Oki Style Patterns has been a regular stop on my internet trawling since Indie Pattern Month 2016, when I made the Salt jacket. Her patterns are so unique & interesting, but also surprisingly wearable. I had just been admiring them & daydreaming about which ones I’d like to make until the IPM challenges were announced. First up: dresses. I went straight to the Oki Style Patterns site & bought the Shenai dress. Oki describes it thusly: “Asymmetrical hemline, single-sided slit at hem, integrated scarf.”
I made the regular size XL from the same gray linen I used to make the overalls for June’s “put a bird on it” challenge. (I’ve started intentionally buying a few yards extra so I can make multiple garments from the exact same fabric, thus guaranteeing a mix & match wardrobe.)
Although Oki Style patterns are not especially difficult once you start constructing them, you do need to have a fair bit of sewing experience to tackle them. The instructions are primarily in German. There are English translations for each step, but they are very spare & sometimes almost indecipherable. For instance: “Work the back armline and back neckline with bias strip.” If you had never used bias binding to finish an armscye, would you understand this? There are photo instructions as well, but they don’t really provide any extra guidance for a beginning sewer.
Luckily, I am not a beginner anymore & was able to figure everything out (perhaps with a few false starts here & there). The dress is really fairly simple. It’s just two pattern pieces joined at the side seams & at one shoulder. The other shoulder strap is sewn to the underside of the “integrated scarf,” & that creates the second armscye & the neckline. The pattern pieces are both quite large & completely asymmetrical, & there are notches to match for the bust, waist & hip.
I took advantage of these notches to implement an FBA & a swayback adjustment, both of which were a shot in the dark, as the drape of the dress is completely asymmetrical from the shoulders down, & the attachment of the second shoulder strap to the scarf makes a big difference to the location of the bust points. In the end, I really like the fit. The French darts give me some definition at the bust, & the curved side seams skim over my body in a way that avoids a shapeless, tent-like silhouette, but without clinging or pulling.
One of my favorite things about this dress is the hem. Oki’s directions instruct a person to sew the hem first (though a person could probably get away with saving it for last without too much trouble). I took the plunge & trusted her, even though I usually like to save them hem for last in case I want to go higher or lower. The dress has a slit on one side, which is finished with mitered corners. Guys. I LOVE mitered corners. Sometimes I kick back & just make a bunch of napkins or whatever because mitered corners are so relaxing to make. This is the first time I’ve ever used them on a garment! Everything is drafted right into the pattern, making it even easier–though, of course, due to the lack of detail in the English translation, previous experience mitering a corner came in VERY handy. The finish is so sharp-looking, & my thread just melted into the linen fabric, so the topstitching looks exquisite.
Now, let’s talk embellishments. The dress is not drafted with any pockets. A few months ago, I hit on the idea of making patch pockets with flaps that secure with turn locks. I’ve never actually seen such a thing in real life, but isn’t it a cool idea? I adore turn locks & have been on the hunt for the perfect garment to add one. This dress seemed ideal. The solid gray fabric lets the turn lock stand out, but is utilitarian enough that that kind of serious hardware seems appropriate. The asymmetry & unusual shape of the garment compliment such an unusual pocket treatment. & it gives me someplace to stash my iPod while I’m walking down the street or puttering around the house.
& last but not least: that floral applique. I briefly considered hand-embroidering a huge floral motif on the dress, but these challenges do have deadlines, after all. So I took a deep dive on to the internet to find a U.S. seller of an enormous floral embroidered patch. These are easy to get if you are willing to order from China, but I didn’t have time to wait for the international shipping. I managed to find one seller that had what I needed.
Just for the record, this patch is sew-on. I spent two & a half solid days sewing it on. I affixed it with craft glue first to keep it from slipping around too much, & then came the hundreds (thousands?) of teeny invisible slip stitches. Including all the negative space within the motif. In the end: worth it! I’m pretty fast at hand-sewing, & the color & impact of the patch elevate this dress to the next level. I set both the patch & the pocket at opposing angles to play with the asymmetry of the overall look.
I love this dress! It’s actually really easy to wear, perfect for summer, I’m really proud of the embellishments I added, & I just feel cool in it, you know? It’s kind of a lot of look, but that’s what I love to sew & wear. & it goes great with my pink shoes! Feel free to swing by my blog to see more of my sewing!