Sunday, 17 July 2011

Making a Miz Mozelle dress


You might remember that a few weeks ago I spotted the Miz Mozelle dress pattern by Jamie Christina and wrote about how I'd fallen in love with it. I never normally buy anything on impulse but I have to admit that I ended up purchasing the pattern almost as soon as I'd written that blog post as pondering on it was stopping me from concentrating on other things. I finally got round to making it last week. I used a beautiful stretch silk satin by Liberty sent by Rachel of the very lovely Ray-Stitch and it's the most dreamy fabric.


I had initially been apprehensive about working with a silk stretch satin and wondered whether the combination of it being both stretchy and silky might end with my tears and the fabric's ruin, so it came as a relief when neither of these things turned out to be an issue. While the fabric has a lovely amount of stretch in it when you pull it taut, it doesn't behave like a stretch fabric at any other time, meaning that it's more stable to sew with than a regular jersey. In terms of slipperiness, again, while it is buttery smooth and causes small children to stroke it (my children took the photos used in this post...there was some stroking in between photos), when the fabric is being sewn face-to-face it doesn't flibbet around like a slippery eel as I'd expected it to...it just stayed exactly where I'd pinned it. So ultimately, it didn't feel so different from working with cotton, save for the fact that my heart felt like it was in my throat for most of the time that I was sewing because it was such beautiful fabric.


I'm not sure I've ever used a pattern that fits so well with so little adjustment and it seems as though it may be one of those rare and lovely patterns that would fit well on just about anyone, principally because the waist is cinched in beneath the belt by a cased elastic, which means that you can fit the dress perfectly to your figure. The waist gives shape, but the rest of the dress is drapey, so I can imagine it flattering a multitude of bust sizes, from paltry to ample.

Before I use a pattern I normally have a quick look around on the internet for fitting issues that might have cropped up, but I couldn't actually find a finished Miz Mozelle dress aside from the utterly gorgeous official pattern photographs, as it's a relatively new pattern, so, in the hope that it might be useful to others, here's my in depth analysis. It's mainly detailing changes that I made, but please don't take that to mean it was a flawed or troublesome pattern - it was quite the opposite and incredibly easy to follow:


I made a toile of this dress before cutting into the Liberty fabric and I'm so pleased that I did. At 5ft1", the keyhole neck opening came further down my body than intended and revealed the bra beneath, so when I made it a second time here, I reduced the size of the keyhole substantially - I don't think this would be an issue for anyone of normal stature, but it's worth noting if you're petite.

The other thing that I discovered when I made the toile was that, for me, it was preferable to make the dress up in a different order to the pattern instructions. You're told to bind the sleeves before attaching them to the dress and sewing up the side seams, however, this way leaves a raw seam intercepting the edge of the sleeve binding, something which would make me want to walk around with my arms glued to my sides to try and hide it. For this reason, I left binding the sleeves until the end, so that the side and arm seam is safely tucked away inside the binding. I used a satin shop-bought binding - I think I've only ever used a ready-made binding twice before as I normally prefer to make my own, but in this instance it was preferable as it was a little crisper and so I found it easy to work with.


The other issue that I had is that because of the keyhole opening, a traditional facing can't be used when attaching the collar, however, the option that is instructed means that the collar binding is under-stitched and while most of this stitching is well hidden by the collar, about half an inch to either side of the keyhole would be visible (or at least it would have been on my two versions - but perhaps I'm doing something wrong - that's always a distinct possibility!). When I made this second version, I installed the collar first, rather than toward the end of construction. It meant that I could sew up to the point where the collar hid the stitches and then I could trap the loose end of the inside neck binding within the keyhole binding, leaving the visible bit to either side of the keyhole unsewn.

My only other tip would be to serge or finish the edges of the bodice and skirt before you join them - you'll be sewing them in such a way that the raw edges are folded upwards to make a casing for the elastic. If you haven't finished them first, you'll be left with raw edges inside the dress that could fray when washed.


