Sunday, October 14, 2012

Pink & Black Jason Wu - The Construction

If I had my way, I would have 30 or more different sheath dresses from my TNT dress pattern for fall/winter in various fabrications.  A sheath dress with a cardigan or a jacket not only makes getting dressed for work easier but it's also a very professional look with little effort.  Add some jewelry and a great pair of shoes and I'm prepared for anything at work.

So it was a no-brainer to sew this Jason Wu fabric using my TNT dress pattern...

Fabric ~
Wool blend Jason Wu purchased from Mood Fabrics NYC store

Notions ~
Pink rayon bemberg lining
Pink piping from the stash
20" RiRi metal zipper from Pacific Trimmings (specially cut while I waited)
black rayon seam tape
bias binding
1/4 yard black fusible interfacing

You know the good thing about a TNT pattern, it works all the time.  Yes, you do need to make some considerations for how different fabrics will effect the garment's fit but basically the pattern fits with a minimal amount of effort.  Due to the fact that this fabric is a little bulky - it is a tweed - I added a 1/2 inch to the center back seam because of the zipper insertion and 1/2 inch to the side seams starting slightly above the waistline.

I did decide that since it's such a fine piece of fabric, that I should use the best sewing techniques I knew to honor this fabric.

Interfacing ~
I added strips of a lightweight fusible interfacing to the dress' front & back neckline, the armholes of both the front & back and the center back seam.  I cut 5/8" strips to use for the armholes and necklines. I used a 1" strip of the fusible interfacing for the center back of the dress.  Not only does the interfacing strengthen and prevent the edges of the fabric from stretching out, it also re-enforces the fabric so that the piping and binding will not stress the fabric.

The Darts ~ 
Since the fabric is tweedy with thick threads, my typical method of using tracing paper to mark the darts wouldn't work well with the fabric. So I used tailor tacks to mark the darts.  Here is a great blog post by Miss P that details how to sew tailor tacks and a few photos of my own showing how I made my tailor tacks.

Making the tailor tacks 

Tailor Tacks cut apart waiting for dart to be sewn

After sewing the darts, I cut them down the center and press them flat when I know that I'm inserting a lining into the dress.  I think the pressed dart lays flatter without as much bulk rather than one pressed down.  However, this fabric is very ravelly and without some kind of barrier, over time the fabric would ravel to the sewn seam. So I added a line of small straight stitches next to the cut edge to help prevent the fabric from raveling.

The Zipper ~
The interesting element in this dress is the metallic zipper that I added to the back.  Usually I add an invisible zipper but I wanted to add a little edge ~ something that probably won't be seen since I'm planning on wearing a pink cardigan with the dress, but I'll know it's there.

How did I add the exposed zipper?  Well I started by reading the article in Threads August/September Issue #162, called "Professional Techniques for Sewing Exposed Zippers".  Can I say once again how I'm thrilled that my Threads Magazines are now downloaded to my iPad! It makes them so easy to use in the sewing cave, near my sewing machine. Anyway, I read the article, checked the pictures more than once and decided that I only want the metal teeth of the zipper to show not to have a totally exposed zipper.  So I used only part of the instructions but it's a great article and definitely worth perusing if you plan to use this technique.

Here are the pics of my zipper insertion...

Pinning the zipper to the pressed back seam line

Basting the zipper down

Edge stitched close to the zipper coil
twice to insure that it held

Zipper inserted

The Hemline ~
I pressed 1" of the fusible interfacing onto the hemline after truing it up. Then I folded black rayon hem tape in half, pressed it flat and then stitched it to the hem. The hem was hand stitched down.

The Piping ~
Prior to adding the lining to the dress, I hand basted the pink piping to the neckline.

Then I assembled the lining and added it to the dress. Since I do not own any pink lace for the lining hem (how can that be?) I used some pink rayon seam tape to finish the hem.

This is where the dress stands now.  I will have fashion shots next weekend.  I'm sure you're wondering if this dress will work with the collection...I'm not sure yet but it just might. always more later!


  1. You and your TNT. I swear I'm going to create my own and try to keep up with you. The Sheath dress is looking good and I love your version of an expose zipper. Can hardly wait for the reveal day.

  2. This fabric is really lovely - I always try to honor my "special" fabric with the best tools and techniques as well. Sometimes good enough is good enough, and sometimes there needs to be something a little bit extra. I even have some fabric that I have decided I am not quite skilled enough to use yet - I love it so much and I want the finished project to be perfect, so I am waiting until I feel worthy of cutting into it.

    Anyway, your dress looks great so far - I can't wait to see pictures of it in action!

  3. Can you believe I do not own a single sheath dress? And still I love seeing what you do with your TnTs. :D

  4. you are inspiring me to sew dresses. I now have 3 different patterns that fit - every time. I still want a true sheath because yours is so darn versitle! Thank you for the encouragement and inspiration. The polka dot & yellow dress will be next - and there will be piping! g

  5. I was just wondering why you didn't just sew the zipper in as a standard zipper with a hmmm.... now I've forgotten what they are called... with a flap over it? I realize that exposed zippers are the style now... but I was just curious.

  6. Yet another beautiful dress. Thanks so much for being honest with your readers when you get compensation for hyping a product. I truly trust your recommendations.

  7. How do you feel about metal zippers touching your skin? I bought a boat load of vintage zippers a long time ago (the colors are so cool) but after using a few I hated the metal on my skin. I've thought about some kind of flap but how it would stay in place properly I have no idea. Perhaps I am just sensitive but I don't know anyone else that has used a metal zipper in a garment application so I don't know if it is just me. I really love the exposed zipper look. Somehow it seems like it just looks so good with metal.

  8. WOW!!! you get to work don't you. I can't wait to see it when its done.

  9. Thank you for describing your construction details. It is so good to know how other sewists deal with special and particular fabrics. And, of course, the dress is fabulous!

  10. Love the look of just the brass zip showing, not the tape on the side, much more finesse .

  11. Beautiful fabric. Love the pink piping.

  12. I don't own a single sheath dress either, but I also don't have a corporate type job. I love this version the pink piping is a nice touch.

  13. I love how you always add a fun detail like the exposed zipper or the piping. It reminds me of all the little decisions that really elevate a finished garment if you take that extra step or two.

  14. oooh i love all these construction details. it's like porn. and a lightbulb went off for me on your tailor's tacks picture...

  15. I like the exposed zipper you did much better than the ones that just look stuck on the back of the dress. It is edgy but still finished. Very nice- can't wait to see it done.

  16. Thanks for the linky love to my tailpor tacks post :) That fabric looks delicious! Looking forward to seeing the dress on!

  17. I love that your goto pattern is always fresh!

  18. Gorgeous! I love your tips for working with bulky fabric-- thanks for sharing!

  19. Ever since I started reading about your TNT dress, I knew I had to have my own TNT, so with your pattern suggestion, I started on my own basic sheath dress journey, and I'm hooked! I love that you come up with so many different ways to take a basic dress and make it edgy. Recently, I think in Style or Lucky, I saw a sheath dress made with a very textury tweedy boucle with a leather collar and immediately thought..."Carolyn's TNT Dress! It could be done!"
    Anyway, always inspired by your creations for that basic dress.

  20. THIS IS FABULOUS!!!! The fabric, the dress, the look!!! Oh my gosh I am not an envious person but that fabric takes my breath away!!!

    Time to move to a cooler climate than San Diego! You are such an inspiration!


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