Delinquent again! Almost two months this time, so at least I’m being consistent in my absence. I have spent the week-end cataloguing my fabric stash. I have always kept a running spreadsheet of fabric as it comes in, but I added photos to help me remember what it all looks like. In doing so, I managed to relieve myself of 13 cuts of suiting and two unfinished projects that were never going to get back onto my roster. This is good, as I will be moving in the summer and I hope more of my fabric will be moving as finished garments, in my suitcase, rather than as yardage.
Since I had the camera and the necessary light (it was sunny in the mornings), I opted to take photos of all the garments I have made but not shown in the last two years. Quite a job! It would all be too much for one post, so I propose breaking it up by garment type. Today will be dresses. There are three and I’ve only had one nap today (it is Sunday, after all), so I feel that I can manage.
I completed these dresses over the past two years: I believe Layla was finished in summer 2014, Bleuet in summer 2015 and McCall’s was my Halloween costume in October 2015. Shall we go in chronological order?
I wrote a post last fall about my rules for dresses: no waist seams! Layla seems to scoff at this rule, but I scoff at making patterns as they are. The test garment revealed that, indeed, a waist seam would not work for me. The skirt and bodice darts, moreover, were virtually impossible (for me) to align satisfactorily. The beautiful thing about Style Arc is that there is almost always a separate lining pattern. That was the case with Layla. I used the lining pattern, with fisheye (contour) darts as the dress exterior (and as its lining!). It worked well.
Bear in mind that my dress form only shares my bust measurement, so the shaping of the darts is not remarkable on her. Layla is a great office dress, not so great for working with little kids in a classroom. I had a bit of a panic attack after completing the back vent and was almost resigned to hand sewing the rest of the lining. (I always do back vents first, even when it says otherwise. It is easier before the entire dress is assembled.)
I sought advice on a sewing forum and got my head around machine installation. Linings are tricky; I have developing spatial sense (yes, I did use report card lingo!) and there is a lot of mirroring in the process. I got there in the end and am quite pleased with the result, although I have not yet worn the dress.
The sweetheart neckline is not quite as pronounced as in the line drawing, but I think it may be some of the unpicking/restitching that had to happen in order to get the lining in. Cap sleeves are also not my favourite. The fabric is a poly/rayon suiting from Sawyer Brook. The rayon content makes it wearable for me and the poly helps prevent wrinkling. The lining, as ever, is navy rayon bemberg from Downtown Fabrics.
Where to begin? I love shirt dresses. I needed one in my life last summer. I had a fabulous navy stretch cotton woven that needed to be a basic dress that I would actually don. I love this dress! It ticks so many boxes for me: no waist seam, princess lines that elongate my non-tall form, gentle A-line in the skirt and a whimsical bow. I did not love making it. I made four versions: two test garments and two dresses before I almost got it right. Mine does not look like the line drawing, as you will see.
The first major difference is the sleeve. I have broad shoulders. Puffed sleeves are not an option. That aspect of the pattern was a non-starter from the outset. I redrafted the sleeve, not entirely successfully, as there is still just a bit too much ease for a truly smooth installation. But it works well enough. Done is better than perfect is becoming my mantra.
The major issue at the beginning was sizing. My initial test garment, made in a size 40, according to my measurements, would not even close at the front. I sized up to 42 and tried again. Still a bit too close fitting, but I went ahead and made it in some black stretch cotton. The collar and neckline were ridiculous! In this navy version, I used a 40 for the upper torso, grading to a 44 through the waist and hip. I prefer a silhouette that skims my body, unlike the version pictured on the Deer & Doe website, which is a little small for the model. I also opted for a contrast bow.
I love the bow! I used a gingham stretch cotton from Queen Textiles (the navy was from there, too) and it worked beautifully. I used it on the inner collar stand and hem facing as well.
In the collar photo you can also see where I used stay tape to stabilize the shoulders. I love hem facings! They make a hem so crisp. This may be a new practise for me going forward.
Although I love this dress, there remain a few issues: the sleeve head needs less ease, the collar is a little skimpy and the bow is perhaps too whimsical to employ in subsequent versions. The shaping in the dress is wonderful for my columnar body and I foresee making more Bleuets, after working out these changes.
Halloween at school is kind of a nightmare. This year, however, I decided to join in the madness (after lunch). I am fortunate to teach Grade 2, as the major thrust of the Social Studies curriculum is multiculturalism and celebrations. So, in the morning, we can talk, read, and write about Halloween and how it is celebrated before embarking on our parade and structured celebration in the afternoon.
Early in October, I picked up the McCall’s pattern and the requisite fabric and notions to become Little Red Riding Hood. I read some great books with my class that contained variances on the theme.
The pattern is pretty straightforward and sized S-M-L for adults. I made the medium without any alterations, because I was in a time crunch. It went together without issue and I used poly/cotton broadcloth from Fabricland for most of the costume. The apron and sleeves are a cotton I picked up at JoAnn Fabrics while passing through Maine last summer.
I opted to not do the ribbon across the centre front bodice. The dress is actually a black gingham (are you sensing a theme? You’ll see more when I get to the tops I’ve made!). Then there was the cape.
I decided to go fancy on the seam and hem finishes. I had no red serger thread, and you may have noticed I’m a little matchy matchy on these sorts of things, so I had to choose a different seam and hem finish. Did I mention that there are 4 metres of fabric in this cape? That makes for a lot of long edges to bind, which is what I did.
This process took ages! I had the dress done, and, thinking the cape would be really quick to assemble, left it late. I was scrambling to get all the seams bound before I had to wear it. I also used the gingham for the hood lining.
So ends the dresses I have made and mostly worn since the summer of 2014. There remain the tops and skirts made in that period, and Coco is finally done, too, with trims and chain but no pockets.