aimee’s cinema dress with handwoven yoke

For years I’ve been dreaming of owning a rigid-heddle loom and in 2020 I finally broke down and bought one. After weaving scarves, dishcloths and napkins, I realized that, if I was going to do this weaving thing, I was going to have to figure out how to mesh it with my love of garment sewing.

My loom width is only 24”, which limits the size of pattern pieces I can make. But after looking through some different versions of the Cinema Dress pattern, I loved the idea of using a different fabric for the yoke. I was overjoyed when I
found that the yoke pattern piece was a perfect width for my loom!

Aimee's Cinema Dress with handwoven yoke.

Next came the process of choosing yarn for the woven yoke, and finding fabric for the rest of the dress. I decided on a lovely dark indigo chambray. I knew that I wanted the yoke to stand out a little bit, but not too much. And to keep the yoke piece from being too thick, I needed to use a thinner yarn.

I started out trying a linen/cotton blend yarn by Gist Yarn in a dark indigo and light blue for both the warp and weft. I struggled with the tension on two attempts (I am a new weaver after all). I found success on my third try, using a dark indigo cotton for the warp and saving the linen/cotton blend for the weft.

Aimee's Cinema Dress with handwoven yoke.

The scariest part of this whole process was cutting into my handwoven fabric. After gathering my courage to cut out the front yoke piece, I found I had enough for the welt pocket pieces, too.

Aimee's Cinema Dress with handwoven yoke.

I will be honest that this pattern can feel a little overwhelming as you get started. There are lots of pattern pieces and since this is a longer dress, they are large pattern pieces. But as with all Liesl + Co. patterns, the pattern directions are simple and clear and if you take your time, everything comes together easily. The pattern comes with instructions for altering the bust area, but fortunately I didn’t need to make these alterations.

I cut out a size 10 and did not need to make any alterations. Design-wise, I opted for a shorter skirt piece, and I didn’t topstitch the yoke. I did not put the v-notch into the neckline as the patter suggests, and left the neckline rounded instead. I knew that the thickness of the handwoven fabric might make it difficult for the notched neckline to lay nicely.

Aimee's Cinema Dress with handwoven yoke.

There are a few things I would do differently when sewing this pattern again. I’ve started finishing my seams with my serger prior to piecing them together, but for this pattern, I didn’t do it. This wasn’t really a major deal until I got to the side panels and the pockets. I wish that I had finished the edges of all four pocket pieces and the side panels prior to stitching them together. It was super-hard to do this after I had sewn them all and I don’t have the clean finish on the inside that I would have if I had serged them first.

(Speaking of sergers, I’ve recently started using my serger to gather my fabric and man, what a different it makes. I did that for the skirt pieces and the sleeves and I’m so crazy happy with how it turned out, compared to when I try to gather with basting stitches. If you have a serger, I highly encourage you to figure out the settings for your machine and give it a whirl!)

Aimee's Cinema Dress with handwoven yoke.

I will say that this dress at times reminds me of something out of the 1700s (maybe I’ve been watching too much Outlander), but it also sort of screams “homeschool mom” (which I actually am). I knew when I chose the chambray it was risky, but overall I am happy with how this dress turned out. Every time I look at the front yoke piece I’m so excited (and sort of in awe, honestly) that I made that fabric. I haven’t made a dress like this for a really long time and it’s so lovely to put it on and give a twirl.



 

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18 Comments

  1. Maryam

    It looks so pretty on you 🙂
    Your smile makes me smile, so cute.

    1. aimee

      Thanks Maryam! That’s so sweet of you!

  2. Erica

    How fabulous to be able to weave your own fabric! This pattern is perfect to feature your beautiful cloth.

    1. aimee

      Thanks Erica! It was pretty awesome to make!

  3. Verna

    I am in awe of the work you put into this, as a sewist and learning weaver, you should be very proud of your accomplishment. Congratulations!

    1. aimee

      Thanks Verna! I am totally in awe of the whole thing honestly!

  4. Rebecca Howard

    Wow I love that. I think this dress needs to be next on my list. Unfortunately without the handloomed yoke.

    1. Aimee

      It is a lovely pattern. You should totally go for it!!

  5. Erin

    Beautiful! Your hand woven fabric is perfect for the inset of the cinema dress.

  6. Elisabeth

    That woven fabric is gorgeous!

    1. Aimee

      Thanks so much Elisabeth!

  7. Cindy Cooksey

    I love the fact that you wove the fabric for the front yoke and pocket welts by hand. It looks nice with the other fabric. Good job!

    1. Aimee

      Thanks Cindy! I’m pretty much in awe of the whole thing and love how it came together.

  8. /anne...

    I bought an 80cm wide rigid heddle loom, which I have yet to warp up 🙂

    One thing you might like to investigate is double weave, where you use two heddles to weave fabric twice as wide as your loom.

    Best of luck!

    1. aimee

      I totally want to get into the double weave…I’m just not quite there yet. Still working through the kinks and learning curve with just the single heddle!

  9. Susan Terrill

    Aimee, your dress is beautiful. As other have said, I am also amazed that you wove the lovely fabric for the bodice and managed how to fit it in to the patter. Just perfect.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Susan

    1. aimee

      Thanks Susan! It was so fun to weave and make!

  10. Carolyn Kummer

    You have made something truly beautiful and you look lovely in it.
    Just one question, do you have to undo the buttons on the back in order to put the dress on? I love the look of the dress but think I might struggle to button it up!

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