B5333 Dress – A conundrum

I got the bright idea to cut a dress earlier this week based on the fact that the fabric is seven years aged in stash as is the pattern, and I wanted a new dress for summer. However, I didn’t really think through my plan, and so I have this unfinished project.
Mistake number one, not checking what alterations were needed for success.  I always have to shorten the bodice, but the bust point matched mine, so I just went ahead with the size 10 through the shoulders out to a 12 under the bust.  That’s it.  Umm, I know better, I swear, but look at this wreck.  The bust dart comes up and over my bust point.  How on Earth is that supposed to work for anyone?

Oh, in case it isn’t obvious, this is just basted together for all of the vertical seams to check the fit.  I knew that the bodice was wonky, so I figured if I assembled enough I could decide if this is worth salvaging.  I have enough fabric to recut a front bodice, but nothing else.

The marked waistline is at my waist here and you can see the extra length present in both the front and back bodice pieces.  The front is slightly less terrible as I did not do a full bust adjustment, though a slight one would have helped if nothing else than dropping that bust point as right now there is too much fabric above the waist but instead of the mass of horizontal wrinkles, the fabric has enough body to just lift away from my shoulders.

Ignoring the not great zipper basting job here, look at all of the wrinkles in the small of my back.  The back bodice ended up being huge and I really do need a narrow shoulder adjustment going forward.  If this were finished properly, my bra straps would definitely be visible.  The back neckline gapes by a ton, and the back dart is going too far into my shoulder blade.  This would be a total wadder if not for the fact that the color looks fantastic in the pictures.  I just don’t know how motivated I am to fix this, though on the plus side, it is another 2.5 yards of material out of stash.


Look what I found in the bottom of a moving box

Found these pants today as I was emptying another box.  I don’t know when I started them, but based on the size I think about 3 years ago.

These are supposed to be sitting at my waistline. That’s definitely not my waist.

These are from one of the Simplicity Amazing Fit patterns, and they are straight legged trousers.  I made them up in some mystery polyester that may have come from my grandma’s stash, finished everything but the hem, and abandoned them.  Why?  I don’t know.  Maybe it was the fact that the fabric feels gross, but I think I remember them being too tight through the hips.  I don’t have that problem today.

I could hide a small child in here

In the photo I’m bringing the pants up to where they are supposed to sit and wow, they’re big.  At least I can chuck these in the trash guilt free.  I’ve been reworking through Marie Kondo’s book, especially as I’m finding items like this where the guilt of needing but not wanting to finish them weighs me down.  I just wonder how many other surprises are lurking in the remaining craft room boxes.

Vogue 1020 Knit Top

Fresh from the UFO pile, I bring you Vogue 1020, a knit wardrobe pattern where I made the top.  It is gathered on the left side, has three quarter length sleeves, and in the pattern also has an option for a dress length.

Apologies for the crummy pictures but thunderstorms stole all of my daylight, of which there has been precious little this week

I cut out this top five years ago, I think.  I remember messing with it, getting upset with the gathering, chucking it in a closet, and finding it only when I was unpacking a moving box.  It’s a front, back, and two sleeves, and all of the pieces were together, but the one side was still open and I had no idea how I was going to finish this up as I still hadn’t unpacked my coverstitch machine.  The fabric choice for this was unfortunate.  I think it’s from Jo-Ann’s, but I don’t remember if I bought it or my mom.  It’s pretty beefy for a jersey, and it sewed up fine.  However, the print obscures the lines of the design, and honestly, I’m just not loving it.  It’s fun, but I feel like the print is wearing me rather than the other way around.  Also, I’m not really drawn to yellow or bronze tones these days, so I can already tell that its days in my closet are numbered.

