Friday, 12 June 2015

I Love Nani Iro Month: En Garden Factory Dress

My heart leapt when I received an email from Frances of Miss Matabi a few weeks ago asking if I would like to take part in her wonderful Nani Iro month of projects and gorgeous fabrics.  I couldn't write my response fast enough and within a short time, my fabric choice, En Garden Ki double gauze arrived.  It is an amazing colour, a green that matches my cutting board.  I am a big fan of green.

I didn't have an immediate idea of what I wanted to make.  I knew it would be a dress and I wanted it to be simple- avoiding zips, buttonholes or fiddly fastenings and making the most of the gorgeous print.   Sewing with double gauze reminds me a little of pastry baking: it needs minimal handling.  Not sure if it needs cold fingers too but you catch my drift.  After some dithering, I settled on the Merchant and Mills Factory Dress pattern but with some changes. The double gauze En Garden fabric definitely needed a prewash; it turned colour catcher jade green.

I sketched out my ideas in a Fashionary- a sketch book with the body 'croquis' already lightly printed on the paper.  I don't usually do this but it did help get my head around a few style variations.  I did my usual internet research to see what others had done with the dress.  Most people make it up in a neutral high quality fabric like a yarn dyed linen chambray or a light denim which looks lovely but for me it is a little like the sewing room with white walls and a single sewing machine on an empty white table- a dream that is never going to happen.  I like pattern, it lifts my spirit in the way plainer fabrics rarely can.     I find the revere collar style of the factory dress a little reminiscent of school uniform and games kit and prefer a collar with stand, so with a library copy of David Paige Coffin's wonderful tome, 'Shirt Making' I set about drafting a two coloured tower placket, a collar stand and a collar.  The benefit of using a placket is that the front piece is cut out of one piece of fabric and maintains the design.  I made a test garment first from some pretty but poor quality cotton found at a car boot sale and I was glad I did, it allowed me to make many mistakes and master the technique!

I used the Deer and Doe Bleuet collar and stand pattern pieces as a stating point and adapted the size to fit the existing neckline of the factory dress.  The front placket with point was in the book and I changed the length of the placket and kept everything else the same.   My contrasting fabric was some Oakshott cotton; the colour is discontinued but you can find similar here.  I added Perfect Fuse sheer tricot fusible interfacing to the placket, mainly to keep the edges stable on the double gauze section.  

Here are the other making stats.
  • Cut size 8 Factory Dress pattern and on reduced the bodice sides and waist by a total of 4"-an average of 1" on each side edge.   Repeated on the skirt pieces.  On the front skirt I took the inch from the centre top of the waist and kept the bottom half the same, grading the outside seam line.
  • Pattern used 2.5 metres of 110cm fabric.
  • Contrast fabric for stand up collar, part of the placket and the pockets.
  • Moved the bust dart points upwards by ¾" inch on each point.
  • Top stitched the shoulder seams and sleeve seams.
  • Changed the pocket construction so that the top of the pocket was caught in the waist seam rather than having pocket bags flapping around.  I used Christine Haynes Emery Dress pocket pieces and her construction method.
  • I added bias binding to the inside of the waist seam to neaten it up and have it smooth against the skin.  It looks a little uneven on the inside but on the outside there is a ¼" topstitching line to keep it in place.
  • The collar and stand were interfaced with prepared for dyeing bleach white Kona cotton following a suggestion in 'Shirtmaking'. The interfacing pieces is cut minus the seam allowances and glue basted to the wrong side of the collar and stand.  It is held in place temporarily by the glue and permanently by the top stitching.
  • The seams are sewn with Gutermann sew all poly thread but the top stitching was all done with Aurifil 50wt and a very small stitch.  Again a suggestion from 'Shirtmaking'.
  • I used a 75 ballpoint needle throughout.  I find ballpoint needles are brilliant for the thin threads and loose weave of double gauze. 
  • I added waist ties (pattern pieces from Darling Ranges dress pattern) placed 5" either side of the centre back as even after allowing for loose fit, the back was still baggy.  
  • I used seam tape for the hem.
As a finished garment, it is wonderfully comfortable.  Great for hot days and cooler days with a camisole underneath and maybe a hoodie.  A practical pretty dress that can take a day's sewing, a dog walk and time at the beach.  I am wearing it with this year's Saltwater sandals.  I buy a pair each year  and they are another pretty practical part of my wardrobe. The Merchant and Mills pattern is based on 1930s utilitarian factory wear for women of the time but my version has a more 1950s feel.   It reminds me of something my Grandmother used to wear.  Thank you Frances for sending such amazing material, it was an utter pleasure to sew.

