Friday, May 10, 2013

"The Sultry Sheath" from Gertie's Book for Better Sewing

First finished project from the book! All in all a good sew. Weekend date, summer nights dress? After this one I need to make some more casual pieces. But this was one of my favourites from the book and I felt it would be a really good fit with this fabric so I couldn't resist giving it a try.

Construction notes:

I made this in some Nani Iro double gauze fabric I had been hoarding for a couple of years. When I made my muslin I noticed that the shoulder straps were sitting on my outer shoulders but looking at the photo in the book I decided that was how they were supposed to look. That was a mistake, as when I made my original bodice the straps kept slipping down my shoulders! I think the fact that the double gauze was softer then my muslin made the problem worse. I often sew using my high bust measurement because I have narrow shoulders so I'm not certain this would be a problem for everyone (due to my fit issues) but it's worth looking out for. Luckily a poster on who had made the pattern mentioned taking a wedge out of her shoulders to draw them up, so I decided to try a similar tactic:

I drew a wedge which was 1" at the neckline on both front and back and then cut out the wedge and closed it. I then traced the new pattern. I also lowered the armhole by about 1/2" using my french curve. Once I did that (and tried it out on a new muslin) I luckily had just enough Nani Iro fabric left for a second bodice.

The Fit is still not 100%. I traced the pattern using my high bust measurement (size 2 in the book) and tracing out to the next largest size for the waist (4), and then went from 4 in the waist to 2 in the hips. I should have just used a 4 in the hips as well because I think the pulling in the back is due to it being a bit too tight (it also feels a bit tight in the hips when I sit, but nothing that will stop me from wearing the dress). I'm closer to the listed measurement for 2 so I guess my advice would be to size up if you're between sizes unless you like it tight.

I didn't follow the instructions to the letter, as can be seen here with my invisible zip. I'm not sold on lapped zips unless I'm trying to make something completely authentic to a period. Plus I need to use up my collection of invisible zips. One side of my zip top is a couple of millimetres longer then the other! erg. "Only I will notice" is my sewing nitpicking mantra.

This was actually my first time making an all in one facing. I think it's a new favourite way to finish a garment. I did a kind of time consuming and fiddly finish to it where I used my decorative scallop stitch and then trimmed it down. I've actually done this before and it held up well, but it's hardly efficient, I just like the look!

And finally, I used a trick I read in Lynda Mynard's Couture Sewing Techniques and reinforced the back slit with a metal hook and eye bar. 

Final Thoughts:

I think I'm definitely going to come back to this pattern again! Other then the issues with the straps and the fact that I should have used a larger size hip, the pattern was very straight forward. The instructions were easy to follow, although I did not to use some of the more 'couture' techniques.


  1. Loved the pics you had on Burda & love your finishing choices even more. I'm especially enamored of your choice to scallop the edges of your facing! Egads, that's adorable! Also, I completely support your choice to use an invisible zip. Suits your fabric way better than a lapped finish would have. Okay, now I'm off to see if I can score some double gauze to fashion a sheath dress for me!!!

    1. Thanks for the feedback! As interesting as some of the vintage finishes included in the book are, sometimes simple does, as you say, work better for certain fabrics. Good luck on you double gauze hunt! My current favourite source is this etsy seller:
      Bit on the pricey side, but I only ended up needing about 1 1/2 yards for this dress.

  2. This is beautiful!

  3. This looks beautiful--even if you don't love the fit, it looks great on you!