Sunday, July 21, 2019

The Periwinkle Linen Dress

The Dandelion Dress served as the muslin for the Periwinkle Linen Dress. I love them both and they  are really both quite different as you will soon see. They are both made from New Look 6866 with original alterations  to change the silhouette and hem finish. I was inspired by the garment you see here. With the Periwinkle dress I went for simple, letting the fabric shine.


New Look 6866 is a flowy, summery maxi dress that the pattern describes as  "five styles with length and neckline variations." They are all sleeveless and the necklines are all lovely. I went for the high front neckline and the V back. This is a fabulous basic pattern with lots of design ease but it fit me well in the upper chest/shoulders so I am very happy with that. I flat pattern measured and there was no need to do an FBA for my C cup. I will get on my high horse and say once again, this is design ease, that extra room, not a mistake in drafting the pattern.  You want big and flow-y, you get bigger and flowier than the basic pattern block.  Design ease..........


The computer does not do this fabric justice. It leans toward lavender and I used lavender thread to sew it. It is a yarn dyed linen/cotton blend, a fabric I have used many times and think is one of the best values out there. However, I am stymied. I want more of this periwinkle but did I look at the bolt end for info? Just quickly to discern that it was Essex linen from Kaufmann. Now, when I go to the color charts, I can't find this color. I can find Cadet but that is blue and I have some of that. This has a green selvage. I am going back to the quilt store where I bought it to see if they can help and hopefully order some more. You can never have too much linen. It is the fabric that will be in style forever.

Another issue with yard dyed fabrics, well let me stop right here! Just in case you don't know what a yarn dyed fabric is here is an explanation: Yarn dyed fabrics have the yarns/threads dyed before they are woven into fabric. This allows you to have all of your weft threads one color and your warp threads another color. It gives a lot of character and depth to the fabric. If you've seen iridescent silk dupioni, you have seen a yarn dyed. Kaufmann's Essex blends are often  a colored linen thread and a white or black cotton thread going the other way. Back to the issue---I wanted to topstitch this dress, all over. It is hard to make prominent topstitching on yarn dyeds. Which thread do you match up to? Doesn't  matter the match will disappear and the non match will sort of look yucky. Either way, they just don't stand out. Above you can see some samples I did. On the right is the thread I was using for the construction, a lavender periwinkle color. You can see it just disappears in a regular stitch. In the middle, same thread with a triple stitch. I don't think it looks that good and my machine does a great triple stitch on other fabrics. On the left I tried a darker thread, really no improvement. I made the executive decision to not topstitch this dress anywhere. I liked it's soft look and was going to go with that. 

I also used a white  100% cotton voile to underline this dress. I did a "flat lining" in the method you see here. It worked out perfectly. This made the dress very  comfortable. I wore it today in 100 degree heat to a "backyard" wedding. The dress kept it's looks all afternoon and was spot on for the occasion. 

The facings were fused to cotton woven fusible interfacing. 


Here are the changes I did for this dress, some of which were not done in the Dandelion dress. I wanted to reduce the volume a bit. You will see the difference:

* My usual petite shortening in the upper chest. 
* Raised the armhole 3/8ths of an inch at the side seam tapering to nothing at the notches to hide my bra. 
* Reduced the front width at center front by a half inch. 
* Reduced the back width at center back by two inches. 
* Reduced the "bumpouts" one inch from the Dandelion dress bumpouts. 
* Flat lined the garment which meant all vertical seams, really only 3, were able to get a Hong Kong finish. This was nice. The HK finish was on the hem edge at the top, the facing edges and all of the sides seams as well.  By flat lining I was able to catchstitch my hem and facings to the voile underlining. 

Another thing I did was to do a diagonal basting of the underlining to the dress, front and back,  after it was flat lined. I also basted diagonally on the  area where the upper hem edge would be. I let my dress hang out on the dress form for a couple days before doing this basting and trimmed as needed, not much. 

 The darts in the dress were made to include the flat lining. A line of basting was done down the center of the dart on the lining to hold the two layers together while the dart was being sewn into the dress. The hem band is just the linen layer so no special treatment on the hem darts. Just mark those top and bottom edges of the hem band.

The picture above shows where the seam gets ditch stitched to secure the hem band to the dress. This is done on the right side of the dress.  I think failure to do this will cause the wide hem to billow and this holds it flat. It also sort of bolsters the shape of that side seam bumpout.

