Finished - denim perfection, pocket perfection.
Today I'm sharing with you one of my favourite makes ever - it's turned out exactly as I'd planned, right down to my favourite little detail, the pockets. This is another version of my favourite frankenpattern - New Look 6808 and the Colette Laurel (see other versions here). This is my first dress version and I couldn't be more pleased.
The fabric is a wonderful lightweight denim with a little stretch, from G&J Fabrics in Brunswick East. They've got a great range of denims and heavyweight cottons at the moment (most including this one around $15/m no matter the width) - this one is lovely and I'm probably going to get some more for some trousers. It is a bit wrinkled in these pics but I had worn my little treasure all of last night and this morning so I'm not too fussed.
I've been wanting to make a denim shift dress for ages - I love Caroline's tencel version over at Sewaholic, and Kirsty's Sigma denim dress. I knew I wanted pockets, and was considering regular patch pockets, a pocket style particularly common on shift dresses in the 60's (and a Laurel variation) but I was worried that if I didn't get them perfectly aligned they'd look a bit too homemade. And lets be real here, they're not that practical. Then somewhere in my brain I had the vague memory of seeing a 60's shift with crazy round pockets in the side seams. Cannot for the life of me find that image again. So I decided to draft my own. The beauty of this style of pocket is that you can make them an obvious feature with contrast stitching/lining/seam binding or a subtle feature as I did here, AND they can be totally french seamed! Floats my tidy-innards boat big-time. And you could make them less circular, just a subtle curve - I think I'll try this on my next Beignet....
I faced the neckline and the pockets with a lovely scrap of quilting cotton I've been hoarding for a few years - I can't remember the name of it but I think the muted brown colours match the top stitching perfectly, and I love having such a nice hidden detail.
The side seams and sleeve seams were frenched, and then topstitched from the outside to give the appearance of a flat felled seam. I know it's an extra line of stitching, but I think it's less fiddly than a true flat fell seam. I only used the topstitching thread in the top, and regular thread in the bobbin. Because it was through a few layers I used a stitch length of 3.5, increasing to 4 (the maximum for my husky) when I crossed over the pocket seams (my machine doesn't cope awesomely with thick layers and the stitches tend to get really small so increasing to the maximum length offsets this a bit).
I was planning to do an exposed jeans zip in the centre back but couldn't find one long enough, and had a brain fade cutting the back pieces out and forgot to add a seam allowance. Fortunately my frankenpattern is pretty generous in sizing and the little bit of stretch in the fabric meant I could have back seam and get it on easily enough without a back opening.
Thus far this dress has scored 10/10 for wearability - I've worn it 3 times this week already, once to a business meeting, out for dinner and drinks last night for my beloved's birthday, and shopping this morning and each time it felt totally appropriate and stylish for the situation - how versatile is that?! I love its simplicity. I wish I could go back in time and give my beginner sewist-self advice and suggest that for every bright, printed purchase/garment made, I made 2 others out a solid, simple fabric! That's my pearl of wisdom for the day!
I did take some pics of my pocket construction, so let me know in the comments if you're interested I'll do a how-to post.