New dress: Wiksten shift 2 in rayon challis

The second iteration of this dress, and this time in something with much more drape. Jess from La Mercerie collaborated with artist Nerida Hansen earlier this year to produce this collection of stunning abstract prints on a midweight rayon challis and, despite being on a fabric ban (ha!), I couldn’t resist and snapped up a couple of pieces. I knew fairly quickly that I wanted to use this print for another Wiksten shift after my successful first attempt at the pattern. I didn’t actually whip it up until New Year’s Eve though, when I decided to go ahead and make another version of the longest length (in size 14) for a night out with the husband.

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Forward shoulder or forward neck adjustment?

I decided to blog this project because of the only alteration I made, as a note to myself and anyone else in the same predicament (for full details/impressions on the pattern, check my first version, linked above). The issue I have with the dress is that it slips backwards on me at the shoulder and neckline. Initially, I thought – oh well, guess I need to do a forward shoulder adjustment! I made an adjustment to the dress, which partially worked, and have read a bit more around the subject, so here are a few notes and comments on that process:

  • Firstly, I don’t normally need to do a forward shoulder adjustment on patterns – usually it sits fine; I know other sewists have made the same observation
  • I noticed my Wiksten Haori is similar, so it could also be the effect of either the Wiksten block or the style of the grown-on sleeves to some extent
  • It’s possible that the gathering at the back of the dress and the length and weight of fabric in combination with the style is pulling the shoulder seam back somewhat in itself
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You can see the back neckline pulling down here

That all being said, I still needed to adjust the pattern. I’ve made a forward shoulder adjustment once before, but that adjustment involves taking a wedge out of the shoulder seam. Here is one I made on my Faron dress last year.

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With the Wiksten dress, my problem is that the whole seam is slipping backwards in a straight line. Wiksten have a tutorial on their website for this scenario, but in the Palmer Pletsch book Fit for Real People and other internet resources, adjusting the whole seam is generally thought of as more of a forward neck/head sits forward adjustment, rather than a forward shoulder adjustment. Essentially, it consists of cutting a section off the front shoulder of the dress and sticking it onto the back.

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Pic from Wiksten tutorial, linked above.

I duly made this adjustment and wore it on New Year’s Eve and didn’t notice too much slippage – the shoulder seam seemed to stay put rather well. However, I do feel that the neck is now slightly worse – it still rises at the front and falls/gapes a little at the back, but slightly more than before. Hmm. My feeling is that I only solved 50% of the issue. I found several ways to approach the problem:

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Cocktail in hand on New Year’s Eve!

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Palmer Pletsch advise looking in to the round back/high round back adjustment first and I do think it’s more than likely I have a touch of high round back-ism. With my age, deskbound career and love for reading/videogames, it’s unlikely I don’t – let’s be honest! Their solution is rather like a swayback adjustment further down the body – you create a diamond shape in the pattern, by forming a hinge. This moves the back neckline up and the front neckline down, creating the shape you need.

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Excerpt from “Fit for Real People” – Palmer/Pletsch

However, on a yoke (and the Wiksten shift does have a back yoke) you approach it slightly differently. It’s the same principle, but you don’t want to add any horizontal width, so the yoke still matches the rest of the back piece. Something like this:

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Excerpt from “Fit for Real People” – Palmer/Pletsch

After this adjustment is made, you can think about further neck/shoulder adjustments, according to them.

My travels also led me to another interesting tutorial from Inhouse Patterns. This tackled the forward neck adjustment with alterations to both the shoulder, as per the Wiksten tutorial, but also the neckline. It’s somewhere between the two previous approaches (Wiksten forward neck and Palmer-Pletsch high round back), adjusted further down the bodice, but with a straight cut rather than a wedge. I must say that this adjustment seems quite appealing to me and I think I might go for this one first and see how that works out. I will report back! Check out the very clear video at the link above to see what I’m talking about.

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Apart from this fairly minor need for an adjustment, I am enjoying my latest Wiksten shift quite as much as the first. The rayon challis gives it a sleeker silhouette of course, and it’s the sort of pattern that can carry off most fabrics, I think. It’s a great pattern and deceptively simple looking, as I said the last time. I’m afraid the photos aren’t the best, but I have grown tired of waiting for a chink of sunlight to take pics, so here is my basement at its dingy best!

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I am hunching over, in case you were wondering! Haha.

I should also mention this lovely necklace that I bought before Christmas at one of our local school craft sales. Believe it or not, it’s made entirely from nuts – the tagua nut in this case – and the lady who runs the business here in Washington makes all her jewellery out of nuts, seeds and fruit peel. I’m not usually one for extremely “crafty” kind of jewellery, but this was something different. Bold and colourful, I could have bought a few pieces, but settled for this necklace, with this dress entirely in mind the instant I saw it. The business is Seeds and Stones Handmade Jewellery incase you’re interested, and here’s a news article I found about the owner and her business. Great stuff!

Okay, well, that’s it for now. I am suffering a bit this year with an exceptionally dark winter. I’m not too prone to seasonal disorders, but this winter has really been tough going for one reason or another, and I’m still trying to rev up my sewing mojo motor. I’ll get into it soon, but for now, see you! x

4 thoughts on “New dress: Wiksten shift 2 in rayon challis

  1. This is such a great set of colours on you – the dress and necklace are really beautiful!

    I have had the same issue with my Wiksten projects too (I’m wearing my shift, shoulder seams back, right now, and I finished my haori last week) and was debating doing a shoulder adjustment, so thank you for sharing your outcome and possibly saving me the same. Would it be a good question for the Sewcialists’ Dear Gabby fit column?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a really good idea! I’m particularly interested to know if the actual drafting and dress shape contributes to the issue because I know so many people who have mentioned the issue for this particular dress and, as I say, I definitely don’t have this issue on dresses with set-in sleeves, for example. But it’s hard to know how to get the info – I may well shoot off a question – thanks!!

      Like

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