Tag Archives: dress

Anna Dress Sewalong!

I just got the Anna dress pattern in the mail a couple of days ago, in time to join the sewalong! I’ve never done a sewalong, probably because I never buy new patterns, but I’ve NO idea how to do an FBA on this kind of bodice, so I’ll definitely need some guidance. I’m really excited to start, especially since I feel like I haven’t done any sewing in ages.

In other news, these last few days have been cool enough to break out knee socks and my fuzzy blue beret! It’s back to the high 70s today, but I’ve really enjoyed having a little taste of fall dressing.

The Ashland Dress

I made this dress a solid month or so ago, and it’s been waiting to be photographed along with a million other things (at least three), but it wasn’t until the light was starting to go this evening that I had the brilliant idea of tying my camera to my bike basket in lieu of a tripod. I have been really eager to talk about this pattern, because apparently, I would be one of the first sewing bloggers to do so. When I first began to admire this pattern from afar, I went looking for reviews, and I only found one, at Cotton Creek Sewing. I didn’t understand why the entire sewing blogosphere wasn’t full of Ashlands, it seemed such a simple, everyday dress.

Being poor, I didn’t buy it, but Mother did, and when she didn’t like it, she gave it to me. I was more than happy to take it off her hands, and made grand plans for the dozens of versions I would whip up in happy afternoons. In the end, I only made one, and I don’t have plans for another right now (though I still have the pattern, so you never know), because ultimately I found it a little disappointing.

ashland

Don’t get me wrong, it’s cute and wearable and an easy summer dress, it’s just not quite the paragon of pattern-drafting that I had hoped it would be. To begin with, the multitude of options is a bit baffling. Do you want the sleeveless bodice, or the one with sleeves, because they’re different pieces with different amounts of ease. Do I wear a C cup with sleeves, but a D cup without? Or D cups all round? Or C cups all round? Should I cut a size 4, C cup, or a size 2, D cup? Or a size 2, C cup? The amount of muslins required just to get the right size would be staggering. I did several tissue fittings and ended up cutting a size 2, D cup, and by this time I was frustrated enough that I didn’t even care if the finished dress fit, so I skipped a muslin and plunged on ahead.

ashland

Luckily, it fits. Well enough, anyway. The saga of fit is long and arduous, I’m always agonizing about it, and sometimes it’s nice to accept that the fit on a dress is not perfect and doesn’t need to be, and I can wear it anyway.

ashland dress back

I did a tiny dart tuck in the back to accommodate the roll of my shoulders, and called it good. Also, I accidentally cut both back skirt pieces facing the same direction. I was cutting this dress out of the salvaged remains of last summer’s princess-seamed dress, which I wore all fall and winter and which ultimately, tragically, shrunk in the wash. This meant that I didn’t have nearly enough to re-cut a skirt piece, but I trimmed the back pieces down and sewed them without darts, and somehow it all worked out.

The Ashland dress has you do a lot of hand-sewing, and most of it before you’ve sewn up the side seams. This was nice because it forced me to take me time, and led to a nice clean finish, but I was terrified that the dress wasn’t even going to fit and it would all be a waste of time. I compounded issues by handpicking the zipper, since I didn’t have an invisible zip or brown thread, and didn’t want my stitching to show.

inside front

Inside front, self-faced and tidy.

inside back

Inside back. I also didn’t have a brown zipper, so I used a grey one. It’s all neutral, right?
armhole

Armhole binding. I didn’t have enough brown sprig for bias binding, so I used muslin. I tacked it down at various point along the armhole, but didn’t bother sewing it down all around.

handpicked zipper

This was the first time I handpicked a zipper properly, and it’s magical. It’s like it’s floating there without any stitching at all! I was so enchanted with prick-stitching, I went on to prick-stitch the entire hem.

ashland hem

The hem is nice and deep, and the skirt is very short. It felt like the most flattering length at the time. I’m not sure now that it wouldn’t benefit from an extra inch, and it would certainly make water fountains easier, but oh well.

buttons

The pattern calls for five buttons, but I only had three matching brown ones, and I didn’t want to make buttonholes anyway, so I sewed the front closed and stitched the buttons through both layers. My new zigzag machine may do buttonholes, but I haven’t figured out how quite yet.

