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Fashion Revolution Week & Deadstock Silk Pauline Dress

It’s Fashion Revolution Week! Since 2015 I’ve been talking about this week – and encouraging others to join in the fight. Fashion Revolution started in response to the deadly Rana Plaza Factory collapse in 2013, killing 1,138 and injuring many. This week encourages people to ask where their clothes came from, who made them, and challenge fashion industry standards to be better both ethically and ecologically.

Being a maker in the Fashion Revolution has given me a different perspective. I’ve been able to create a small bubble, surrounding myself with like minded makers and stories of sustainability, rather than the negative effects of the fast fashion industry. My fight has been focused on encouraging sustainability, and letting others fight the bigger picture, and larger corporations. But this past year I’ve been deep diving back into the fashion industry, introducing myself to new resources and reading materials and realizing that there’s only so much audience I can reach in my bubble.

I consider myself a quiet activist, which is kind of an oxymoron. I don’t like to push too hard that my way of thinking is right, and I don’t believe in shaming people for the choices they make. I prefer to take a gentle approach to inspiration and education, but that doesn’t really work when facing CEO’s of fashion brands. I’m not sure where this new calling will take me, and I’m certainly not giving up my normal eco-sewing content, but right now I’m focusing on re-educating myself and researching better ways to be involved, all which I hope to share in the near future. I get a lot of joy and feelings of purpose when sharing informational posts, and always hope that they reach more people who can benefit from the content.

If you would like more insight to my sustainability journey, and more about my connection to Fashion Revolution, you can read about it in this post from two years ago.

Along with this post about Fashion Revolution, I also wanted to share my latest handmade garment. While this garment is me in my handmade and eco focused “bubble”, it also encompasses many of the practices I’ve been working towards in my own wardrobe. And to be honest, there’s nothing like a new sewing project to bring in an audience!

I’ve had an itch to sew another garment, specifically a formal-ish dress. I had a wedding coming up, and another event on the way, and a dress pattern that’s been on my make list since it’s release. I fell in love with Pauline from Closet Core Patterns when it came out. Pauline is a really beautiful pattern and comes with several options to help build your dream dress, with many of the current trending styles, including puff sleeves and tiered skirt.

Part of my sustainable sewing journey is being aware of the material I make with, and I was happy to find this stunning black floral fabric (currently sold out!) from Stonemountain & Daughter Fabric. It’s designer deadstock silk, which hits a few sustainability points for me; deadstock and a natural fiber – also shopping/supporting a small business! It was more expensive than I normally spend on fabric, so I wanted to be sure I put in all the effort I could into this garment.

Stonemountain & Daughter is also a fabric resource on my Reclaimed, Deadstock and Vintage Fabric List (view here)!

I fit almost perfectly into the 6 on Pauline’s size chart, and cut my toile in that size. (Side note, my toile was made from a pair of my retired bed sheets!) I made View B, with the shorter puff sleeve and tier skirt, but didn’t like how the skirt looked on me. It felt a bit too trendy to become a dress I would wear for years to come. I was also a bit surprised when the bodice came out too big, but didn’t account for my measurements when wearing the correct undergarments. (I have a shapewear bodysuit that I wear under all my formal wear). I cut my final dress in a size 4.

I decided to change the skirt to an flare with some added flare and made new pattern pieces out of the provided skirt pattern. Here’s what I did:

I used my college book, Principles of Flat Pattern Design by Nora M. MacDonald, 3rd Edition (which, at the time of writing this, is available used from $5-$30 online!), and the original View B skirt pattern. I first extended the skirt pattern by 9.5″ in length, then slashed and spread the pattern – as shown in the book and my final pattern pieces. I repeated this for the back pattern pieces. As explained in the book, for the skirt to fall evenly, the slashes need to be evenly distributed throughout the pattern piece, not just added to the side seams. I also converted the curved waist to straight lines. Because I made this from silk, I didn’t add pockets due to bulk, and having the straight side seams laid the skirt better on my body.

The rest of the dress came together, although I did have a few trouble spots with the bodice. The neckline took a few tries to get my seams just right, and I did re-stitch the bust darts a few times. Years ago, I would have left my improper stitching the first time, because I was more focused on quick sewing, but I’m now taking extra time to fix mistakes. I used to think this was a form of perfectionism, and maybe it is a bit, but I prefer to think of it as quailty control, and ensuring proper fit/construction.

I lined the dress with lining fabric from Stonemountain & Daughter. (I used Bemberg Rayon, but Stonemountain also offers Deadstock Silk Lining, which I didn’t see at the time of shoppping – progress over perfection, Trish!) To line the skirt, I cut the bottom off my revised skirt pattern pieces. (Sorry I forgot to iron the skirt lining, I didn’t think I would take photos, but you can tell this dress was well worn!)

I absolutely love my dress! I am so proud of it, and it’s a really beautiful addition to my wardrobe. I wore it to my friend’s wedding a few weeks ago, and forgot to take photos until we were all sweaty from dancing the night away. But, the dress held up beautifully all night long, through lots of dancing, some sitting and even some sprinkles of rain! I’ll be wearing it again in a few weeks so maybe I’ll be able to get an event photo then!

Are you a maker looking to get involved in the Fashion Revolution? Start by checking out their site here! Looking to share on social media that you are a maker? Download an “I made my clothes” poster here!

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