Mapping My Mood – Part Two

Details of Construction

As I asked in a recent blog post, can one learn patience? Well, if you’ve been waiting for updates on my travails with the Craftsy Couture Dress course with Susan Khalje the answer is a resounding – yes!

I’m so sorry, readers. I did the worst a sewing blogger can. I allowed myself to become distracted by a sewalong. The Pyjama Party Tofino Style sewalong, to be exact. But that’s all behind me now, and I have re-engaged with my Vogue 8648. Just in time, because I need your help.

If you recall, back at the start of May (eek!) I was trying to piece together sections of the fabric gifted me by Mood – a Marc Jacobs wool that featured both plaid and giant glitter polka dots. No sweat, then! Each polka dot was printed at incrementally different sections of the plaid, which made pattern matching akin to traversing Dante’s seven gates of hell. Still, I was glad to be getting somewhere. As I basted together my sections, I began to feel a smidgin of pride. Oh get thee behind me, pride!

Pattern Matching

When I looked at my front dress section pieced together, I began to have doubts.

Dress Front View

I’d been going for something akin to the optical illusion dress look, as most famously worn by Kate Winslet. (I know, I know…) Yet, it immediately struck me that my pattern lines didn’t give me shape. Indeed, they seemed to have robbed me of any waist definition at all!

Dress Side On

These pieces are hand basted together. Easy enough to pull apart. They’re also underlined with silk organza, but I don’t mind taking that work apart either. Wanna see what the flip side of a dress looks like, when every single piece is underlined with silk organza?

Dress Underlined

What’s your opinion, folks? Should the waist sections be a solid black all around the torso, to remind others and myself where my waist is? I think I already know what your answer is going to be. So much careful pattern matching, about to be thrown out of the window.

But, hey. I experimented. I was careful enough to follow Susan Khalje‘s instructions and hand baste with slippery silk thread. This situation could be a lot worse. You live and learn.

Tell me, readers. Do you like the tube effect or would you prefer to see some waist definition? I’m relying on you to show me the light!

This blog post first appeared as part of the Mood Sewing Network

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57 Responses to Mapping My Mood – Part Two

  1. Keep it as it is, the dark center section gives that long and lean look. I think any change in the waistband would cut it in half. Plus that plaid matching is a tour de force of sewing, no way would I dismantle that! Looking very good.

  2. Jen (NY) says:

    I tend to agree with Beth. Any waist-less issues can be dealt with later through creative accessorizing, if necessary. Plus, once you put it on, I suspect that it will look great & your concerns will disappear…

  3. twirldesigns says:

    I like the idea of a solid black waist, but breaking up that pattern seems just wrong! I imagine a picture of it on you would show more waist definition and you can use accessories to add to it.

  4. lisa g says:

    my gut says to do black all the way around, maybe pin a piece on to get a better visual? whatever you do it will be stunning! love seeing all the interior work.

  5. Karen says:

    If I were you, before I’d start disassembling, I’d pin on black sections around the side of the waist to see if that’s the look you want. I DO see your point about the waist definition… but I’m not sure changing out those side sections will look right.

  6. Mrs. Smith says:

    Have you tried it on with a nice, wide belt? I think you have a nice, curvy figure and that it’ll be just fine. If you were my of a rectangular shape, maybe it’d make you look too boxy…but I think you can definitely pull this off!

  7. Carol says:

    Beautiful pattern placement Karen! I think you should leave it as it is the black panel at the front is streamlining and I feel that black panels at the waist may cut you in two, hold your nerve and carry on!

  8. debs2748 says:

    Leave it for a slim line effect, agree with Beth and I think once in it your waist will be more apparent. Also concur with tacking black on top if you really think for you, you should go black all the way. Fabulous matching though, shame to dismantal.

  9. Amie M says:

    What Beth and Karen said. Pin black pieces along the outside to see if that’s the look you want. And you should not undo that lovely pattern matching your worked so hard on!

