The Cris Woods Envelope Dress

I love that my first sewing post on this blog in about a year and a half is one that really encapsulates what I’ve been focusing on in my time away. I won’t bore you with a dissertation on why I have been away for so long, but in short, it was a mixture of mild pandemic depression and a self-imposed urgency to get ahead of the curve and move the sharing of my ideas and projects soley over to social media. I thought that was where the future of blogging would be. And that might be true. But that doesn’t mean it has to be *my* truth, haha. I found out over the past year or so that the more I involve social media in my day-to-day existence, the more grayscale my life becomes. I deleted facebook years ago, quit twitter last year, and even maintained a much healthier relationship to both IG and tik tok recently. It was SO awesome! In releasing myself from the firm grip that social media had over me, I started to get excited about blogging again, having ample space to talk about process and inspiration and thoughts about making in general. I got a nice new makeover for my website and starting writing drafts of all the projects I wanted to share in the future. But then Me Made May came around and I wanted to participate in some way and I ended up sliding back into my old IG and TT habits with a mighty vengeance. My plan is to see MMM through to the end and then I’ll hopefully be able to navigate better boundaries again.

the icecream demon and her sewing mentor!

I made this Cris Woods Envelope dress design earlier this year after buying the prettiest, most luxurious silk velvet at Promenade Fabrics in NOLA (one of my favorite brick and mortar fabric shops). This wasn’t my first rodeo with silk and I knew what a pain in the ass it was gonna be to work with so I wanted something really simple and easy, with as few seams and fiddly bits as possible. I’d saved the Envelope pattern a while back because it seemed like one of those quick TNT patterns you keep in your stash in case you need to make something for yourself or someone else with very little notice. I hoped that making this dress in such a dramatic fabric would help elevate it’s simple silhouette and I was absolutely right! I have seen lots of fun, unique versions of this dress online, but it goes from casual to exquisite pretty quickly in something shimmery and textured like velvet.
I didn’t get many pics of my envelope dress but you can see it better in my TT video above for the second week of Me Made May lol

The appeal of the Envelope dress is that it’s considered a no-waste pattern, meaning you only need to use a few rectangles of fabric to create the dress, the sizes of which are based on your own measurements (chest or hips, whichever is wider + length you want the dress to be). So technically it’s a completely size inclusive pattern which we love to see!

My version of the dress sewed up well in silk velvet, if not slowly; the only issue I ran into was how to create the cinch belt (a free pattern in the Cris Woods shop that pairs well with the Envelope dress) with my fabric. With ordinary fabric you are instructed to stiffen it up with interfacing on both insides of the belt face, but I couldn’t iron my velvet to attach the interfacing and I knew it would need something additional to beef up the middle and make it more stable. I decided to use a piece of shoe insert/bra foam that I cut out to the same dimensions of the belt’s face, and after a little wrangling I squeezed it in there successfully.

Months later I knew it would be the perfect introductory garment for Cyndi and Quinn to sew for themselves and we had such a good time making them over a period of several months (we sew at a slow pace to maximize the fun and quality time lol). Cyndi loves cotton gauze and Quinn picked out the color (can you tell? lol)! Although the fabric was not quite as troublesome as my silk velvet, we still had a lot of learning successes with it because omg it gets so crinkly on the edges! I’ve only ever worked with double gauze which is a much stabler, less wrinkly fabric.

I got gifted these awesome tags from blackbird fabrics and Cyndi, who leads Rest workshops, chose this one for her dress!

This pattern was super fun to make and very beginner friendly. The instructions, though a bit different from traditional sewing patterns, are easy to follow and the math used to figure out how much fabric you need for your dress was also easy to understand (and easy adapt to the young person of smaller stature in our group). It’s really only sewing the seams, pressing them open, top stitching them, then finishing the hems for the neck, armholes and bottom of the dress. That’s it! So little work for such a cute finished product! This dress looks great with or without the cinch belt, looks cute dressed up in heels or dressed down in flats- it’s truly a thoughtful and versatile pattern that fits a range of styles. And it was a delight to use it to share the joy of sewing with my friends. If you don’t already have it, it’s a great one to bookmark!


10 responses to “The Cris Woods Envelope Dress”

  1. emily Avatar

    welcome back! #ownyourcontent!!!!

