Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cynthia Rowley dress in copper brocade & black wool

When I first laid eyes on this brocade at Mood, I thought it was very striking but had no idea what to do with it. I didn't want an entire dress made from it because that would be too fancy for my lifestyle. While perusing some design magazines on vacation, I ran across a dress with a bunch of folds around the neckline that I wanted to copy, but then couldn't find the right pattern in my stash. Enter this Simplicity Cynthia Rowley pattern. It had the fitted bodice that I find most flattering on my small bust, and the cut up design I wanted to show off the metallic bits of the fabric.


I made a muslin of the bodice only as I planned to make the full skirt from the pattern and never muslin full skirts. I only had to make a few tweaks to the pattern to get a good fit. (This design is definitely for the small busted!) The pieces were carefully cut out from a single layer of fabric and I tried to balance the colors all the way around. I used a black wool crepe for the flat piping and skirt.


Sometimes I do not cut out all the fabric for a garment I'm working on in a single session. I do this because if the outer fabric turns into a wadder, at least I can save my lining. Also, cutting out is tiresome. For this dress, I cut the black wool in strips for the flat piping but did not cut it for the skirt right away. However, after I'd finished the bodice I found that I did not have enough black to do the full skirt that I wanted. Oh, did I mention I began this project in January? I set it aside in order to get more of the black with next month's Mood money, and scrambled to make the lace dress previously posted.


When another yard of the black wool showed up on my doorstep this month, I quickly cut out the full skirt and stitched it up. Remember when I wrote I never muslin full skirts? Not such a good idea this time around. It's unique but peculiar shape (see pattern picture below) looked lumpy and bumpy. SO, I ripped off that skirt, threw it in the trash, and cut a straight skirt from my TNT (that's tried-and-true) straight skirt pattern, McCall's 3830. For a little interest at the hemline I included small slits. This wool crepe is a little stretchy, so I added 1/2 inch to the center front and back of my skirt lining to maintain the slightly looser fit.


I just love all the piping on this design! It was time consuming to get it all the same width but definitely worth it. The neckline is also a beautiful feature that I really like. The line drawing on the pattern didn't really register with me, so when it turned out to be a little plunging in the back I was pleasantly surprised.


Dressform pictures:


This pattern directed a lining for the top portion, and I added the lining for the skirt. It is black Ambiance from my stash.


The neckline was finished with bias tape, as were the armhole seams.


I've taught myself mitered corners. You can see them at the bottom of the black wool. They are those diagonal seams coming off the slit corners. I have some RTW (ready-to-wear) skirts that utilize this technique and have always thought it very smart looking. The lining was slip-stitched down around the slits so it wouldn't show while I'm wearing it.


These are the patterns I used:

McCall's 3830

This dress was A LOT of work but I'm thrilled with the outcome. I am not producing nearly as much as I had in previous years but rather am slowing down and really taking my time with things. I want to build a wardrobe of pieces I love and will cherish for years to come.

155 comments:

  1. It's beautiful, inside and out and looks great on you!

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  2. Wow, what a gorgeous dress! I LOVE the unique design and never would have thought to try that pattern. Beautiful!

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  3. Lovely dress, looks great on you. Fabulous fabric too!

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  4. Your dress is gorgeous!!! You always do such a fantastic job. I'd been eyeing that pattern too but didn't like the bottom skirt part. I like your idea and your added skirt better. That metallic fabric is AMAZING!

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  5. Your construction techniques are off the chain. And what a beauty! So worth the effort. I am totally pinning that mitered corner detail!

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  6. There was something about this pattern i really like...but something i didn't like...so i didn't get it.

    Now i see.... you created a perfect version...it's the bottom of the pattern i did not like so much. Love your dress!

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    1. Thanks Frenaew! I actually did like the original skirt design, it just wouldn't lay smoothly.

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  7. Your dress is gorgeous. Using the brocade only in the bodice does make it more wearable than if you'd done the whole dress in it. Enjoy!

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  8. Gorgeous dress! As always, you did a beautiful job with it!

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  9. Your hard work and persistence paid off. It's a stunning dress! And it fits you like a glove. Your careful work on all the details really stand out on a tricky design like this.

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  10. Stunning - Just scanning through the pictures, I was blown away by the first one...then the back view...oh.my.goodness! Absolutely gorgeous!

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    1. Thank you, Jaime. I always like a little back interest.

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  11. Without the pattern's original skirt, the bodice is very striking! I hated the skirt, so never really looked twice at this pattern. I may have to reconsider, yours looks so fantastic!