  10. Joy says:

    Oh my, this is so much fun! Let’s see. Have you tried it on yet? It may look better on your body than you think! This dress reminds me of Mark’s winner on the GBSB. What about piping on the top and bottom of the waist band? I suppose either the black or the plaid would work. All the best!

  11. LinB says:

    Waist. Waist! Go for the waist. (You are not yet among us “women of a certain age” who can no longer boast a waist, so flaunt it while you’ve got it, sistah.) You could applique a narrow band of the plaid, on the bias, atop the middle band of the bodice, to simulate a tiny, narrow, self-fabric belt — very haute couture, very chic. This is the least amount of work for the greatest effect, I’m a-thinkin’. Maybe you could even incorporate some silver-tone chain links in there, to augment the 1960s-70s feel of the piece. Or a buckle … just a few random thoughts that came popping out of my brain in the fetid miasma that we inhabit in July, here in central North Carolina, USA. I cannot even bear to think of sewing with woolen fabric this month.

  12. Elle C says:

    I think seeing a waist would be a good thing 8-). Place me firmly beside Mrs. Smith and Lin B., try it on with belts of varying widths to see which works best and if you have enough fabric make a self belt. Best of both worlds. You get a waist and you don’t have to undo all that work.

  13. Karen, maybe you can try it on to see how you feel about the dress… Maybe the fit is all good as it is..

  14. Charlotte Wensley says:

    Definitely keep it as it is. It will be beautiful. The lines as they are will be incredibly flattering and the panels are very dramatic. If you break it up it won’t be nearly as striking.

    Good luck. It looks fab.

  15. I also vote for trying it on (that is, if you can), because you might have a different opinion of it on your own bod than your dress form. Though as is, I am leaning towards thinking it does need a little something at the waist, however. But that is really going to be a knockout. Look at those insides!

  16. Rosanne says:

    My first impression is that you are right about the straightening effect of the panels. What about contouring the side of the black waist section so that it curves in more. The Stella illusion dress is all about creating that silhouette in the black and it has the sharper convex angle right at the waist line. This might also involve recutting the patterned waist sections.

  17. Just sew it up and wang on a belt.

  18. marcyhmakes says:

    Another vote for piping instead of losing that lovely pattern matching.

  19. I think you should try it on. The dress form is not as shapy as you. I think it looks awesome and you should only change it if it really needs it. Can you put it on for us and then post a pic?
    Love it. Stuff Stella McCartney’s Illusion dress, such a toxic rag it is really. Yours totally rocks!

  20. Chris says:

    I guess because you have the black fabric at the center and the lighter one on the sided it draws your eyes outwards, where the interest ist and that’s why you don’t notice the waist enough. But I doubt that black panels around the waits will really change that and you would be losing the great look of the continuous pattern, given that it is so beautifully matched. Add a skinny black belt, I think that will do the trick without destroying the lines of the dress.

  21. Anne-Marie says:

    Hi Karen, great job you’ve done with all that piecing. My first thought was to put a black belt on if you feel worried about waist definition, so I’m with Mrs Smith on that one. I think that the black centre will add the illusion of length I wouldn’t undo all the work; it’s too well done. I looked at pictures of the Illusion dress and found that it gave the illusion of wide hips rather than slim waist! Your version with the plaid is much nicer.

  22. Nothy says:

    I think we are all our own worst critic. A dress that has the contrast on the sides is supposed to elongate you. I bet it looks great on…and if not, add a belt. Making the waist all black will break up the illusion, I think…

  23. Sue says:

    I’m in the leave it camp. It looks great. Try it on and see what you think, after all it;s you wearing it!

  24. Philippa says:

    You have matched the pattern beautifully. You already have so many suggestions, I can’t add anything except don’t do anything rash!!

  25. AlleyKitten says:

    Keep it as is. You may surprise yourself.