Finally, sizing. Like most people, I rarely fit neatly into any of the sizes detailed on the chart. My bust measurement was smaller than any of those on offer, while my waist and hip measurements spanned across two sizes (this may be the result of a whole carob mountain accumulating on my hips, my current choice of treat). However, knowing that shop-bought patterns usually run large on me, I decided to live dangerously and made the whole dress in the smallest size and happily it feels like a really good fit - I certainly wouldn't want it any bigger. Again, that's one of the wonderful things about this pattern - it's very forgiving as the fitting is all in the elasticated waist hidden beneath the belt.


Overall, it felt like an incredibly easy and stress-free pattern to sew together - the instructions are clear with lots of diagrams and the details such as the collar, the keyhole, the shape of the sleeve, all completely delight me. I think it may be one of those patterns that I keep coming back to: I'd like to make one in every colour and in every kind of fabric. I may require a separate wardrobe to hold them all. My family may come to think of the Miz Mozelle dress as my uniform and hanker after the days when I alternated between skirts and jeans. This version was made with summer weddings in mind.

What's your favourite dress pattern? The one that the moment you've made it up, you want to make all over again - I'd love to know.

Florence x

Addendum: Sorry, I forgot to say earlier, but the pattern was purchased from lovely Alice of Backstitch. You can find it here.

27 comments:

  1. Florence, this is such a beautiful dress. I am in awe of your dress-making skills. Em xx

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  2. That is so darling! I bought this pattern as soon as I saw it as well, but I haven't made it yet. (It's winter here in Australia so not too practical right now, anyway.) Thanks for your tips on the making process, especially the keyhole size. It looks like this dress would look lovely in any kind of soft, drapey fabric, whether stretchy or not. I'm sure you will get a million compliments whenever you wear this!

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  3. It's really lovely! You did a fantastic job on it.

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  4. It's so fabulous and it looks gorgeous on you!!! I may have to try it out! :)

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  5. That is one of the prettiest dress patterns I've seen in a long time and your fabric choice for it is perfection. Beautiful!

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  6. Florence, your dress is stunning! I love your fabric choice and I'd like to make a floral print dress for myself now that I've seen yours. I really appreciate your tips on the pattern. I will have to link to this post, as I'm sure others would benefit from your tips.

    You would make a great pattern tester for me???? =)

    ~ Jamie Christina

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  7. This is so lovely, I've been a lurker for quite a while now. Your blog is just amazing.

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  8. This is so lovely!
    Beautiful job!

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  9. Just beautiful and very flattering too.

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  10. That is such a stylish dress, the neckline particularly and the keyhole detail are especially good!

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  11. What a lovely dress and it looks gorgeous on you!

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  12. Wonderful Wonderful Wonderful! This is such a beautiful dress Florence, well done!

    Alice x

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  13. I have to say that when I saw that pattern in the previous post I thought it was really horrible - a lumpy clunky sort of dress with very little in the way of flattering elegance or style. However, you have totally transformed it. It suits your delicate proportions perfectly and looks the epitome of elegance. It is just beautiful and really suits you. The fabric chosen is complementary and drapes beautifully. Perhaps you visualised this when you saw the original pattern? Perhaps I didn't like it because I knew it wouldn't suit me. I actually don't think it would suit many people. Conversely I think it would suit a Holly Willoughby type too but in- between body shapes would look like a sack of potatoes in it. Anyway a good job; the nicest thing you have made for yourself - apart from your A line skirt. You will have many admirers of this dress but they will not look so good in it as you do!

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  14. Gorgeous!
    You have made me fall in love with this dress too. It is just beautiful.

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  15. Wow! I'm fairly sure this dress wouldn't suit me, but your pictures are tempting me to try it anyway. Excellent pattern-tweaking advice too. I think whenever you post a super-clever and lovely bit of sewing like this, you should include a link to your Flickr photo of the first zipped purse. I came across that the other day and was so heartened to see that you once sewed a wonky line - there's hope for us all! Btw, I am emailing you about something I've made...

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  16. Nicely done and it looks so good on you.

