Reviews

The Pre-Chanel Dress, NewLook 6123

April 27, 2015

Chanel, bouclé and tweed. They are inseparable.

No matter what Karl sends down the runway, you are guaranteed to see at least one very loose weave suit or dress…possibly fringed and/or trimmed. You can literally see the individual fibers of the fabric they are so loosely woven…and thick…and I love them both. In fact, I own a few including a Chanel piece…end of bolt…a few season olds…but it’s mine!

My goal is to make a suit, but in preparation I thought I’d practice a few of the infamous couture techniques on this dress. Sort of a practice run.

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My reference library is everything! I thumbed through no less than 5 books to work through this dress. My main reference was Claire Shaeffer’s “Couture Sewing: The Couture Cardigan Jacket”.

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My inspiration came from this sleeveless MSGM dress with organza side panels.

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I opted for a more narrow sheer panel with a lace appliqué and a length of lace at the hem. I’ve had the lace for a while and I think it is one of the prettiest pieces I own.

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I used NewLook 6123 as my pattern base. I have made this dress twice before in a green and in a black ponte knit. Obviously because this is a woven fabric, I made further adjustments to the pattern (increasing the ease) and added a lining. I admittedly was NOT perfect with my adjustments and the darts in the back between back bodice and back skirt don’t line up because I forgot to match the widths at the waistline…brain cramp. More respect for pattern drafting every time I alter a pattern…so much to remember to get it just right.

I went for a very fitted look though I know Chanel clothing has far more ease. I did, mistakenly opt out of adding a kick pleat. That was not the move. I do a little sashay when I walk in this dress now. LOL.

The techniques I used:
1. Plaid matching at a select few of seams
2. Quilting
3. Hand-sew lining seams
4. Pattern markings for loose weaves
5. Lace applique

Construction
Because this is a very loose weave, all pattern marking was done with colored silk thread and ALL raw edges were serged to prevent fraying.

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I constructed the bodice first, attached the lining, turned it right side out, then attached ONLY the tweed skirt to the bodice. I also did not sew the side seams of the lining nor tweed bodice. I first cut a panel of organza and then hand tacked a length of lace. This was then attached to the side seams of the bodice. The bodice lining was then hand sewn to each side seam and at the waist line. The lining skirt was hand sewn to the tweed waistline as well. A invisible zipper was inserted and the lining hand sewn to the zipper.

I did not stress myself on matching the plaids on all seams for this dress. I focused on matching the front darts and plaids at the bodice front and skirt.

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I didn’t worry about the side seams. I also matched the back seam which took some effort. I basted along the seams line and the pressed the seam allowance to the wrong side of the fabric. This gave me my visual edge in which to match the plaid along the seam. I then slip-stitched this seam in place and followed with a machine stitch to secure. In order to match all plaids on all seams it would have taken a lot of strategic pattern placement and marking which I will do next time. You can see here that the back seam matches which is the “V” intersection in the picture below.

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The quilting was saved to the end when the garment was near completion, though it is normally done on the individual pieces. I did a basting stitch along the quilt line to hold the lining and fabric in place and then following with a short quilting stitch in white that is invisible on the right side.

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Notes on project
I will definitely add a kick pleat in the future and write out the construction process so that I can be more mindful of my alternations.

This is a simple dress to construct, but the devil is in the details and I am pleased with how this turned out.

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