I rushed to finish this dress before I left and even brought the embroidery thread with me to make the braided belt while I was there.
The Pattern: The Clover Dress by Papercut Patterns. I liked the style of the model photos with its drapey fabric, cool lace inserts, and fun tassel belt. I knew I wanted to use something flow-y like charmeuse or challis.
As I started cutting out my pieces I noticed some drafting details that I appreciated.
For one – no dart on the raglan sleeve. Often for a woven raglan sleeve you need more curvature around the shoulder but I liked that the Clover was able to take that curve out of the sides and save me the effort of sewing darts or a two piece sleeve (also, no darts on the whole thing, yay!)
Also, the grainline goes straight down the center of each body pattern piece, swinging out on both sides at the hem. This makes the hem extra swing-y all around at each seam line rather than just swinging out at the side seams like if you were, say, cutting the piece on the fold. This also allows for more curvature at the center front, back and side seams at the waist.
This isn’t a pure tent dress that you belt for shaping. It’s narrower and more fitted at the waist so you don’t have a major blousing effect when you tie the belt.
The challis came from a now defunct local store and it’s made by Freespirit. The white lace came from some spandex warehouse in Dallas.
Challis is usually shifty so for this project I tried something new – dipping the fabric in liquid starch and popping it in the dryer. It certainly helped stiffen the fabric, about as much as spray starching it, however I noticed some areas were less well soaked than others and had to spot spray after drying.
I still had to iron the fabric afterward but this method definitely saved me lots of time. Next time I’ll make sure to thoroughly soak the fabric.
In the end, though, not even the starch could keep the bias edges of the pieces from stretching so I stay stitched every edge of every piece.
For the belt I used the thicker type of embroidery thread and added a few more threads in my braid than the pattern called for. It’s a very narrow braid.
The Changes: Only one major change – the way the fabric print ended up in the front of the dress produced this big red chevron effect up the center seam (you can see more of the red-splotch pattern on the back of the dress).
As much as I wanted to ignore the glaring arrow to the crotch, I couldn’t, so I sewed a wedge up the front from the hem grading to nothing to cut out most of the red area. This threw off the “swinginess” of the front of the dress a tad but I figured it was worth it.
Because the lace was so stretchy I reinforced every single seam line that connected it to the regular fabric with stay tape. I think that helped stabilize the whole area. I sewed the center front seamline with a French seam because I figured it would be the best way to enclose the raw edges of the lace without using a serger. I added stay tape to that part, too.
The Results: This dress is super cute! I love it! It’s fun and comfy to wear and the print is something I haven’t seen anywhere else. I love the pop of white with the lace and the belt. Obviously you don’t have to use something sheer, you could easily use a contrast opaque fabric, too.
It fit great right out of the envelope (I made an XS). I really think the tassels make the dress.
I made a gif of the dress in full spin mode. Try not to get dizzy…