Monday, 15 October 2018

Magnolia the mojo dress

Success was had!

First and most important point on the new Deer and Doe Magnolia dress: this is exactly what a mojo-recovering dress looks like for me. It's super sexy without being tight or skimpy or difficult to sit down in, it was a pretty simple make that was easy to finish cleanly (thus giving me 'good construction' vibes) and it means I can do this pose, which I really enjoy doing but looks a bit silly with everyday clothes. So it's very much a winning garment. Amber Moon has finally returned!

Also, welcome to a different corner of my garden. There was random and confusing October sun and this was the only direction which didn't cast gigantic awkward shadows. No, I didn't bother to pick the chair up first. 

The dress comes with two versions: version A, which is maxi-length and super low-cut (it precludes wearing a bra by design) with long billowy sleeves cuffed at the wrist; and version B, which has a more modest neckline, flutter sleeves, and a knee-length skirt. This looks very much like a straight version A, but it's not quite. I wanted to get somewhere in between the two necklines so I could have the effect of a low-cut top without having to go without a bra, so I cut the bodice for version B, basted the rest of the top together, and adjusted the front pieces so that they crossed just slightly higher than the centre front of my bra. I had to cut the front waistband a fair bit longer to make that work, but it's actually turned out for the best since my back is way narrower than my front anyway. I should probably do this more. 

I also left off the elasticated sleeve cuffs, which was more necessity than choice. We'll get to that. 

The fabric is a textured viscose that I got from a stall at Walthamstow Market. It was £5 per metre but he let me have it for £3.50 since I was buying quite a bit of it and I'm there regularly enough for the dude to recognise me. It's really nice stuff; it feels and drapes like silk but sews up like viscose, so it's really easy to work with. I bought five metres; I probably could have squeezed it out of four, but I wanted to have enough to recut the bodice if I needed to and to be able to make bias binding. I've never done that before but I really couldn't see how this neckline and fabric would work with the purchased stuff. It was time-consuming but it worked pretty well, and I ended up making more to bind the left-hand seam with the zip in it as well. All the other seams are French seamed, leaving me with lovely clean innards. 

I do have a few points to note. Firstly, you may be able to see that the dress comes up a little bit short on me. I do sometimes have this problem, but I equally often have the "giant pools of fabric around my feet" problem, so I can't give you a useful indication of how much I differ from pattern norms. I'm so helpful. Check the length if you're tall, I guess is what I'm saying. 

Secondly, I was fully intending to do the cuffed sleeves, but the sleeves are both too short and too tight in the upper arm for me to do that. I do have disproportionately large upper arms (muscle on the top, fat underneath, yeah!) and have had several projects fail because long woven sleeves made my arms sad, but I hadn't expected to have this issue with what looked like billowy sleeves. It may be that my arms are just that big (I have ACTUAL BICEPS now, thank you), but I'd advise measuring if you too are a member of the Bicep Sisterhood. I took a bit of volume out of the sleeves below the elbow - maybe two inches - and hemmed them where they fell. I really like them like this and am not at all disappointed at the lack of billowing, which I have never tried before and could very easily fall into Teen Goth Jen Looking Sarcastic territory.

The dress also has a side zip, which is not my favourite thing. It's a very well-designed side zip, but I'm just not a fan in general. I find them awkward to do up and would prefer not to have to. I'm not sure what I'd replace it with, though, since I don't think a back zip would look very nice (especially with the waist ties). It's one of those necessary evils and I don't think it would put me off making the dress again.

I am very pleased to have another slightly over-the-top cocktail bar dress. I don't know how many versions of this pattern I'll make in the future - this is quite a specific look and I don't think the more casual version is very me. What I am considering is another one like this in stretch velvet. I think it would be an amazing winter party dress and would also allow me to dispense with the side zip. I'd probably need to change up the sleeves, but that's easily doable.

Dramatic walking!

I'm hoping to have a more motivated week of making simple things, since I'm actually quite lacking in autumn/winter clothes. I didn't make that much last winter due to health, and the more basic pieces I made in the autumn haven't lasted that well (mostly because I was struggling to do anything and thus not putting the effort into fit and construction, but also slightly because I made a bunch of short full-skirted pieces that are now riding up somewhat in a potentially embarrassing fashion). The Knitting and Stitching show was last week and while I didn't buy much, I did find what I think might be my Holy Grail black ponte, and if nothing else I'd like to make the Vogue 9199 that I had planned for this past summer. Fingers crossed! 



  1. I'm with you on the side zips! Sometimes you can't avoid them :(

    I really love this dress. It's absolutely gorgeous!!!

  2. That looks so great. I'm on the fence about this pattern but yours is very tempting. Nice work around with the bodice.

    1. Thank you! I totally get being on the fence about it; I love the result I got but I did have to adjust a fair bit to get there.

  3. I'm a new sewist and I just bought the pattern, but I never made bias bind... How wide they suppose to be? thanks, Carol