Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Wednesday Showcase/Tany and The Magic Bias Dress

There's little I love more than showcasing the work of others. I can't remember when exactly, but I showcased the wonderful blogs, Couture et Tricot and Tany et La Mode a few years back. Since then I have loved seeing the incredible garments that Tany makes and I especially love her shoes!!!! I joke with her all the time that if I ever come to Portugal, she will need to lock up her shoe closet as that's the first place I'm heading ;) She has such a lovely sense of style and mixes her beautifully made garments with purchased pieces in such a manner that I think, makes all who visit her blog aspire to dressing even better.

Tany won the Magic Bias Dress pattern giveaway that I and Fashion In Harmony hosted just before the launch of the sew along. Tany did not allow any grass to grow under her feet in getting the dress made! She did such a beautiful job, so I asked her to do a guest post as I thought you would enjoy her journey of working through the pattern. 

Be sure to check out the video at the end of the post. Although the dress is on a dressform, it gives you an idea of how the dress moves on the body. 
Hope you enjoy the post, and a special thanks to Tany for sharing her thoughts on the pattern.

Hi to all sewing enthusiasts out there! I was invited by Rhonda to write a guest post about my experience making the Magic Bias Dress from Fashion in Harmony and I happily said yes. I’m quite honored to be addressing Rhonda’s readers and I love her blog!

I first found out about this pattern through the giveaway hosted by Rhonda and the Sew News Magazine Sew-along. I am an avid sewer and I’m always on the lookout for new things to experiment with sewing-wise. When I saw the pattern I was fascinated by the fact that most of the seams are stitched on the straight of grain, in spite of the dress being cut on the bias. I was also quite fond of the one piece bias-cut tulip sleeves, as I think they are incredibly flattering and add to the femininity of the dress. 

I was hooked and ready to order the pattern, so imagine how thrilled I was on finding out that I had won the giveaway. When I got the pattern from Rhonda I started looking for suitable fabric right away and I found this 100% rayon (viscose) floral print at my local fabric store. It has a wonderful soft touch and drape. The flower print isn’t the obvious fabric choice for this dress because all the seaming detail would be lost in the print but I went with it anyway and I must say I’m glad I did because quite happy with the final result.

Regarding my impressions of the pattern, I only have good things to say; everything lined up perfectly and the instructions were very clear regarding the sewing procedures and the order of construction; the seams are numbered so there’s little room for mistakes. The success of the dress depends of course on the preparatory steps: cutting the fabric well laid out and perfectly straight with pattern grain lines parallel to the selvedges and avoiding distortion near the selvedges (either by placing the pattern pieces a fair distance from the selvedges and/or clipping the selvedges every 2-3 inches). Also be aware that the pattern is huge and the fabric is cut on a single layer layout (right side of fabric facing up) so it helps to have a large cutting table or enough space on the floor. After all the pattern pieces are cut and marked where needed, it’s good to keep in mind that the pattern includes 3/8” seam alwances on all seams, except the shoulders where the seam allowances are 1”. The fact that the main seams (those joining the narrow inset and the front yoke to the main dress piece) are cut on the straight of grain really made my job a lot easier because I didn’t have to worry about the fabric becoming distorted along these seams. I pressed both seams away from the inset and towards the front yoke because I decided to topstitch all seams with contrasting thread to highlight them and I thought it would look more balanced this way.

The remaining seams (neck and armholes) should be stabilized and the instructions offer a few possible ways to do this. I stay-stitched at 1/4” from the cut edge and also fused bias stay-tape to the neck and armholes; I also want to point out that the instructions include precise measurements for each section of bias tape needed, on each pattern size. For the shoulder seams I used strips of lining selvedge cut to the width of the front shoulders (measured on the paper pattern) and basted them to the back shoulder stitching line, easing the fabric slightly.

I really loved the neckline binding method in the instructions, called the French Bias Facing; again precise measurements for the bias-cut strip are provided. Same as Rhonda, I also think that a 1 1/2" wide strip may not be enough for this neckline binding treatment; a 2” wide strip is just perfect for the job.

