It’s Indie Pattern Month over at The Monthly Stitch, and I didn’t hesitate to jump on that train. As much as I sometimes grouse about PDF assembly, the truth is I love indie patterns. Besides the wealth of indie designers we now have to select patterns from, it’s wonderful to be able to talk directly to the designer for help or clarification. It gives you a great chance to see where their inspiration came from and their design process along the way. I love seeing people’s hard work materialize into a physical pattern and then seeing that translated into wearable garments in my closet. As such, I’ve had Designer Stitch’s Charlie Dress in my stash since January, and it was high time I took it on.
The Charlie Dress is a sleeveless dress with front princess line panels and a contoured belt that’s meant to sit at the high hip. It’s got a classic silhouette to it, and the princess lines give you a great opportunity to add some contrast. I did so in the way of overdyeing my fabric and adding fringe in the princess seams and on the hem.
I started with this fabric. It’s a suiting fabric that I’ve had in my stash for at least 5 years. I bought it from Hart’s Fabric. It was labeled as a denim but with a different weave. Besides the crossweave with denim and white threads, it is thick like a denim but feels like a linen. Colorwise, the denim color is a little cooler and darker than the general color palette that I wear, so I’ve always had it in mind to alter it somehow before using this beautiful fabric.
In previous attempts to alter this fabric, I’ve dipped swatches in regular dye, bleach, and Rit Color Remover all to no effect. No doubt, there’s a significant amount of synthetic fibers in this fabric or some kind of finish that makes it resistant to color changing treatments. Since I’ve had this fabric, Rit came out with this awesome dye called DyeMore. It’s specifically for synthetic fabrics and it does a GREAT job of dyeing them. Usually dye just slips right off synthetics, leaving you with unchanged fabric and wasted dye. I bought a bottle in nearly every color.
I first dyed the whole yardage in Kentucky Sky. The darker threads were not affected at all by the dye, but the white cross threads did change into a soft blue. It’s a subtle change, but it’s there. Click on the arrow to get to the second video below to see the color difference.
Zipper and side panels
Next I mixed up a bit of Apricot Orange and Super Pink to produce a kind of strawberry watermelon pink. I dyed the side panels, zipper, one side of the belt, and a couple of strips for the fringe trim.
Adding the fringe
To make the fringe, I cut four 1.5″ X 36″ strips of the fabric. I kept two of them undyed and two of them dyed. I basted the blue strips to the side panels and the pink strips to the side panels. After sewing the front seams as usual, I serged the insides. I pressed the seams towards the center front panel and topstitched it down so that the fringe would lie flat.
Initially, I thought that the fringe would be the same length, but I decided that I liked the effect of the longer pink fringe under the shorter blue fringe. Before I started fringing, I cut the exposed strips of the blue fabric in half.
Because of the weave of this fabric, the dark threads pull out very easily. I’ve fringed a lot of fabrics, and this one by far required the least effort. I simply marked with chalk where I wanted the fringe to stop. Then I used an upholstery needle to pull out the dark threads one by one which creates the lighter colored fringe. To stop the fabric from fringing more, I applied Fray Block right on the fringe line.
Because I went through the trouble of dyeing my zipper, I wanted to show it off with an exposed zipper treatment. I really like how the pink looks against the blue.
Sleeveless armholes are my nemesis! Being short and petite, I’m rather short between my shoulder and the base of my armscye. There’s virtually no pattern that gets me close to covering my bra at the sides. The Charlie Dress is easily the closest I’ve come out of the pattern envelope to taking care of this fitting concern that I have. It’s not 100% covering what I’d like (hence why I’m pulling my arm up slightly in the picture), but I’m within 1/4″ which is HUGE. I’ve worked with patterns before that were inches too big for me in the armscye.
The other cool thing about this pattern are the custom cup sizes. You print out a base pattern that includes the back and then another file that includes your cup size. You’ll want to look closely at the finished garment measurement chart for this to pick the right size. Though I am not a B cup, I found that the B cup pattern was just the right amount of ease that I needed to be comfortable. If I had gone with my actual bra size, I think I would have ended up with a baggy fit.
Facings that don’t flip
I know I’m not the only one, but I really struggle with getting facings not to flip outwards. I love the clean finish they have at the neckline, but I hate that I typically have to spend extra time invisibly stitching the edges down by hand to keep them from flipping to the outside. The nice thing about this pattern is that the all in one facing has just 1/4″ seam allowances, so you don’t have to spend time trimming and notching the facing seams like you do on a lot of patterns. I think this lack of bulk really keeps the facings in place. After understitching, I stitched the sides of the facings in the ditch of the side seams and then just did a couple of tacking stitches at CF and that’s it.
After adding the fringe in the princess seams, I knew I wanted to add a fringed hem as well. The edge of the fabric came out of the wash with a whole lot of fringe. I cut off a strip of this 1″ wider than where the fringe started. I bound the top edge of this with bias tape leftover from my Designer Stitch Alyse Pants. On the inside of the dress, I drew a chalk line 1.25″ up from the raw edge and sewed down the extra strip of fringe with two rows of straight stitches. After that, I fringed both layers of fabric to where I wanted them. Zigzag stitches (and more Fray Block) at the top of the fringe holds both layers together and keeps the fringe from moving northwards. To finish it off, the bottom layer of fringe is cut 3/4″ longer than the top layer. I really like how this shows off both of the fringe colors on the front!
Contoured Reversible Belt
I made the belt reversible. It was interesting that the belt is contoured and not just a straight rectangle. It really drapes well because of this. I left off the belt loops because I’m not sure where I want the belt to sit yet.
Overall, I’m so glad I got a chance to use this really cool fabric and even more so that I found a great match for it in the Charlie Dress! I paired it with some blue suede flats and a chunky necklace which will be a good look for teaching violin for me. This gold necklace, wedges, and a little clutch I made from the scraps (plus a bit of the fabric I dyed with Daffodil Yellow DyeMore) will make this perfect for date night!