Hello sewing world! I’m super excited to be here to share my first sewing project with the Cali & Co. family!
Lately I’ve been having a rayon love affair – I never realized just how comfortable and breathable it is! Where have you been all of my life?! Why did I not know about you growing up in the sweltering summers of New Orleans and for the past 7 years in surface-of-the-sun-hot Tucson? I guess late is better than never…
My eye caught this lovely grayscale floral printed rayon challis on the Cali Fabrics website and immediately I knew what I wanted to do with it. An easy-breezy dress seemed perfect!
I used the Deer and Doe Arum dress pattern, which is geared toward beginners. There’s princess seam shaping in the back, no darts, no inset sleeves, nothing difficult!
I did opt for using self-made bias tape on the neckline versus the drafted facing. I don’t like floppy facings too much and I think with rayon, the bias tape works better.
You can kiiiiind of see it here (I added one of my new sew-in tags so I could tell the front from the back easily). I ended up stealing the pattern piece from the neckline of the Grainline Scout Tee. I sewed the bias tape using a 1/4 inch seam allowance. In hindsight, I should have either sewed it on the true seam allowance (5/8 inch) or gone for a wider bias tape. BUT I don’t think the neckline looks too terrible (and seriously, who can really tell the difference between 1/4 inch and 5/8 inch on a finished product?).
I made a straight size 40 and added 3 inches to the length. The original length of the pattern is a little too short on me and I really wanted to be able to wear this dress to work. I think the shorter length would have been really cute for this dress, but darn that whole being a responsible grown-up thing!
I like the sleeves of this pattern and think the drapier fabric helps keep it from looking too bulky around the armpit, which was kind of a problem on my last Arum dress. Also, the kimono style sleeves together with the fabric are a guarantee there will be no sweaty armpits around here!
So about the fabric…
Rayon challis is super soft to the touch and is fairly easy to sew. It does have a tendency to shift a little, so I suggest cutting it using a rotary cutter and self-healing mat. It’s nowhere near as shifty as chiffon or silky fabrics, so you save yourself some sanity. It also has a nice drape, so floaty dresses or wide-legged trousers would also do this fabric justice.
I did have a hiccup while sewing, though, but I think it was due to the tension on my serger… or just plain derpiness on my part.
Do you see how the sleeves bell out? This is the intended sleeve length of the pattern and I admit I did sew the seam allowance smaller on one side because the sleeves felt too tight for my beefy biceps. I was also having some issues with the tension on my serger as I was messing around with it and forgot what my “normal” setting was. After completing this dress, I miraculously came across a picture I took of my normal serger settings and noticed I had something set too tightly.
That fabric was pulling like crazy and it was driving me crazy! So I took a week off, and with renewed energy, I was determined to make it right. I cut an inch or two off and re-hemmed the sleeves, taking care to make sure everything was smooth. I used Steam-A-Seam stabilizer while ironing the hems, which I usually do for shiftier fabric.
Well, as you can tell from the completed dress photos, it still bells out a little, but not as badly as before. *Shrugs* I’ll just call it a “design element” and embrace it. I do like the shorter sleeves, though. I think with a print this busy, less is more.
Speaking of less is more, I feel like wearing this dress as-is might be a little too much (dare I say it’s a little muumuu-esque?). I donned a belt and think breaking up the busy fabric looks a lot better!
The belt also helps define my waist, which I need with my pear/hourglass shape.
I’m loving that this qualifies as a work ensemble and can transition well into fall. Or who am I kidding? This will work as a year-round dress for desert folk like myself!
Thanks for checking out my post! Now get out there and grab some rayon fabric before this hot weather is gone!