Fabric Photos and Fretting about Pleats and Plaids and Zippers

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Hello Everyone!

Lucy had her 5th birthday on Wednesday, so I didn't get much sewing done. She requested a layer cake and I forgot (again) that I don't actually own any round cake pans. Last year I borrowed cake pans from the neighbours, but this year I decided to bite the bullet and buy two 8" round pans. (I do miss my baking-happy housemates of a few years ago...)

But! I have done a lot of thinking and reading about sewing, particularly around this dress. Last week I made a muslin of the bodice - raising the waistline to empire height. I think this will look far more flattering on me. I want to make two versions of the dress: one in a charcoal plaid wool suiting fabric and one in a lightweight dark denim/chambray (shirt weight). Here is a photo of the two wool fabrics I recently purchased:

The fabric for the dress is on the right. The wool on the left might be made into a vest, but then again, it might need to age in the stash a bit. Boy is it ever hard to get a good photo of dark fabric! In the photo above, the fabric looks like a medium gray, but in reality it is a dark charcoal gray. I couldn't manage a decent photo of the dark chambray.

Here is a photo of the dress fabric with roughly pinned in pleats along with the bemberg rayon lining. The blue is actually quite similar to the light blue stripes in the plaid. If you look at the darker blue shade in the far left of the photo, that is a more accurate color. There are also dark blue stripes in the wool, but they are crazy difficult to notice.

I think I like this arrangement for the pleated section on the center of the bodice. But it makes me nervous. I think - based on what I have read - that I should go ahead and iron in the pleats on the fabric, then take the pattern piece and tape the pleats shut, then pin it to the fabric and cut it out. Does that sound correct? I am so nervous that I am going to mess things up. I think I have enough fabric that I could even cut this piece wrong and still be able to cut another one, but then again, I don't know that I could do that and still get the plaid to match.

I may need one of you more experienced people to hold my hand through this.

I want to make the wool one first. Otherwise I might not ever make it. The chambray one will get far more wear through the coming Spring/Summer/Fall, but because I won't have to match plaids, I think it will be easier.

I am thinking of lining the chambray dress also. I am worried that all the pleats in the front will be uncomfortable on my skin. I am thinking about lining the dress with this fabric:

Now I bought this with the idea that I would make a loud and crazy version of McCall's 5860, but this is quilting cotton and I have since learned my lesson about making clothing out of quilting cotton. But what about lining a dress? Do you think cutting it on the bias would help?

I am also thinking of putting an exposed zipper into the back of the chambray dress. What do you think of exposed zippers? I know they are probably on the way out as trends go, but something about a sassy zipper in a sweet dress with a surprisingly loud lining rings true with me. My chief concerns around an exposed zipper are functional concerns. Will it be itchy/hot/cold/otherwise annoying? How would I prevent these potential problems?

So many questions...

Comments (7)

Your pleat plan will work perfectly if you measure twice, and hold the fabric up against you again just to make sure there is enough. This may be overkill for you, as you are probably more careful than me, but that is how much checking I would need to do before feeling confident!
Um maybe I have no taste, but I make clothes from quilting cotton all the time. I like it for summer dresses and blouses, also children's clothes. Your fabric looks fun and cheerful to me.

I love that Burda dress! I look forward to seeing yours finished. I also like the idea of the exposed zipper. I am just warming to them but I am probably lucky in that living in Australia the fashion trends are always later here!

That cake looks so delicious! I love your fabric choices --- they'll make beautiful versions of the dress. I've had my eye on that pattern too! I'm not an expert on pleats so I'll have to defer to others for comment, but I'm wondering if you want to use a slinkier fabric for the lining? I've used cotton/silk batiste before, which is lighter than a quilting cotton and comfortable. I think you should go for the exposed zipper --- go with your instinct! Can't wait to see your progress!

I also make children's clothing from quilters' cotton. I don't sew for myself, but I think some types of dresses, etc... should work ok. I would be afraid to cut the lining on the bias because then it might not hang correctly and you may have pulls, tugs, etc... where you don't want them.
I love the floral piece and think it would make a very fun lining. I would just make sure that the amount of give it has is about the same as the chambray.

I love the pleated dress. I think you'll be safe to iron your pleats in before you cut, just as long as you are sure they are the size, etc.. that you want. One good thing about pleats with this fabric is that with the straight lines in the fabric your pleats will be easy to get straight.

sorry!

Thanks everyone! Have any of you ever put in a large exposed zipper? How comfortable is it?

And Michael, it's alright. It was time to buck up and buy my own 8"round pans. (I cut each layer in half so it had four layers. Something weird happened to my frosting. Some of the cocoa/melted butter mixture seized up when I added the sugar and milk. It looked like chocolate chip frosting.)

I am definitely no lining snob, but for a fuller skirted dress with swing I'd stay away from the quilting cotton. I'd totally use quilting cotton to line a shift or sheath dress with a narrow skirt, but I'd be afraid of what it would do to a fuller skirt. I'd look for something with more drape.

Obvs I am on the exposed zipper bandwagon! I haven't noticed it wearing any differently than a regular zippered skirt, BUT the zipper doesn't extend much beyond my underwear and I've been wearing the skirt with tights so there is no chance of the zipper coming in contact with my skin. I seriously, seriously doubt it would be a problem, though.

Re: pleating before cutting, I've never tried it so I'm no help!