The back piece is also gathered into the left side seam, not that you can tell in this print. The hem does sort of fall on that side too, alas

That’s a bit tragic because I like the lines of this and think that it would be really nice in a solid color. The only drawback to the pattern is the gathering is controlled by some sort of stay for the left side as both front and back are gathered, and finding something I liked for that was harder than I would have liked. I used clear elastic this time, and it’s a bit too bulky and it is a total pain to sew with.  That’s an understatement.  I hate clear elastic all the time, but gathering with clear elastic was a nightmare.  Still I think I want to make this again in a hefty knit for winter.  I need to take out more length just above the waist, but all in all, not a terrible fit.

All of the edges including the neckline are turned under and hem stitched.  Getting my coverstitch to behave for the first time in months was an interesting challenge as the looper thread tension was a mess, but once I fixed that via the third rethreading, hemming was a breeze.  So all of the sewing machines have made it back onto the sewing table, and I need to get cracking on some new projects.

Vogue 9100 Dress

I’m slowly picking through the wayward pattern pile, and the envelope to Vogue 9100 caused me to remember, why yes, I did make that dress something last year.

Yes, that’s the view from my back yard.  It’s ridiculously pretty.

This is made with a cotton/lycra sateen from Jo-Ann’s bought at some point in the past that I’m too lazy to bother looking up.  I posted earlier in this blog’s life about wanting to use this pattern to recreate an old dress that I had loved but shrunk out of.  The pattern calls for gathering the skirt, but I changed it into three large pleats that line up with the bodice seams and the centerline of the garment.  So far, so good, right?

Yeah, no.

I ended up disliking this dress, only worn a couple of times, and a year in the closet has only solidified my initial impression.  The sateen turned out to be a lighter weight than the original dress and so it feels more insubstantial through the skirt, plus the pleats press mediocrely.  The waist seam hits just enough too low to throw off the entire feel of the garment and while fitted through the waist, it’s too big in the bodice, which makes me feel dumpy.  It’s a sundress! If it feels dumpy than I’m doing it wrong.

Back view.

The back is almost okay, but note the bra strap that is playing peekaboo on the right.  We’ll be coming back to that.

Side view

The side view makes me cry a little inside.  The front hem is higher on my body than the back hem.  I can’t even blame it on the mild slope of the yard because all of my garments tend to show the side seam swinging forward and if you look through the busy print, that seam line ends up at the front of my knee.  Waist seams also do this on me so I need to be more aggressive in taking out back length above the waist and I’m hoping that if I fix it above the waist that it eliminates it at the hem.  Speaking of hems, I did this one as a 1/4 rolled hem.  I don’t love it.  Then again, I’m not sure that the hem is the least of my problems with this dress.

Oh, both bra straps now, yay!

One thing that was never right from the moment I first tried it on for fitting was the angle of the strap.  The side back piece extends up to meet the side front piece at the shoulder.  The shoulder seam for me is an inch too far back and this was after making the entire strap shorter.  The side of the strap closer to center back lies flat on my body.  The side closer to my arm likes to make a weird fold that I have never had happen before.  This is not the first time I’ve made a bodice like this, but it’s the first time that the strap has looked like this.  I could possibly permit this flaw as it is where I cannot see it except for the mess that is the front bodice.

That smile is me resolving to get the dress and its attendant pattern out of my life.

This neckline doesn’t work.  At all.  I can obviously park the shoulder straps over my bra straps, but this is where they want to be.  Drifting out to the far edges of my shoulders so I can spend all day worrying about them, or putting a jacket on so no one can see that it looks like I’ve failed to double check myself in the mirror.  I wish I could remember what pattern alterations I did for this project because they weren’t good enough, but I guess I have new things to check for with future makes.

I hesitate to call this a crummy pattern, but in the end, I couldn’t make it work for me.  The seaming though the bodice let me get a smooth fit through the bust, but the shoulder straps are just too wide for my frame and I didn’t catch that in the flat pattern stage.  Converting gathers to pleats was simple, so I’ll definitely try it again in trying to make my perfect warm weather dress.  Alas, this dress is not it.