I took this dress to the country fair, and it was comfy and cool, so I say it’s a win. I probably won’t be making dozens of Ashlands, though. Maybe another one, with a few modifications, if the right fabric comes along. I’m feeling more kindly disposed to it than I was before I started writing. Give me a year or so, and I might be really kindly disposed! In the meantime, I think it’s time for a new princess-seamed dress…

Also, you may notice that this is no longer the beautiful college campus, but in fact a pinkish house with hydrangeas! This is my new house, where I will live, hopefully, for the next couple of years! I still get to see the beautiful college every day, but now I have a patio, an herb garden, a kitchen that I only share with four other people, a sewing room, and I don’t have to shuffle in and out every couple of months and listen to people rapping upstairs every night. Hooray!

drafting a dress

I want to make this 50s halter dress from BurdaStyle.

I have a green and black gingham seersucker, and black broderie anglaise for the straps. Or something. I’m still a bit hazy on the details. Maybe I’ll make my own piping, if I’m feeling really ambitious. The fabric, being seersucker, has really subtle stripes, and I have some idea of chevrons in the skirt, if I have enough fabric. Can you make chevrons in a circle skirt?

But, I don’t really want to buy it, print it out, tape it together, trace it onto pattern paper, do an FBA, and then realize that it doesn’t fit me right anyway (I’m facing the terrible fate of having to grade all of my patterns, ever). So, I decided, why not draft it myself? It has two darts, how hard can it be? (Ha ha.) I would never knock off a pattern from an indie pattern company, but this is Burda and vintage and, well, I don’t feel bad.

I am using a piece of muslin, a tape measure, the Burda line drawing, and a giant roll of paper towel to draw my pattern pieces on (I couldn’t find a newspaper). The pieces themselves are coming along all right, but I feel that the construction may prove difficult. Burda seems to have made the X across the bodice out of one piece, but surely that is not an economical use of fabric…

Floral Drop Sundress

The moment I saw the Joel Dewberry Floral Drop pattern (used in three different colorways in this quilt!) I knew that I wanted a dress out of it! Never mind that it’s quilting cotton, it HAD to be a dress for swing dances and ceilis–even in January, you can only wear sundresses because it gets unbearably hot, and the best sundresses are twirly ones, because what is dancing without lots of spins? Less fun, that’s what. Luckily, the fabric store in Astoria had the red colorway on sale, so I bought a couple of yards it to make my dream dress.

dress and sweater

And it is such a dream dress! Let me tell you, I want five of these dresses, in a variety of beautiful prints, to wear in all seasons to all dances and classes and parks and dates. It is so comfy and pretty, and the fact that it’s quilting cotton matters not a bit–it actually makes it better, because it gives the skirt some stiffness without needing a crinoline. It’s a fantastic sundress, and if it’s chilly, I can just wear a sweater and tights!

I’m actually wearing white tights in these pictures, but you can barely tell because my skin is pretty much the exact same color. It’s nice to feel sunshine again! (Though Sierra had me face the sun for better lighting, and I haven’t mastered the ability to stare at a brilliantly glowing object with a straight face.)

floral drop dress

I knew I wanted a sweetheart neckline (I have admired them for ages, but never had a dress with one until my Macaron), so I used the bodice from the Macaron pattern, sans yoke. I had to take it in at the sides, and make it higher front and back to cover my entire bra. It took ages to alter it just right, and foolishly, I didn’t trace my finished product out on pattern paper, so for the next dress, I’ll have to figure it out all over again. Oh well.

I wanted a full skirt, because it’s a dancing dress, and I used a circle for maximum twirliness. I didn’t originally buy enough fabric to finish the circle, so the project was put on hold for a couple of months until I had enough. It twirls excellently!

floral drop dress back

The back. My straps are quite wide–perhaps a little wider than they need to be, but I wanted to be sure they would be stable and cover my bra straps.

floral drop dress

From the side. I put this zipper in and ripped it out twice before realizing that I’d been doing it right the whole time. After that, I didn’t have the heart to take it out again and try to make it properly invisible. I don’t think I’ve ever done a zipper well–I’ve done two in the last week or so and neither of them came out very well, though I’m probably the only person who will ever notice. Maybe in the future I’ll just handpick them all.

