I dunno why, but that felt wrong to me 🤷🏻‍♀️ I soon caught on to what we were doing though (it’s similar in construction to the Deer and Doe Datura blouse, if you’ve ever made that), and was surprised to see that understitching wasn’t recommended to prevent the lining from peeking out on the front. So I took it upon myself to sew some understitching, even though it gets prettttty tricky in places and would have been 100% easier if I hadn’t sewn the neckline and the armholes already – a sew-understitch-sew-understitch approach would have been easier, rather than sewing all the seams and then understitching all the seams. Never mind.

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And then you tackle the masses and masses of gathering for the skirt – three times across the three layers – which is totes enjoyable of course. Not. I French seamed the inside, just because that finish makes me happy. You attach the whole thing to the already-made bodice (lining and outer respectively), give it a hem, and voila! Dunzo.

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I wasn’t happy with the ratty finish on the waistband seam though, despite it being hidden by the lining. I knew that crepe would fray like a bastard, so I ran it through the overlocker for good measure.

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So then it’s time to try the thing on – given that you can’t do it before this point – and deflate. Deflate because the dress looks like a sack on you. Deflate because there’s no shaping at the waist to pull it in, and because the shape of the shoulders is tres unflattering on you. The whole thing just looks so WIDE. *sigh*.

Republique Du Chiffon leopard print Violette Dress 6537

I bought a belt to see if I would like the dress more with a bit of shape to it – I don’t. The overly thick shoulder straps do not suit me at all and make me look pretty Hulk-ish. The poly fabric is yuck. I think something with more drape would be better for this pattern – the gathers don’t really sit nicely on the skirt, they poof out awkwardly a bit.

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The underarm of the bodice is a weird one… it meets in a sort of ‘point’ under the arm which has a LOT of excess fabric going on from there all the way down to the waist. So weird.

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If I learned one thing from this dress, it’s that I don’t mind gathered skirts too much on me. The dress is actually okay from the waist down. I remember the Wonderland Skirt I made (which suffered from an unfortunately hideous fabric choice) that also had gathers and that I unexpectedly liked the style of, and I keep thinking about making a black corduroy version of it for the autumn/winter to wear with boots. It needs a curved waistband fo sho, but I can actually see myself wearing it and this in itself is a huge deal for a skirt.

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Maybe I’ll get some fabric for that and make it happen. If I could thicken the waistband a little and add some belt loops, I have a bohemian leather belt that would go pretty well with it 🤔

Anyway. The dress has gone on to a new life in a charity shop. I should have listened to my gut feeling and donated the fabric before I’d even started – but hey, lesson learned. Never mind. Hopefully whoever the next owner is will love it!

So that’s enough about me, how are all you guys doing? Those of you that also lost your sew-jo, is it still MIA or has it returned?

Much love 💜✌🏻

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Next time on the blog I’ll be bringing you some tie-dye adventures! 👀🌈 Subscribe below to have my posts drop straight into your inbox for your reading pleasure 🙌🏻

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8 thoughts on “DRESS UP

  1. You should check out sewing.patternreview.com, run by a woman called Deepika Prakash. Very useful. There was also another site more similar to ravelry (mysewingcircle.com) but not as well populated, and I can never remember the name of it. As a result I’m not sure if that one still exists.

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  2. Argh, how annoying to get such a poor fit after all that work! When I looked at that dress, I wondered if shirring like in Gertie’s “jiffy” popover dress would help, but then, if the fabric is sweaty and scratchy, why bother? (By the way, crepe that is made of real silk or of rayon is a lot softer to the touch than scratchy polyester!)

    I often find that patterns have too much fabric in the back and are too wide in the shoulders for me, so I size down an extra size and do an extra large fba… I have not tried either Republique du Chiffon patterns because they don’t come in my current size – which is about a UK size 16 in RTW, so I find them to not be as inclusive as I’d like. In an effort to show solidarity, I’m trying to support brands that are more inclusive with their sizes (as well as with their cup sizes, but that’s more of a selfish, tired-of-doing-fbas sort of thing).

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  3. Uh yikes, that is really expensive! The dress doesn’t look too bad, but I understand how it is when it doesn’t end up what you wanted it to be, especially after all that effort. My mother raised me firmly in “no-plastic” clothing, which meant I had only bought myself proper cycling clothes in my mid-20s. But for non-cycling wear and sewing I still only buy natural materials. I mostly draft my own patterns or print free ones at work and hope I don’t get busted 😀

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  4. I think you’re far too hard on yourself and your makes. This is a certain style of dress, designed to be a bit looser on the bodice, similar to the drop waist style and bit boho with the tiers. I think it’s very flattering on you and I’m sorry you felt you had to donate after all that work. The fabric is very you. Yes, if you were being picky, perhaps another time you’d adjust the shoulders on the pattern. Be kind to yourself!

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  5. It happens, so we just learn from it and move on. Oh wait, that sounded like mom or grandma! But it is about the best advice I can give. Especially the learn from it bit. DO NOT BUY MORE CRAPPY FABRIC ONCE YOU KNOW YOU DONT LIKE IT! Sorry for yelling, I’ve been cooped up too long and only have my husband to yell at. Actually I thought the dress looked nice, but my opinion doesn’t matter. I look forward to seeing the blouse in the hand fabrics, I think it should work well. Have a good fortnight and look forward to tie dye next time!

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  6. I have to say that overall I think the dress isnt as bad as you make out But I just think its too big as you have a trim waist.The shoulders are too wide and this is something that happens to me all the time .I often make the front a couple of sizes bigger than the back.Over the years Ive made pleats and tucks in the back just to make things fit a bit better .My problem is my boobs are just too big and I would kill for a neat waist like yours .

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