I’m so happy to share my very first make as part of the Elliott Berman Textiles brand ambassadors team!
For this first project I chose a stunning Italian floral viscose challis. I couldn’t resist the beautiful colours in this print, which happen to be among my favourite: fuchsia, light pink, royal blue, cornflower blue, forest green, all these on a navy background. I adore the flowers and the tropical leaves, it’s such a perfect print for summer!
I was a bit nervous to wash and dry the fabric in the machines, but it came out perfect! The surface is just as smooth and pristine as before the wash, there's no fluff coming out which for me would be an indication of short staple fibres used, so the quality is really great. From my previous experiences with viscose challis, I knew that it’s a fabric that wrinkles quite a bit, but to my great surprise this one really doesn’t wrinkle as much as others do!
I decided to make a pattern that I’ve been in love with since it came out: the popular McCall’s 7974. I chose View C with View A sleeves. Based on the finished measurements, I picked size 12 for the bust (garment measurement 95cm), blended to size 14 at the waist and hips (W78cm and hips have lots of ease since it’s a gathered skirt). My measurements are B91cm (36”), W75cm (30”), H103cm (41”). I made a few modifications to the pattern prior to cutting fabric, namely I removed 2cm (3/4”) at center back, tapered to nothing at sides, since I’ve experienced that the back often tends to droop at the waist. I also removed 2cm (3/4”) at the sleeve cap after basting in the sleeves and trying it on, as I do have narrow shoulders and the fit wasn’t pretty with a dropped shoulder seam. Another mod was raising the center front by about 1.5” as I’m not a huge fan of very low-cut necklines on me. I made another change after trying the finished dress on, as I didn’t like the fit at the back waistline - there was too much ease and no shaping at all, and I do like when the fabric skims the body, so I added a 1/4” elastic stitched on to the back waist seam allowance. This gave me exactly the result I was looking for!
After all these mods, there are still some changes I will make for my next version to really nail the fit. First, I’d raise the underarm point, as I find that the arm mobility is somewhat restricted in the dress as is (it’s very often the case with Big 4 patterns). I would also lengthen my bodice by about 1.5cm, since I find the under bust seam could sit a little lower, and this would also bring the waist seam to my natural waist, which is my preference (the dress is drafted to sit above the waistline). I would also love to make a version with button loops instead of button holes, I think that would make the dress even more interesting!
One big step away from the instructions that I made was the choice to fully line this dress, and I’m so happy I did! I had a navy viscose challis in my stash and I was so thankful to my past self for buying it, as it happened to be a perfect match! At first I planned on only lining the bodice, but then decided to put in more effort and line the skirt as well. It just hangs so much nicer, feels great on the body, and ensures that the skirt is 100% opaque. Viscose challis is a lightweight fabric, so in a certain lighting, there might be a bit of translucency, which I didn’t want in the skirt. The skirt lining is free-hanging, meaning that I hemmed the skirt and its lining separately, and since the inside of the dress is still accessible, I decided to finish all the 7 skirt panels with French seams. So that was a total of 14 long French seams, which took forever to make! But the dress is so beautiful on the inside, I could practically wear it inside out As a final touch, I went for these adorable pink and blue little buttons, which feel like candies sprinkled over the front. I absolutely love them! This dress was a real labour of love, as it took a lot of patience and many hours of sewing, basting, trying on, fixing, resewing, but in the end, all that remains is a beautiful dress which I will love wearing for a long time!
Thank you so much, EBT Fabrics, for this beautiful and inspiring viscose challis! I’m ready for summer!
~ Rimma Zolotarova