So, it's been pretty warm these past few weeks. And most of the clothes I have that are suitable for these temperatures are either shorts and tank tops or old and too large. I had bought some pretty cotton-linen fabric on my recent trip to Brighton and thought it would be perfect for a summer dress!
Now, I had some plans for this fabric at first. My initial vision was a grey linen dress covered in golden beetles, so I carved a few stamps and got ready to print. Alas, I forgot that these kind of yarn dyed, slightly textured or two-toned fabrics don't play well with block printing, so I had to abandon that idea and go for something more basic instead! (I did end up using the beetle stamps on some black sweatshirt jersey)
So, no beetles, but not a bad result after all! I decided to try the Ariana dress by Style Arc, a pattern company I haven't used before. There are a few of these button-front strappy sundresses around at the moment, but I liked the comfort of the shirred back and the overall shape of this one the most!
My measurements put me between sizes, which meant there were some alterations involved. With Style Arc you buy one size and get the one below and the one above along with it, but they aren't nested, so grading between them isn't really an option. My bust circumference put me in a size 10 but my waist was a 6, so in the end I decided to go for the size 8 (hoping that the elastic back would provide enough ease in the bust area) and removed a bit from the side seams at the waist. For a while I was a little worried it would be too small (and the seam allowances are tiny, so no letting out) but things turned out fine in the end, and the fit was pretty bang on right away.
The only thing new (to me) about this pattern was the shirring. I read a few tutorials and wasn't really looking forward to it since most people said it would take a lot of trial and error and tension adjustments to get this right. In the end, it pretty much worked out immediately. I wound my bobbin by hand and lowered the tension a bit, and that did the trick. The biggest challenge was keeping parallel lines (not always succesful) and making sure the elastic didn't disappear into the bobbin after cutting it. I like how comfortable the panel feels, but I do feel like it adds some bulk.
There is a pattern piece provided for the interfacing on the front bodice edge, but not for the skirt. The instructions briefly mention to interface the front skirt edges as well, and I definitely wouldn't skip that, especially on a lightweight fabric!
The main change I made was to shorten the skirt considerably. I cut the original length because it's a style I don't usually wear and I was curious to see if I could make it work, but it ended up feeling very frumpy, especially combined with the colour and texture of the fabric. I kind of felt like I should be wearing clogs and hauling pails of fresh milk, and while that does sound pretty cool it wasn't the look I was going for. So out came the scissors and up went the hem!
After finishing, it did feel a little bit plain, so I added a beaded bee I still had around (its little sister is hanging out on this shirt!). I'm still not entirely sure about the placement, but it works for now!
I did not follow the order of construction as given by Style Arc, inspired by this blog post. It just seemed a lot cleaner/less fussy/more logical! The given instructions are really minimal anyway, and I didn't really look at them, just gave them a quick glance to make sure I didn't miss anything important.
I did enjoy my first experience with a Style Arc pattern, it was really well drafted and easy to put together (if you have some sewing experience). I've had the Ziggi biker jacket waiting for a while now, just have to find the right fabric! Until then I'll just keep exploring slightly industrial backgrounds in a sundress and sandals. Or something.