  2. Evie Jones Avatar

    This post resonates so much. I haven’t posted on the blog in over a year, loathe tiktok and twitter, and only keep FB for dance related posts for my son (it’s where the latin and ballroom scene hangs out in the UK).

    I’ve spent the time rebuilding my health (mental and physical) and making some pretty fun live changes, but I’m missing the opportunity to write and photograph and record. And to make things. That’s been missing too.

    I LOVE your neighbours. Quinn is darling! And a scary Ice Cream Demon, obvs! Gorgeous dresses. Good to have you back in this longer form space. And good that you’re back to you again.

    1. Jasika Nicole Avatar

      Thanks so much for your lovely note. I do feel so lucky to have such great neighbors that want to invest as much time and care into me as I want to invest in them. I find that inter-generational friendships don’t get a ton of attention, at least where I live, but I am finding them to be so joyful and unexpectedly healing (I’m sure I am not the only one trying to give love and attention to my inner child, lol). I am struggling with my social media addiction again because of MMM, but I think it was an important lesson to learn and I am looking forward to more structured app time the minute that June 1 arrives! Thank you for the encouragement!

  3. Sally Avatar

    Woot! I love “sew fun” tuesdays – I need to hunt down some awesome neighbors to sew with! πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ Also, I am right there with you on the whole social media / blog journey – instagram feels like that toxic relationship I just can’t quit!! Lolol. I’ve been making my way back to the blog and less on socials – something special about that little slice of internet that is all my own πŸ™‚ I’m excited to see your face back on the blog and can’t wait to see what you (and neighbors!) get up to!

    1. Jasika Nicole Avatar

      It’s so nice to hear that someone can relate, and also I’m so sorry you can relate, lol! I’ve been wanting to write a comic about my social media addiction but I keep getting interrupted by other projects so I haven’t gotten past the first few panels…maybe one day! Anyways, thanks for reading and good luck with finding your own personal Cyndi and Quinn! Ha!

  4. Onkuri Avatar

    Absolutely , agree x 100 with the horrors of social media! I too thought (in the early days), why bother blogging and formatting web pages, IG is so much quicker and easier. And once they get you hooked, you are at the mercy of The Algorithm which forces you into ever more frenetic activity just to keep the stats up. I’ve now decided to just not care about likes, and consequently post on IG very irregularly and am seriously thinking of restarting my defunct blog. And I try to keep visiting blogs as much as possible to support people who still blog!

    I really wish someone would invent a paid version of IG. A small subscription fee each month, you are only shown content you choose to see or follow, and everyone who has chosen to follow you actually gets shown your posts. No paid promotions allowed. In other words, because the subscribers are actually paying for being on the platform, their eyeball time is no longer the product being sold to advertisers!

    1. Jasika Nicole Avatar

      Thanks so much for reading and for sharing your thoughts. I honestly dont care about likes or shares or follows or algorithms or “creating continuous content”, it’s just that checking my social media became a reflex for me over the pandemic and has eaten up so much of my creative time and brain space that when I’m not on it I feel rejuvenated and focused and so much more brilliant. I have no problem maintaining a presence in those spaces because it has connected me to lots of online sewing and maker friends from all over and I love keeping up with what they do, I just need my relationship with the apps to be more balanced. I cannot imagine a world in which I would willingly pay money to participate in a specialized social media app though, all that does is keep people with fewer resources from being able to find and maintain community in “elite” online spaces and I think that’s an awful idea. I wouldn’t personally prefer to be in community with people who can afford such a “luxury” but to each their own.

  5. Towera Avatar

    Yay to blog revival! And your neighbours are so creative and stylish! (Ice cream demon, who knew?! Genius.) I have also been considering reviving my long dormant blog of makery things, IG etc are not the best fit for how I like to express my thoughts. Nice to read in your post and these comments that I’m not alone in the discomfort and distraction social media can bring if it’s not kept on a short lead.

    1. Jasika Nicole Avatar

      thank you for reading, and yea let’s make a blog revival! LOL

  6. Hannah Avatar

    This is such a beautiful make and so versatile! The velvet and double gauze are both super flattering tones on both of you. I like how this dress could easily be dressed up or down. I’ve had the pattern for a year now- I’ve been too lazy to organize a sewing space in my new apartment. I’m motivated now! I have some sandwashed cupro I think would go nicely with this. It feels very much like a very thin velvet on the right side. Thanks for sharing!

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