The fabric I chose this time is super pretty, but it’s actually the worst fabric to work with: crinkle rayon. I made the Free Bardon dress from Peppermint magazine with this fabric. I’ll be discussing how this fabric behaves and what styles could be appropriate. As usual, I am presenting some facts and my opinion about the fabric. You might actually LOVE crinkle rayon.
Features of the Bardon Dress
The Bardon dress is super easy to wear and you can just pull it on over your head. It doesn’t have any type of closure like a zipper or buttons. The Round scoop neckline is low on the front in the back so that your head is going to fit very well.
The bodice is semifitted at the upper chest and the bust, and you have a lot of ease at the waist. The bodice should hit the waist height and then you have a skirt that has two gathered tiers. the length is midi length, at least, but this is always customizable to your preference.
For shaping, you have an angled bust dart that’s on the side. It’s a sleeveless design. Both the neckline and armholes are finished with self-made bias tape.
Best fabrics for the Bardon dress
Depending on what you want, there are so many fabrics that you can use for the Bardon dress. For a light flowy look, crepe, chiffon, rayon and linen/rayon would be my first choices. For a more voluminous and structured look, cotton lawn, linen and double gauze will work well.
I have a thought that the gathered tiers look cute on little girls when the fabric is structured. That’s why I am not drawn to choosing structured fabrics, even if they are lightweight.
My choice: Crinkle rayon!
Crinkle rayon tips
Crinkle rayon is beautiful to look at and to touch. It’s very soft, and the drape is amazing. The rayon fibers are loosely woven upon close inspection. The crinkles relax when we wear the garment and the garment will increase in size horizontally and vertically considerably.
Pre-washing: machine at 30° gentle wash or hand wash at 30°C avoiding spin-drying . Put a damp cloth between the fabric and the iron if ironing is necessary.
When the fabric is pre-washed, the shrinkage will be considerable and will happen anywhere from 25 to 30% horizontally and vertically. Consider this when you decide how much fabric you purchase for your project.
There are two options here:
- Pre-wash the fabric and use it like it is. The crinkles will be tighter. When you sew your garment, it will look pretty. Once you wear it, it will grow. A LOT. Pressure areas will flatten and you will end up with uneven growing of the fabric in the knee, back and bottom area of the garment.
- Pre-wash the fabric and press the fabric, not to eliminate the crinkles, because this is impossible, but to flatten them somewhat. We cut the pattern pieces out with the fabric in this way. This method means that the garment will grow a little less when worn, but when you wash the garment, it will be TINY. You can wear it and initially it will be “fitted”, though the heat of your body will relax the crinkles and it will eventually stretch out to the size of your original garment.
Both approaches have issues, and it’s hard to predict the behaviour and final size of the garment. I prefer not to use this fabric. But I did this time!
The Bardon dress comes in sizes A-L, unconventional and not numerical. The upper measurements for size L include a bust of 53” and hips of 56.3”. The drafted height is 5ft6” and the drafting is based on a sewing B cup size. It’s a roomy design and there is plenty of positive ease, +4” at the bust, +9” at the waist and +20” at the hips.
I chose a straight size F based on my body measurements.
Personal Fitting adjustments
These are very simple changes and after doing some flat pattern measurements, I decided to lower the side bust dart by 1″ and raise the armscye depth by 5/8″ for the front and back tapering to nothing around the half point of the armscye. When I looked at the modeled photos of the Bardon dress
I tried on the bodice whilst sewing to confirm the dart correction was ok and it was, BUT because of the nature of the fabric, the darts, armhole and waistline ended up being lower in the end. Crinkle rayon will stretch horizontally and vertically once the fibers relax on the body. In theory, my fit adjustments are correct and will work well for other fabrics that are more stable. For this crinkle rayon, I would have needed to shorten the bodice, raise the armholes a little more and left the original dart placement.
Sewing considerations for the Bardon dress
- The seam allowance for this pattern is 3/8″
- We cut the front and back bodice pieces on the fold
- I stay stitched the front and back neckline before sewing the shoulder seams. Sewing with a straight stitch about 1/4″ from the raw edge and in two sections will prevent the neckline from having two distorted sides.
- The style is sleeveless and the armholes also benefit from stay stitching. In the same direction on both sides as per the photo below.
- The pattern provides the two pattern pieces for the tiered gathered skirt. Alternatively, it also gives you the exact measurements, per sizes, so you can draw them on paper, instead of printing. I went even further and just used these measurements directly on the fabric. The top tier is longer than the bottom tier. But because I want my dress to be shorter than the original length, I made the first tier the same as the bottom tier.
- I made my gathering stitches in two parallel rows, one at ¼” from the edge and the other at ⅝” from the edge. These two rows when gathered will have a small area that’s stable. The seam allowance is ⅜” and we will do the seam right inside the gathered area between the two parallel rows. After sewing with the gatherers on top, the bottom row of gathering stitches needs to be removed. This is easy because a long stitch length of 5.0 was used.
- Instead of sewing the two tiers on the round, I sewed them separately. Tier 1 to the bodice and tier 2 to tier 1, front and back. It’s easier to manipulate these large pieces of fabric this way. The side seams can be sewn in the end, continuously.
- The dress was too wide at the waist. Even though the style is oversized, I did not feel good with this excess ease at the waist. I took both side seams in by 1 ¼” tapering up the bodice and down the first tier of the skirt gently. This removes 5” of ease at the waist and still leaves 4” of positive ease.
The video on YouTube:
In my video, you’ll see the practicalities and difficulties this fabric presents, even in its beauty and comfort…..It is actually suited to this style. Come and join me sewing this easy and comfortable dress. I won’t be taking mine off.
Listen to the Podcast
To hear my video in an audio file to take with you on the go, my PODCAST is available on these platforms below 🙂
Or listen right here!
Let’s see my Bardon dress
I really like how my green Bardon dress feels on. Fresh, soft and very comfortable. The oversized style is not usually what I wear, but it pairs perfect with this every growing fabric. I like the fit on the upper chest and bust as it’s not oversized in this area.
The waist is still very loose, and it would be even looser if I had not taken in the side seams.
My flat measurements had the finished length mid knee but the vertical stretch of the fabric resulted in a length below the knee. The armholes are lower and so is the bust dart, as mentioned previously.
I will wear this a lot and the next time I make it, I know to choose a rayon or a chiffon and not a crinkle rayon.
Would I make the Bardon dress again? Yes, for sure. I’d like to use a nicer fabric. I have adjusted the pattern to fit me already, and a nice chiffon or rayon would be great. This would also make a cute top with only the first tier of gathers.
Disclaimer: I purchased all my fabric. I produce sewing content independently from pattern brands and share my unique way of sewing with you. I don’t necessarily follow instructions rigidly. My opinions are honest, especially around fit and sewing techniques.
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