Sunday 15 November 2015

Completed: Cotton + Steel Inari Dress

I genuinely am a fan of Autumn. Not in a "squeee pumpkin spice latte" kind of way (I've never had one, but they sound disgusting. I'm a black Americano kind of person), but I love the change of seasons, the colours, ankle boots and the fact that tights mean I no longer need to shave my legs every day. I do not like the lack of light. It affects my mood, and it limits my ability to take blog photos.

Which is my explanation for the fact that my new favourite ever garment has taken so long to make it to the blog.

Awful, awful indoor photos with terrible, terrible lighting BUT thanks to Franca, I finally have a tripod! Also, I genuinely have no idea what's going on with my legs in all of these photos!
This was a fabric driven make. The fabric is yet more Cotton + Steel rayon challis, this time from the spring collection. I wasn't totally blown away by the prints this time around, but I loved the painterly aspect of these stripes. The print is also available in the cotton substrate, and in more colours, and I wish these colours had been available in the rayon. Look at that citron colour - beautiful!

This time I decided to buy enough to make something decent - rather than yet another simple dartless loose fittging top. I bought 2m from Miss Matatabi, as it's cheaper to buy it there, including postage from Japan, than buying it in the UK.

Once I had the fabric, I deliberated I while. I did think about a pleated or gathered skirt for a while. It then was going to be an Alder or a Biscayne, and for a while I considered a Biscayne dress hack. But there have been some really lovely versions of the Inari dress by Named on the interwebs, which slowly won me over. So instead of a simple dartless loose fitting top, I've made a simple dartless, loose fitting dress...

But, but, but! Isn't this lovely? The drafting is impeccable. I'm sure you will have come across this pattern before, but for those of you who haven't, this is a subtly cocoon shaped dress which sounds awful, but is actually very lovely.  I generally have a preference for balancing out volume; loose fitting tops with skinny jeans or trousers, or full skirts with a skinnier fit top. As a result, I was a little concerned that the silhouette might not work on me, however that shaped side seam which curves forward, results in an optical illusion of far less width at the bottom, which removes the sack-like feel. The vents and the high-low hem also provide some interest to an otherwise very plain dress.

Hi-lo hem and vent
I did my best at pattern matching, but with the inconsistent stripe width and the slippery fabric, success was variable, even with my walking foot and many pins. I'm not overly bothered though. Even with stripe matching, I was able to get this dress from a little more than a metre, leaving me enough fabric to make something else!

Stripe matching at the side seam
This is actually my second Named pattern. The first was the Alexandria Peg Trousers, which were not a success, I think partly because they are too big. This time around, I went with my gut and cut the smaller size. My bust measurement put me in a size 38 (same size I made for the trousers) but the finished garment measurements showed there was plenty of ease in the 36. The dress is meant to be oversized, but I wanted it slightly more fitted in the shoulders, like the Scout tee. So I used the Scout pattern as a comparison for the shoulders, and the 36 matched most closely.

The fit in general is fine, however I have some reservations about the sleeve. The armscye is quite long and low, which has the effect of feeling like the sleeves are clamping my arms to my side. Due to the ease, I have full arm movement, but the shoulders ride up if I put my arms out to the side. I am aware that I cut a size smaller than recommended, however I don't feel this is the cause. After a quick conversation with Cassandra of The Stitchery about it, we both agreed it was the armscye shape that was to blame. When I make this again, I think I will switch out the armscye and sleeve for that of the Scout, although I will keep the length and the cuff which I like.

Before sewing a pattern I tend to google image it, particularly if I'm unsure about fabric type or fit. When I googled the Inari, I found this lovely version in wool. I particularly loved the little touch of neon thread details and so shamelessly copied them for my version. In my head this would be a fabulous contrast against the black and white, but in reality you can't really see it's there! Never mind.

I did attempt to use my overlocker on this project, but it seems to be broken. It will not form a thread chain no matter how carefully I thread it. It might need to go into the repair shop, but I will try Google and Youtube first. Instead, I did a mixture of zigzag and pinking shears to finish the seams on the dress. Unfortunately this hasn't worked well. After a first wash, the pinking has frayed badly, and the zig zagging looks pretty raggedy too. On the insides this isn't such a problem, but the side seams are visible at the vent. I'm sure it's something that no one else will notice, but it bothers me.

The pinked facing after one wash.
The neckline is finished with a facing, which isn't my preference, but I do like the clean look on the outside. So far its staying in place, but as this as the area I pinked, I will need to go back and refinish the edge differently in such a way that won't reduce the width further!

That facing after 2 washes! I really need to fix that!
My only gripe with this dress, other than the poor finishing, is the lack of pockets. I guess I could have incorporated them into the side seams, but it feels like that would detract from the shape of the dress. I will just have to cope without them. Other than that, I love this dress. It's brilliantly comfortable, but also feels quite dressy. In this type of fabric I think it could work well as a "going out" dress, but it equally works for casual and work. It's not hugely season-appropriate, but I can layer it up, and that hasn't stopped me from wearing it. In fact, so far I've worn it to a sewing meet up at Kelvingrove museum, a Halloween party*, to work, to the opera and for dinner and karaoke! How's that for hard working? I think there may be more of these in my future!

Recent meet up at the Kelvingrove in Glasgow
 *the Halloween "party" consisted of the 4 of us, lasted half an hour and Baby Boy was scared of the pumpkin, and cried the whole time. He looked pretty cute though!



  1. Hiya! Lovely dress. Couple of things. If you trim the worst of any raggedy bits off the seams but don't trim them beyond where they've matted up, I doubt they will fray a single millimetre more.
    Now the overlocker - the most likely reason for this is the order in which the newly threaded ends pass over the plate. I thought I had wrecked mine forever but it was that simple. I can't tell you what the right thing is but the threads that come up from underneath need to be either in front of or behind the needles when it starts to sew. I think that the correct answer is for them all to be pushed backwards.The line drawings on the machine may show you. Hopefully it is just that! I rarely use mine and can only remember when it messes up, to do the opposite. Hope it all makes sense!

    1. Hey! OK thanks. I will give both of these suggestions a try!

  2. Nice dress! It looks both comfortable and chic at the same time. I have trouble with fraying, too, with my rayons.
    Your kids are adorable in their costumes.

    1. Thanks Bobbi! I've only ever done French seams with rayon, so never had this issue before. One to remember for next time!

  3. Such a lovely dress, very chic and wearable. You've definitely made me eye up this pattern for myself!

  4. I love this, so stylish and sleek. Perfect choice of fabric too. I agree with MrsC that if you trim the worst off the pinkng it shouldn't fray any more.

    1. Thanks Louise. I will definitely give it a try.

  5. I love this, so stylish and sleek. Perfect choice of fabric too. I agree with MrsC that if you trim the worst off the pinkng it shouldn't fray any more.


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