Reversible Metamorphic Dress
Posted on Wednesday the 17th April 2019 by Oak Blue Designs
Hello there! I am excited to share with you today about making the Metamorphic Dress by Sew Liberated. I’m going to encourage you to grab a cup of tea or coffee and then come back to this post as this will be a longer one (I made three muslins and then a final version in this project).
I found myself thinking a lot about this project before I started sewing. I admittedly have not sewn a lot of woven, gathered skirt/dresses for myself. I wanted to spend time thinking about fit and layering.
What really intrigued me about this pattern is that it is a reversible dress. All of the seams are fully enclosed so you essentially can make two dresses out of one project for a fun, versatile garment. There are two sets of pockets included in the pattern. The intended design includes adding patch pockets to the top layer skirt and inseam pockets to the under layer skirt.
Some fit and functions questions that I thought through beforehand…
When will I wear the dress, during a specific season or all year round? This question helped me think about the layering aspects of the dress.
Will I ever wear the dress by itself (sleeveless) or will I always layer it on top of other clothing? What will I wear underneath the dress?
Do I need to have the sizing of the dress large enough to fit on top of my existing shirts or should I downsize the dress for a more fitted look and make tighter fitting underlayers to wear underneath the dress?
With the fabrics that I selected, will pockets be a functional piece that I can actually use or only decorative? I tend to lean more toward preferring functional pockets and if the pockets are only decorative my usual choice is to omit them.
Do I want to make the dress reversible or only make one version (for a non-reversible option)?
2m AGF printed rayon fabric
2m Blue Linen fabric
0.25m Grey Linen fabric
75/11 sewing needles
Fabric Spray Stabilizer
Size: 6 bodice graded to an 8 before the skirt portion (within the bodice). 8 for the skirts.
Fabric: Vintage bedsheet
I love using vintage sheets to make muslins for woven fabrics. It is so helpful to quickly view the sizing and at times when the sizing works out the result is a wearable garment to enjoy with funky prints from vintage sheets. I decided with this muslin that both the top and skirt are too big and I would like to size down.
Size: 6 at the bodices and 6 for the skirts
Fabric: Plaid woven rayon fabric, reversible knit interlock fabric
The next muslin that I made was with fabrics that I originally purchased to make the pattern. I’ve had these fabrics sitting in my stash for a little over a year now. I think of this version more for fall/winter wear. The underlayer fabric is a fun reversible knit (Minerva has some fun, reversible knit fabric options on their site as well). One side of of this fabric is a solid red and the other side is a thin black and white stripe. I got very excited when I saw this fabric because it felt like it was meant for the dress, being reversible.
I decided to use the plaid rayon fabric for the inseam pockets, added to the underlayer knit fabric (rather then using the same knit fabric for the pockets, within the skirt). Depending on the stability of your fabric, knit fabric stretches and can be a challenge for pockets. You can always interface a knit fabric to apply to a pocket but I prefer to use woven fabrics for inseam pockets.
For the fit of this dress, I decided that I’m OK with this looser look for fall/winter layering but I wanted to try a smaller fit for a spring/summer dress.
I did want to note in this muslin I used the top layer pattern piece for the front of the plaid skirt and the underlayer pattern piece for the back (so the red, inner fabric only “peeks out” in the front).
Size: 4 at the bodices and 4 for the skirts
Fabric: Overdyed Linen
I decided to use a linen fabric for this muslin. I also cut off the skirt portion for a quicker muslin to test fit. I was really happy with the fit with this one and went forward with this sizing for my final dress.
Size: 4 at the bodices and 4 for the skirts
Fabric: Woven rayon and linen fabrics
Add 1 ½” (3.8 cm) to the length of both skirts.
Omit inseam pocket in the blue linen underlayer skirt
Add grey linen patch pocket to the blue linen underlayer skirt
Omit patch pockets for the top layer floral rayon skirt
Faux Quilt the patch pockets
Sew a 3/8” (1 cm) seam allowance instead of 5/8” (1.6 cm)
Pretreat the rayon fabric before cutting and sewing with a spray on, fabric stabilizer
Clip center notches in the bodice and skirt fabrics
Answering the fit questions above, I came up with the following decisions for my final dress as I was thinking through how I would enjoy wearing it...
