Strictly Ballroom Dress: Fabric Choice and Changes

One of the reasons why sewing is so fantastic: you have a chance to change your mind before you cut. Before the scissors hit the fabric, you have the option to change patterns, change views or make a completely different garment! You’re not fully committed until you start.

For the Strictly Ballroom dress, a Vintage Vogue reissue pattern from 1943, I made a few last-minute changes after the muslin, before cutting the fabric. Speaking of fabric, I found the perfect material for this dress last week. It was on sale too!

Here’s my fabric choice:

I went with a solid-coloured wool crepe in gorgeous golden mustard. (Marigold, I’ve also seen this colour called, which sounds so pretty!) This fabric is from Fabricana’s clearance section, for 70% off. I’m guessing  it’s because of the bold colour, as the fabric itself is lovely!

Before cutting, I decided long sleeves would be better for Fall. That way I will be warm, and not have to search for a sweater or coat that goes well with marigold yellow!

I usually only sew one sleeve into my muslin, so I can quickly cut and sew in a long sleeve for comparison. Alternately, you could just measure the sleeve width and length, and compare it to your body to save time. Do I take the chance, or sew up a muslin sleeve? Speedy me says go for it, but my cautious side says to make the muslin sleeve. Especially as I already make a little math error on the muslin adjustments!

Have a great weekend, everyone! Look for Lonsdale Sew-Along prep posts starting on Monday!

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21 Responses to Strictly Ballroom Dress: Fabric Choice and Changes

  1. karen July 22, 2011 at 6:28 am #

    Ooh, that fabric looks lush. I love wool crepe.

  2. Stevie July 22, 2011 at 6:46 am #

    I have to say this is my favorite colour at the moment and Tasia trust me when I say there is not one colour i’ve come across that doesn’t go with Mustard!!! Can’t wait to see it!

  3. Sewing Princess July 22, 2011 at 6:46 am #

    I love that color. I am actually looking for a similar fabric…but I can’t find it anywhere.

  4. Amy (quixoticpixels) July 22, 2011 at 7:17 am #

    Ooh, pretty! That’s one of my favorite colors. I usually sew in the second sleeve just to make sure I can comfortably move my arms. I loathe restrictive sleeves.

  5. Liz July 22, 2011 at 7:32 am #

    You´re so right about the changes before hitting the fabric. That´s why I love sewing too. You can imagine something and then just begin to fulfill it ;)
    The colour of the fabric is really nice.


  6. Amy July 22, 2011 at 9:16 am #

    I agree with most everyone above – I love that yellow! I have my eye on a similar yellow for Gertie’s bombshell dress, but I haven’t bought any yet because I’m on full fabric lock down. No more fabric purchases until my current projects have been completed. I’m just way too over budget! I can’t wait to see your dress come together, and I can’t wait until the Sew-Along starts!

  7. Funnygrrl July 22, 2011 at 9:30 am #

    I love the colour of the fabric. I was looking for mustard coloured gloves all winter to go with my blue Lady Grey. It would also look stunning with black.
    Nice choice!

  8. Peppertoast July 22, 2011 at 9:47 am #

    When! When did you get that fabric? Do you think it is still there? Richmond or Coquitlam? Please please tell.

  9. Tasia July 22, 2011 at 9:48 am #

    @Peppertoast: Richmond – and I bought it about a week ago? It’s on the very back wall, if you walk in and head straight to the back, on the big clearance wall to the left of the gingham. Happy hunting! (Luckily it’s yellow and stands out.)

  10. Tasia July 22, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    @Peppertoast: And there was still a couple of metres on the roll after I bought it!

  11. Caroline July 22, 2011 at 11:38 am #

    With long sleeves that might be an awful lot of yellow, and if you layer to break it up, you’ll be toasty warm! Good thing is, you can go long to short, but not vice versa. That is a gorgeous fabric. Wish I could have your scrap!

    I just made myself a cute little black dress last night and am struggling with where to hem it and whether to go long or short with the sleeves. Man! Those hemline trends are fickle! My knees are super scabby right now from mountain biking, but I’d love it to be above the knee. But, where? And, since I have so many tattoos I am always tempted to go long sleeve, but then again, it’s almost summer in Portland so I should go short. Decisions, decisions!

  12. Caroline C July 22, 2011 at 4:24 pm #

    Oh man I was just at the Fabricana clearance sale yesterday. I hadn’t gone when the sale first started so maybe it has already been picked over but I really didn’t have the money to spend on more fabric for my stash. :P I don’t go to Fabricana nearly often enough since I have to take the bus down to Richmond but it really is a lovely fabric store and I always forget how massive it is. I spent $25 yesterday on thread, lining, and TWO different pieces of fabric for my stash. Score! I also bought yellow fabric….it was poplin I believe.

