I really liked two looks from the recent Chanel RTW and Resort collections. I loved the look of riding boots covered to match boucle suits and dresses. I also loved the look of boucle shirtwaist dresses with big shawl collars. The suits and dresses with matching boots had mostly straight skirts, mostly above the knee (or deeply slit at the sides). The shirtwaist dresses with shawl collars had below the knee, fuller skirts, and were layered over raglan sleeve pullovers and pussy bow blouses.
I decided to combine the matching boots with a boucle shirt waist dress, with a shawl collar. I went back and forth between single and double breasted, finally choosing double breasted. The dress would be above the knee to show the matching boots, and I’d layer it with a black, silk pussy bow blouse.
The Fabric and Pattern
I chose a gorgeous evergreen/black polyester boucle, accented with touches of gold, purple, and black and silver eyelash. I chose black polyester charmeuse from fabricwholesaledirect.com for lining. It’s inexpensive, easy to work with, and comes in a rainbow of colors.
McCalls 7087 is a retro inspired double breasted shirt waist dress with two skirt options. It’s a nice, basic style, and one view included a large, shaped collar that I could use as a jumping off point to create my own collar shape. The only thing I needed to add was sleeves. Lekala 4225 was a close second choice. I went with the McCalls pattern, because I didn’t want to take the time to print and tape a pdf pattern, and the McCalls option included a second view with a beautiful full skirt that I might use in the future.
The Matching Boots
The matching boots were a little trickier than making the dress. Obviously, I’d need to find boots that could be covered. Then I had to consider cost. How much did I want to spend on a pair of boots that could potentially be worn with only one dress? Not that much!
My solution was to purchase enough extra boucle to make a jacket, so I can wear the boots with either the dress or the jacket. The jacket is still in the planning stage.
I have wide feet. There, I said it! I can squeeze into some styles of medium width shoes, but wide width footwear is always more comfortable. I started searching at my favorite footwear store, Zappos.com. I looked for a riding boot with a fabric shart and ideally, a fairly short heel or none at all.
But it was at DSW where I found the right boots. Wide width, my size, fabric shaft with a strap at the top. Low heel, kinda chunky soles. I wasn’t wild about the chunky soles, but the rest of the boot was perfect for covering. Plus, they were on sale for $60.
Collecting the Supplies
My search for fabric began. I have a white-red-black boucle, that sort of resembles some of the Chanel outfits. But that color combination screams “Wintertime” to me, I wanted something less seasonal.
I found the ideal boucle on Ebay. The description matched my vision exactly, Sunlight in a Forrest Glen! I didn’t have a pattern yet, so I guesstimated yardage for the dress and to cover the boots and for a jacket. I decided to save a little bit by color blocking the jacket with black denim (or maybe black corduroy).
I made a mock up of the dress out of the black lining fabric, that became the lining for the final dress. I made my usual size adjustments, full bust, thick waist, and it fit nicely with very little tweaking.
Making the Dress
Boucles can be soft, wobbly fabrics. They shift and bag and sag making it hard to cut more than one layer. So I used a single layer layout to make sure each piece was cut straight on the grain. For pieces cut on a fold, I used the tissue pattern to cut a full size pattern piece. I also cut the pattern on the cross grain because I wanted the black stripes to go up and down my body. I laid all the pattern pieces out on the boucle, experimenting with layouts, trying to conserve as much fabric as possible.
Now, if I had thought this through ALL THE WAY I could have saved a little bit of fabric by cutting the sleeve facing off the neck facing. The sleeve and neck facing from the pattern were all one piece, which is great for a sleeveless bodice. But, I was adding sleeves, and ended up cutting the sleeve facings off the neck facings anyway. Oh well, lesson learned for next time. I think I have plenty of fabric left for my jacket plans.
I borrowed the sleeve pattern from a different pattern. Unfortunately, I goofed and cut the sleeve too small! I salvaged the sleeves by inserting a wide strip in the underarm seam.
I knew I needed to minimize bulk at the neckline, so the underside of the collar is lining. I used fringed strips of fabric, cut on the lengthwise grain, like piping, along the edge of the collar.
I cut the pieces only when I was ready to use them. I immediately finished all the raw edges on the serger. It was a time consuming step, but it prevented raveling and, as a bonus, the seams were all neatly finished as they were sewn.
I assembled the bodice first, then the skirt. I attached the skirt to the bodice, and slipped the lining into it. At that point, I assembled and applied the collar, then the facings. As I predicted, the seam holding the dress, lining, collar and facing was thick and bulky. I graded the seam allowances a bit, using the serger to prevent fraying. I flipped the facing to the inside, then sewed through the facing and all the seam allowances just below the seam.
The pattern makes a skirt that ends well below the knee. I wanted something above the knee to show off the matching boots, but I cut the full length of the pattern anyway. I think I might let the skirt down in the future for a different look. For now, it’s got a very deep hem.
Stitching, including topstitching, tends to disappear into boucle. The front facings wanted to sag away from the dress, the buttons and buttonholes weren’t enough to keep the facings neatly in place. So, about 3″ in from the edge, I sewed the facing to the dress from collar to hem. I used black thread and sewed along a black stripe, the stitching is almost completely invisible.
Choosing the buttons was difficult. I tried several styles and thought I knew which ones I wanted. But, when the dress was completed, I switched to plain black plastic buttons instead. If I make the dress longer, I might switch out these buttons, too.
Covering the Boots
The boots were a surprisingly easy project. I choose riding boots with a fabric shaft, so I could hot glue the boucle fabric to the boot. The shafts are not straight columns, they’re cones, narrower at the ankle and wider at the top. Luckily, my boots have a vertical strap from ankle to top on the outside of the leg, opposite the zipper opening on the inside of the leg. The vertical strap let me line up the fabric on a nice, straight vertical edge on the outside of the shaft. As the fabric wraps around to the inside, the pattern begins to skew because the bottom of the cone shaped shaft is smaller than the top. The pattern is quite off kilter where it meets the zipper edge.
I used a piece of interfacing to cut a pattern piece for the boot cover. Then I cut four of the pieces out of fusible interfacing. I applied the interfacing to the boucle before cutting the pieces out. so the edges didn’t ravel. The boot had two small leather tabs that stretched up onto the fabric shaft, one at the top and one at the bottom. Instead of struggling to fit the fabric around the tabs, I simply covered them up.
Starting at the outside vertical strap, I hot glued the fabric to the boot shaft at the edges, slowly working my way around to the inside zipper edge The only boucle edge that didn’t turn out neat and precise was the edge that met the zipper. I found a short piece of narrow, black velvet ribbon in my ribbon scraps. It was just long enough to cover all four edges at the zipper. I applied the ribbon over the not so neat fabric edges with hot glue.
The End Result
I’m happy with my dress and boots! I wore them once already. I’ll probably wear the boots a lot more when I make a matching jacket It was chilly the day I wore this outfit, so I added a black long sleeved silk bow blouse to keep me warm