My final dress will be for the spring/summer as the tones and prints that I picked match those seasons.
I found that the Metamorphic dress pattern runs large so I went with a slightly fitted look for my final version. I felt more comfortable in this style. Technically, following the size chart with the dress, I fall within a size 6 for the bust, 10 for the waist and 12 for the hips. My final choice was a straight size 4 for my fitting preferences.
Because I picked a slightly fitted look, there are some shirts that I own that do not work well to wear under this dress. I know this because I tried on some of my tops that have a larger underarm/dolman fit (and they did not work well with layering under this dress).
I quickly sewed a fitted grey, short sleeved Agnes Tee to wear under this dress (referencing my notes from my last MCBN project with fitting notes for the next version that I wanted to make). I would also enjoy wearing cardigans on top of this dress. I wore this grey Agnes tee with all of the dresses in the photos.
I found this helpful fabric width conversion chart to share. The pattern instructions give yardage/meterage lengths for two fabric widths but one of the fabrics that I selected did not match these widths. The conversion chart helped me better estimate fabric lengths to pick for this project (matching the actual widths of the fabrics that I selected).
This instructions include the burrito method to fully enclose the armhole seams. Meg has a helpful video (linked in the pattern) to explain this method. I thought I’d share a link to this video in this post as well, for reference.
Initially I had a challenging time understanding the directions on the neckline (how to turn the neckline right side out after sewing the bodices right sides together). I thought I’d add that after sewing the neckline, to turn it RS out I opened up the neck area and then pulled one side of the dress through the neckline, inside the other. The result is that the wrong sides of the dress are facing together (pulling the fabric through the neckline).
I really wanted to test using a fabric stabilizer with this project. I’ve had a can of spray on, fabric stabilizer in my stash that I’ve been waiting to use. It’s a handy tool to use when you’re working with a very drapey fabric (like a chiffon, crepe, georgette or even a rayon fabric). The stabilizer helps take out the fluidity and movement of the fabric so that it’s stiffer and easier to sew (and then you wash out the stabilizer after sewing to bring the fabric back to it’s original, flexible state).
The instructions on the stabilizer recommend to test the application on a swatch first. I cut out a small square of the rayon fabric, finished the edges and then sprayed the stabilizer on the swatch. I then washed the swatch and did in fact see that the stabilizer washed out beautifully.
You can reference in the photos below what a difference the stabilizer makes to the stiffness of the fabric (noting the difference in the fabric drape between the two photos and the way it hangs).
Rayon fabric without stabilizer:
Rayon fabric after stabilizer was applied:
To apply the stabilizer, I cut two trash bags to lay flat and laid them on a table. I opened up the windows to help the ventilation through the process. Ideally this process could be done outside on a clothesline. I didn’t have an option to spray the fabric outside in a way that would keep the fabric clean so I went this route. The trash bags helped prevent the spray from getting on the cutting mat in my craft table.
Quilted patch pocket:
Typically when I have sewn patch pockets with woven fabrics I have preferred to make the pocket lined (and I have usually interfaced one of the fabrics). I like going this route for better durability with heavy use of the pocket. For this project I decided to sew a lined, linen pocket but I thought I would try a faux quilted look to add more texture and visual interest to the pocket. I did not use an interfacing inside this pocket but instead just used two layers of the grey linen fabric. I used the patch pocket pattern piece, as is. I used a 3/8” (1 cm) seam allowance around the edges of the pocket and then trimmed the corners. I then turned it right side out, ironed the pocket and marked 6 lines along the pocket, 1” (2.5cm) apart. The 6th line at the top of the pocket is a topstitch line to close the opening hole in the pocket.
The underlayer pattern piece did not have the patch pocket reference included on it. The design intent for the pattern is to add patch pockets to the top layer pattern piece. All of the pattern pieces are interchangable, which is really fun to mix and match the pattern ideas. I cut out the patch pocket marking in the top layer pattern piece, laid this pattern on the underlayer, linen fabric and then marked the top corners of the patch pockets.