I also hemmed this dress twice. I cut it out sloppily, thinking that I would take off length once I’d tried it on, but I liked the length so I didn’t trim it down at all, I just hemmed it. I didn’t notice anything wrong, and wore it around one day, and then dancing a few days later (I got a very nice compliment from someone, who was very impressed when I told her I had made it and wanted to know if I’d used a vintage pattern!), but when it was hanging in my closet afterwards, I noticed that it was not even at all… so I had to rip it out, trim off about an inch from places in the front, and do it over. It’s just a machine hem, luckily. In the end, I decided I like this length much better, it feels like a much more reasonable amount of fabric for some reason.

floral drop dress

It’s been such a gorgeous weekend, I’m so happy it’s sunny. I went for a two-hour walk/run in the state park near campus, and have played a ton of frisbee in the sun. I have been making a Colette Violet blouse in a charming print, but my sewing room was taken away and I no longer have a place to set up my machine, so I’ve started sewing it by hand–just the darts, so far. I don’t want it to be half hand-sewn and half machine-sewn, so I’m hesitant to go too far, because then I’ll have to finish the whole thing by hand! Ah well, anything to teach me patience…

Waiting for nice weather…

I now have two dresses to blog about, one handmade and one altered, but it has been too cold and rainy for nice outdoors pictures these last few days, so I haven’t been able to blog them yet. I was optimistic this morning, but by the time I was done with lunch, it was raining again. I also have a growing list of things-to-sew, but most of them require fitting, and it’s tricky to do by yourself in a mirror. I really wish I had a dress form, but they’re so expensive! It is incredibly useful to have a sewing room, though, where this is room for fabric chaos and two sewing machines set up at all times. I’m afraid my empty room next door is going to get taken away from me in the upcoming health-and-safety inspections.

To make up for not having pictures of new things, here are some pictures of a pre-existing dress, taken on Halloween in a mass costume-photoshoot with my friends (it’s not a costume, but I wear it every Halloween anyway). I’m pretty sure it’s from the 19-teens or maybe the early 20s, judging by the general shape and length, but it seems odd that it would have survived so well. I wear it once or twice a year and though it has always had some tiny pin-holes, it hasn’t ripped or begun to fall apart yet.

IMGP0376

Standing pointlessly by an obelisk-thing. It felt right at the time.

IMGP0434

Being very careful not to fall in the reflecting pool in my vintage silk. Don’t mind the black and white, we were being artsy.

I really love this dress. The sleeves are actually attached to an under-bodice, which closes in the center front with snaps, and then the rest of the dress snaps up the side. It has a lace collar that snaps, too, but whenever I wear it, it comes unsnapped and looks silly. It can’t have been very practical in its day. The fabric actually used to have geometric shapes on it in dark blue, I think, and sometimes in the right light I can just see the ghost of the pattern. It doesn’t photograph at all, and half the time I can’t even see it.

Yesterday was cold and rainy and quite unpleasant, and I was in such a bored, unsatisfied mood that I decided I was good for nothing but television and mundane hand-sewing, and consequently I managed to bind an entire side of this quilt. So pretty soon there will be pictures of that, too! If the weather ever gets dry again…

a sunny day and a colorful dress

Although I was initially overjoyed to be reunited with my extensive wardrobe after winter break, I have quickly fallen back into the habit of wearing a few key items over and over again, and letting the others stagnate. This is partly due to laziness, partly due to weather, partly due to “saving” dresses for the right occasion (which is completely imaginary and does not exist in my life). In short, there are many reasons, and none of them are very good. But Saturday dawned sunny and warm and positively springy, and I had no obligations more taxing than a stroll around campus and some physics homework, the perfect opportunity for a new dress.

floral dress

It’s not actually new, but it has languished in my closet for what–six months? a year? and this is the first time I have worn it. It was given to me by my friend Jessica, the source of most of my vintage clothes. I think it’s from the 70s, but what do I know? It’s polyester, simultaneously both slightly fuzzy and slightly shiny, and quite warm, which is a plus since it’s not really spring yet however balmy it feels.