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  12. Oh, how striking! This dress looks much better in a dark fabric than I'd guess from the pattern illustrations. Thanks for the tip about bust size and this pattern: I bought it to make up for my darling daughter (for whom the abbreviation DD has a double meaning). I'll definitely muslin this bodice on her before I chop into the fashion fabric!

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    1. Oh how funny! Yes, definitely make a muslin! There is a review on patternreview.com for a busty gal who successively figured out the FBA for it. Thanks for your comment, LinB.

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  13. That dress is utterly breathtaking! I love your vision---pure perfection. That bodice fabric is uber gorgeous!!! I admire you craftsmanship and tailoring skills!!!!

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  14. Beautiful use of the brocade. I've eyed that brocade a few times myself. Lovely dress!

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  15. Very pretty, the perfect combination of the brocade and black wool.

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  16. Lovely dress :) Hope you get to wear it a lot!

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  17. Wow! another beautiful dress! Love, love, love the fabric and the craftsmanship!

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  18. Gorgeous - the combination of patterns in truly inspired!

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    1. Thank you, Donna! I don't know how inspired I was - more like desperate for a save!

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  19. What a perfect choice of fabrics for that pattern. It looks great!

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  20. It looks fantastic! Love the piping and interesting pleat lines

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  21. Absolutely a fantastic job and the dress is perfect!

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  22. Stunning work. Thanks for bringing this pattern to my attention x

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  23. This looks great, super idea.

    I do have one question: does your waist fall at the bottom of the waistband?

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    1. Thanks Laura! The waistband bottom is right at my waistline. Most times I would lengthen the pattern to fit my long waist but it looked fine to me this way.

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  24. Fabulous, as always! You always do such an impeccable job with your sewing. You inspire me to approach my own sewing with more excellence!

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  25. What a stunning dress. I like your skirt better than the one on the pattern. It draws more attention to the beautiful bodice. Great job!

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    1. Thank you, Lisa! I did like the original skirt a lot, but I think this one works better with the overall design.

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  26. Wow, this is gorgeous. I like your version with the straight skirt better than the original skirt with the pattern. The straight skirt and the dark color really makes the bodice take center stage. Beautiful piping work too! Well done!

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  27. WOW! Simply, WOW! This is stunning. I could see paying obscene money in an expensive boutique for a dress like this. And, I'm totally going to grab that pattern now. I've seen it before and had little interest in it until I saw your rendition.

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    1. Thanks Mkonieczki! The envelope picture did nothing for me, but I thought the blackline drawing unique.

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  28. Wow, so chic and sophisticated. And it looks so dressed up and nice compared to the "too young" rowley pattern cover. Nicely done!

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  29. What a stunning use of an amazing fabric! Gee, I wish Mood had easy shipping to Canada!

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    1. Thanks Shiny Green Penny! You should write them an email about it. If enough people petitioned, perhaps they would figure out shipping to other countries.

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  30. Wow, you will cherish this for years to come! It is beautiful.

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  31. Hi Amanda,
    what a great sewer you are! Always impeccable fit and execution, well done. Keep up the good work.
    Kind regards from "Down under"
    Therese

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  32. Another beautiful dress! I love the design lines on the bodice and the back neckline makes for a much more interesting back view. Great choice of fabric.

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  33. gorgeous! i totally would have passed over that pattern, but putting it on my list now! as a fellow small-busted lady, it is very flattering on you!

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  34. Replies
    1. Thank you Susan! I've been missing your blog posts lately. Hope all is well.

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  35. The way you laid it out really sets off that unusual fabric!

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  36. That looks so good! I am always amazed at the stuff you make, it looks so professional! Now have your husband take you out to dinner to show off that dress! ;)

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  37. This looks great:)
    Perfect choice of fabric too

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  38. I love the combination of both patterns together.

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  39. impeccable as always!
    now you have me (and my small bust) wanting that CR pattern. i didn't like the bottom of that dress but your idea to put it on a straight skirt is brilliant!

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    1. Thanks Kyle! We small busted girls should form a club...

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  40. Wow that dress looks fantastic!!!!! GReat photos too hun :)

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  41. Wow!! What a beautiful dress. You look amazing. I would never have considered this pattern as I really don't like the skirt on it - but now...

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  42. Beautiful! I love how you combined two patterns to create something unique that fits your style and your body shape.

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  43. This is just lovely- I've avoided the pattrn becasue the skirt seemed alittle novelty if I didn't get just the right fabric. Your pattern blend is perfect- really sets off that gorgeous bodice.

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  44. Wow - love this dress! So flattering for you. I love that picture of your tiny waist - especially after having 3 kids! Good for you!