  26. I would consider adding more curvature into the black fabric at the hips and bust (instead of going straight down), like Kate’s Stella McCartney dress does. Perhaps do a trial run playing with the black curvatures using white or muslin for the sides to figure it out.

  27. Jo says:

    Lazy me says leave it and and you can always slap a black belt on top! You’d get bonus points for making it yourself out of the same fabric. Could be a get out of jail free card right? 🙂

  28. Pat says:

    I have to agree with most people here and say that unless I saw the dress on you and it looked horrible, I would leave it as is. Can you try it on with some safety pins in the seam allowance and see how you like it? I would take some pics and then walk away from the whole thing for a few days and then revisit the pics. The dress has waited this long, so a few more days won’t make a difference.

  29. Stephanie says:

    I think the shape of this dress will be lovely and chic on your figure! I’m in the camp that says that the vertical lines will be lengthening and the overall shape of the dress on you will indicate the waist nicely (no need for a black band). At the same time, you must do what you feel you can live with!

  30. redsilvia says:

    I like it as it and for a bit thought the basting was going to stay. That got me thinking that if you wanted a “hint” more waist definition without making the waist yoke piece black all around, you could later add some hand prick stitching in white (or yellow or red or whatevs). That would hint at the waistline and give it a couture feature.

    I would hesitate to cut the line in half since that would not be the most flattering thing. Have you tried the actual dress on your actual body and seen how it fits? Why not just use Photoshop and change the color that way without unpicking that perfect matching?

  31. Laura says:

    I don’t think this dress has much waist definition – it hits more like an empire line than the waist line. I don’t think changing it would help – I’m with Beth, the black looks better.

  32. kitty0313 says:

    Please leave it as it is! It enlongates this dress beautifully. I have been tempted to enrol in this Susan K. class as I realise I would learn so much technically, but I have *really* disliked the pattern used and couldn’t see a place for the finished dress in my wardrobe. This is the first time that I have seen a resolution which makes it look other than ‘blocky’/ chunky… and really matronly… Your approach in interpreting the front panel as a single colour, horizontal element may just move me to take the plunge and enrol in the class: I could live with – and wear – the dress as you have it at the moment.

  33. Definitely don’t undo it. The long line is flattering and, echoing many previous words of wisdom here, the dress will look better on you than on a dress form. Also, a belt is a good solution for changing up the look every now and then without destroying hours of fastidious pattern-matching.

  34. Paola says:

    My two cents…what do you want to achieve. If you think that your waist deserves highlighting, maybe do as others have suggested and pin some black fabric at the waist and assess the effect. If you would like to elongate your figure, though, stick with it as is. My vote would be for the latter.

  35. Kathleen says:

    I agree with the others. I think the long lines will offset any concern about the waist and adding the black will just cut you in half. It is a beautiful dress and I’m sure you are going to rock it. If you wear it and think anyone is suspecting you don’t have a waist just put your hand on your hip and give them your best “You-clearly-do-not-know-fashion” look. 🙂

    I can’t wait to see the final result!

  36. I vote leave it. It looks shapely to me!

  37. Kirsty says:

    I vote leave it. It will give you such a long lengthening line.

  38. black label says:

    i say dont mess with a good thing… like others have suggested, experiment with various belt widths for waist definition. great job so far…keep it up.

  39. The first thing I thought when I saw this dress was you should add a Tilly bow belt! You’d get the black definition around the waist, and if you do the bow in your gorgeous spotty fabric you’ll break up the black.

    All the comments seem like great ideas, can’t wait to see how you finish it , whatever you do 🙂

  40. anneofjulie says:

    I’m really torn on this question.

    I quite like the dress as it is. However, as it doesn’t curve greatly in along the front panel at the waist line, it might be best to swap for a solid waistband

    I do like it a lot as is so its really whether you want to take the time to change it over after so much work.

