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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Hitchcock's Birds: a dress I was nearly too scared to sew

Do you know when you come across a bolt of material and time just seems to stop? Kind of like in The Matrix, when the agents shoot at Neo and they do that cool camera trick with the bullets. 

That's what happened when I came across this Italian Roberto Cavalli 100% silk, Hitchcock's Birds, at Tessutis.


In slow motion I picked up the bolt, carried it to the counter and bought as much as I could afford without any particular sewing project in mind. I didn't see The Matrix appear before my eyes, but about a month later I got a credit card statement and saw stars.

For a long time the material sat in its brown paper Tessutis bag because I was too afraid to do anything with it. This wasn't the sort of material that I could use to just 'have a go' at a pattern, or make daft mistakes with (eg the Dress Made out of Sentences).



After about six months of this sewing inertia I gave myself a pep talk. Thinking back to the material's namesake, I looked for classic 1960s dresses and came across Butterick 6582 - a simple and elegant crossover fitted dress with gathered shoulders and double darts front and back:



Can't you just imagine Tippi Hedren wearing this? I chose View B because the bows on View A were a wee bit twee for my liking, and I wanted the silk to be the focus of the dress. I loved View C but didn't have enough material for the skirt unfortunately (one of the pitfalls of buying material without having a design in mind!).



Fabric

Have you worked with silk before?  It's gorgeous, yummy, lovely and all those synonyms - but boy oh boy is it hard to control. I was so ashamed of my cutting, it looked like Ralph Wiggum had gotten to the material with safety scissors. Next time I use silk I will cut it out with stabilising fabric or paper.  

The dress is also fully lined. I ummed and ahhed about the lining for a while because I would have preferred to be able to feel the silk while I was wearing the dress. However that was impractical because it is quite see-through!


One of the other reasons I chose this pattern was because I wanted to be able to showcase the graduation in the birds on the material, so the front left shoulder is cut from fabric further towards the bottom of the pattern to provide contrast.



















Modifications

I cut this as a 10 which was necessary to fit in my coathanger shoulders, but redrew the waist seams from the underarm as it was too baggy.  The pattern says the dresses are meant to be semi-fitted but for this material I preferred it to be more on the fitted side.  

Finishing

The side seams are finished as French seams of course. Material of this calibre deserved nothing less.



The back has an invisible zip and a vent which I sewed partly with the machine and partly by hand.  The hem was done by hand.




I know pride is one of the seven deadly sins...but I just love this one. Alfred Hitchcock would surely be proud that his horror movie has been a source of such sewing inspiration.




11 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness that is a SERIOUSLY gorgeous print!! I've never seen anything like. ...Wow. What an amazing dress.

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    1. :) maybe if we petition Roberto Cavalli they'll remake it??

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  2. This is the dress I remembered you from on Flickr! Such a stand out number, I hate to think what the fabric cost but well well worth it. This is the kind of dress that stops a room.

    I am often wary of twee-ness with vintage patterns, for me I have to add a little contemporary to sit alongside the vintage this fabric being a perfect example. Hats off to you, well done!

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  3. Whoa! This is absolute perfection! The fabric is beyond stunning, and I absolutely MUST find that pattern. I've always been a Hitchock fan so I'm getting all kinds of sentimental over this dress. I just found your blog from sewamysew's Liebster post. Congratulations on your award!

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    1. Thank you! Amy is doing such a good job of shining goodness and light around the sewing blog community isn't she :)

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  4. Wonderful! The fabric, the print are stunning! And I am glad I could have seen this dress ready... I have this patterns and fabric ready to sew for few year now...

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    1. What sort of material have you chosen? I would love to see it!

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  5. Wow, your dress and fabric are quite the sassy number. Well done, I hope you wear it often!

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    1. Thanks Kat! I do need to find an event at which I can wear it...who wants to take me on a date somewhere nice?!?!

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  6. Wow, that fabric is stunning and you've certainly done it justice! Gorgeous! Love the contrast shoulder.

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