Wednesday, January 02, 2008

First Project of 2008

I guess starting out the year using a TNT dress pattern definitely signifies how my sewing is going to progress this year...because that's just what I did! This dress came into being after one of my latest fabric purchases arrived from Fabric Mart.

This fabric:

And this jumper/dress idea:

Somehow became this:

2.5 yards of midnight blue & black crepe wool, rayon and cotton blend

2.5 yards of printed polyester charmeuse - also from Fabric Mart

22" zipper
2 yards of rayon hem tape

I made this dress using my TNT dress pattern consisting of some of the pieces from a sleeveless dress that I made last summer and some of the pieces from the Chanel dress. When I'm sewing from an idea, I am basically free-styling especially since each incarnation is new and uncharted territory. I don't know if I thought the construction through well-enough with this dress or if it was just a case of the unpredictability of actual construction, but I ended up doing a lot of hand sewing during the process to make this dress work.

I used the v-neckline and overlapping front bodice pieces for this dress. The first dresses that I made using these bodice fronts were loosely fitted which was fine for casual summer dressing but not what I wanted for this look. So my first alteration was to take two small tucks in the bodice piece, of about 1/4 inch so that the top would lay closer to my chest wall.

The back bodice piece was also loose on the summer dresses so I used the back yoke piece and back bodice piece from the Chanel dress for this version. Using these pieces would insure that the back hugged my neck and upper back.

Piping was added to the neckline from the lining fabric. This came about quite by accident. After I had inserted the lining but before it was pressed into place, it overlapped the front and it gave a really plain bodice front a little zip. I liked it so I pressed it down like that and then stitched it flat.

The bodice and skirt pieces were cut with the stripes running vertically while the waistband was cut with the stripes running horizontally. Again this was a design detail added to give the dress interest. However, during the first fitting, I noticed that it actually added a slimming effect to the dress.

I used the sleeves from the Chanel dress for this version...a shorter sleeve with a band added. Originally the band's fabric was going to be cut horizontally but somewhere in the cutting process I neglected to do that! *smile* However, I did add a piece of flat piping (slightly larger than what was used in the bodice) to the sleeves before adding the band to the bottom of the sleeve.

The sleeves were lined with the polyester charmeuse using a lining method that I learned from Nancy Zieman of Nancy's Notions. The lining and fashion fabric were sewn together at the hemline. Then the side seam was sewn and the lining was flipped inside. I just had to insure that none of the lining fabric was hanging from the bottom of the sleeve...careful pressing and pulling the lining up a little solved this challenge.

Lining the dress:
Most of my hand stitching occurred during the lining insertion. After adding the lining to the bodice pieces I had to figure out a way to add the band and skirt lining pieces to the dress. I ended up hand stitching the entire skirt lining into the dress at the waistline and at the zipper tape. To make sure that the dress would not fall apart - hey I haven't hand stitched an entire lining in quite some time! - I let it hang for a day. When I woke up in the morning and it was still together I felt it was safe to proceed!

Extra Details:
The dress has side slits instead of a center back slit. Just doing something a little different so that each version of the dress doesn't look the same.

I had a real challenge with the bodice fronts meeting and pulling. After I stitched the two pieces together, I noticed some serious pulling happening only on one side. The stitches were ripped out and I finally decided to just tack the fronts together in key places. I'm not sure that I solved the problem, I just "made it work!"

There are three things that I love about this dress...

1. It has some weight to it...meaning that I won't be cold in it. The wool blend fabric is a medium weight fabric and then the polyester charmeuse lining adds to the heft of the dress.

2. I love how the polyester charmeuse lining feels in this dress. It's like slipping into a nightgown. I bought three of those polyester fabrics from Fabric Mart and now think I should have bought one of each pattern especially since they were only $1.99 per yard.

3. This dress as photographed with pearls will be so appropriate in my workplace. It has that "Corporate Chicness" that I am striving to attain in my work gear and will be perfect in any work situation. Plus I'm not dialing up the same ole, same ole that my peers are wearing.

So that is my first project of 2008, you can see more pictures of the construction process in my Flickr photo album. I have two unfinished garments from 2007 that I really should work on but honestly I don't know if I will. I haven't decided whether to let inspiration move me for my next piece or obligation. Guess that will be tomorrow's post!


  1. Carolyn, What a great first project to start off the new year:) I love the deatiling you did with the lining fabric. The style & fit is very flattering on you, you look great.
    In my opinion you've acheived the "Corporate Chicness" look indeed.
    What Nancy Zeiman reference ? book ? did you use for the lining method? It sounds interesting.

