Another bicycling dress is finished as of last weekend, complete with reflective bits. With this one, I cut out shapes of sew-on reflective tape that I could embed in the print.
Appliqueing the reflective motifs to the dress was a repeating cycle of trial, error and perseverance. My first attempts were awful. The grey thread I had on hand ended up being several shades too light, and stood out as white on the reflective fabric. [Insert ’50 Shades of Grey’ reference here.] The light thread highlighted every deviant stitch. Unfortunately, there were a lot of deviant stitches. Despite how bad it was looking, I kept on going, thinking that I’d improve my stitching with practice, and then I could go back and re-stitch the first bad ones. But not this time. This was truly bad. So, I cut out some new reflective motifs in a wider shape, and bought a darker shade of grey thread. [Whew, it’s getting hot in here!] Then, success!
The thread color was a tremendous improvement, but the points of the reflective motifs were still coming out looking ragged and misshaped. I couldn’t make the point stay in place to be stitched neatly. So through more trial and error, I came up with this technique that worked:
- Start at the wide end of the motif and baste straight down the middle to the tip.
- Switch to a regular stitch length, and continue past the end of the tip for 3 more stitches.
- Turn the entire piece around and from the tip, stitch around the edges of the motif.
- Snip the basting stitch at the point, and pull the thread tail to remove only the basting.
Voila! A better leaf shape, and the appearance of neat stitches.
At first I intended to replace only the ‘worst’ of the original reflective leaves. But in the end, my seam ripper and I spent a lot of time together, and the entire first batch of motifs were removed and replaced. It took quite a bit of time for this do-over, but I think it was necessary.
My sew-on reflective tape was purchased from Amazon: (Product Link) The 2-inch wide 30-foot roll was my choice, because that width allows for lots of creative uses. Smaller widths and lengths are available.
Other construction details:
For bike-ability, I inserted a pleat in the back.
The dress is constructed from the hem up:
The main fabric with the wild print came from my stash, but there was only a yard of it. So, I hemmed it first thing, and built the dress upward from there. Up near the shoulder, the fabric ran out. There I added the polka dot coordinating fabric, to complete the shoulder. The main fabric pieces that were cut away for the armholes, were almost but not quite long enough to make the collar. So again I supplemented coordinating fabric to complete the collar.
The inside facings for the armhole, neck and hem are all made from the coordinating fabric. The cool thing is, I used almost every inch of the stash fabric. There are no usable scraps left.
The fabric is 100% cotton and comfortable, while sturdy enough to stay in place on a breezy day.