I did have a screw up, totally my fault. In my unbridled enthusiasm I did not read my pattern instructions. Heck, I just made one of these although it wasn't lined. After the dress was flat lined, hung out, and the lining hand basted diagonally to the fashion fabric, I stitched together the shoulder seams. I bound the edges of the facings with the voile, stitched them together and attached them to the neckline. Next was my favorite, understitching the facing with the triple stitch a la Nancy Zieman, all well and good. Nope. Seems now I can't stitch the armholes and turn them. I looked on line for some sort of magic I knew nothing about to solve this. There is none. I was too late for magic.  I slept on it. What to do?  I refused to rip out triple zigzagging on this lightweight fabric. 

Luckily, this fabric and lining are quite lightweight. I did a wide bias binding, understitched with the triple zigzag, turned and pressed, pinked the edges so no bulk, and catch stitched down to the facing. I think it will pass. It doesn't add bulk and is neatly finished. 

Another issue that came up was the refusal of the side seams to lay flat in the curved bumpout area. I decided to catch stitch them down. I so love to catch stitch.  This actually helped reinforce the shape.

Here they are, all catch stitched, tamed and tidied. Now it was on to catch stitching down the facings but only under the arms. The rest of the facing is free floating.  I also catch stitched the upper hem edge. I just can't stop catch stitching once I get started!

The inside is all finished and pretty! No topstitching in sight, volume brought down as desired, fit is spot on, life is good. The dress is fitting snug on my form as I am a size or two  smaller now than I was when I made the form. 

In Conclusion:

Once again, I am really happy with this pattern and the changes I've made to it. I look forward to making it also as it is designed, as a long flowy maxi dress maybe in the view with bow in front and in a softer fabric, perhaps a cotton lawn print. I will be on the lookout for that. In the meantime I think I am putting aside my beloved skirts that are my  summer staples and joining Team Dress! It's just such a comfortable, cool way to go. I highly recommend this pattern and love the way the dress is draped from the bust and shoulders. Flat pattern measure first and make a muslin. Do not assume the pattern is too big. You decide if you want the design ease that has been put into it. I like it either way. I love the full volume of the Dandelion Dress and also the more conservative look of the Periwinkle Dress. I will say that whenever I wear the Dandelion Dress in public people stop and compliment left and right and ask where I bought it. We will see what happens with the Periwinkle dress. I like that the  Periwinkle look is a great foil for my jewelry too. 

And just in case you missed the last post here is another pic of our recent house guest:

Happy sewing!......Bunny


  1. Soooo sophisticated! It takes those 10,000 hours to build a dress as gorgeous as this. Congratulations, you look wonderful! I also think it would look fabulous with red pants peeking out.

    1. I have been giving a lot of thought to making pants "to peek out". I even went shopping this morning but alas, the fabric I wanted didn't have enough yardage left on the bolt. Thanks for your lovely compliments. Yup, ten thousand hours easily at this point!

  2. Love following along and learning new techniques, Bunny! I love catch stitching too...makes me feel so couture!

    1. I find it very zen and once I start I put it everywhere, my favorite stitch!

  3. Delicious! Now, exactly how did you contrive using the flatlining to do the hong kong finish? I have my theories but would like to see more please... I love catch stitching too, almost makes me want to flatline everything!

    1. DF, I learned my flat lining technique many years ago from a Threads Magazine article and I've been doing ever since. I have it in my tutorials but here is a link for your convenience. There is actually a part two showing how to do the tricker parts of a pair of pants

  4. It's beautiful! The insides are gorgeous and the shape + fabric choice of the dress are so elegant. That back neckline has a gorgeous shape. And, I love to catch stitch too.

    1. I think its really a great pattern and so nicely shaped at the top which I didn't futz with at all. Sounds like we are all in Catch Stitcher's Anonymous!

  5. A very becoming summer dress and appropriate for the summer heat we've been having. Beautifully finished of course. Your dress certainly fits my grandmother's dictum that the inside should be as beautiful as the outside. BTW, you don't have deer? Your gorgeous Hosta wouldn't survive a night around here.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Thanks, Nancy. No, there are lots of deer around but none in our little neighborhood for some reason. Lots of hostas here. The deer were my nemesis in NY requiring frequent use of "Liquid Fence", that dreadfully smelling liquid. Lots of hostas here, no bird houses! I love my hostas and they do well here. I plan to plant many more. Appreciate your thoughts on the interior of the dress. I like how catchstitching the side seams gave shape to them.

      (lots of bad spelling in my first reply)


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