Thursday, 23 July 2015

Not your average sundress


Do you ever wonder what makes some projects turn out perfectly and others flop? Why sometimes a pattern/fabric combination can seem perfect on paper but underwhelming in reality, and something recklessly whipped up one afternoon can turn into a wardrobe staple?


I think there are three contributing factors to a successful project. One is dumb luck; I figure if you try enough things some of them are bound to work out well. Then there's the decisions we make. Smart fabric pairings, fitting choices and considerate techniques can elevate an ordinary project to be something truly special that fills you with pride. Finally, there's magic. Yup, I said it, magic. Some projects are just blessed. I don't know how else to explain it, except maybe every once in a while the sewing gods smile down upon us, blessing our WIPs with cosmic love... or you know, whatever...

Anyways, since dumb luck and divine intervention are, by their very nature, pretty hard to strive towards I've been working on making good decisions. As it turns out taking my time to evaluate fit, working with silhouettes that I like and taking the time to bust out the fancy techniques is working out pretty well for me. I've made about half as many garments as I had this time last year, but I love everything I've made twice as much, and so far I've had no wadders! Success! In a way, maybe  making good decisions in sewing is a way of creating your own magic. It doesn't guarantee success, but it does push you unwittingly closer.

To bring that monologue to a focal point, here's a dress. Specifically a dress that is the culmination of much good decision making. I've been wanting a long-sleeve shirtdress for an eon and i finally have
one... in July... in one of the hottest summers in the UK on record... *facepalm*
That giant fold isn't normally there, I swear!!

What this dress lacks in seasonality it makes up for in awesomeness. For one thing this dress is the definition of a frankenpattern.

Don't believe me? Here's a breakdown:
-Bodice: Simplicity 1873 (size 12 with my standard fitting adjustments)

  • Hugggggeee swayback
  • 1" added to waist
  • 1/4" shaved off side seam
  • Extended the CF by 2 1/2" to make a button band like the Archer shirt
  • Cut the bodice back on the fold and added a back yoke (using the Archer for reference)
-Collar/button band/cuffs: Grainline Studio Archer shirt
-Sleeves:  Simplicity 1873/Grainline Archer

  • S1873 sleeves have an awesome dart feature at the hem, which I slashed and overlapped to eliminate. I then added some fullness back into the side seams and extended them to the length of the Archer sleeves, adding the Archer cuffs. BUT... I didn't take into account the fact that the Archer has a dropped shoulder so the sleeves are slightly too short... sigh...
 -Skirt: Mccalls 6833

  • Technically M6833 is just a giant rectangle, but I hate doing pleat maths so it worked out pretty well for me
  • I cut the back as drafted. For the front I eliminated the CF pleat, cut the front as two separate pieces and extend the CF 2 1/2" to make a cut-on button band like the Archer shirt
  • Shorted the skirt 1 1/2"  then hemmed 1 1/2"
 -Pockets: Simplicity 1803 (I use these pockets for EVERYTHING, no joke)
-Tower placket: Self-drafted (It looks waaaayyyy harder/more impressive than it was)


See... Told ya so.
Casual armscye french seam

This dress is also the latest installment of "Cam frenches all the seams!". Seriously, I have a french seams problem. I can't even look at a project without thinking "That's great but could I french all the seams?"

 The way I figure it, french seams are like the juice cleanses of the sewing world. Simultaneously humble and sanctimonious. They bring things back to basics (just a straight stitch and a lot of patience) whilst also making you feel like a rockstar! Also I defy you not to feel like a sewing god the next time you french seam in-seam pockets  or french a sleeve insertion!! Can you feel the defiance, can you?? One thing I do not recommend however is trying to french seam and plaid match... that shit's haaaaaarrrrrdddddd

Plaid matching

Also can we take a minute to talk about what a warpy, shifty bugger plaid flannel is! I don't know why but I was expecting it to be fairly stable to work with. Not so! Actually, to be fair, it's malleable nature made it great for some things like pressing darts and easing in sleeves, but it made cutting and plaid matching a nightmare. Also it picks up threads and fluff like a lint roller. But I'll forgive it because it's soft and snuggly as a newborn puppy. Also I bought it last August at C and H fabrics in Canterbury while on holiday with my best friend so it holds a lot of good memories. :)


A good thing about slow sewing is it makes you appreciate the details. One of my favourite details are the chambray accents i used for the inner yoke and pocket bags. No one but me (and you) will ever see them but I love how the chambray adds to the lumberjacky-ness of the plaid flannel!
Preventative gaping measures...
I did my usual addition of adding a small snap between the buttons at the bust to prevent gaping. However, I also used this technique (adding a backwards button) to prevent waist gaping. I've found the invisible button works perfectly. keeping the waist in place, but it does take some getting used to when putting the dress on.

That's about all really. My only problem is the weather. You see all I want is to put on this dress and dance around in it's flannelly plaid goodness. But it's so damn hot! Even thinking about flannel is making me sweat :/ So now I'm off to do some seasonal sewing... perhaps a nice wool coat...
Casual cuff buttoning

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