  13. bella July 22, 2011 at 5:13 pm #

    I’m a wool crepe fan, too. And that is definitely one of my colors. The only problem would be that there is SOOO much of it. I would have to have a jacket over it to break up the marigoldness.

    Tasia, do you ALWAYS make a muslin? What do you do w/ the old muslin samples? (Is that the parallel wardrobe universe that Einstein predicted?)

    I definitely find your blog inspiring. Thanks for all the pictures & info…

  14. Jane Elise July 22, 2011 at 5:28 pm #

    I would love to wear that colour but my skin colour won’t let me. I look all sorts of green.

    Can I ask a clueless question about wool crepe and double faced wool crepe? I have seen lots of different definitions of double faced fabric but I have no clue really what the difference is. Can you substitute one for the other?

  15. Tasia July 22, 2011 at 6:20 pm #

    @bella: It’s funny you ask about the muslin-making! This how I think it goes… you start off making muslins because you don’t know what you’re doing. Then, we get better, and we stop making muslins and just go for it! Then, we go back to making muslins as we learn more about fitting and get better at perfecting the fit and look we want.
    So the short story is – I just about always make a muslin these days! I look at patterns and I’m almost afraid not to muslin, in case it would have been better with just a few little tweaks. (Although, then again in the time it takes to muslin I could have made nearly a whole dress.. so maybe I should make more dresses and less muslins!)

    The thing is, I really like making muslins. I like being able to ‘try on’ the pattern, and it’s sort of a blank canvas for what the garment will be. Sometimes I have an even better idea of the fabric to use, since it’s a complete blank slate. Like this dress – I originally thought of a print, but after seeing the muslin I really wanted the details to show up and create shadows on a solid, not a print.

    What do I do with them? If I think I may want to look at it later, I keep it. In a box, with all the other muslins. Lately I’m running out of space, so I’ll cut up the larger muslins and re-use them to cut smaller pieces. Especially if I’m out of muslin! Today I’m actually out of muslin for something I’m working on, and I’ll probably dig out one of the muslins to cut into smaller pieces.

    Thanks for the comments on ‘so much marigoldness.’ that was my only hesitation about long sleeves, a LOT of yellow! I may go for a three-quarter sleeve instead, it’s a good middle ground. Or wear a teal scarf, or burgundy scarf. Something equally fall-like to help break up all the yellow!

  16. Tasia July 22, 2011 at 6:33 pm #

    @Jane Elise: Hi! I’ll answer what I think the answer is, and then look it up in my books…
    I think double-faced means exactly that, there are two faces to the fabric. Have you ever seen a wool fabric that’s two different colours, one on the back and one on the front? That’s double-faced! (Unless it’s just the wrong side – usually, it will look obviously right on both sides, with no apparent wrong side). Or maybe a fabric that’s patterned on one side, solid on the other.

    Like this one:
    It’s two different colours, with no wrong side.

    Wool crepe like I’m using is quite thin! It’s crepey, so the surface is uneven, and you can almost see through it in spots due to the uneven weave.

    Double face is sometimes fabric that has two fabrics joined together by invisible threads, like so:

    Ok, let me see what the book says!
    There are two kinds of fabrics that have this sort of two-right-side appearance. Double Face and Double Cloth. Double Face means the fabrics are woven that way, you can’t separate the layers.
    Double Cloth means that two cloths have been either woven together or fused together to make two right sides.
    That makes sense – think of those waterproof fabrics with fleecy insides – those are double cloth.
    Other than that, the book agrees with me!

    I’m rambling a bit but does this help? Wool crepe = lightweight, regular wool, single layer, not heavy, somewhat see-through. Double-faced wool crepe = probably thicker, potentially two colours, maybe has two different textures or patterns, both sides are the right side. Hope this somewhat answers your question!

  17. Sewing Projects July 22, 2011 at 7:56 pm #

    I love the golden fabric choice! I need to create a dress for myself. I spent all day doing mendings and alterations :( , but I they were needed.

    Thanks for your awesome posts!

  18. Sewing Projects July 22, 2011 at 7:56 pm #

    I love the golden fabric choice! I need to create a dress for myself. I spent all day doing mendings and alterations :( , but I they were needed.

    Thanks for your awesome posts!

  19. Peppertoast July 22, 2011 at 8:59 pm #

    Thanks for the fabric info Tasia. I’ll have to call to see if there is any there before I make the trek.

    I think the 3/4 sleeves are a good idea as well as the accessorizing with bold colours. Can’t wait to see it.

  20. Jane Elise July 22, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

    Thanks Tasia! Yes, that makes sense. I had read somewhere that double-faced has two layers but that seems wrong and is instead double cloth.

  21. Doortje July 29, 2011 at 6:34 am #

    Did you know that the pattern is now listed as an ‘out of print’ on the Vogue patterns website? So now is the time to get it, it is still available in all sizes…