There were all these ideas in my head for hacking the Fibre Mood Lucille Dress when I first saw the sewing pattern. The most grandiose one was adding godets to the skirt between the skirt panels in a contrasting fabric. However, when I went fabric shopping for the dress, I couldn’t find the fabrics that would go with this idea. Also, I worked out that the dress would probably need about 8 metres of fabric in order to add on godets. That was a lot of fabric to buy, and it felt overwhelming at that point in time. In the end, I spied a striped pink and black fabric, and decided to scrap the godet idea, and just sew the dress according to the pattern as is, without any hacks. The play on the stripes would be the feature of the dress. And it would also have the added advantage of saving lots of time since I wouldn’t have to hack it … NOT!
The fabric that I chose has a lovely heavy drape and fantastic movement. But it also meant that it was incredibly difficult to work with while cutting and sewing. The exact fabric content is unknown since I bought it at this store which sells deadstock fabrics from Italy. My suspicion is that it’s some evil combination of polyester and viscose, in some kind of shiny smooth satin weave. Evil because it was close to impossible to manage and control. It moves and slithers even when I am not looking at it. It is as slippery as a snake. In addition it snags very easily and frays so much that after cutting the fabric pieces, my floor was carpeted with its shedding.
Needless to say, it was time-consuming cutting this to make sure the pattern pieces are cut on the grain, because the grain of the fabric would shift endlessly. The tissue paper technique didn’t work. I had to use silk pins to prevent snagging, and I had to increase the seam allowance of all the pattern pieces from 1cm to 1.5cm for better control, and to give the fraying some room to do its thing. Even before cutting the fabric, I traced out the paper pattern on translucent paper so that I can line up the stripes of the fabric with the grainline properly. All in all, the cutting process took about 3 days because of this problematic fabric choice. The sewing took longer as well because I hand-basted every seam before bringing it to the machine. Pins were not enough to keep the stitching line together. And while I was sewing it up, I was filled with doubts that the result would be underwhelming. Even though it’s a medium weight fabric, it has a heavy drape, and I was afraid some of the seams cut on the bias would be stretched out of proportion when sewn up together.
As you can see from the pictures, even though this fabric almost killed me, the story has a happy ending. And it definitely made me stronger. The only way to deal with this fabric was to be patient, and I didn’t know I had enough of it to help me get through it. Now I know. I used countless silk pins to keep the stripes of the fabric lined up with the grainline. And I took many breaks in between to break up the monotony of the task. Now, when I look at this dress, I see my patience reflected back at me, and that’s one of the inexplicable joys of being a crafter.
The Lucille Dress sewing pattern is not difficult to sew at all, but there are some suggestions to improve the sewing process. First, some of the edges need stabilisation:
1) The closure is an invisible zipper in the centre back of the dress, and the edges where the zipper is going to be installed need to be strengthened with fusible interfacing or sew-on interfacing. This means that the seam allowances in the centre back of the bodice and the skirt need this stabilisation.
2) The front neckline is cut on the bias, and I stabilised this edge as well with a strip of knit interfacing.
When sewing the front bodices to the front skirt, machine baste them together first, and check out if you like how wide or narrow the cut-out should be. Do a fitting when the side seams of the dress are sewn up, and check if the size of the cut-out looks good to you before sewing it down for real.
I sewed a UK size 6 of the Lucille Dress with no modifications to the pattern at all. Here are some things to take note of the pattern before sewing it up. The waist measurement has negative ease to make sure that it hugs the waist where the front cut-out is. The front bodice and the long waist strap is one single pattern. This means that the pattern piece is very wide, and depending on your size, you may not be able to cut it on the grainline. Or your fabric may not be wide enough to accommodate the width of the pattern piece. There is a possibility that you might have to cut your pattern piece with the grainline parallel to the weft instead of the warp. In other words the front bodice may have to be cut perpendicular, and not parallel to the selvage. This may be a consideration when choosing your fabric especially when it has a print, or pattern that only works when cut parallel to the grainline.
This turned out to be a very pretty design, and for someone that is flat-chested like me, it works. The neckline is very low, and together with the cut-out, it may be too revealing for some. There is the option to add a snap to close up the neckline, but I think this is a little challenging to pull off because of the wrap detail. I don’t own the right bra, or sticky silicone breast things to help support my breasts while wearing the dress, so I go braless with this dress. This may not be an option at all for other sewers, and if so, this sewing pattern may not be the one for you.
I love the grown-on sleeves that are reminiscent of kimono sleeves, and the flow of the skirt which is created by 7 panels. These two details are the best bits that I like about the Lucille Dress. There’s an option to gather up the hem of the sleeves with elastic, but that is less appealing to me. There are also 2 ways to tie the straps. The first option is to leave the straps long in the front, like so:
And there’s the option to wrap the ties around the body to be tied in the back.
Both options are very cute. The first one will conceal the cut-out somewhat, and that may be helpful after eating a big holiday dinner.
I’ve seen other versions of this dress sewn up in more user-friendly fabrics, like linen and cotton, and they all look delectable. Even though my fabric choice gave me a lot of grief, this dress turned out to be a great party dress with its shine, flow, and movement. Of course, this pattern can be found in the new edition of the Fibre Mood magazine that was launched yesterday. It’s a Special No. 1 issue with a collaboration with the Fashion Museum in Antwerp. So get your copy here for other fantastic patterns. Happy holidays, Happy sewing!