I'm done pouting about my maxi dress now, so here's some photos!
We took these as the sun was going down, so the color is a little intense! Thanks hubby for snapping these. I don't know if this dress will put me on the cover of Burdastyle, but I'm very happy with the outcome anyway. It's made of rayon challis (I think) that I got off eBay. I'm not a big fan of jersey for dresses, so I thought rayon would be a good substitute. I really like the way it drapes. I think it's perfect for this pattern. But it was difficult to work with. It has a sort of flexibility that made cutting the pattern pieces difficult. It's not slippery per se, but it will shift and still lay flat, even though the grain isn't lined up. I think a large cutting table would make working with this fabric much easier. I don't have one, and I had to move my cutting mat and fabric halfway through cutting the pattern pieces (these pattern pieces are looong). As a result, things were often not lined up perfectly and sometimes I wouldn't notice. One of the long facing pieces ended up a good inch narrower than the others because of this. By that point in the process I was too lazy to recut it, which is silly, because it gave me a lot of grief when I went to sew the facings/bands onto the dress. Oh well. Another sewing lesson learned.
I like this pattern. There aren't many pieces to cut, the directions are simple, there's no zippers or other closures, and it probably would fit a wide variety of body types without need for special adjustments. I have very wide hips relative to my bust and waist size, but with the loose cut it didn't matter. I used the size that fit my bust. One thing I did take issue with were the instructions for attaching the facings/bands/whatever you want to call ems. The instructions have you sew the bands right sides together and turn it inside out to create a tube. The next step reads,
"Starting at left front, lap and edge-stitch lower edge of band to line of stitching at neck edge, having right sides up, matching centers and shoulder seams, continuing to stitch lower edge of right band to left band as illustrated."
I suppose this would work, but you would end up with an unfinished edge around the neckline. It would be hidden behind the band, but still, I would know it was there. Also, what's to keep the band from folding back and showing that edge? If the band is only sewn on at the bottom edge, couldn't it potentially flop over? I thought so, so I invented a different (but not necessarily better) way. I sewed the tube like the directions instructed, but I left one side open just for the length where it connected to the neckline. Then I treated the band like a bias binding, following Tasia's method described here: bias binding for Pendrell blouse (you have to scroll down a little). This worked okay, but it got a little messy where the band criss crosses in front. I kinda just had to poke and prod it and make it work. I really can't explain it better than that. I top-stitched the band down along its top edge, and then I did a catch stitch from the inside to hold the bottom edge of the band down against the dress. The outcome looks just fine. I don't think anyone would notice that it's a little funky in the construction. But I think there must be a better way. In retrospect, I think the best solution would be to put a bias tape binding along the raw edge of the neckline and then follow the original instructions for attaching the band. That would probably give a nice, neat finish.
I thought I would attempt to match my fabric's pattern for this dress, but I gave up on that pretty quickly. With the shifty-ness of the rayon, it was too difficult to get a real match. So I compromised by being discerning about the placement of the pieces, but not militant. For example, I didn't want the big purple flower on the front to get cut off by the center front seam, and I didn't want to end up with mirror images of the print on either side of the front. With just a little thought, I got the pattern to look random, and I think the front center seam is barely noticeable. I also avoided having two big flowers smack dab over the chest area (that would look awkward). I was really pleased with the result, and I think doing these little adjustments is a nice compromise when matching the pattern exactly is just too difficult.
One thing (besides the bands) that I realllly struggled with was hemming. With the dress so long, I just couldn't find a practical way to do it on my own. It also didn't help that I cut the pattern pieces uneven on the bottom. It's a bad habit that I persist in doing. I assume I'll want the dress a little longer than the pattern, but I don't bother to measure and do it neatly, so I just hack it off at a safe length and then have a terrible time trying to even it out later. I think this especially is difficult with a maxi dress or any other garment that is so long. Does anyone out there have a tried and true method?