I am honored to be the next stop in the Cotton + Steel Frock Fabric Blog Tour! If you haven't already seen some of the other stops on the tour, let me be the one to introduce you to the newest collection by the genius ladies of Cotton + Steel: Frock!
Frock is a group of eight rayon fabrics, with delightfully fun prints that are scaled with garment construction in mind. I love that fabric companies are seeing the importance in garment-friendly substrates! Yes, we do want to make quilts and all kinds of things with quilt weight cotton, but we also want to wear your prints on our bodies! Isn't that the ultimate compliment? So as someone who predominately sews garments, I am thrilled that the powers that be are allowing their designers to release their prints in wearable fabrics like rayon, knit, double gauze, lawn, and voile.
Rayon is hands-down one of my favorite fabrics to work with. It is silky and soft and has an amazing drape, but it is much easier to sew with and care for than similar fabrics, like silk. Many people think that rayon is a man-made fiber in line with polyester, but that's actually not true. Rayon's base fiber is cellulose from tree pulp. Much like cotton is from a plant, or silk is from a worm, rayon's source material originates from wood. Because rayon comes from a plant, it's a little more eco friendly than silk, has a better breathability than polyester, and is also an animal-free fabric.
When the ladies of Cotton + Steel asked if I wanted to be part of this blog tour, of course I said yes without any hesitation, because I love what they do and truth be told, I had already seen the fantastic prints and was excited to whip up something for myself. But I can honestly say that the quality of this rayon exceeded even my own high expectations. This is without doubt some of the nicest rayon I've ever used–it has a heavy and weighty hand, but retains a fluid and swishy drape. It's the kind of fabric you want to twirl in! It's not thin and flimsy; it flows and billows around the body beautifully.
Though all the prints are divine, I knew I wanted to make a dress from the beautiful Pixel Print in the beige, white, red, and blue Bowling Pin colorway. Melody Miller, who designed this print, told me a while back that I was partly responsible for inspiring the colors she chose. So it just had to be, right?
After getting the fabric, I tossed it into the washing machine on cold and dried it on high heat. This isn't the recommended care for this fabric, but this is the way I've always pre-treated my rayon prints in the past, and I wanted to shrink it before sewing with it, so into the washer and dryer it went. I'm happy to report that it came out softer than ever! If you're not feeling as brazen as I, you can also dry clean your rayon, but I am a "wash on cold and hang-dry my dresses" kinda girl, so just know that this can be done.
Once my fabric was washed and ready to go, then came the tough task of deciding what to make. I debated this for a long time, trying to figure out if I should go for something new or something tried and true. After I had decided on making something else, Pauline Alice released her new pattern, the Eliana Dress, and I knew it was exactly what I was waiting for. This style of dress is perfect for showing off the gorgeous drape of the rayon.
Throwing all caution (and my own staunch advice) to the wind, I did not make a muslin and instead made some educated guesses on what pattern changes I'd need to make for this pattern to suit my body type. Here were my pattern changes and sewing details:
- Subtracted 2" from the length of the top
- Added 2" to the length of the skirt
- Subtracted 3 1/2" from the length of the sleeves
- Changed the bound sleeve hem to an elastic casing
- Fully lined the skirt
- Sewed the entire dress with French seams
Because this colorway of the rayon is rather sheer, I decided to line the skirt portion of the dress. To do this, I simply made a second skirt front and skirt back, and sewed them at the side seams. I joined this lining skirt to the main skirt when sewing along the waist seams and treated it as one unit along with the outer layer of the skirt. I then hemmed it with a slightly larger hem to keep it above the outer layer and hide on the inside of the skirt. Because the rayon is so lightweight, I used a cotton voile in beige that provides a visual barrier, while retaining the lightness and drape to the rayon.
I also sewed the entire dress with French seams, since I didn't want the stitching to show through the sheerness of the rayon. I have actually never sewn French seams on an in-seam pocket before, and found this tutorial by my pal Deborah Moebes on Sew Mama Sew. Except for the seam allowance amounts, I followed it and I am happy to report that it turned out beautifully!
Another change I made from the pattern instructions is I changed the sleeve hem from a gathered and bias-bound hem to a casing with 1/4" elastic. I love this kind of billowy sleeve, but I typically like to hold it in place, whether at my wrist or pushed up closer to my elbow, and the elastic allows me to move the sleeve and keep it there, wherever that spot might be. If the elastic wasn't in the hem, the sleeve would most always be all the way down, which is fine, but I know myself and I like to push them up sometimes, so the elastic allows me to do that.
I followed the rest of the pattern as written, and though it isn't a terribly hard pattern, it is a little fussy and the instructions are a little sparse, so I would suggest it for an advanced beginner, only because this dress is best suited for a slinky fabric and that makes a few of the steps a little challenging. The pattern went together like a dream and I'm so happy I picked it to feature the Cotton + Steel rayon. It really shows the lovely drape of the fabric. I will without question be making more Eliana dresses!
To pick up your own Frock fabric, find out which stores near you carry Cotton + Steel at their retailers page. This lovely collection is released in February and I for one am positively going to get more! It is the ultimate!
To see all the other garments being made up in the new Frock collection, check out the past and upcoming posts at these fine blogs:
January 28 - Jaime of Fancy Tiger Crafts
January 29 - Deborah Moebes of Whipstitch
January 30 - Amber of Fancy Tiger Crafts
January 31 - Rochelle New of Lucky Lucille
February 2 - me!
February 3 - Devon Iott of Miss Make
February 4 - Jemellia Hilfiger of JemJam
February 5 - Anna Graham of Noodlehead
February 6 - Oliver + S
February 7 - Rae Hoekstra of Made by Rae
Thanks to the lovely Cotton + Steel ladies for including me in this blog tour! I hope you all loved seeing a peek into this great collection!