Have you guys seen the Rifle Paper Co. fabric, Les Fleurs, from Cotton + Steel yet? If not, come out from under your rock and take a look! It became the darling of the sewing world as soon as it was released and hasn’t stopped yet. I, being a HUGE fan of Rifle with many notebooks, calendars and a recipe box to prove it, immediately knew that I would use the rayon substrate for my first make. If you haven’t sewed with C+S’s rayon, let me just say that it is an amazing substrate. Is it as easy to sew as a cotton? No. But no cotton will drape and hang the way that this rayon will. You do need to be a little extra cautious while working with it, but the end result is absolutely worth the shiftiness while cutting and sewing. There are three different colorways of this rayon fabric, called Birch: a beautiful red, a navy and the one I chose, a periwinkle.
I hemmed and hawed over which pattern I would sew with this fabric, but in the end, the Emery dress from Christine Haynes Patterns won out. The perfect opportunity to make this came in the form of a wedding, but a wedding that was coming up FAST. I wanted something that was flattering on me, easy to make and…that I perhaps already had the pattern pieces traced and ready for? Yep, the winner. There is something to be said about not choosing a brand new pattern when you are in a time crunch. If I had more time to muslin a new pattern, the runners up were the Sewaholic Cambie dress and Christine Haynes’ Sylvie dress. One day!
Even though I had the pattern ready to go, I did need to do some pattern changes before construction. Since I was changing a dress with sleeves to one without, I couldn’t just leave the sleeves off. I mean I could have, but that wouldn’t have been the proper way to do it. As this is drafted, there is extra ease added into the bodice for sleeve movement, so I took that out from the shoulder area and also raised the underarm seam to prevent any bra-showing. I also did my usual change from gathers to pleats for the skirt. When I first wore it at that August wedding, I was so grateful for the gorgeous weight of the fabric, its breathability and the fact that it was sleeveless. This dress is the trifecta of perfection.
I followed the directions fairly closely when constructing the dress. The only time I veered off was for the neckline and the armholes. Since I didn’t line the dress or have sleeves, I just bound all the raw edges with 1″ bias tape made from the same rayon. I trimmed down the seam allowances to 3/8″, stitched the seams with the raw edges together, pressed it to the inside and then hand-stitched the bias binding into the dress. I could have done it all by machine, but I was heading home and wanted to be able to work on it while watching TV. I love the look of a nice clean finish.
The hem is also hand-stitched, which took forever. I was doing fine on time (because obviously I always need a deadline) and on the day of the wedding I only had to hem the bottom. That hem took me almost 3 hours to stitch! Granted I was doing it between customers, but man that was a big circumference. I finished with about 30 minutes to spare before we had to leave for the wedding. I love to push that envelope! 😉
All in all, this was a very quick make! By removing the lining and the sleeves, this dress became wearable in about half the time it normally takes, which makes sense since I removed half the dress! Haha! The bodice insides aren’t as pretty as with the lining. I used bias tape to bind the waist seam and could have bound the rest of my seams as well, but because I wanted it done faster, I just pinked them. I am completely okay with cutting those corners. Sometimes you have to give in. Now, I have this beautiful floral dress to wear everywhere.
If you are looking for the Cotton + Steel Les Fleurs collection fabric, feel free to give us a call! We still have yardage left in every print! Call before I take it all home. 😉