On Sunday it was our annual end of year French class party. I recalled that on the same day last year I took some wrinkled, slightly tipsy, sun wearied photos (of a pattern testing skirt), so I figured that's almost a tradition. Why not photograph the dress exactly as it mostly ends up looking: wrinkled! (and yes, I've just come from a looooong lunch!)
I took longer to make this dress than anything I've ever made before. It's also the first time I've ever made adjustments to the fit of a pattern other than just blending from one upper size to another lower half size.
Last spring I cut a muslin and basted it together. It was obviously just too big all over, so I redrafted the pattern and cut my muslin down one size and then ran out of enthusiasm and put it aside.
This spring I decided it was time to re-tackle the shirt dress. I seem to be continually gaining weight (boo), so I was nervous that I'd need to go back up a size and I knew I would give up altogether if that was the case. Luckily not. It was still more than roomy.
I tend to get this little puddle of loose fabric in my upper chest in a few things I've made and it makes them look sloppy. I wanted the dress to sit better at that point, but there was no way I could lose any of the shoulder room across the back. I definitely wanted a summer dress with sufficient ease to bend down, pick things up and generally be able to move.
The Instagram brains trust came to the rescue and I ended up making two darts on the pattern piece. each dart took 1cm out at the seamline. One came from the front shoulder vertically down, and the other from the front armhole horizontally inwards:
That eliminated my fabric puddle nicely. It did mean that the centre front of the dress got a very slight bend to it where the pattern hinged, but not enough to be an issue. Also the back shoulder was then 1cm longer than the front but it was easy to ease the difference when sewing the shoulder seam. Especially with the final version's linen fabric.
I was nervous about it being too fitted and restrictive, but it turns out there's still enough shoulder and back room to move freely. I was hoping for a dress that would look reasonably fitted in the shoulders and chest and then be loose and easy wearing from there down. I think it's worked well. It's certainly very easy to wear.
Of course I became obsessive about matching the pattern of the fabric at the side seams and across the front and front placket.
I also cut the pockets to match as close to perfectly as possible - the pocket is created with a tuck which rules out having it match at both the top and the bottom. Sadly, I didn't think enough about the pocket placement and I suspect they are a bit wider placed than would be ideal. Still, given you can barely see them for the pattern matching, perhaps it doesn't matter! :)
Since I'd put all the effort into fitting the pattern I figured I needed the best buttons, so I headed into Buttonmania for a button consultation with Kate. That's definitely the nicest way to buy buttons. We found these amazing buttons that are made up of layers of blue and white, and then cut on an angle. One side of the button is considerably thicker than the other, and the layers are then exposed on the surface.
The added benefit of the wedge shape of the buttons is that they're very easy to do up, yet resistant to popping undone.
The fabric is a linen from The Fabric Store and while it's quite a hefty weight linen, it still feels soft to wear.
I used to have a fabulous plaited leather belt, but it died in storage while I was travelling. This one is cheap and nasty, although I still like it better than the fabric belt that I made with the pattern. I've been thinking that my newfound macrame skills should stretch to plaiting a leather belt. That might be on the list for 2016...
With the shirt dress ticked off I was feeling successful enough to buy some fancy fabric for my Frocktails dress. Now that will take some fitting. Real, grown up, lady sewing style fitting....
Maybe the kids need some more clothes after all......
Pattern: Simplicity 2246 Traveller dress (Lisette)
Size: I don't remember anymore. 14 top 16 bottom maybe....
Modifications: shrunken pec adjustments (damn, I used to be able to bench press!)
Fabric: Heavy linen from The Fabric Store