Heather Ross's Weekend Sewing Kimono Dress
February 14, 2011
I have had Weekend Sewing for quite a while but for some reason for another I have yet to make anything from it. That was the chief reason I chose to blog about it today. Having cracked it and made the Kimono Dress (twice) I am in love. I was in love with the pictures long ago but as with many books there is often a gap from loving the pictures and making the projects. Either they are not practical, terribly difficult to make or the directions are horrendous. None of these descriptors describes Weekend Sewing. It is a delightful book filled with projects that I can (NOW) no longer put off. Heather's directions and pictures make her projects easy. The Kimono Dress was 5 pieces plus the Obi Belt and was so easy and quick that once I realized how easy and fast I made a second dress. There are a few suggestions I would make like additional sizing for the wee baby kimono which is only offered in newborn to 3 mo sizing but other than that I really love this book. It is a definitely good way to spend a weekend in your sewing room and the projects are perfect to put you in a spring state of mind.
Now the reason I made 2 dresses is due to another disagreement I have with the book (there are very few but I fear I must air them so you can avoid my mistakes). The Kimono Dress discusses the use of fabric with A LOT of drape. I took this to heart and searched my stash to find the fabric with the most drape, a charmeuse satin that was lovely and silky. However, the problems were evident once I had completed the bodice. I had to rip is back to readjust the angle of the 2 wedge shaped pieces that form the cross-over in the front of the dress. There was a significant gapping. This was done twice. I also had a lot of trouble with the elastic thread (more on that below). When I joined the bodice, which still suffered from slight gapping, to the skirt and tried on my dress I wanted to cry. This dress just looked sloppy. The fabric was too drapey for this pattern. My dress looked nothing like the picture. Aside from the static clingy, the look was all wrong. I felt hideous, the dress just hung from me like a cheap nightgown. I was resigned to rip the bodice from the skirt again and to readjust the waist with gathers instead of the elastic thread. This plus a huge bottle of Static Guard from the drug store and (per mom's advice) a full slip and the dress looked decent. I would actually consider wearing it out- in the summer on a humid night.
All these problems and a close inspection of the Kimono Dress picture lead me to the conclusion that fabric with lots of drape was not the best for this pattern. So I cut another out of some lemon yellow Dupioni Silk and from the beginning it was perfect. No need to reposition the wrap front pieces. The elastic thread worked a little bit better I think that the 3 layers of fabric kept it from doing its job as intended. I also took the opportunity of a second dress to add some helpful additions to the pattern to make it easier. The first was bias tape around the neck line. The instructions call for a double turned 1/8 in. hem around the neck but seriously who wants to do a 1/8 in. double turn around anything let alone a rounded neckline. Second was to just stitch the front to the back at the shoulders and then hem the sleeves when they are flat instead of stitch the entire front to back and then hemming the sleeve when the sleeves are round. I also pinked each seam before pressing them open to add a finished edge which is not given in the instructions.
The Obi sash was seriously easy. My first was made with Michael Miller Sanctuary quilting cotton and heavy weight interfacing in the center. Since I didn't have double fusible interfacing I used a glue stick to adhere the fabric to the interfacing while I sewed it up and it all worked great. I also added some topstitching to help keep the shape. My second I used an Amy Butler Home Dec Fabric for the front center and both sides of the ties since when you tie the sash you can see both sides of the tie. I used the Dupioni Silk for the lining side of the center of the sash. I made the Obi Sash with the pattern pieces provided which does make a shorter sash than depicted as many blogs have noted. The belt really finishes the dress and makes it extra special. The belt is super fast and easy so you can make several to match shoes, bags or mood.
Overall this dress was a learning experience. I will go with my gut in fabric choices from now on and just use instructions as a recommendation. I felt from the beginning that Dupioni was the best choice for this pattern but went with the instructions and could have saved a lot of time and stress. I have learned to love Elastic Thread now that I know how to make it work in my Brother Machine- which according to Blogland needs some magic to work with elastic thread (see this very helpful posting and the blogs it links to if you need more help). I can't wait to get started on the smocked sundress in Weekend sewing for my little girl and a big one (here) for me. I seriously love this book! Thanks to everyone on Facebook for your helpful tips and suggestions that talked me down from the edge and gave me the energy to make a second dress!
or you can get the inside scoop on my projects, see their progress and get extra tips and tricks by following me@tdangermiller
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