I sewed for myself! A Summer Jazz Dress and Kimono
Prepare to feast your eyes on some really pretty photos! My sister, Matt and I headed to the beach at sunrise (6:10am) to get some shots of Kayleen doing yoga and me posing in my latest outfit. The location and lighting was absolutely stunning and I enjoyed waking up while sipping coffee and watching my sister contort herself into various energetic shapes. Matt was really in top form and I had trouble paring down the photos for this post...it would seem a little self-absorbed to bombard you with many more than I've included! Anyways, let's start off with an awesome picture of my sister: STUNNING!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If you'd like to see more shots like this, she posts them regularly on her Instagram account: yogakayvdr. And now, moving on to some more sedentary photos of myself in my latest sewn-by-me outfit. I recently started chatting with Elizabeth from Snapdragon Studios. Have you heard of this pattern company? The company consists of two friends, Kim and Elizabeth, who design easy to wear and very pretty women's patterns. They have a website, a very active blog and an Etsy store which currently includes their first three patterns - The Weekend Rambler Skirt, The Market Day Tunic, and The Summer Jazz Dress. Elizabeth and I both coveted each other's patterns and so we eagerly traded PDFS (they have both PDF and paper versions) and I got right to work sewing the Summer Jazz Dress...I literally started and finished sewing it the very evening that I received the pattern! The Summer Jazz Dress can be sewn in both knits and wovens. There are shirt and knee length options provided as well as instructions on how to lengthen it to create a maxi dress. I sewed my dress (and co-ordinating kimono) for a wedding I attended a couple weekends ago. The wedding was at the north tip of Vancouver Island which can often be quite breezy and chilly so I opted for the maxi version (plus, as I'm sure you all know...I LOVE how comfortable maxi dresses are to wear!). I sewed the dress out of the bamboo jersey that is included in our Comox Trunks Supplies Kits and I sewed the kimono using the very popular Elle DIY Kimono tutorial and used a polyester Georgette. Construction-wise, there isn't too much to say about the kimono - I finished the edges with a narrow hem and really should have used french seams but sewed the kimono in the same evening that I sewed the dress (the wedding was rapidly approaching!) and so I started by using french seams on the shoulder seams and quickly reverted to serged seams for the side seams and sleeve seams. While the construction notes are brief, I could wax on and on about how lovely this quick sewing project is to wear! It floats in the smallest of breezes and actually protects against the chill quite successfully. While kimonos can sometimes be a little cumbersome to wear, this one doesn't restrict my movement too much because the sleeves are 2/3 length and are not overly wide (though they sometimes get caught on door handles as I walk through the door :P). I curved the front more than the tutorial recommended and this makes it feel like a short jacket at the front while still providing enough length at the back to be, in my opinion, very sumptous. I suppose you could say that my kimono is fairly reminiscent of a mullet... The flowers are so beautiful and I love the gray tones that make the bright coral a little more sedate! The pinky/coral poppies (maybe?) match my favorite lipstick perfectly...completely unintentional :P. And now on to the main purpose of this post! The Summer Jazz Dress! This design features flattering flutter sleeves and a really nicely curved v-neck which is my favorite shape of neckline. It also includes a very clever elastic casing that creates a subtle empire waistline and produces the comfiest dress ever - no worries about eating too much at a wedding buffet in this dress! One thing to note about the heavy gathers at the front of this dress - they pull the hemline down so it is very important to compensate for this by hanging and cutting your hem accordingly. Of course, I failed to do this because I was in a rush to finish my dress so I may end up trimming the hem to knee length after all to fix how it curves upwards at center back. The only changes I made to the pattern were slimming down the hip and thigh area at the side seam and altering the length of the maxi as an experiment. My knit is likely pretty heavy compared to the floaty and drapey fabrics used for the Snapdragon samples so I felt it needed to look a little more slim in the waist. I probably took about 5 or 6 inches out from either side seam in this area! As for the length, I wanted to try hemming it so that the maxi skirt fell to my ankles as a way to display my shoes. I thought this would be an interesting way to make a maxi dress look a little less overwhelming on my petite frame. In the end, I think I like the ankle length look on fashion models but probably prefer the floor skimming length on me! Ah well, it was worth a try! Even if the floor length is more flattering on me, this shorter length is certainly less likely to be a tripping hazard! Have you tried a Snapdragon pattern yet? If you haven't, they are certainly worth a go! The illustrations are hand-drawn and clear and the instructions are brief yet effective. The construction techniques are clever and very efficient. I particularly liked the neckline finish - it is probably the simplest way to sew a v-neck I have come across! Binding is used as a facing and the folded ends of the binding meet at centre front creating the V shape. It was nice not to have to worry about visible binding and it resulted in a very clean garment exterior. I like that the garment can easily be sewn in a woven or knit and that tips are included for each type of fabric. I also am glad that the maxi version of the dress was not included as a pattern piece as this made the PDF take up far less paper than it could have! I look forward to seeing more Summer Jazz Dresses showing up around the internet! Check out the Snapdragon Studios blog to see more as they are currently running a blog tour for this pattern!