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  45. Vow, excellent fabric and design combo! Love that you chose to sew just a bodice from brocade - looks just the right amount of fancy :)

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  46. That dress is absolutely gorgeous. Your level of precision of your sewing is so inspiring... It looks like a freaking couture piece!!

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    1. Wow, thanks Adrienne! That is what I always aim for!

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  47. That dress is fabulous on you and so beautifully made.

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  48. This is really nicely done. So lovely.

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  49. Hi!
    I am Brazilian and I do not know English, so I use the google translator. So if something goes wrong writing, I apologize.
    Girl ... I get silly on how well you sew. Its seams are always so perfect ... without talking to your whim ... fantastic!
    I'm still a beginner, but maybe one day I get to your level?
    Congratulations! Are you a seamstress for real!
    Kisses from Brazil,
    Jizreelita

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    1. Thanks Jizeelita! It's so fun to hear from people all over the world!

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  50. I have been following you for about 6 months and I'm always impressed with your ability to make just the right thing in the right fabric. Every piece you make is impeccable and exceptionally well made. LOVE this dress as well as every other item you make. Spectacular

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    1. Thanks Marlene! I've had a lot of practice choosing the wrong thing, to be honest. After you do that enough times you are better able to picture how most fabrics will behave.

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  51. My favorite of everything you've done! Just beautiful and beautifully crafted and sewn.

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  52. Great use of the gorgeous brocade so that you can get a lot of wear out of it. I love the piping detail.

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  53. I think the straight skirt is more aesthetically pleasing, whereas the mixture of straight lines and curves of the original pattern confuses my eye a little. A dress to be very proud of!

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    1. You are right! It confused my eye too but I still wanted.that.skirt! Thanks Craftytraveller!

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  54. This dress is such a work of art! I too love that plunging back neckline. The colors look fantastic on you!

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    1. Thanks Mushy! The colors look fallish to me but oh well, I'm wearing it now anyway!

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  55. The amount of effort was definately work this. This is a great piece.

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  56. I love how the piping pulls everything together. Stunning.

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  57. Gorgeous as always! As some others have said, I actually prefer the straight skirt, I think the original is a bit busy and confusing. This one makes the lovely seaming on the bodice really stand out. It's funny, as I was reading this, I was thinking how lovely it is to see beautifully constructed clothes that someone has really taken time and care over, and then I read the last paragraph!

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  58. It's stunning! I'm so impressed!

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  59. This is beautiful! I love the way the seaming on the bodice really sets off the geometric brocade.

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  60. It's stunning and looks amazing on you! I bypassed this pattern (often). Yours should be the pattern picture...it comes across sooooo much better. Fantastic job!!!

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  61. You know, I've always dismissed that Cynthia Rowley pattern as needlessly fussy to not enough avail, but this dress is beyond! Your choice of fabric is perfect, and the piping takes it to a whole new level.

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  62. This dress is gorgeous! I keep looking at this pattern and will definitely pick it up now. I love that you made the skirt using a black fabric , and of course the brocade is beautiful! I agree with everyone about the staight skirt, it compliments the bodice and highlights the amazing construction that went in to it. Totally inspired by your skill!!

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  63. Amanda, that is such an interesting and beautiful brocade and use of it. I loved that Cynthia Rowley pattern from the first time I saw it, and believe it or not, I thought to myself..."this is an Amanda dress!"
    It's lovely.

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    1. Haha! I guess I am pretty predictable. Product a garment with a fitted bodice and a few interesting design elements and I am sure to make it! Thanks Lynne!

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  64. That fabric is really amazing, and it's really amplified by the black skirt and piping! You look wonderful :)

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  65. Stunning dress. Your work is impeccable! I always am excited to see your garments!

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    1. Thank you SEWN! It is so great to have an online community of people that get excited about sewing!

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  66. Love the pattern and the fabric you used for the dress! The dress looks like a perfect fit and style for those of us fortunate enough to be smaller on the top half. I also enjoyed how you commented about using the copper fabric for the entirety of the dress would not suit your lifestyle. That is so important! I've found that the things I love used in moderation are fabulous, but when I go overboard in using them....disaster. Great job on the dress.
    Geri Lawhon

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  67. I'm so glad you made the straight skirt version. The bodice drew me to this pattern but I can't wear full skirts without looking dumpy.
    Wonderful dress and workmanship Amanda.

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  68. There's not much I can add to these well-deserved comments, but I just had to chime in and tell you how amazing this dress looks. That metallic is so eye-catching, and you made it all look so lovely. The inside is incredible too. Great work, Amanda!

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  69. Love love love this!!! You have inspired me... Wish my sewing was as neat as yours :-)

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