I then sewed the patch pockets in place, sewing little reinforcing triangles at the corners of the pocket.
The pattern calls for aligning the center bodices to the center skirt pieces. The seam allowances in this pattern are not small so I decided to cut little notches along the bodices and skirt pieces. Cutting notches in these pieces helped me to more quickly align these locations after sewing the gathering stitches.
Adding FOLD arrows to the pattern pieces:
One benefit to making so many muslins is that you can make mistakes on the practice pieces. I found that the pattern pieces did not include the double arrows printed at the fold edges. I’m a visual person so I made this mistake on muslin 1 where I didn’t fold the fabric on the correct edge of the skirt for the top layer.
One quick fix (to help me not make this mistake on future versions), I took a pink ink pen and drew the double arrows at the FOLD edges to each of the pattern pieces that were marked FOLD.
Gathering the skirts:
When gathering the skirts, I prefer to sew two lines of basting stitches. I sewed one at 3/8” (1 cm) and the second at 5/8” (1.6 cm). I really like this approach to gathering to help the result be a smooth and even finish.
I then sew a straight stitch line at ½” (1.3 cm) seam allowance (and then took out the basting threads).
Finishing tips: I love getting into the finishing details of a garment (in admittedly a very geeky way). I added some finishing details to the dress, just for fun.
Staystitch the necklines at ¼” (6mm) in the first step. I picked very lightweight fabrics for my final project. When sewing my previous muslins, I found that the necklines stretched out a bit so I knew that I wanted to add stay stitching the necklines to help stabilize the necklines.
Trim the seam allowances at the neckline and arm holes prior to turning the dress right side facing.
Sew rolled hems along the bottom of the skirts. This hem is reversible (which is more helpful on the underlayer, as you see both sides).
Top stitch the neckline and arm holes (after turning right side out). I did the top stitching with both threads (cream and blue) to match the fabrics.
I ironed both of the gathered seams up (toward the bodice). On the linen side of the dress I top stitched this seam to help reduce bulk. I found on the rayon fabric side I didn’t need to top stitch this seam as the fabric is very lightweight.
My standard sewing machine (Skyline S7) comes with an open needle plate and a straight stitch needle plate. I utilized a straight stitch needle plate when sewing the fabrics for the final project. I picked this needle plate to help prevent the fabric from pulling down in the needle plate with the lighter weight rayon fabric.
In the end, I really enjoy trying the fabric stabilizer for this dress. I washed and dried it after sewing and LOVED the softness that the fabric went back to (it’s original state). I appreciated the easier time that I had sewing the pre-treated rayon fabric.
You might ask, would you use a fabric stabilizer again? Admittedly, using the stabilizer added time to this project (pre-treating, letting the fabric dry, ironing the fabric before and after pretreating and then washing again after finishing). I may not use a spray on stabilizer in the future on rayons but I definitely would for more lightweight fabrics going forward (like chiffon, georgette or crepe fabrics). I really enjoyed trying this technique for this project and I loved how stable it made the fabric during the cutting and sewing process.
You might also ask, would you sew this dress again? I know I went a bit crazy with this project to make four versions of this dress. One fabric choice that I really like with gathered dresses are very lightweight fabrics. If I sew this dress again, I would really enjoy selecting lightweight fabrics for both sides of the dress. I love the flowy result that lighter weight fabrics bring to gathered skirts.
I’m really happy with the final dress! I LOVED the linen and rayon fabrics that I selected from Minerva. The rayon has such bright and beautiful tones in the floral pattern. The linen got even more beautifully soft with each wash. They are both very soft and I love the colors paired together. I did want to note that when I received the rayon and linen fabrics from Minerva, I finished the edges and washed and dried them twice (on warm in the washer and delicate in the dryer). This helps to shrink up and even out the fabric a bit before starting to sew with them.
Taking more time through the process of making this dress was so worth it, in the end. I’m really happy with having two dresses now with this one project. I look forward to bringing this dress along when I’m traveling for the versatility that comes with dresses in one garment.