It's only fitting (though coincidental!) that it's the start of Sewing Indie Month and the garment I've sewn up is from the incredible indie company, Victory Patterns! Here, I've interpreted their Chloe dress, a 60s inspired fitted sheath, in colorblock with lovely stretch grey and plum velveteen. While velveteen isn't the easiest fabric to work with (I'll give some tips to make it easier in this post), it gives an unexpected and (in my opinion!) fabulous twist to this dress.
Working with velveteen, or any fabric with nap or pile, requires some extra planning and special handling to get the best results. First off and most obviously, the fabric has pile, which has directionality. The fabric may feel smooth in one direction, while slightly bristly in the other. This affects the perceived color of the fabric, as well as the feel. Therefore, it's of critical importance that the pattern be arranged on the fabric such that the nap lays in the same direction for all pieces. Some patternmakers provide alternative suggested fabric layouts for nap vs. unnapped fabrics, but typically it means that you'll need additional fabric to ensure that all pieces can be arranged properly. While I like the feel of the nap lying down (with gravity?), the color is more muted than if the nap is lying "up" relative to the worn garment, so there are benefits of either arrangement. (And if you're wondering, the fabric is "nap down" for this garment!)
I'll be truthful: velveteen is tricky to work with (at least for this novice!). My love of pressing runs deep, so it's especially difficult for me to accept that you just can't iron on the right side of napped fabrics. Pressing from the wrong side is okay if done sparingly, and better if done on a towel or needle board, (Doesn't that sound positively medieval? Needless to say, I didn't use one!) both of which keep the nap from flattening down. Sewing is also a little tricky. With right sides together, the fabric kind of walks along itself while sewing, making it hard to keep edges together. A walking foot, sadly, only slightly mitigated the problem. I found copious pinning to be the best solution, though I've heard of using soluble tape to hold seams together while sewing (not ideal for velvet or velveteen, but velour or other washable napped fabrics would be fine).
Hopefully, I haven't scared you all off from using velveteen! It's not as challenging as it sounds!
As for the dress itself, I made some modifications to the pattern, in large part because of the velveteen fabric. First off, instead of using self-bias tape to finish the neckline and sleeve hems (too bulky), I extended the lining into the sleeves and used the lining finish the openings. Here's an image of the cap sleeve, showing the understitching of the lining fabric.
I also made some fit adjustments. While I followed the suggested sizing (and was thrilled to see finished garment measurements, which I also used to help determine the size), I had to take in the side seams and shoulder seams pretty significantly. Since I shortened the arm scythe, I redrafted the cap sleeve to fit.
After a few practice attempts, I was still a bit reluctant to make a button hole in the faux-welt, but I needed the pockets to be closed to avoid a "kangaroo pouch" look while walking. A snap and false button saved the day!
The design of the pattern is lovely--the princess seams make for a nice, fitted silhouette, and the pockets are always a bonus for me. It would be great in linen (like this stretch blend) for a more casual look.
Thank you to Britex for providing the fabric, buttons, and other notions. Thanks, too, to Victory Patterns for providing the beautiful pattern! For more photos and information about my fit alterations for the Chloe pattern, please visit me at Nicole at Home!