Archive for the ‘dress’ Category

Project #90 – Yellow and Black Dress

Sunday, April 5th, 2009

It was so windy today that I got knocked down twice by particularly nasty gusts while trying to weed the garden. I’ll take any sign that tells me to stop weeding and do something else. It’s a chore that never fails to leave me cranky and grumpy.

I’ve made yet another dress this year that will have to wait in the closet a few days for more pleasant weather. I heard that there was a good chance of sleet and snow tomorrow. Winter flips one final bird at the city before departing for a few months every April. When I first moved here I would usually fall for the first few warm days of spring and plant my doomed seedlings too early and put away my winter clothes. This, of course, would explain my complete inability to grow cucumbers or melons year after year, because when I say ‘when I first moved here’ that included everything up until a few months ago. Still, I’m not going to fall for it this year and I won’t have a late frost yank the football out from under me.

Still, I’m prepared for the hot days ahead. Cotton and billowy skirts are a definite win for people who live in homes without air conditioning.

I lost the second page of directions to this pattern, so I ended up guessing. I think it’s a sign of my improved skills as a seamstress that for once I didn’t end up with three sleeves, or an upside down skirt for once. Small victories are nice.

Project #78 – Red Dotted Shirt Dress

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

I’ve been working on this dress off and on for the entire week, but I made the biggest push to finish it off today. I put in my last stitches just 15 minutes before running out the door to take dinner to some friends with a new baby. I threw a machine washable cardigan over it just in case of baby puke, but the little guy just sat in my lap and slept while his parents ate.

I used NL6587. I usually don’t trust New Look patterns, so I made this one out of the cheapest usable fabric I had. What can I say? New Look patterns are dirt cheap so I have a lot in my stash.

The fit was perfect on the first try, but I might make some adjustments to the collar for future versions. I also like the gathered skirt, which would leave room to let out the seams without completely dismantling the dress. Clark and I are considering having children soon, so lately I’ve been looking at every pattern and asking “Can I get fat in this?” It would suck to lose most of my handmade wardrobe should I gain a size or two after pregnancy.

I love shirt dresses. They work even with the weirdest, quirkiest fabric. I want to make one of every color so I can wear them everyday this summer.

Finishing Up Loose Ends

Monday, March 16th, 2009

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day, so instead of starting a new project I decided to finish an old one, Project #4. I’d left the dress unhemmed since I put it down in January and with a zipper only half-installed. I’ve been making more and more full skirted retro-style dresses. I love the dimensions, but the hems take hours to sew and I just keep putting it off until I really need to make a good impression.

I did kind of a cruddy job with the invisible zipper, but I might just need to bite the bullet and actually buy a invisible zipper foot instead of hand-stitching (poorly). Still, I love this dress and I’m going to have a good time wearing it out.

Project #65 – Hillbilly Dress

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

Not all dresses were meant to be. The scary thing about sewing the wrong dress is that you can’t put it back on the rack and grab another in a different color or in a size up or down. I chose this pattern because I don’t own any wrap dresses and because it didn’t need a zipper for a closure. I have a limited supply of zippers that I brought over from Japan, so I love any pattern that lets me continue hoarding them.

I’m wearing a shrug in the picture because the cut of the shoulders makes me look like a linebacker. I think this dress would work better for a lady with a bigger rack and more meat on her bones. Luckily, the pattern goes up to size 22 (44 inch bust, 37 inch waist) so it covers a better range than most mall stores. Plus, there’s a little tummy hiding voodoo due to the empire waist.

The dress gets its name from the fabric. It’s a handkerchief style pattern, with a little edge from skulls, guns and cards…if it is possible for cotton fabric to have an edge.

I’m about a week and a half into my Lenten no “meat with feet” fast. I’m starting to fantasize about steaks and big fat hamburgers. I consoled myself with a dressed up pizza.