Here are links to the other Nani Iro month contributors taking part this month.  If you join in and make anything from Nani Iro, or want to share pictured of your Nani Iro fabric stash, be sure to use the #ilovenaniro hashtag.

Straightgrain   ∆   noodlehead   ∆   Ute
A Little Goodness   ∆   SKIRT AS TOP   ∆   Cashmerette
Sew Little   ∆   imagine gnats   ∆   you & mie
And there is a frankly AMAZING giveaway with a big parcel of Nani Iro goodies worth $400 waiting for some extremely lucky person to win. It includes 20 metres of Nani Iro fabric, 6 rolls of bias tape, two signed books by Naomi Ito, sewing patterns and an extra surprise gift from Naomi Ito herself!   I know, my jaw dropped too.  Headover to France's blog and get your entry in, it is too good to miss!

sib blog


  1. I just love your style, Kerry! Beautiful as always. And I had the pleasure of listening to your lovely voice on the podcast this morning. I practically had a cup of tea with you! Pips xxx

  2. That is a beautiful dress and the colour suits you very well. I have been intrigued recently by the Merchant and Mills patterns and hope to buy one in the near future.

  3. I loved reading about your design process and how you adapted this pattern Kerry! Thank you for all the detail. It's a beautiful dress and your adaptations have made it 'you' and it suits you so well. Love the fabric too and the tips for sewing ( I've never had any so had better head over to the giveaway 😉 !)

  4. Gasp! Kerry this is beautiful! I love what you've done to the dress, it's a pattern that i've always dismissed for being a bit sack-like but you've made it look amazing with all the little details. And the colour looks fab on you. Have a great weekend x

  5. All those finishing touches really make it!

  6. beautiful dress, and thanks for including all the construction details

  7. I really do love your wardrobe, Kerry! What a great dress in gorgeous fabric, the fabric really lifts the simple shape, and it was well worth making a test version to ensure you got this one just as you wanted. I've just bought some Nani Iro double gauze and I'm excited to use it but thanks for the colour catcher tip, I usually do use one but have been caught out a few times when I've forgotten. Also I'm a Saltwater fan too, such a simple style in gorgeous colours.

  8. This is incredibly beautiful, Kerry. I love all the finishing touches and modifications.

  9. Oh you are so clever Kerry. This is such a beautiful dress

  10. Beautiful! And just edible fabric ; ) Adorable. Jen PS so sorry about the loss of your dear feline friend. Always hard.

  11. This is the best Factory Dress that I have seen. The dress is a simple design but your Nani Iro fabric makes it outstanding! Such beautiful and dreamy fabric. You do not look like you have stepped out of a factory!

  12. Kerry, you've done such a wonderful job with this dress! It is very much you! The fabric is gorgeous as I have used it myself for a dress as well. I am sure you will get a lot of wear out of it!

  13. I agree with Sewalign, this is the best Facory Dress I have seen. It's really useful to see all the changes you have made to it. I won't be making one myself, I never manage to finish any clothes I start making, although yours looks so good I'm almost tempted. Well done, it's really lovely!

  14. It is a lovely dress! Is seam tape used on the hem in place of folding it under a quarter inch? And is seam tape just an opened bias binding? Sorry, you are my sewing guru so this is why you get all the questions :)

  15. Hi Katy
    Yes the seam tape is sewn to the hem- single thickness, then the hem is turned and you can hand sew or machine in place sewing through the top of the tape. Seam tape is very thin and is straight grain so good for areas that don't need stretch like hems but you could use bias binding here too, seam tape has no folds so it is slightly less bulky. It is often made of rayon so it has a silky feel. I like using it because it gives a good finish inside and out. If I had had enough in this colour, I would've used it on the waist as well but I ran out so I used bias binding there. As double gauze frays easily I would have had to serge the hem before turning it and this can be a bit lumpy when pressed. I hope that helps!

  16. It's a gorgeous dress and looks smashing on you!


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