When the body of the dress was complete, I was able to try the dress on and assess the fit, which was perfect for me. I am a size 14 and I cut size 12-14. But, I think there’s little chance of the dress not fitting, because the bias cut fabric will accommodate to your body shape. I also ended up with a slightly uneven hem but that was to be expected.

The one-piece bias tulip sleeves are my favorite detail on this dress; they hang beautifully and are so flattering in my opinion. I had no trouble at all attaching the sleeves to the previously stabilized armholes. I didn’t do this for this dress, but if you want to add a couture element to the sleeves, just add a silk organza sleeve-head: cut a 4” wide bias strip of silk organza, long enough to accommodate the sleeve cap from ease point to ease point, fold it length-wise  and baste to the sleeve cap on the wrong side (raw edges together) before stitching the two rows of ease stitches. You’ll find the sleeve will ease in much more evenly, and the folded organza adds a nice light support to the sleeve cap after it has been attached to the armhole.

The last step was hemming the dress evenly after letting it hang on the dressform for 48hrs. I trimmed out just the minimum to make it even and the length of the dress was just perfect for me (I am 5’7, by the way).

I LOVED sewing this dress and loved it even more when I tried it on. I made no alterations at all but fitting instructions are provided in the pattern instructions in case a large or small bust adjustment is needed (and these adjustments are surprisingly easy to make too!). I can’t wait to try this pattern with some other fabrics/prints (Rhonda’s versions are quite inspiring, do check them out if you haven’t already!), being aware that the fit/hang will change slightly according to the fabric’s characteristics. Color blocking is also an option and I already have a few ideas for upcoming versions of this dress.

All in all I rate this pattern a 10 out of 10, which also rates the very thorough instructions, diagrams and variations provided. I had a blast making this dress and I strongly recommend the pattern.

Thank you all for reading and Rhonda for hosting this article, Happy Sewing to all!

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  1. Just had to stop by to say thanks so much for this posting. I love the idea that it is bias cut but the seams are all worked on the straight grain.

    Would love advice on obtaining a straight hemline on rayon fabric though. Just finished my first ever dress made in this fabric. I hung the dress, used a hem marker first time round. Oh my gosh, the hem was not straight. So I cut it again and now its better, to the point that I will probably wear the dress. So, my question is what is the secret to getting a perfectly straight hem with rayon fabric??

    1. Hi Marysia, the only advice I can give you is explaining how I hemmed the dress with further detail. I let it hang on the dressform for 48hrs; for hemming the dress I prefer putting the dress on myself and ask a willing assistant to measure from the floor up with a ruler and mark the exact measurement around the hem every four inches. My next step was pulling out the dress very carefully and hand-baste (thread-trace) the hemline using the pins as a guide. I checked again with the dress on and finally used very sharp shears to cut the hem evenly (serrated shears will work even better: the kind used for cutting silk). Hope this helps.

  2. Gorgeous dress, Tany. Thanks for showing us Tany's efforts and amazing skills, Rhonda! Win-Win for sure!

  3. Very pretty dress, and loved her shoes too.

  4. Oh my, this is just so lovely! I need to make one!

  5. Thanks for posting and a special thanks to Tany for this wonderfully detailed post, very informative. I love the tulip sleeves such a nice touch.

  6. That is a gorgeous dress and the information is so timely as it looks like the perfect summer dress! Love those sleeves. Thanks for sharing!

  7. This is a gorgeous dress and you look fantastic in it. I am intrigued by this unique pattern!

  8. Such an informative post and beautiful dress. Tany is indeed very very talented!

  9. Beautiful dress and guest post!

  10. It's such a lovely dress on you and a very helpful review, thanks!

  11. Beautiful! I had tried to buy this pattern from the designers a while ago - but the site didtn't ship overseas - and nobody ever answered my enquiry :(... so I am envious:P

    1. I'm so sorry Francesca. If you are still interested, email me at sewbussted@yahoo.com and I'll see what I can do for you. It's a great pattern and I'm sure you would enjoy it.