Updated: Jul 7
Some outfits are extra special for many reasons and this one is no exception.
This is the outfit that I wore to my retirement party in honour of a 33 year career in education. It was held at a stunning venue overlooking an orchard and the ocean in Saanichton, BC. Sea Cider Farm and Ciderhouse was the perfect place to celebrate the end of my career as it was reminiscent of my childhood growing up in orchards in the Okanagan overlooking the lake. I knew this would be a magical memorable evening so I wanted to create a one of a kind outfit.
All of my fabric choices for this celebratory style outfit come from Zelouf Fabrics a family run fabric company based out of New York. I had the chance to visit their head office in March 2022 when I was welcomed as one of the first-ever visiting fabric ambassadors. The fabric selections on line are wonderful and I knew I would find something for this very special event.
Having been inspired by a post of the Vogue 1802 dress on Instagram several months earlier I choose a dramatic chic fabric to create a tunic version of the pattern. I knew this gorgeous sunflower Daniella stretch taffeta would be perfect. It has great stand so it would hold its shape and the little bit of sheen that is characteristic of taffeta would only add to the drama of the design. The stretch helps it to hold its shape and it doesn’t wrinkle!
I was drawn to the high neckline and 60’s inspired lines of the tunic and fell in love with the tie that extends down the back. The sleeveless style would not only be perfect for my retirement event but also for my nephew’s wedding in the Lake County in late September. I appreciated the simple styling of the pattern which would allow the fabric and trim to take centre stage.
I created a wearable muslin first to make sure that I would get the fit just right. I knew that the taffeta version would need to fit perfectly across the bust in order for it to look elegant and refined. I am very glad that I took the extra time to create a muslin because there were A LOT of adjustments to be made. Based on the bust line measurements I cut out an XL which I graded to a medium through the hips. Well it was HUGE! The arm syce had significant gap and it needed to be taken in by inches under the arm and along the side seam. I could easily have cut out a medium and probably still had room to spare. With several adjustments and with the addition of a bust dart I managed to get a fit that I was happay with.
Once I had the fit I wanted I sewed in the single fold bias to finish of the arms. I liked this technique and will use it often to finish sleeveless tops in the future. You simply iron one fold up so that you can pin it to the right side of the arm opening then sew along the fold line. Then, fold the binding in over the seam, press, pin and sew it down to the inside of the arm hole. This is a straight forward technique that offers a polished tailored way to finish a sleeveless garment without the fuss of interfacing that inevitably ends up sticking out of the arm hole as you wear the garment.
I shortened the tie on my taffeta version by 24” (12” per side) so that it would hang mid-way down my back. This gave it better proportion for a tunic version of the dress. The dress design has a much more A-Line style fit which I tapered straight down from the bottom of the arm syce to give a straight cut for my tunic.
I added a bit of flare and texture by cutting the bodice along the raw selvage, keeping the frayed edge. This is something have done often and I like the added detail. I love the sheen and the fun finish to the frayed edge. Just above the top frayed edge I hand stitched a beautiful rhinestone daisy chain I had purchased on a trip to New York recently from East Coast Trimming. It was the perfect finishing touch.
For the pants I used a Baltic coloured Woolon crepe. This fabric has the perfect weight and drape for a wide leg pant. They flow beautifully and it is such fun when you are 6 feet tall to have a pair of pants long enough to just skim the floor! Not something that happens often with ready to wear clothing. I used a self-drafted pattern for the pants attaching an extra wide waist band with 2” elastic that sits flat. This adds the comfort and wearability of a legging style pant and avoids the added fuss with zippers or closures. This is my favourite fit for pants as I am so slim through the hips and have a thicker waist. I added simple side seam pockets securing the pocket into the waistband to keep it flat and avoid extra bulk.
All in all I am really pleased with the entire outfit. I like the deep colour hues of both the tunic and the pants and both colours are perfect matches to may soft autumn colour palette. I will eventually post pictures of the wearable muslin that I made with chocolate brown broadcloth and decorative ribbon.
Now that I have the pattern perfectly adjusted I would like to make a knee length dress version as well.
After all…. There is Sew Much To Design,