Sewing space update

Remember that messy box of sewing stuff that I shared several posts back?  This is all that remains of that box to put away. Sadly for me, this will be the worst part to deal with because I’m never certain how ruthless I should be at culling used patterns that didn’t get put away properly.  There are pieces from a good ten different patterns and no envelopes in sight for most of them.  This is the downside to having movers come shove things in boxes for you because I think the wayward pattern pile I had before was separated into two different boxes, and I haven’t found that second box yet.  In the meantime, I’m mentally getting a bit bogged down in whether any of these are worth keeping in the first place.  If I can’t make a decision by Friday, I’m just going to throw it all out and trust that in my hundreds of patterns, these aren’t really that unique.  Truthfully, some of them, I know that I have made and been meh about the finished garment so it’s not like they will be the first choice for future projects, but the completionist in me feels compelled to reunite all of the pieces before trashing them.  Yes, that is as irrational sounding as you think, I know.

Happily, I also emptied another box and got all of my crafting books into one case.  At last house, all of the vintage books got exiled to my attic hidey-hole; but here, they are all together.  I have a bunch of library castoffs from the seventies that I’m not sure are useful at all, but I like having them and it’s not like I don’t have the space for them.  I even have room for all of my knitting publications, and cross-stitch leaflets too.  The only thing that isn’t working is the binder for the Burda magazine pattern sheets as it sticks out into my walkway.  I suspect that I’m going to downsize those into multiple, smaller binders whenever I get around to buying new office supplies.

So finding and getting my sewing stuff put away is continuing apace, and I hope to get the coverstitch up and running next as I found a quick knit top that is mostly done, but needs part of a side seam and hemming to get it out of the Unfinished Objects inventory.

McCall 6878 Girl’s Dress

I may not have had a new dress for Easter this year, but my daughter certainly did.  It all started with a shopping trip that yielded outfits for my sons for this past Sunday, but nothing that fit my daughter well.  Even worse, all of the dresses she liked were in the toddler section because they get satins and tulles and all of the fun things in life.  The girl’s section on the other hand was a wasteland of garish prints and textured knit dresses.  Being that it was spring break, I offered to take her fabric shopping and make a dress that fit.

Cause we had important places to be, y’all

The fabric she picked was a matte satin from Jo-Ann’s Casa collection in the color Georgia Peach with a lace overlay from same fabric collection in the color Peach Melba.  The plus side to using up fabric immediately instead of aging it in the stash is remembering things like that.  Her inspiration dress had an interesting texture, so when she wouldn’t leave the lace alone, I offered to use it as an overlay.  I don’t know what possessed me to offer because I’ve NEVER worked with lace before.  I bought everything on Monday, so it’s not like I had a huge amount of time to work with either considering it had to be completely done by bedtime Saturday night.  Then we went through the books.  The dress she liked at the store had three inverted pleats down the front and a jewel neckline.  There were not a lot of options that had any pleats, so I was going to use a Simplicity pattern with the right neckline, but they didn’t have it in her size.  Or what I thought was her size at any rate.  So she agreed to the square neckline of the McCall’s and we were in business.

Measuring her, she is a size seven, but with the chest measurement of the size six, so I cut a straight size seven to start.  Um, my daughter is ten and a half and apparently is tiny.  I used view B, where the hem hits 35 1/2 inches below the base of the neck, so I had no worries that it would be too short, which the only reason she outgrows store bought clothing because otherwise she still fits okay in size 7 clothes from Kohl’s.  I cut the lace on the cross grain and then she decided she wanted the scalloped edges to be the hemline.  Because I clearly was begging to take on more work for this, right?  The first time she tried on the dress, it fell down to her waist.  The shoulder straps were way too wide for her frame and the dress gaped through the entire bodice.  I ended up taking 3 inches out of the front by deepening the pleats and another 2 inches from the back, which happily brought the shoulder straps up off of her arms.  The sleeves are self lined and then sewn to the bodice last per the instructions, which would have been way too messy for my tastes, so I didn’t do that.

