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Feather Print Sewaholic Saltspring Dress

Nanette Webb

I really like this.

Last weekend my boyfriend and I ventured out east to Waterloo for their Walk All Over Waterloo artwalk type thing. Being hip, artsy-type people, we know some people who are doing some really cool things. My friend Jess Pinsky, sort of in connection with the Cleveland Institute of Art, just opened Praxis Fiber Workshop, a very cool and very large textile workshop, offering classes in things like dyeing, spinning, and weaving to students and the community at large. If you’re interested in getting even deeper into fibers than sewing or knitting (like creating and coloring your own fabric or yarn), check this place out. Or just stop by there anyway, the space is gorgeous and they have an incredible fiber-related library.

Into ceramics? Check out Brick! Brick is a ceramic studio, offering classes and open studios. I took a ceramics class in college, and wasn’t very good at it, but I still loved doing it. I missed the opening party for this one because I was riding a train. Waterloo is such an awesomely supportive place for young artists right now, it’s really exciting to go there. Not to mention, they’re getting a new pizza place soon! Little Italy has good pizza, too.

Anyway, I made this dress.

I never thought I was a maxi skirt girl. Especially not a silk maxi skirt girl. But we got this Tahari silk in, and I could think of no other end for this fabric. I spent a good amount of time draping fabric down my legs, looking at myself in the mirror, and especially trying to walk in it. Last year I made the By Hand London Anna dress, maxi length, and I demolished that hem from stepping on it so much. Also, I wasn’t in love with that dress on me. I really love with this dress on me!

I would like to point out how cool it is that the feather strand travels all the way up the dress. Totally unplanned.

For a while I considered making the Sewaholic Gabriola maxi skirt with this feather print, but it just takes so much yardage! Plus, silk charmeuse isn’t exactly easy to sew with, and I could imagine keeping my sanity with allll those panels. We carry a lot of sewing patterns so sometimes we forget what we have, and I was thumbing through them, and I stopped on the Sewaholic Saltspring dress. It was meant to be. I’ve made this dress before and I like it okay — it’s a summery dress made with two layers of jersey, so it’s kind of hot. I Googled the pattern to see what it looked like on other people and in other materials, and this black silk maxi dress really sealed the deal for me.

For me, the most difficult thing about sewing with silk charmeuse is cutting it out. I’ve read about sandwiching the silk between sheets of paper, but I forgot about it when it came time to cut the silk. Instead, I first cut out my lining, ablack cotton batiste, and used that whole piece as a pattern so I wouldn’t have to cut the silk on the fold. That worked alright, but I still ended up with some pretty wonky cuts, which made sewing more difficult.

I had to narrow the skirt pieces slightly to get them to fit on the 44″ wide batiste, and I had to piece the silk bodice back to get it out of the leftovers from the skirt. I left the zipper out, and it fits over my head pretty nicely. This is a size 4, though I used a 1/2″ seam allowance rather than 5/8″ to give myself a little more ease. Everything is french-seamed, and the hem is machine stitched so I don’t rip all my hand stitches out when I inevitably step on it. Which I’ve already done. So I’m not totally a maxi convert (also, I was really hot in this!), but sometimes you’ve just got to get out of your comfort zone. Especially for really great fabric.

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