Monday, May 28, 2018

The Orchid Dress

Some years back I decided that what I really needed was an easy summer dress - 2 main pattern pieces (front and back) and then, by changing necklines and sleeves/sleeveless options I would be happy.  I started with this pattern.
OOP, but available through some vendors on Etsy and EBay

It's ancient, but it fits all the categories - a front, a back and easy as can be.  Ha!  I started with a SBA.  Great - two less darts to sew.  I made up the dress and decided that I had to "try it out" for a while before I decided what else needed "fixing".  I was constantly tugging at it.  Felt like  I had to stand ramrod straight at all times or something just wasn't sitting right.  Not a dream dress at all.  Oh, well - too bad.  Then I fell in love with this fabric - amazing orchids.

It's a fairly heavy cotton sateen.  It just had to be a sheath dress, because there was nothing else it could be.  Back to the drawing board.  I pulled out the original dress, ripped seams, pinned, tugged, repinned.  Finally got it right.  Time to tackle the orchids.  Original pattern has a seam running down the back to make room for a zipper.  No way was I having a seam ruining my orchid on the back!

So- side zipper and buttons on one shoulder took care of how to get in and out of the dress.  No side slits for me - I turned it into a big pleat.

Ah - the zipper - after much thought and deliberation - I decided on a regular zipper - lapped application with hand-picked stitching.

Yes, an invisible zip would have been so much easier, but ... that would have left the zipper pull dangling under my arm.  Not pretty, I decided.  With this application, the zipper pull tucks neatly into its slot, and - an almost invisible zip.

Buttons are flat.  Do you know how it hurts when you have buttons with shanks on your shoulder and you then hang a bag on that shoulder?  Trust me - serious pain.  One really has to think these things through, otherwise comfort is definitely compromised.  The original dress is still in pieces - really must do something about that.
The orchids were to be my Easter dress.  The weather thought otherwise, so this turned out to be a Pentecost dress.
Should have perched the camera higher up - live and learn!

Verdict - I'm beginning to think that I'm just not the right shape for this style.  Yes, it now fits.  No I did not tug at it.  But overall, it's just not ... I don't know what.  May-be if I wore a belt...  May-be if I stood like a statue and didn't move ...  Perhaps a fabric that's less stiff... Let's just say, that I'm in no rush to make another one of these.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Wacky stripes again

Yet another "let's just use up this fabric" project.  It's a very lightweight, super stretchy knit.  Who knows what the fiber content is.  I just saw wacky stripes on the "ends" table and I had to have them.  Unfortunately, due to my immediate infatuation with the stripes, I failed to notice that there were strange rusty spots all over the back side of the fabric.  (Note to self:  regardless of how amazing the fabric looks, feels, etc. - always, always check it over for flaws, spots and other undesirables.)  Needless to say, I had no immediate project in mind for the stripes, so this piece languished for quite some time.  Only when I was laying out the fabric on my cutting table, did I notice the spots.  That did not exactly make  cutting out stress-free.
So - once again, Pamela's Patterns to the rescue.  I cut the top of my t-shirt pattern, hacking it off at the waist -as well as setting the centre front 1 inch from the fold.
I learned to draw on my pictures!! 
Wrong sides together, I stitched a - you guessed it - a 1 inch pleat down the front.  That gives a bit of stability for all those buttons down the front.

The skirt is my garden variety A-line, except that at the last moment I decided to add a little more "kick" to the front and back.

Actually managed to more or less match the stripes on all 4 skirt seams.  Sleeves are at three-quarter length.  I also sewed elastic to the waist seam.  Even though I will always wear this dress with a belt, I've found that the elastic keeps the waist where it should be and makes everything hang better.
You'd think that a dress would pretty well eat up a whole piece of fabric, particularly one where major spots had to be avoided, but no - there's still enough left for (probably) another whole dress.  How much of this stuff did I buy???
And here's the requisite picture of me wearing the dress.
As always - thinking back - perhaps I could have-should have done something more interesting with the sleeves, or added some other details.  On the other hand - it looks as I imagined it.  With fabric that's not an easy sew - super-stretchy thin knit - perhaps one easy detail (the pleat with buttons) is all that it needs.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Outfit for the top

Remember that boring cream top that didn't pop?

It now has an outfit that it belongs to.  The outfit doesn't pop either, but ...

It all started with the skirt, actually.  I was bored with winter fabrics back in early March (?) , and I was rooting around for something or other in the fabrics cupboard.  My hand pulled out this blue rayon challis, or should I say the remains of the blue rayon challis (previously used for contrast on a robe).  Well, I thought, it won't take but 5 minutes to cut out a summer skirt and perhaps if I cut out a summer skirt I won't feel so depressed over the cold weather, because I'll be feeling as though I'm making a move toward Spring weather.  I even sewed up the skirt.  (Just a very basic, boring self-drafted A-line.)  Didn't help me to feel any less depressed about the weather.  But that was done.  Then along came the tops challenge and I thought that this would be a great opportunity to make a top to go with this skirt - not that my closet necessarily needs any more cream or off-white tops - they just seem to multiply on their own around here.  Well, two pieces do not an outfit make, and as I'm always freezing, the sleeveless top needed a cardigan - with sleeves.

Enter - yet another leftover - cotton sweater knit - just enough to make a cropped cardigan with short sleeves.  I really would have liked them to be 3/4 sleeves, but - severe fabric shortage and all that.  These come right down to my elbows.
I chopped my Pamela's Patterns Twinset pattern at the waist.  Added an extension to the front to allow for the cross-over.
In case somebody actually wants to copy this - I extended the front by 4 inches - all that my fabric piece would allow.  If you're bigger than I am, you might want to extend by a bit more.
The front edges were just serged, turned  and stitched.  Added a "waistband" with buttonholes and buttons.

That's two pieces of "scrap" used up and it seems that one day very soon it might actually be warm enough for me to wear the new outfit.  And it looks as though I need to find an accessory with a little bit of pizazz to elevate this outfit from humdrum.