Monday, November 11, 2013

The Amare Dress

The Heroine Takes a Chance on Love 

Oh, that lovely bias rolled surplice neckline
Inspired by the wardrobe for Diane Lane in the movie "Under the Tuscan Sun", as designed by Nicoletta Ercole.

The Movie, the Plot and the Dress:  You're in love again.  He's dreaming of you swathed in white under a cerulean sky.  The two of you have horrific timing.  Right.  Time for some retail therapy to replenish the senses and align the Arrows of Cupid.  Our Heroine has taken the advice of a wizened screen starlett and chosen a dress in a soft creamy white with a fluid tea length half-circle skirt and simple fitted surplice bodice with just a hint of kimono sleeve.  Knowing accessorizing is key, she has paired this dress with a cinching black suede belt.  Perfect for a seaside rendezvous.  Even if it doesn't pan out the way one hoped.  No tears for our girl, though.  In the end, with this dress, love will find our Heroine. 

PERFECT for zooming about on the back of a Vespa, holding tight to a hunky Italian postman. 
If your Postman doesn't ring twice, try a little red Roadster, a most excellent accessory for any Heroine. . .
Just $4.99! 
Size Medium, 36"-38" Bust

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Pattern Notes & Skill Level:  Surplice bodice with cut-on-the-bias neckline, tea length circle skirt with left-side invisible zipper.

Suggested Fabrics: Anything swingy and swishy, preferably 60" wide.  Consider opting for a wrinkle-resistant fabric as this is a lot of dress to iron.

Yardage Needed:  3yrds., 60 " wide, 3 1/2 yrds, 45" wide.

Notions: 1 12-14" invisible zipper, 1 5/8ths button, fusible bias tape and/or fusible yardage to reinforce zipper.  Pellon Brand 865F Bi-Strech Lite stretch fusible is an excellent choice and just the right weight for this project.

Assembly Instructions
1. Print and assemble pattern.

2. Layout all pieces, transfer all markings. The bodice front is cut on folded bias (thus creating a self-facing), so you will need to allow for cutting piece #1 separately twice.

3. Give the four bodice/neck corners a little square of fusible or organza to reinforce the corner at the dot. 

4.  Mark bodice buttonhole on inside left-side bodice facing only and button placement on inside right-side facing only and give both a square of stabilizer on the inside of the facing to reinforce the stress points.

Top Tip:  Prep your slippery fabric first - apply some spray starch or Sulllivan's Fabric Stiffener to any areas that may be challenging such as the sleeve hem edges [as shown below], zipper area and skirt hem, to aid in any machine basting and hem stitching.  Ditto for the back darts.  Your fabric really will run through your machine easier.

Tame the Shimmy
5.  Make darts in bodice back and press towards side seams.

Top Tip:  Try one-thread darts.  One-thread darts make for a lovely, unpuckered finish on any dart, but especially darts with a longer slender dart point such as used on this pattern with slippery fabric.  

6.  Open up the bias front bodice/facing and give the four bodice neck/shoulder corners a bit of stabilizer and stay stitch each corner separately with a small stitch.  Stitch a 5/8ths basting line on the bodice inside shoulder seam only and press to the inside.

7.  Keeping the front open, on the inside bias bodice seam allowance (#1), stitch a 5/8ths basting line along the long straight edge and press to the wrong side towards center front along basting line. If using, apply Washable Wonder Tape to just inside the basting stitchline but do not remove the backing yet.

8.  While keeping the bias bodice piece open, stitch bodice front (#1) to side bodice (#2), matching notches.  Trim and press seam towards center front, clipping if necessary.

Top Tip:  Clip your seam in an alternating sequence to eliminate any clip show-through on light colored fabrics.  This little trick really does work - try it!

9.  Keeping the bodice front open and the neckline curve free, stitch a French seam on the bodice front (to bodice back (#3) at shoulders only from corner dot to sleeve edge and press towards the front. Clip just to corner stay stitching.

10.  Open up the two bodice (top of pieces #1) neckline extensions and sew together, RS to RS. It makes a sort of a V shape.  Trim seam to 1/4" and press open.. This creates the back neckline.

11.  Open the bodice and baste a 5/8ths seamline from dot to dot (stay stitched inside corners on piece #1) along the inside of the neckline extension, and press under, clipping where necessary, including the stay stitched inside corners.  Fold the V back on to itself again, WS to WS and you will now have the neckline that will create the back neckline that is sewn to the neckline of piece 3.

12.  Open the bodice and sew the outside bodice neck extension to bodice back neckline, trim, clip and press up into neckline.  Now bring the entire inside bodice shoulder/neckline over, enclosing the neckline seam, the short shoulder extension and the side-front seam.  Slipstitch or stitch-in-the-ditch the neck extension and shoulder extension.  Pin-baste the folded over inside bodice just 1/8th to 1/16ths over the seam line that runs from the shoulder to the waist to hide seam allowance.  Try on to check the fit and buttonhole placement.  Make adjustments if needed. 

