A Chiffon Wilder Gown (Top/Blouse)
I’ve been sewing the Friday Pattern Co. Wilder Gown pattern for a while now, and when I want to sew, but am suffering sewcrastination, it is often what I pull out of my voluminous pattern stash.
The Wilder Gown (and top version) took the Indie sewing world by storm when it was released. The photography is inspiring, and the design looks so fresh, yet simple. There is something to Friday Pattern’s choice of light chiffon/ish fabric in the hero image of this pattern. The Wilder is a voluminous and shapeless style, and that’s not a favourite feature for many, but chiffon does something special: it gives romantic volume, but there is a sense of a body underneath. It thus doesn’t swamp but creates a floaty cloud of fabric that falls onto the body.
I had the Wilder in mind when I first saw “Cathedral Noir”. My supplier didn’t think I’d like this cloth as it’s polyester 😆, but sometimes the print wins. It has a very Italian designer aesthetic, featuring gothic inspired jewel coloured stained glass windows, combined with autumnal tones and a wonderful spider. It is a designer end and I snapped up the lot. Polyester is just not an option for Australian summers, but winter is a great time for exploring this fibre. I am loving the idea of a cream chunky knit vest to wear over a blouse like this. I may need to get click clacking.
Chiffon can leave sewists feeling cold. It seems tricky and a nightmare to cut, let alone sew. Cutting straight was a bit of a challenge for me too, but in the end it doesn’t really matter. If you can sew straight it all evens out. I don’t usually do French seams because overlocking is quicker😆, but it had to be done. I just took my time and all was fine. The centre front seam was carefully tucked under and top-stitched down.
My top tips are to use fine pins like these Magic Silk Pins by Taylor Seville. Over the last year I have added more pins to my personal sewing kit, and am a firm believer in different pins for different jobs.
I also use Rasant thread which is a bit finer than Gutermann. For any interested, I used a taupe colour for this fabric (#1227), and in truth I use taupe a lot when sewing prints ;-). Taupe is a sewist's friend.
My machine (a Janome Skyline S9) is a bit fancy, and has the AcuFeed Flex system, but if you have any sort of walking foot it will help keep the layers together. If you don’t have this option then lots of pins, or good ol’ basting would be wise. I am certainly not sponsored, but if you would like to explore the Janome, I recommend the Janome Sewing Centre at Everton Park (Brisbane QLD). I bought it online after a good chat with the very knowledgeable staff. They also have Zip Pay which was great for such a big investment (again, not sponsored).
Now, I didn’t think of it at the time, but my straight stitch plate that came with my machine would have been a great idea, as the beginning of seams is always a bit of a breath-holding-moment: will the plate swallow my cloth? I tend to start a little way into the seam and reverse back, and I also make sure I have a tails of bobbin and top thread. This is taken for granted by those with less fancy machines (like me not so long ago😉), but new machines have the option to not pull up the bobbin thread and it often causes nesting. If you have a super duper machine you might not have this problem. I used Schmetz Microtex machine needles (8/60), with a very slim point, and they worked a treat.
The Changes - How to get the Wilder neckline standing up nicely
I made this as per the instructions, but those who know this design will notice that my neckline is nice and ruffled; erect and not flat and ‘spreading’. I wasn’t too happy with some early versions, so I did the following Tie Hack for this:
- cut the tie in half
- sew each piece of the tie onto each end of a length of elastic (I cut mine to 30cm)
- thread this new tie (which is made up of a piece of tie - elastic - and the other piece of tie) through the casing
- the elastic portion needs to be hidden, so don’t make it so long it peaks out ;-).
- For reference, my elastic was narrower than the ties, and for the next one I'll ensure I cut the neckline longer to accommodate this.
- the neck casing to thread the tie through was only just wide enough for the elastic. Do some measuring and calculating before you sew👌.
- Elastic = 25mm wide and I cut a length of 30cm
- Tie = 35mm wide
I haven’t actually hemmed the sleeves yet, as I think I may add some length via a wide elasticised cuff. If I had thought, I would have cut the sleeves a lot longer. There’s always next time. 😂
My regret is that I lost one of my spiders in the neckline, so I should have taken more care with pattern placement. I do have a lovely spider on my tie though.🕷🕸
I used three panels of "Cathedral Noir", as I wanted a lot of 'stained glass' in the garment. You may be able to squeeze a Wilder out of 2, but there will probably need to be some compromise on sleeve length etc.