As many of you know I love Colette Patterns. I entered their last contest for their pattern called Laurel and won in the category of self-made fabric. I told you all this in my last post (swear I'm not trying to be redundant) and now I'm back at it again. I've taken a crack at Colette's latest creation Hawthorn. It is a really great dress!
I love a good shirt dress on principle but after making this dress I was particularly impressed. One thing that I think is really fantastic about the Colette Patterns is that they offer some really great variations. My original intent had been to create version 2, and have a fall dress, but at the last minute decided to change the sleeve. I also wanted to continue with my theme of tattooing my clothing. Selecting my fabric had everything to do with doing more silkscreening for this project. I knew that once again I wanted to work with solids so that my silkscreen as well as any embroidery would really pop. Then of course there was the fact that I didn't want to spend any money, that really cut down my selection. I had a piece of dark blue/green linen that I had been hanging on to for quite a while and it seemed like now was the time.
As most things do I started with the boring incidentals. I figured out that I would make a size 10. This is another thing I love about Colette Patterns, their sizes actually mirror commercial sizes. Imagine! I mean really who feels great about starting a pattern when you usually wear a 10 and you end up needing to make almost double that in commercial patterns. Its not a self esteem booster. I then pre-washed my fabric and pressed it.
Here's another weird tidbit about me, for whatever reason, I cannot bear to actually cut out the commercial patterns in my size. I don't know what that's all about but every time I trace it to brown paper so that I will always have the original uncut and with multiple sizes. So of course I did that next. I also took some crummy orange broadcloth and made a muslin or a sample of the bodice of the dress.
There were a few things that were apparent from the start. 1) I didn't need any extra room in the bust. which I can tell you was a complete shock! I am not ashamed to admit that my bra size fluctuates between a 34 G and a 36 F depending on the bra company so not needing to add space in the bust was a complete surprise. 2) I wanted to change the neck line and collar a little bit. I love Peter Pan collars and rather than having the little V-shaped dip at the center front I just wanted to have a smooth scoop neck that dipped just a little lower than the original. 3) I needed just a hairs breath of extra space at the waist. Since the alteration wasn't drastic I just added a quarter inch to each side seam at the waist and brought it to nothing at the armscye.
Since the skirt was so full I didn't bother to do a muslin of the skirt. I knew based on the finished measurements on the back of the pattern that it would be more than adequate. That said I did change the skirt just a little bit by adding slash pockets. I have on occasion made dresses without pockets and at least for me this is always a mistake. I will often use "logic" to talk myself out of taking the time to put in the pockets, but this is flawed and false logic and my punishment is always agonizing over my inner desire for pockets.
Now the most time consuming part of this whole process was the silkscreening and embroidery on the back of the dress. I knew it would be, and I was not surprised. I have to clarify, when I say silkscreening this is not 100% accurate. I do not actually silkscreen or make my own screens. I know how to expose a screen, but for what I want to do it always feels like more work than it's worth. What I actually do is create my own stencils and use multiple stencils with different items cut out of the same image to add dimension. I do this on card stock and just copy my images multiple times on my home printer.
I use Speed Ball Silk Screen Ink for all of my printing needs. I think what I like about it is that the paint itself is reminiscent of acrylic paint and I like the painterly quality I can evoke.
One of the reasons I started to use silk screening in my designs was because I wanted to start doing hand embroidered details. The images and drawings I wanted to replicate on my clothing were fairly large and would have consumed a great amount of embroidery floss, as well as a great amount of my time. By making these images into mixed media details (combining silkscreening and embroidery) I was able to get a dynamic image that was not too busy or over worked and much more efficient.
With this particular image I started with the background that would be behind my dress form:
Before Painting I gave my bodice back a good press. I then pinned the stencil in the appropriate place using regular quilting pins. My table top is a piece of fiber board covered in canvas so it is really easy to pin into. I then used a rounded foam brush, like these from Michaels, to dab on small amounts of the paint at a time. It is important that your brush is not over saturated with paint. When you are too heavy handed with the ink it takes longer to dry and once it is dry it will be thicker and harder. The lightness of your application will directly correlate to how much of the fabrics original hand and movement you'll retain.
I first applied the yellow paint and then before it dried I added the red around the edges working from the outside in. This allowed me to muddle the colors together creating the ombre effect and the color progression from red to orange to yellow.
Once it was completely dry I ran my iron across the front and back of the print. It is good to heat set your image.
I then repeated the process with the other layers of my stencil. The spools of thread and the black rod were on one stencil together and the dress form and tomato pin cushion were on another. I freestyled the addition of the stars and used a stencil I got from Michaels that had multiple star sizes on it. Of course after it dried I heat set all of my paint.
Needless to say I fell in love really quickly. Then it was time to embroider. I kept it relatively simple and just did some cartooning on the dress form and details on the other elements. I decided to leave the stars without embroidery so that the dress form would be the primary focus.
After finishing all of that I then had to put the whole dress together. Now I will say the dress took me a little more than five hours to put together after finishing this because I had everything cut out. One of the reasons for my marathon was that I knew I had limited time to enter the contest that went along with Colette Patterns Hawthorn Sew-A-Long. I realized by reading some of the comments on one of the posts that I had actually missed the deadline. I was crushed. My wife said that she had not seen me so upset in a very long time. Perhaps I was a little irrationally miffed about the whole thing, but I had put so much into it and I had been so pumped for the contest.
While I was upset I decided that it didn't matter, I was going to finish it by Sunday night anyway. The next day the final 20 Hawthorns were announced in a blog post on the Coletterie and predictably mine was not up there. I knew this would be the case. The 20 chosen entrees were fantastic and I didn't hesitate to cast my vote. Then I started to read some of the comments and I realized that I was not the only one who misunderstood the submission deadline. I also saw a comment that mentioned my Hawthorn from the flickr page. Two people had commented about how much they loved my dress even though it was nowhere on the blogpost. That instantly changed my mood and made me feel so much better.
Then on top of the high I was already on from those comments, Sarai, Colette's founder and designer, agreed to do a second round of voting on Thursday. So I may have a chance after all! Keep an eye on www.coletterie.com on Thursday and please vote, wether or not you see mine there. Everyone who participated worked so hard and the fruits of all our labors are beautiful!
Here's my finished Hawthorn in all her glory.
Stay tuned for a little sleeve series coming up soon.
Kittee, as far as washing I tend to just wash them on a gentle cycle and then depending on how lazy I am or how soon I feel I need it I will either let it hang dry or throw it in the dryer.