Friday, 28 August 2015

Plaid Double Gauze Zeena Dress (and a US visit!)

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Plaid Double Gauze Zeena Dress

I loved the first version I made of By Hand London's Zeena Dress and knew my wardrobe would benefit from a couple more. They are just so easy to throw on in the morning and feel great in all day, especially when it's hot. My first version was in breezy cotton voile and I knew I wanted something similar for the second version as it suited the design so well. I'm a bit of a Pinterest addict and have been making an effort to recreate looks and styles I've pinned to my sewing inspiration board this year. When I spotted the image below a long way back and found this lovely plaid double gauze on Goldhawk Road I bought it with the intention of making a similar dress but it got put away in the stash and semi-forgotten about. I was flicking through my Pinterest when I was in the process of testing the Zeena pattern and realised that the relaxed style of it was perfect to recreate this look and that discovery was all I needed to spur me on and dig out my plaid! It was one of those instances of everything coming together almost accidentally to make a great project!


If you haven't come across double gauze before it's a wonderful summer fabric. It's formed of two layers of gauze caught together at regular spaced intervals by a thread from one layer passing through the second. It means it retains it's breathable, lightweight properties whilst having the added bonus of being less sheer than a single layer. The two layers obviously don't need to be the same so double gauzes often have a different design/colour on the reverse to the front. In this cause one side has an almost tartan like plaid with thin checks of red a black crossing through the thicker green and white check while the other side has a stripped back version of this with just the green and white. I was planning on using the more intricate design but once I had the pattern all cut out I decided I preferred the bolder look, especially for summer!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Plaid Double Gauze Zeena Dress

It was my first time working with double gauze and it is certainly not going to be my last!  I might have to treat myself to a purchase from Miss Matatabi as I often find myself flicking through her Etsy shop and drooling! It's so lovely to work with, the machine goes through it easily, it stays put and presses so well as well as being easy to wear and wash. The only trouble I had with it is that I frayed like crazy!! To combat this I overlocked all my pieces before assembly. It has an almost cheesecloth like texture which was a great match for my inspiration picture as it has that soft and crinkled look. As I had hoped, it turned out to be the perfect weight and drape for this relaxed fit style.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Plaid Double Gauze Zeena Dress

Pattern-wise I cut the size 8 again and my bodice was shortened by 3/4". I made the same alteration of taking 1" out of the width of the neckline each side as I did with my first version. I have quite small shoulders and have problems with the width of many patterns in this area but the Zeena in particular seems to be unusually wide here. I took some more off the length but this was really down to a lack of fabric rather than being a design choice! I think it was about 2" and I used a scant 1/2" for the hem. It's now just about long enough for me to feel comfortable in it with bare legs but I don't think I'll be wearing it on a particularly breezy day!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Plaid Double Gauze Zeena Dress

I actually used this double gauze to make up my test version of this dress as I had 3 metres of it and figured I'd still have plenty left for another project. I didn't like the fit of my test version at all as the relaxed style was already an unusual style choice for me and the size 10 which I usually cut with BHL patterns I felt swamped in. Also the neckline was wide and the bodice a little long. It wasn't terrible but I knew I didn't feel comfortable enough in it to get much wear out of it. However, I did adore the combination of the bold plaid paired with the shape of the design and decided I absolutely had to make a better fitting version out of the remaining fabric! However, I didn't have quite enough of my beautiful double gauze left so I opted to make some changes to the skirt pattern pieces so I could squeeze them on.

I could have unpicked the skirt from my test version and used that but after looking back at my red plaid inspiration dress I was quite taken by the idea of experimenting with slightly less fabric in the skirt and redistributing the pleats so it was flatter across the stomach and centre back. To do this I worked out the maximum skirt width I could fit onto the fabric I had, then folded this out of my pattern pieces and redrew the notches for the pleats. This was very straightforward to do as the skirt pattern pieces are just big rectangles so I didn't have to worry about ruining any shaping.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Plaid Double Gauze Zeena Dress

Unfortunately the lack of fabric meant that any pattern matching went pretty much out of the window! I did make an effort to ensure that the vertical stripes of the plaid were spread evenly either side of centre as I felt keeping the design looking balanced was most important. I also focused on getting the plaid to line up horizontally across the centre back seam as that is really obvious compared to the skirt side seams which are partially concealed with the pleats of the skirt and are broken up by the pockets. The movement of the skirt also hides the lack of pattern matching in this area so I'm pretty satisfied by how it turned out!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Plaid Double Gauze Zeena Dress

Another benefit to working with double gauze which I hadn't foreseen was that the double layer means it's great for any hand stitching as you can just catch one layer with your stitching and it won't show at all on the right side. This was really useful when it came to the facing on this dress as it really wanted to flip out to the right side, despite me vigorously clipping, under stitching and pressing along the neckline. Just stitching it down at the shoulder seams and centre back didn't do the trick so (as with my first version which I had underlined) I caught it down with a slip stitch all the way around the edge.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Plaid Double Gauze Zeena Dress

Despite having to figure out fitting the skirt pieces onto the fabric the dress only took me 4 hours to make in total including the cutting! Another reason why my wardrobe might end up full of these! The dress is unlined which is one of the reasons why it's so speedy, but it's worth bearing in mind when you make your fabric choice that you need something completely opaque. The instructions are great as usual and I particularly liked the tip to baste the pleats in place at 6/8" rather than within the seam allowance as it kept them tightly closed when you actually stitch the seam line. It does mean you absolutely have to go back and remove your basting stitches but avoids the risk of the pleats  spreading apart slightly as they move through your machine. The only thing I did differently to the instructions was to under stitch my pocket openings.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Plaid Double Gauze Zeena Dress

