One of this exciting things that happened to me over the Summer, while I was taking my little break from blogging and vlogging, was being picked to be part of the Sewisfaction Blogger Team! Sewisfaction is a new online and bricks and mortar sewing shop which opened up this year, stocking a beautifully curated selection of dressmaking fabrics, as well as indie patterns and gorgeous haberdashery. If you haven’t checked out the shop, then I really recommend you do!
This post originally appeared on the Sewisfaction blog, but I thought I would share it here as well, in case you missed it. Please do check out the other posts on the Sewisfaction blog, because the team has been sewing up some really fabulous things!
For my first project I ended up taking a bit of a risk and sewing up a pattern I had actually never sewn before…and I didn’t make a toile first either! I was a bit nervous that I might be making a huge mistake, but thankfully I’m really happy with the end result.
I had spotted a couple of versions of the Akinori wrap dress, from the new-to-me Belgian pattern company Wardrobe By Me, around the Internet recently and instantly fell in love with the unusual and Japanese-inspired pleating and faux-wrap of the bodice and decided it would be a perfect pairing for one of the lovely drapy viscoses’ from the Sewisfaction shop. I settled on Juliette because I loved the deep blue background and the slightly Oriental style of the flowers.
The Akinori pattern is a downloadable PDF (and actually comes in two sizings; US 2-16 as well as 14-24) and although it does offer an A0 copy shop printing option, I decided to just cut and stick as I was short on time. As much as a loath cutting and sticking together PDF patterns, I was actually pleasantly surprised with how well the pages lined up (they normally NEVER line up for me!!). The PDF is layered, which means that you can select your size and then only print that, making cutting out easier. I didn’t realised that in time though, so printed out all the sizes. It wasn’t really an issue, apart from the fact that there didn’t seem to be anywhere, either on the pattern print-out or instructions, telling which line I needed to cut for my size!
Based on my measurements I cut a size 12, without making any adjustments. It’s good to note that the seam allowance on this pattern is only 1/2″, rather than the more standard 5/8″.
The viscose fabric is so super soft and drapy, but because of that, it really needs to be treated with care during all stages of construction. It’d a good idea to cut your pattern pieces out with a rotary cutter and cutting mat, and if you are very new to sewing with drapy fabric then you could try starching it to give it a bit more structure. I have to admit, I didn’t follow any of that good advice and it definitely made the process a lot harder! On the plus side, it presses beautifully and stays pressed it a most satisfying way (only a seamstress would understand that! lol). Do use a good, sharp needle and lots of pins.
The instructions with this pattern are very sparse. It is definitely not geared towards a beginner as many steps are not even mentioned, such as understitching the facing, as they must just assume that you would know to do that. You may also need to think about what order to finish your seam edges before starting because, again, they don’t tell you this and sometimes its better to finish an edge before the seam is actually sewn, other times you can do it after. Not all steps have diagrams either. However, they do include diagrams for the more difficult and unusual steps. I did not really find these useful!! The centre panel of the bodice has it’s own facing which conceals all the raw edges of the belt and bodice pleats, which is very neat when done. But it is very confusing to figure out how to do it. It took quite a bit of head scratching before I worked it out, but you certainly get quite the sense of achievement when you get it! The pattern of the fabric I used actually hides some of the detail of the centre panel (so I’m sorry there isn’t a clearer picture to share with you), which can be a good thing if your sewing ends up a little wonky! But bare that in mind if you would like to show-case the panel. Perhaps use a plain fabric, or even a contrasting fabric?
Apart from the centre panel, the rest of the construction is fairly straight forward. The only other thing that I found awkward was dealing with the belt ties. These are long. Really long. Oh, and they don’t provide you with a pattern for them, just a pattern for the end (a point), which you then need to draw and attach a very long rectangle to. I can understand why they do this, and I am glad I didn’t need to print pages and pages for a simple rectangle! Anyway, because the belt pieces are so long they would often get in the way during construction and would also have a tendency to pull the fabric down with their weight if they fell off the table. So you need to keep remembering to make sure they are first of all, out of your way, and secondly, safely resting on the table or ironing board while you work. I haven’t washed my dress yet, but I imagine they will also end up in a big knot when I take the dress out of the washing machine! You can also make this dress without the ties, and I’ve taken a couple of photos for you to see roughly what it would look like. I actually think this would make a really nice, slightly more relaxed, dress and I’m tempted to try this out. Perhaps in a size down though, just to take away a little of the width. But you can see from the photo, that the centre panel pulls the dress in slightly under the bust, even with the belt undone, which is quite flattering. The dress does not have any fastenings though, so you wouldn’t be able to reduce the size too much, or you would end up having to include a zip or buttons in order to get in it!
I decided to add pockets to the dress because I love a dress with pockets and it’s an easy addition to make. I just used a slightly altered version of the Emery Dress pockets and attached them before sewing the front to the back of the dress. Definitely worth it.
Overall, I am really happy with how the dress turned out. I love the kimono style sleeves and the deep v neckline. I wasn’t sure about the tulip shaped skirt on me, but I actually think it looks fine, and suits the style of the dress. As I mentioned before, this fabric presses really well, which means the many pleats in the dress sit beautifully and the drape is just perfect. And oh my goodness, it is so so comfy to wear – I could actually imagine p.j.’s in this fabric, it’s so soft.
My next Sewisfaction post is due up on their blog on the 6th October, so I hope you can check it out in a few weeks time.