13.  Remove pin-basting and make buttonhole but do not cut open.  Trim away excess stabilizer.  The buttonhole goes on the left and button on the right as you will push the button through the buttonhole instead of pulling it through.  This way there won't be any button show-through on the outside of the finished garment.

Top Tip:  Try using machine embroidery thread in your machine to obtain a smooth buttonhole stitch when making such a small buttonhole.  It works a treat.

14.  Replace front facing along side front seam.  If using Wonder Tape, remove the backing now.  Turn bodice to right side and top stitch the side front seam from the shoulder to the waist, catching the inside facing at the same time.  Your bodice neckline interior now has lovely finish to it, with no raw edges.

15.  Press and bring bodice right front over left front, matching notches.  Baste fronts together just inside waist seam line.

16.  Sew skirt front to bodice front and skirt back to bodice back at waistline.  Depending on your fabric, you may need to give the skirt waist seam allowance a few clips within the seam allowance to flatten out its curve to meet the straight edge of the bodice waist seam allowance. Grade seam, clip and press waistline seam up.

17.  On left side seam give the zipper opening a strip of lightweight interfacing or fusible tape. Sew left side seam between dots, using a smaller stitch and being sure to backstitch to add strength to the top of the zipper opening and underarm/sleeve stress points.

At this point you may wish to decide on a side seam finish.  The Tutorialist chose an overlocked finished seam allowance by running the individual side seams through the overlocker prior to zipper insertion and sewing the side seams. 

If you're having trouble deciding on a seam finish, take a cannoli and espresso break.

No cannelloni on hand?  Take a break anyway and have a cookie instead and admire that gorgeous neckline finish of yours.  A seam finish will come to you.  Yes, French seams are doable.  Or serged.  A Hong Kong finish might be a bit heavy but Hug Snug would work well.

18.  Once reinvigorated, insert an invisible zipper on left side of dress.  If sewing a knit you may not need a zipper.

19.  Finish sewing both side seams, from the bottom up.  This supports the pieces and aids in keeping the bias portions of the skirt from stretching during construction, thus reducing the possibility of wavy side seams on the skirt. Try not to stretch your fabric as it runs through your machine, also avoiding possibly stretched seams.  Reinforce left side seam at underarm between two dots using a smaller stitch at this is a stress point.  Clip bodice side seam curves. 

20.  To hem sleeves, run a basting stitch at 1/4" and again at 5/8"ths around sleeve opening. Use more starch if needed.  Clip inside the 1/4" basting and turn under 1/4" and press.  Turn under again along 5/8ths basting, clipping to dot at underarm.  Washable Wonder Tape works, well, wonders on this step.  Machine hem sleeve, bar tacking or backtacking a few times straight across at the underarm to reinforce the stress point.

Double-check button/buttonhole placement.  Sew on button and open buttonhole.

21.  To hem the dress, try dress on and mark hem length.  Run a machine basting at this marking then two more times at 1/2" intervals down from the hem basting. Let dress hang on a dress form or hanger 24 hours for the bias in the skirt to "drop and stop."  Recheck hem and re-mark if/as needed. 

The Tutorial dress dropped on the side seams only so the hem was re-marked then trimmed using the trusty ol' Juki EA-605 overlocker.  The Tutorial dress fashion fabric was a bit ravely, so an overlock stitch hem finish was chosen to secure the fabric and provide a 1/4" Washable Wonder Tape "placement guide."  It worked a treat.  The Tutorial dress ended up with a 3/4" hem once roll-of-the-cloth and overlock trimming were factored in. 

Top Tip: Don't have a serger or an overlocker?  No worries, try a machine zig zag and carefully trim.  If your hem is slippery, give it double shot of stiffener prior to running it through your machine.  Hug Snug also makes for a clean finish.

Finishing Touches:  Let's keep things in place and add a waist-stay.  A waist-stay will help keep the dress at your waist, support the weight of the skirt and reduce stress on the zipper.  The Tutorialist used a bit of ivory grosgrain ribbon.  This also makes for a lovely interior finish.  If using a knit, you can stitch or serge in 1/4" or 1/2" clear elastic measured 1" less than your waist measurement.  This also will help keep the waistline in place help support the skirt.

Place the stay on the upward facing waist seam allowance, keeping about 1" free on either side of the non-zipper seam and about 1½" free on either side of the zipper.  Stitch the ribbon to the waist seam and press up.  Add hook and eye.  Here's a visual of things in progress:


Complete the Look: 

When it comes to love and accessorizing, our Heroine has a tendency think a bit in Black and White.  She has paired her creamy Amare dress with a 2" wide black suede belt with self-covered buckle, black strappy sandals, and a slouchy black leather satchel.  Her jewelry is a simple small-gauge chain choker and small hoop earrings.  And just in case, she's grabbed her little black Trench coat as one never knows when will be left out in the cold, as it were. . . 

So give your love life the embellishment it deserves and make yourself an Amare.
You never know when Love will come knocking and take you out for a Chianti!


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