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An Amazing Ashton: Pretty in Plaid

Introducing my hacked dress version of the Ashton pattern from Helen's Closet; shown here in a wonderful contemporary plaid Georgette from Minerva.

I knew when this georgette arrived from Minerva as part of my brand ambassador program that I wanted it to be a dress. I wanted a simple sheath dress, classic and not too fitted. The fabric is lightweight and has a lovely drape so I knew it would be a perfect choice. I wanted the dress to be a wardrobe staple, something that could be worn throughout our shoulder seasons and layered for more warmth during the winter. The Ashton pattern along with the sleeve expansion pack was the perfect choice.

The Ashton is an all-season pattern that is easy to sew and style. It is an advanced beginner pattern with bust darts and a signature A-line shape. The pattern includes two size options; a B Cup and a D cup, with size ranges from 0-30. I started with View A which is the hip-length top version of the pattern and simply lengthened the front and back pattern pieces by extending the side seam to the desired length that I wanted for the dress. I added the straight long sleeve expansion.

I cut out a size 16 based on the B Cup full bust measurement and graded down to a size 10 through the hip. To do this I simply drew a cutting line straight down from the waistline to the hemline. This is a drafting strategy I use often to suit my inverted-triangle build. In order to pattern match the front and back bodice I cut out the front, then placed it alongside the back pattern piece to make sure they were aligned properly. I did the same with the sleeve pattern. It takes longer to lay out your pattern pieces this way, but it pays off as far as pattern matching is concerned. The only other pattern alterations I made were to lengthen the sleeve by my prerequisite 3" so that it would just brush along the top knuckle of my thumb. I do tend to like an extra long sleeve when I sew, since I am so tall it is a treat having no to put up with a RTW sleeve that is too short.

I chose the bias binding option for my neckline because I wanted to have the black contrast. I used the same technique to hem the sleeve for the same pop of colour and consistency in design. I thought about using bias for the hemline but decided it would make it too stiff and I wanted it to hang more naturally, so I added a band of black polyester lining. It is the same weight and fabric blend as the plaid georgette and gives me the contrast I was looking for.

I cut the band 1 cm longer than the circumference of the dress to allow for a seam allowance and 6" in height. This allowed me to fold the band in half to slip stitch the hem in place along the the overlock seam where the two contrasting fabrics were joined. It takes awhile to hand stitch but the end result is worth it!

This 100% polyester georgette fabric has a classic plaid featuring highlights of red, grey and cream with a soft sand background and black plaid accents. Georgette is woven, non-stretch fabric that is perfect for blouses and dresses. This is a wide fabric at 142.5cm which makes it easier to pattern match without having to get too much extra fabric.

Georgette is a type of fabric that is typically made from silk but it also is made from synthetic fibers like this one. The French dressmaker Georgette de la Plante introduced it in the early twentieth century and it has been a popular dressmaking choice ever since. It is a more sheer fabric with a dull, matte finish. Georgette is very similar to chiffon but it is generally not as sheer and it has a tighter weave which makes it a bit more durable to use for dresses.

I am looking forward to styling my Ashton dress in a variety of ways. Layered with a turtleneck and tights for winter, adding a false shirt collar and wearing it on its own are only a few styling options available. This is a great style to dress up or down; wear it with a blazer, a jean jacket or a cardigan-with boots, sneakers or sandals. There are so many options it will become one of your favourite go to wardrobe pieces.

After all... There is Sew Much to Design.

Happy Sheath Dress Sewing,

Louise Sheffer

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