Thursday, February 19, 2015

Waistless Dresses

I've done a lot of thinking since last week about what dress styles would best suit my body shape. I decided to go through some Burda magazine archives to refine my ideas. I always use Merine's Pinterest boards for this sort of thing. She's been keeping them updated for years and has them organized by category (dresses, skirts, coats....) so I find them extremely helpful. Thanks for making this wonderful ressource available to us all, Merine!
So, I gathered some line drawings and I thought I'd share them here, in case they might be helpful to others.

I see 6 categories of dresses that don't mark the waist and that I could possibly envision myself wearing. I draw the line at dresses with lots of gathering above or below the bust: that's just too much volume for me! So keep in mind that these are my subjective choices, based on my personal taste and experience and they might not be ideal for you. I'm showing only Burda patterns here because it's easy, but I'm sure there are plenty of similar styles in other brands.
Most of these styles are pretty classic, so I think you could wear them for years!

 First, the shift dress

These dresses skim over your midsection and create a flattering uninterrupted vertical line. Burda has some excellent shift dresses, and I especially love this one, with its interesting insets and cute hip pockets:

Burda 06/2013-116
This one is all over the internet and it seems flattering on everybody, plus it has sleeves:

Burda 09/2012-109
And here's a very simple, but very smart looking version, perfect for summer (jewels optional):

Burda 04/2013-109

Second is the sack dress.

These are a roomier than shift dresses.
I made this tunic dress last spring and I wear it either belted at the hips or unbelted.


Now this is as basic as it gets, but it would be kind of perfect for summer in a pretty cotton print:

This one is slightly egg shaped and I think it has really interesting style lines.


Third is the empire dress.

These do often tend to look really youthful. This one for instance I think is gorgeous, but I wouldn't sew it for myself. On the right person though, that person being Sasha, it would look amazing ;)


I could see myself wearing this one though. I think it would be really pretty for summer in a flowy fabric:


I know this next one has a lot going on, but I've seen some simplified versions, sleeveless or shortened, that were really beautiful. Burda has lots of empire maxi dresses, but on most of them the skirt is gathered all around which isn't necessarily a very flattering look. This one has strategically placed gathers that would create a lovely drape in a fluid fabric :


Fourth is the drop waist.

I personally need a drop waist to hit at the high hip. Depending on your shape you might get away with a much lower waistline. The patterns I've selected for this section all have long sleeves for some reason, but you know you can modify them as you please.

I like this looser, fluid style. This is very "années folles":


Hmm, I'd never even noticed this one before, but it's nice and casual, and those welts on the hip line add interest. This one is really low though, but could easily be raised to high hip. This dress is from Burda Easy Fashion Magazine, and there are many different versions, short sleeved, sleeveless, with pleated or flouncy skirt, peter pan collar, patch pockets...

Burda Easy Fashion Magazine, Winter 2012-5D

I've made this next one twice and it's my favorite dress for the beach. Any shirtdress belted over the hips would give you that drop waist look.


Fifth, diagonal interest

Through clever draping or piecing, these dresses keep the eye moving on the diagonal so it won't linger on your waistline.

This particular pattern is a classic, and I've been meaning to make it since forever. Maybe next winter!


This next one is pretty bodycon, but in a substantial enough fabric, it could do wonders for your figure, especially with the colorblocking shown in version B:


This one has a strategically placed draped overlay and calls for a stretch woven, so it should be more forgiving than many knit wrap styles:


Finally, the faker

These dresses have clever style lines which, through optical illusion, might effectively fake a waist.

This one is gorgeous, and it has pockets!


This one would not only make your waist appear slimmer, but also add curves to your hips, if you need them:

And this one may seem unexciting compared to the previous two, but its geometry is perfectly balanced. The waist seams on the sides are broken up by vertical lines so the effect is slimming.  I've seen some gorgeous versions on the Russian Burda website's user forum.


Will I make any of these for spring? I haven't made up my mind for sure yet. The purpose of this little project was to consider some possibilities, and that's just what I'm doing at this point: considering. Many of these styles are a lot more structured than what I'm used to wearing but I think it might be fun to try something different. I really do like that first shift dress!

how about you? Do any of these styles catch your fancy?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Faux Suede Wrap Dress

This project began with a fabric. I had this stretchy faux suede, really lovely,  velvety, and with a lot of drape, and It seemed a natural for a wrap dress. I did consider making a shirtdress, because I love shirtdresses, and because : Halston...

But my fabric was very different from his. 70s faux suede was much stiffer and with no stretch, and I just didn't think it would work. I did use a 70s pattern for my wrap dress though, this Edith Head for Vogue number:

I love 70s styles and I think pattern enveloppes were often really beautiful at the time. Since I have collected a few, and have been meaning to sew more from them, I've decided to join the Vintage Pattern Pledge over at A Stitching Odyssey. I won't promise to sew a predetermined number of vintage patterns, because it seems too arbitrary. I don't like to plan too much with my sewing and would rather just go with the flow. But taking the pledge will help keep on my mind that sewing these beauties up is better than just keeping them in a drawer, untouched. So here goes...

I pledge to sew some of my favorite vintage patterns this year, specifically patterns from the 70s.

So, back to my dress. The cool thing about this fabric is you can leave the edges raw. No need to finish the seam allowances and instead of turning the hem up, I cut it with a rotary cutter... veeery carefully. And I think now that the best way to explore the qualities of this fabric would be in a style with all raw edges and no darts. Because of its softness, it really isn't great for sewing neat darts. Mine all have dimples at the end, as you can see here. Plus this fabric doesn't like the iron, so it is better to keep the seams to a minimum. I do hope to find more of this fabric and I think I will make something very different with it next time!

So, going forward toward spring, I'm sewing a mid-season coat right now, and I know I'll need to sew some more dresses. I'm thinking a lot about finding the best styles for my shape, because in all honesty, no matter how alluring wrap styles can be, a thick belt around my waist is not the most flattering option for me. Instead, I think I ought to focus on either empire styles like this one I made last year, Green Twist Dress, or dresses that belt at the hips rather than the waist. It's hard because the vast majority of pretty dress patterns on the market seem to have a defined waist.
If you're in the same predicament, I'd love to hear which dress styles you're happiest with and if you've found great patterns to sew them with!