Project #51 – Winter Wool Dress

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

Today I attended a chili cook-off organized by some friends. It’s been too cold to wear most of my dresses, so I made a fiery red wool dress that would do a better job at holding up to the winter chill. Plus, I could hope that the color would match any chili that I spilled on it. The hemline is a little shorter than usual, but it’s a party dress, right?

The pattern is 5260, but I exchanged the neckline facings for a narrow hem, and changed the V-neck for a scoop-neck. The fabric is a wool knit from Fabric Mart. The wool is high quality so the dress itself is not itchy, even if you go without a slip.

Clark’s chili took second place out of 9 chilies, so congratulations to him!

Project #25 – Architecture Dress

Sunday, January 25th, 2009

I think this is one of my favorite dresses that I’ve every made. The fit has a little to do with it, I love an A-line skirt, but it’s mostly because of the fabric. I love unusual prints, especially if they feature text or diagrams. This one is covered with an architectural plan for a house, and the fact that it is riddled with typos makes it twice as charming.

I picked up the fabric from Momenya-Makino in Shimokitazawa, a neighborhood in western Tokyo. The store itself was really small, but crammed from floor to ceiling with bolts of fabric. The staff was really helpful and helped me grab a bolt of fabric from the bottom of a teetering stack. I actually own this fabric pattern in three different colors, but the black design is definitely more wearable than its hot pink or bright orange counterparts.

The pattern for this dress is 5094 from McCalls. Two meters of fabric wasn’t quite enough to do the full length dress, but it was appropriate for the view F, which has a contrast border. I like the fit a lot, but it’s fitted so perfectly that it would be uncomfortable if I were to gain more than a few pounds.

I’ve been trying to plan my handmade wardrobe so that I would still be able to wear most of it after having kids, but this dress might be one piece limited to my pre-baby life. Midriff bands are not kind to changing bodies.

I need to slow down on the dress-making. I’ve already made 25 and the closets in this house are small. This is the fifth dress I’ve made just this month, and it’s another one that will have to wait until spring for full utilization.

Project #17 – Ruler Fabric Sundress

Saturday, January 17th, 2009


This is the third dress that I’ve made this year that will have to wait until Spring to leave the house. Stupid winter.

I pulled this blue ruler fabric out of my stash after reading about some similar fabric on Dress A Day. I knew exactly how I was going to sew this dress as soon as I matched my fabric to a pattern. The last thing I wanted my ruler fabric to do was to broadcast how wide I am or how big my boobs are in the imperial system. So, I positioned my pattern pieces to keep the pattern running vertical, or at an angle, really anything but horizontal. I even broke the front bodice into two pieces and sewed it chevron style pointing to my face, because that’s where people should be looking anyway.

This pattern is another New Look, NL6676, and not surprisingly it look a load of fitting adjustments. I never understood New Look’s crazy ease calculations. Why would anyone want a bust line with four extra inches of fabric? One inch would have been plenty to keep the fit comfortable and not leave the wearer swimming in fabric.

Plus, while the bust was too big, the fanny was the right size, so I know it’s not a direct up or down sizing issue. Using the same size for another pattern company would have left me with a garment that fit my whole body. These seem to be sized for people with major implants. Arg. I should know better.

The worst part is that I know I’m going to make this pattern again. I meant my ruler dress to be a wearable muslin so that I could proof the pattern for some of my precious Japanese fabric. I guess it’s good that I’ll at least have a better idea of the pitfalls the second time around. Sadly, I haven’t found a better sundress pattern as far as using the tiny amount of fabric (less than 1.5 yards) that this one does.

Project #10 – Knit Leafy Dress

Saturday, January 10th, 2009

I had every intention of going to work today, but I almost lost control of my car due to the freezing rain while running an errand. So, I went straight home, wrote a few PHP scripts, and put off the bulk of my workday until tomorrow. I spent the rest of my afternoon watching a documentary and sewing a dress for when it finally gets warm.

I cut out this pattern almost five months ago. I love a good knit dress, but I was a little put off by one with so many pattern pieces. My favorite knit patterns usually have only two and can be sewn together in less than an hour. This one had five and the directions looked especially sadistic.