  2. I almost bought that same navy fabric! Way to start off 2008 - I love the piping detail.

    About your "fabric usage" in the sidebar, don't you want to say that you used 5 yards (the total of the fashion fabric and the lining)? I plan to include linings.

  3. You look fantastic! I agree, the fit and style is very flattering!! You do great free-styling girl! :)

  4. Very nice! I really like the piping you added - it gives it some zing!

  5. I love the way you look in this dress! The detailing is so nice and really pops!

  6. Nice one Carolyn! I like all your details that make it special - the lining piping and trim, the horizontal waist treatment. Great!

  7. You totally rock that dress! I love the lining peeking out as piping at the neckline and then again in the sleeves. Plus - that lining is so fun.

    I say let the inspiration move you - the stuff that has been waiting will continue to wait, but inspiration comes and goes. g

  8. Amazing dress! I loved the fabric from the moment you posted it on SG.And the sleeve lining tip from Nancy Z. is brilliant! Did you set the sleeve in by hand or machine after that? I sent you a private message throgh SG. Hope you get it.
    Lisa (Sweet Petite)

  9. Fabulous way to start the new year! Beautiful dress and I love the lining!

  10. what a great way to kick off 2008, your dress looks great, I love how you use your tnt patterns, very inspirational

  11. I can see you're going to have a great year in sewing! The dress is beautiful! I like the way you make your TNT patterns work for you.

  12. You always do a fantastic job on all your sewing projects.Love this dress and the lining.

  13. If this is how you start the year, by the end of the year we'll all be speechless and drooling!!! :) You certainly came into 2008 with a bang!! I love this dress on you - it is very chic. You certainly have the knack of sewing garments that are flattering on you.

  14. Wonderful interpretation of the inspiration piece(s).
    I really like the mere suggestion of pattern that shows in the contrast piping - keeping it corporate friendly, but giving it your own special signature.
    on the sidelines clapping!

  15. You look fantastic in this dress.... I love the lining too - beautiful inside and out!

  16. Wow! It looks so great on you and I'm amazed at your skills! You're off to a great 2008!

  17. Fabulous start to the new year! You have definitely defined corporate chic for us! Anyone looking for that definition will have to stop by here.

  18. Carolyn, Everything you make says QUALITY plus you have excellent design sense. This dress is exceptional and will be a classic. Thanks for sharing all the construction details on Flickr. I got that same lining in a bundle last summer - love what you did with it.


  19. Well done! You look beautiful and you're an inspiration! Happy New Year!

  20. Great outfit and way to start the New Year.

  21. Carolyn, It's fabulous, just like you and all your projects! It is so much fun to watch you whip up another stunning piece.

  22. The piping details are great. I've been following your site for awhile and you make such good tnt outfits.

  23. What a great start!! AMAZING! It looks so good on you, I love it! The piping details you added are precious!

  24. You go girl. Thanks for the construction details, you just don't know how helpful they are!

  25. This was a great start to your year. I love the dress, but even more I love the lining. I love using prints in linings, and your description of it feeling like you've slipped into a nightgown wants to make me to line something. Thanks for the inspiration, as always.

  26. That is such a beautiful dress that can go "anywhere". I like your term "corporate chic". Thank you for sharing the details of how you added the lining, piping and sleeve trims. 2008 will be great and this just proved it.

  27. I love the lining and the piping. They both really add to the dress.

  28. Wow you have started the year off just right. I really, really, really like this dress and really, really think it looks great on you!

    Great first project!

  29. Great looking dress and it looks fantastic on you-I love the detailed finishing and your example of working with a TNT pattern yet constantly producing beautiful, unique garments-I'm lookinf forward to reading your adventures in 2008

  30. What I love about you is that you make your clothes interesting. Whether it's a trim, button or lining, there is always a pleasant surprise that make your clothes unique. I want to be you when I grow up. Oh, screw that. I want to be you now!

  31. Carolyn - the lining method you that in one of Nancy Zieman's books or is it somewhere online?

    Thanks ;-)

  32. I love your "accidental" lining! How awesome are you Carolyn, hum?

  33. What a perfect way to start a new year! Love this dress, it looks great on you (love the pearls too, I'm a big fan) and I also love the lining.

  34. Wow, Carolyn! I'm late posting because I haven't visited in awhile, but that's a fantastic dress! Plans are just the starting point, aren't they? Anything can happen!


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