When Closet Core Patterns released the Cielo Dress, with its hidden pockets set into the front waist seamline, I was thrilled. I’d been wanting to make a dress using this pocket construction for some time, and it’s a lot faster to buy a pattern than to draft it yourself, right? We even had the perfect fabric in the shop: All Sorts of Stripes handwoven cotton would transform the Cielo into a joyous exercise in stripe-blocking (if that is a thing)! I never had a chance to make it before the fabric sold out, but I saved the last fabric remnant for myself.
Now the fabric is back in stock, and to celebrate, I've finally made the dress! (Please note that this was made with last year’s batch of fabric; in the new version the light blue stripe is a slightly different color than what you see here.)
For me, planning a garment is half the fun of sewing. In this case, how best to place the stripes? After making a quick sketch of some options, I decided to turn the upper front of the dress so the stripes would be horizontal. All other pieces are cut in the usual way with the stripes running vertically, i.e. with the grain of the cloth.
This was an incredibly quick and simple project and the dress has a great fit even though I made no fitting adjustments. The only significant change I made to the pattern was to eliminate the back shoulder seam details. (With all these stripes, the dress didn’t need anything else going on.) To do this, just overlap the shoulder piece onto the dress back along the seamline, align the edges, and tape in place. I also eliminated the cuffs, shortened the sleeves by about an inch and added six inches at the hem to make the dress knee length.
On a lightweight or delicate fabric, fusible stay tape can provide some additional support for an area that might be subject to stress. I fused a piece of tape along the entire front pocket seamline, inside both the upper and lower dress pieces, in order to reinforce that foldline/seamline. It's easy to keep the stitching straight when you're following a stripe!
French seams on the side seams of the dress create a clean finish, as does a bias binding along the curved bottom of the pockets, as shown in this inside view:
Handloom fabrics are very soft and can easily stretch out of shape during the sewing process, but as mentioned above, a strip of stay tape can help control this. I fused some tape inside the entire neckline before stay-stitching. You can see it in the photo below before the neckline binding is finished.
This fabric is slightly translucent so bound edges were a better choice than facings, which might show through the garment. I used a double bias binding (or "French" binding) on the neckline and sleeves, rather than the single-layer binding suggested in the pattern, because double bias provides a little more structure.
At the shoulder I used a flat fell seam, wrapping one untrimmed seam allowance around the other to enclose the raw edges, then stitching from the outside 1/4 inch away, as shown at left in the photo above. Again, this adds just a little more strength to the area which supports the full weight of the garment. Below, the bound neckline and sleeve hem, finished by topstitching 1/4 inch from the edge:
A small piece of fabric left over after cutting out the dress was just enough for a soft bias-cut belt. Adding a belt really changes the style of the dress. Because the fabric is light in weight and color, I wear a slip under the dress, but an underlayer shouldn’t be necessary for a top.
Despite its simple shape, this is a dress pattern with loads of potential which can be transformed by the fabric choice. In the case of this particular fabric, a little extra yardage would provide a lot more possibilities — you could piece the fabric to place the stripes in any configuration on the garment. Because I was using a small remnant I didn’t get to do that, but I still love how it turned out! Doesn't it have a fabulous geometric look, like something out of a 1920s fashion plate?
Now for some socially-distanced socializing so I can wear it…
See a fabulous jacket made with this fabric here.