I still haven’t threaded up the serger, so I got acquainted with my machine’s overcasting foot for the first time ever

No, I was slipstitching that lining down at 10pm Saturday night.  What was I thinking?  I hate slipstitching with the fire of a thousand suns.  It took three failed attempts before I figured out how to keep it from shifting in relation to outer fabric, but I finally found the right pinning strategy to make it work.  Oh, note on the sleeves- I hate when set in sleeve patterns have two inches of sleeve cap length to ease in, but when it’s like that on a kid’s sized armescye, that’s true levels of pain.  This fabric did not want to ease one bit, but I was mostly able to make it work.  The few spots that were less than perfect, the lace hid it well enough that I was willing to let it go.  But really, I loathe the excessive sleeve cap ease that most patterns draft for.

Lace hem

In sewing the dress, I kept the lace sewn in with the satin through the bodice, but wanted it to hang freely though the skirt.  So for the three vertical seams, side and center back, I used French seams to keep the lace tidy.  Then I pinned the cut selvage from the lace to even it with the dress hem, which I did first, and stitched it down.  I started so diligently with hand needle and thread but realized that you could still see the stitching and I wanted to eat dinner that night, so I machine stitched the top scallop down and trimmed away the excess.  I think it looks good enough considering I didn’t cut for this and would have had difficulty because the bottom edge of the pattern pieces were curved.

This would be a sweet ride

She is very happy with how her dress turned out, and it was fabulous for today’s White House Easter Egg Roll.  My husband managed to get tickets from work, so we spent the afternoon on the South Lawn of the White House.  I’m not normally one for hard boiled eggs, but the Egg Pops (hard boiled eggs on a stick) were fantastic.  It was a really neat experience, and I’m glad that my kids got to go.

I did finish a garment in 2016!

My closet made a liar of me.  I said in one of my last posts that I didn’t complete any projects in 2016 and then I went hunting through my closet to get dressed for Easter mass.  I found this dress I made from some forgotten Simplicity pattern last year right before I went on crafting hiatus.

Pardon the wrinkles, I had been wearing this all morning by the time I got to pictures

It’s a simple unlined design with shoulder princess seams in the front, darts in the back, and a kick pleat.  I, being clever, decided to line it, which is why I haven’t worn it since making it.  I messed up the length of the lining to the dress, so every time I tried to get the lining attached at the pleat, everything would distort and the skirt turned into a wreck.  So to make it wearable this morning, I edge-stitched the underlying part of the pleat, sewed the little diagonal line holding everything together, and trusted the lining to stay out of sight, which it did.  The construction is nothing special, but since the pattern used facings, I cut those from the fashion fabric and stitched them flat to the lining.  I do like that there is no way to see the gray lining at either the neck or armholes.

I could let those back darts out just the tiniest bit, which would fix the back waist wrinkling, I think

From a fitting standpoint, I’m pretty happy with the back of the dress, but less so with the front.  The neckline is straight, and my neck sits forward, and I haven’t cracked how to make it lay nicely on my body.  I remember that I made an adjustment for a hollow chest, but I still have too much fabric pooling above the bustline below my collarbone.  On a positive note, I rotated the neckline dart that I needed into the existing dart on the pattern, giving me a smooth upper back. The side seam pulls forward starting around my waist, which several of my skirts do as well, so one more fitting challenge to correct.

All of my side pictures feel like I’m posing for a series on posture. Mine is bad, the end. But the upper back is rockstar!

The fabric is from an unmarked bolt I found at my local Hancock’s right before it went into liquidation in February of last year (it was one of the chopping block stores before the whole chain went into bankruptcy). It ironed fine on a low heat setting; and it has a really neat hand in person, reminiscent of a napped fabric, but with no nap. I liked it and was sad to never discover exactly what it was because there was a grey bolt in the store that day (also unmarked, alas). When I went back three weeks later to buy it, I ended up in a three days-until-closing-forever store, which was depressing as snot and didn’t have the fabric to boot. Oh well, at least I have this pretty piece to liven up my church wardrobe.