My roommate Sierra (who took these pictures) lent me a big pale-green flower pendant. It’s mother-of-pearl-y and amazing and goes very well with the dress’s crazy oversized pattern.

I wore it with white tights and my poor beat-up black mary-janes. I love these shoes to death but I’ve had them for nearly three years and they have been sorely abused in that time. The Lewis & Clark cobblestones do no favors for shoes, and nor does the rain…

floral dress

These photos are taken partly just to capture the beautiful Imbolc light quality before it completely disappears behind three more months of rain. Also, I live on the loveliest campus I ever have seen, which is the closest I come to having school pride or whatever.

Herringbone Macaron

I bought Colette Patterns’ Macaron pattern on Black Friday, when all of their patterns were 30% off. I had coveted Chantilly for a long time, but Macaron is such a sweet pattern with a lot of room for variation, and a bit of a break from my normal full-skirted silhouette. I didn’t end up saving that much money, since shipping turned out to be about 30% of the pattern price, but my Macaron arrived in the mail a short time later, in an adorable pink booklet! Then it sat on my shelf while I frantically packed and sewed Christmas presents (for the most part undocumented, I’m afraid) and took my finals.

I brought it with me on break to my parents’ house, where it languished in a paper bag while I made a quilt (more on that later). I had brought with me a few yards of brown herringbone wool rescued from the Bins (a terrifying place, but lots of very cheap fabric if you care to find it). I didn’t really have any plans for it, and had only brought it because it didn’t fit conveniently in any of my boxes. I thought about making an a-line 60s miniskirt out of it, or a vest, or something. However, going through Mother’s suitcase of apparel fabric (most of which she has given to me), I came across a lovely sheer burgundy and brown floral, which, held up to the herringbone, cried out to be my first Macaron.

Newly enthused, I set about muslining!

…and muslining.

…..and muslining.

I have made things from patterns, but they have either turned out ill-fitting (as in my green blossom dress), or needed no alteration (as in my corduroy Burda skirt). I had never altered a pattern to fit me, and didn’t really know how to go about it. I made three muslins before I was finally happy enough with the result to make it up in my fashion fabrics.

My finished dress:

macaron

(It’s January, it’s freezing out. Also, time to invest in some hairclips.)

My alterations:
I shortened the bodice pieces by 1″, narrow-ed the back by 1″ (tapering off to normal at the waist), deepened the armscyes, widened the waist by 1/2″, shortened the entire bodice by an inch (I think I’m a petite size, technically), and did an FBA!

The last is really the exciting thing. I’d never done an FBA, and had really hoped to avoid it since Colette patterns are drafted for a C cup… but alas, ’twas not to be. The pattern piece was not meeting in the middle, so I pulled up a couple of tutorials and started drawing lines all over my pattern. (I traced it, don’t worry.) It fits much better now, happily, though I can’t say I’m thrilled to have to do that with every pattern I make.

macaron back

A little too much fabric in the back yoke, but the skirt pleats look fine despite my apprehension.

I bound the neckline in bias tape, and the same with the hem. I was going to use hem tape and do it all properly, but the wool is so bulky, I didn’t want to fold it under or anything. I got a bit lazy there…

bodice

With my next Macaron, I think I will have to alter the armscye in order to get rid of the excess fabric in the yoke (though you can’t see it so much in these pictures, so am I imagining it?). I deepened it here, which didn’t really solve any of my problems and resulted in it looking a little silly.

The sleeves are lined with purple silk:

sleeve

And the pockets are silk too! I won’t be able to put anything heavy in them, but any pockets are a luxury.

pocket

My invisible zipper is invisible this time!

invisible zip

The waistband doesn’t line up though, so oops.

In conclusion, I’m pretty happy with this dress, though it’s not perfect. I had some issues with the different types of fabric, which were all unstable and tricky in their own special ways. Some of my pattern alterations didn’t really work, and some of them worked but not well enough. But, it’s the first pattern I’ve ever altered, and it’s quite pretty, considering. I wanted the insides to look really nice, but they don’t, particularly. I should go back and bind them with bias tape of purple silk, but that stuff is hellish to cut so I seem to be putting it off.

Now, for something completely different:

chicken and me

No country home is complete without a pet chicken.