    Good luck with your decision! 🙂

  41. Maybe I am being stupid and not quite with it this morning due to the heat (at last!) and the general child-based craziness of my household, but would it be an option to have the plaid/polka dot fabric on the front waistband section, thereby dividing the two black central front pieces and acting like an illusiory kind of belt? That would be very waist-defining and would make more of your fabulous Mood fabric.

  42. Sewingjen says:

    Leave it as it is, definitely NO belt as this would completely chop the whole look of the streamlined centre in half. Did Kate Winslet wear a belt NO! The pattern matching is tres superb so let it stand, finish the dress, and get your shapely figure into it girl!!

  43. Almond Rock says:

    Crazily have you thought about the centre midriff piece being plaid? I’d do as suggested below and pin on some of the suggested variations to test them out. Even the plaid waist piping idea. You’ll probably find you love it best just as it is!

    • This is what I tried to say, but the Internet ate my comment! Glad someone else thinks it is a possibility – I want sure it if would somehow be breaking a mystery sewing rule that I wont not of!

  44. sewbusylizzy says:

    I’d leave it black. If you are worried about the waist definition maybe do some pick stitching along the waist seamlines in a really subtle thread, a silvery black to pick up on those glam polka dots? It might not photograph but I think it would look lovely IRL

  45. aisling says:

    I would leave it as is. I like the look but it would be easier to judge if it was on you. Is there anyone you annoy into taking a shot of it on you?

    If you do decide to a solid black waist, I would echo the suggest to try it out first. You may create a crucifix/cross effect that will draw the eye. Or you may not.

  46. Laura says:

    …or you can make a belt from your plaid fabric and sew it in the middle area . It will look like this

  47. Sunny says:

    I think the plaid on a diagonal has a similar effect as stripes on a diagonal. I think if you change the midriff pieces to black it will “cut you in half”. I would leave it like it is. I don’t think the issue is your fabric, I think it’s the dress pattern. I took the class and I ran into similar shaping issues. I don’t think the dress is very figure flattering if you are curvy.

  48. Sheree says:

    I would try it on and take a photo. Then use photoshop to experiment. Someone did that for Alison C when she was having difficulties deciding which way to go with a dress and I thought it was such a good idea. I am no expert, but If you do not have photoshop I will try to do it for you.

  49. Sheree says:

    This is the link of the photoshoped photos that someone did for Alison

  50. Ashley says:

    As much as I hate to say it, I’d go black all around. I have a similar dress (store bought) and the black center/waist is SO flattering!

  51. Joyapple says:

    What are the sleeves going to be like? Or is it sleeveless? Before you do another thing, put it on plus shoes and hook up in real/skype time with some other sewists to get their opinion.
    Otherwise find something else to work on and put this project temporarily on the back boiler of your inspiration and let it come up with a solution. Lovely sewing though.

  52. Gjeometry says:

    I have absolutely not problem with the ‘tube’ look. I really like the 1920’s drop waist styles and don’t believe that every item we own has to make a woman look like she has a wasp waist or is wearing a cincher or other such device. Having said that, some garments do look better with a defined waist, so depends on the item and whether it looks 20s or 60s and tube like or just like a potato sack. Fine line, really.

  53. eumoronorio says:

    If you want to keep all that beautiful matching, you could just make the CF waistband pieces in the plaid, if you have any left. That way you break up the CF all black look without losing the matching. Or make the entire CF in plaid and wear a really fun red or purple belt.

  54. Rosesred says:

    The waistband seems a little big to do in all out black. Might shorten your torso most unfortunately if you ‘black out’ the waist. I like the idea of a plaid waistband all around, but for both options I’d try the dress on, make pictures, sleep a night on it and look at the pictures again.

  55. Karen,
    Take a look on Susan Khalje’s website at student projects.
    One of the featured projects is a dress with mixed patterns and it may help you picture your dress with a black waistband if you’re still considering the change.

  56. Just pin some black fabric over the top of the waist section and put it on to see how it looks on your body. Then you can decide if that’s the look you want

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