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  17. It's beautiful Florence and you've really put your own elegant stamp on it. It's just gorgeous. x

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  18. What a beautiful dress,you inspire me no end. Just like Jane i have just bought this pattern from Backstitch - who i have to say are lovey and helpful. I have just the right fabric to make it with so i might be brave enough and post you a picture when it is done. x

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  19. Thank you, Em!

    Jane, you're right - as long as it's drapey then I think a regular cotton would be fine too - I'd like to make one in voile to test this theory!

    Jamie - thank you so much! And I would, of course, love to pattern test for you.

    Aubrey - hello, so pleased you de-lurked!

    Alice - thank you - I forgot to put a link in to the pattern in the actual post - I'll put one in in a moment, although I think there's one in the original post that link to.

    Anonymous - gosh, those are the last words I would have used to describe the original images - I'm still dreaming of standing in a field wearing a yellow version! I didn't know who Holly Willoughby was, but I've now googled her, and agree that she should definitely have a Miz Mozelle in her wardrobe too!

    Nina, I practically spat my tea out reading your comment and then recovered quickly to go and look at that first zip - do you know I think I was so pleased with it at the time that I'm not sure I even noticed it was wonky...but now, as you probably guessed I would, I feel slightly unwell looking at it, but am resisting the urge to delete the evidence!

    Mary, please do post me a picture when you finish - I love seeing the same garment made up in different ways and it will no doubt provide inspiration for me too.

    To those I haven't replied individually above to, thank you so much for your very kind comments - I really appreciate them.

    Florence x

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  20. Oh, that is a beautiful dress, I love the fact you have toile'd it first - so considered.
    I love your bobbin rack - did you make it and can we have a tutorial please?
    Sarah @ CoolCrafting

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  22. This dress is so sweet. I love it! If only I could sew!!! ~Val

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  23. Florence, so sorry to have caused near-tea-spitting! You really mustn't delete the evidence - it was genuinely encouraging to see! Similar to UK Lass admitting that she has days when her sewing machine chews everything up (I had one of those yesterday). Also, you should keep the evidence for yourself to see how astonishingly far you've come in a very short time!

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  24. Beautifully done! The pattern sounds like a nice balance of structure/crispness and comfort (love the idea of the hidden elastic waist). I really appreciate you providing this review & tips geared to petites.

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  25. FANTASTIC! Absolutely beautiful, Florence, what a gorgeous dress. I was hoping to see yours first, and it's perfect! My Miz Mozelle is on my mannequin at the moment, all finished apart from the hem. I've made mine in a cotton fabric, and it's worked really well I think. Though your stretchy fabric does look fabulous, so if I make this again, I think I might try a stretchy fabric. I was wondering, did you use a slight zigzag stitch, or just a walking foot to sew yours up? I was also wondering about a flickr group? It would be good to set one up for this dress don't you think? I reduced the keyhole on my dress too, substantially, but with my next dress I'd reduce it even more. I would love to sew with some Liberty fabric, it would be a dream to work with. I imagine this dress could be quite nice in the Liberty Tana Lawn cotton too. I followed you, and did the binding on the sleeves at the end, which was an excellent suggestion, thank you for that. I'm going to have to read your explanation of the collar, and the way you made it, slowly, then I'll make sense of it. Thank you Florence, I enjoyed this post enormously! Vanessa xxx

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  26. I have been coveting your gorgeous dress in my flickr favourites for a while now…so i just went onto Backstitch and instead of just ordering this one I ordered about 6 patterns! Too much goodness over there to choose just one! Thanks so much for your inspiration!

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  27. I am just about to make this exact dress and was so happy to see your suggestions for altering the keyhole. I, too, am 5'1", so I'll likely need to make the same change. By the way, I came here via your post on 6/7 (today) regarding fabric choices for this dress--I'll be making mine from this rayon challis, which has a nice drape, and is not too thin (http://www.hartsfabric.com/monet-dot-print-rayon-challis-jade-70815.html), but I have also used the Anna Maria Horner rayon recently: http://www.nicoleathome.com/2013/06/sundress-struggles.html. The fabric is lovely for the final product, but obviously more difficult to work with. French seams are a must--it frays!

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Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x