I’m not too happy with the way the dress sewed together. The collar is much thicker than what is in the pattern picture and the sleeves stick out oddly. I’m also not satisfied with the underbust seam. The interfacing required by the pattern causes the line to look awkward.

I’m starting the think that it’s not me, but the pattern company. I’ve never made a New Look pattern without having the pieces line up weirdly, or the item will turn out two sizes too big. I’ll have to keep that in mind for the future the next time I’m tempted by an attractive pattern cover.

Project #4 – Retro Cocktail Dress

Sunday, January 4th, 2009

I only had one weekend day left until my cocktail party, so today would have to be the day if I wanted try to replace yesterday’s dress. I chose to make Butterick 4792 mostly because it had only 3 pattern pieces and I figured that I could put it together quickly. I should have looked at everything more carefully because it turned out that I would need two of the pieces out four times each.

I shortened the skirt by about 5 inches to get the whole thing to fit onto 3 yards of emerald green dupioni silk. I shorten and lengthen a lot of skirts, so I have a handy little compass-y contraption made of two colored pencils in my sewing box at all times. I just adjust the rubber band to lengthen or shorten how far from the hem I can trace.

I’m not quite done with this one; I need to shorten the underskirt and hem the whole thing. I did spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to unwind the tavern puzzle top every time I sewed a new seam, but I managed to get it to this state after about 6 hours of sewing.

I’m wearing a bra in the picture, one with straps. I used a elastic hair loop to bring my straps in front together so that they wouldn’t ruin the neckline of the dress. It’s still comfortable and a lot cheaper than the $19.95 the folks on TV are charging for a Strap Perfect, though this solution doesn’t come with free boob tape.

I’m also wearing my big pink crinoline for my project picture. It’s been getting lots of use lately with my recent run on 50′s era reprint patterns, but it’s got a bit too much length and volume for this dress. I would likely have to make another by this coming weekend, which might be a deal breaker with all of the overtime I’ll be doing this week. I kind of want to save this one for springtime when it will finally be warm enough for me to wear it outside without a jacket.

Project #3 – Silk Cocktail Dress

Saturday, January 3rd, 2009


I have a special occasion in one week, a party that will require a formal cocktail length dress. Which (yay!) means that I need to make another dress. I’ve made only one other dress out of silk before, but I like the squeaky sound that my sewing needle makes when it sews silk dupioni.

I’d been waiting for Vogue patterns to go one sale forever because they are freakin’ expensive even with the usual discount. $15? Hell no. I’d even flip through the online catalog at work and get all antsy because I wanted my pattern now. When they went on sale on the 1st of January I marched down to the fabric store on a mission for Vogue 8494…aaand they only had one copy in the cabinet, not in my size, of course. I pouted for a little bit and then I remembered that some evil customers will squirrel away the best ones in another drawer until the sale starts. I flipped through a few of the cabinets and I magically found just what I was looking for, and in my size, too. Yoink!

I put this dress together in about four hours, mostly while watching Jaws. After I sewed the outside dress together I took it into the kitchen to show my husband and in the dim light I realized that my iridescent, purple-gray fabric took on the exact color and shininess as a trash bag. Which sucks because: 1) This is actually really nice fabric in the daylight. 2) It will be nighttime and dim (but not dim enough) at the party. And 3) it would have been way cooler if I had decided to use actual trash bags for the dress ’cause everyone would have been like “Trash bags?! No way!” and I would have been like “Yes way!!!1″ Plus, trash bags, unlike this fabric, cost about 10 cents a yard. Rats.

Anyway, I’m not sure I’m in love with the silhouette. The dress in the pattern picture has a skirt that’s a little more full. I’m going to iron the hell out of this dress to see if I can get the bottom half looking a little less like a paper-mâché tube. I still have six days to replace this with something better, but I’m probably over-thinking this cocktail party outfit. If I have two Salty Dogs as soon as I arrive, I will probably stop caring so much.