Sunday 26 June 2016

The Bishop Sleeve Dress

It's really too cold right now for this dress. Made a few weeks back, even though it has long sleeves it isn't meant for winter days, so it's unlikely to get a proper wear for another few months.

The fabric is a rayon from Tessuti Fabrics that I've looked at a lot of times I've been in there but finally bought earlier this year. It has a nice wavey/shell print in pinks and greys and purples, but is still fairly muted. Initially I'd thought it would make a good maxi skirt, as it's very soft and drapey and has the right sort of breeziness. But I'm not really a maxi skirt wearer. So I found a dress pattern instead.

The pattern is another vintage re-release, a 1969 Simplicity Jiffy pattern this time. Being a Jiffy pattern, it was incredibly easy - they really are great patterns, especially for beginners. There are few patter pieces and none are complicated shapes, unlike my last make. The Jiffy patterns all seem to date from around the 1960s, and are all variations on classic shift dress shapes. In addition to the bishop sleeve this pattern's variation is deep shoulder pleats which gather it in at the top and open to fullness at the bust. Overall, the pattern has a last few seasons of Mad Men vibe.

I made three small changes to the pattern. First, I shortened the length by about 2 inches. Second, I didn't use a cuff band for the sleeves. Instead, I just folded over the end of the sleeve to make a channel, leaving a small opening to insert elastic. Once I'd done that I stitched the channel shut. In the end this has the exact same look as on the pattern sleeve, but with less effort. Finally, the original neckline was quite a bit more plunging, which combined with the loose shape wasn't exactly practical. So I pulled the neckline up and in about an inch each so that it sits flat and fitted.

The dress is quite loose, with a tie belt. I did take a photo or two without the tie belt which you can see below, but don't think I'll wear it that way normally - it's a little too sack-like for me. But for others who do like the loose shape it would make a good sack dress.

Although it isn't the right time of year to wear this dress right now I do like it. It's probably going to be a good trans-seasonal piece, the sleeves give a bit of extra cover but the rayon is lightweight and still fairly cool. And it was a very easy make, which I definitely recommend for less experienced sewists.

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