It looks like summer is already on the way out in London so I'm not sure how much more bare legged wear I'll get out of this here this year sadly. However, I'm heading to California in a few days so it should be handy in the sunshine over there at the moment! I'll be visiting LA, San Francisco and Las Vegas during my trip and will definitely be squeezing in a bit of fabric shopping so if anyone fancies meeting up let me know in the comments below and include your email address so I can loop you into plans! I'm planning to visit Mood Fabrics and the Fabric Store in LA on the afternoon of Tuesday 1st September and then have some time on Friday 4th and Saturday 5th in San Francisco/Oakland/Berkley, hopefully including a visit to Stonemountain & Daughter Fabrics and Britex. It would be lovely to see anyone that's around! I've got a few posts scheduled for when I'm away so it won't be all quiet on the blog. Can't wait to share my adventures with you all when I get back!

31 comments:

  1. I'm around the afternoon of sept 1! (LA person😉) this is awesome you are coming...can't wait to meet you!!! Mood and the fabric store are just down the street fr each other. The garment district is about 10-15 minutes away from them if you have a bit more time. That's where michael levines (& the loft) and FIDM is near there as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Brillant! I'm sending you an email now!

      Delete
  2. And my email is freshcityfarm at gmail

    ReplyDelete
  3. The dress is super cute on you! The fabric looks like it'll be lovely summer wear too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! The fabric was a really lucky random find I think as I'd never come across double gauze in a shop before and I wasn't even sure what I had chanced upon!

      Delete
  4. I'd love to join a Stone Mountain/Britex jaunt on Saturday, the 5th. lusty@lusty.org

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fantastic! I'll send you an email with the plans now!

      Delete
  5. cute dress! Have a wonderful trip!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love this, it looks super comfy but stylish, I think you could easily get wear out of this through autumn with boots, tights and a chunky cardigan, I'm thinking of one in dark chambray (boring but practical) for this not summer not ready for autumn stage we're going through! On another note, I am desperate to visit Goldhawk Road, but in your experience is it a bit of a wasted journey on a Sunday/Bank Holiday Monday?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes I'm hoping it will carry through to Autumn too! Dark chambray sounds gorgeous!
      Goldhawk Road is definitely worth making the effort for however most of it is closed on a Sunday and therefore I'm presuming a bank holiday too. I think it would be worth holding out until you can visit on a Saturday when everything will be open. I hope you enjoy it anyway!

      Delete
  7. Beautiful dress! I really have to try double gauze. I actually bought some in Japan but haven't found the nerve to use it yet!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ooo I have heard a lot of good things about Japanese double gauze, lucky you! Definitely wort waiting until you have discovered the perfect project for it!

      Delete
  8. Would love to join you at Britex an/or Stonemountain.
    Irismontgomery@gmail.com.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wonderful! I'll send you an email now!

      Delete
  9. Your dress is gorgeous! I have such a weakness for checked fabric, and the skirt pleats are lovely.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Lynne! I'm so in love with this fabric and even more so now it's this dress!

      Delete
  10. Lovely dress the fit and skirt have worked out really well. So envious of your trip, especially as I am lusting over aqua dot cotton batiste which is on sale at Britex, but would be far too expensive to buy over here (check out the silk jersey at Mood it's gorgeous - I'm afraid I couldn't resist that even with the extra costs!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. O I've only just read your comment now I'm back, I would have offered to get you some of the aqua dot cotton if I'd been more on the ball (not that there was much room left in my case!). I did have a good look at the silk jersey in Mood but resisted temptation. There were also some gorgeous one's in Stone Mountain and Daughter!

      Delete
  11. The blue side of the double gauze is gorgeous! Also, I'd love to do Britex and/or Stonemountain and Daughter.
    (me@kiranbot.com)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was lovely to meet you at Stone Mountain Kiran!

      Delete
  12. Looks great, and looks and sounds very comfy. I've made the Zeena skirt with the Kim bodice and don't think I did baste the pleats properly as they have moved apart. Hope you have a great time in the US! San Francisco is a wonderful place! If only I'd been sewing when I went so I could visit fabric shops. I always try to do that when I go away.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Zeena skirt with the Kim bodice sounds like an amazing idea that I'm definitely going to have to try!
      Thank you for the well wishes, the trip was amazing and San Fran was probably my favourite spot! Lots of fabric shopping was done!

      Delete
  13. This looks lovely, Fiona! I had no idea what double gauze was, so thanks for explaining! Sounds like a perfect summer dress fabric!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I had no idea what it really was until I encountered it and now I will never forget haha! Thanks Charlie

      Delete
  14. After I have seen this dress I need to make one for myself as well :)) I absolutely adore the pattern! It is strange that I never stumbled over your blog before.. I am glad I did! Have a nice day, Sophia
    www.littlesewingmachine.blogspot.de

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your lovely comment Sophia! I hope you enjoy making yourself a Zeena! It's such a lovely comfortable style

      Delete
  15. This is absolutely darling! I love it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Sonja, it's become a favourite in my wardrobe!

      Delete
  16. This looks amazing on you, so pretty! Which of the dress patterns you have made would you say worked best (with least adjusting/fitting issues) for your frame? I ask because I think we have a similar frame and I find most patterns are to large around the shoulders and bust, but some more than others.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Sofia! This is one of my most worn dresses! By Hand London patterns do tend to come up quite large in the shoulders but I still love their dresses and think it's worth my while adjusting them! Fit wise I've had success with Sewaholic (which are drafted for pear shaped ladies) and Papercut straight out of the envelope

      Delete

I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!