Sometimes you just have to walk away.

Hmm

McCall's 3415

I have a feeling this dress is going to spend a little while in the Magic Closet.* You know when you reach that point when you’ve unpicked a seam so many times the whole thing just starts to look mashed and no matter how well you re-stitch it it’s still going to be a bit wonky? Yeah. I’m there.

That being said, I think once I’ve had a little bit of space I’ll quite like this dress. We just need a bit of time.

Front view

So, after all y’all’s** sage advice last week, I put on my big girl panties and unpicked the skirt (yes, removing zipper in the process), and made Alterations.

Specifically, I lopped 15 cm (about 6″) off the top, re-cutting using the top of the pattern but blending out to a wider width quite quickly (maybe a little too quickly…). In my paranoia over having enough ease I actually made the skirt a bit wider even at the top, electing to ease that in.

Side view

This fabric doesn’t ease so well, did I mention? Well, I mean, it does—there’s no pleats in the seam—but it sure shows the puckers. Not even going to go into how many times it took me to get the zipper straight and smooth and matching up, either. On the up side, I did get it smooth and relatively straight (and relatively invisible!) eventually, so I shan’t whine too much. And I did a slightly better job stitching on the bodice lining on the inside this time, although with all the grading and clipping and fraying from being unpicked so many times it still doesn’t look peachy. But I think I have the theory down, anyway.

Back view

There are still some issues with how the back hangs—I think somewhere in my alterations the grain got a bit skewed—but at least it’s not straining over my hips and making my belly look like a stuffed sausage anymore. (It actually looks way better in this pic than when I’m just standing straight.  I miss the pockets, though. I wonder how much more work it would be to put them back in, now there’s enough ease for them… (walk away, Tanit, walk away…)

Hem facing

Having removed six inches in length, I didn’t really want to lose much more in the hem, so I put back the hem lace I’d been planning to use and dug out a package of teal hem-tape from one of my thrift-store scores that’s probably been in its package since about the time this pattern was new. I actually really like using a bias facing in curved hems like this. It works a bit better if you “circle” it first—iron it while stretching it into a curve.

Hem facing

Plus after thirty-odd years in the package it really needed to be ironed. Fortunately the skirt is quite narrow, as it was only a 1.85m package, and I had to discard about eight inches at one end where the tape that held the end in place all those years had turned yellow and marked up the fabric. I had just enough. The hem facing is a fair bit darker than the rest of the dress, but I think it’s a fun flash of colour. And it gives me the feel of a full, yummy 2.5″ hem without losing more than about 2 cm in length.

Having said all that, I have to admit something.

Halter styles are something I have a problem with. Meaning, I like them. I love the exposed back, I love how they look on other people and on pattern illustrations. But somehow when I see them on myself, I always feel line-backer-ish. Like they just emphasize the breadth of my shoulders. I keep making them because I really like the idea. And I keep thinking that next time, it’ll look “right.” There probably should be a name for this kind of stylistic insanity. On the other hand, I am actually liking the photos a lot better than I like the reflection in the mirror, so perhaps its one of those things where my brain exaggerates what I’m seeing beyond all reason.

Anyway, I’m hoping that some time in the Magic Closet will help me forget about most of my issues with the dress. Although the halter one’s probably there to stay. Next up: jackets in summertime. Unless the Lonsdale pattern arrives, anyway ;).

*You know. Where self-made pieces go to wait out the period while you forget all the stupid mistakes and messes you made.

**I don’t actually talk like this, but it sure is fun to write sometimes. Also my town is infected with cowboys at the moment, so it would be surprising if I didn’t have at least a few symptoms.

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34 Comments

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34 responses to “Sometimes you just have to walk away.

  1. Your shoulders and back look beautiful in the halter! And I know the magic closet well! I’ve got a couple of things hanging out there right now. :-)

  2. I think you have a case of crazy brain — you don’t look a bit line-backerish to me. I would actually say its the reverse and you look quite petite / glamorous with the exposed back.

  3. I have the linebacker phobia too, but I just suck it up because so many other necklines look worse than a halter on me. Put it in the closet, take a deep breath, revisit later. It might be all in your head.

    After revisiting your photos, I do think that you would do better with a halter that doesn’t come up quite so high. Perhaps a nice V-necked halter? Maybe something with neck ties so you can adjust it? Eh, I dunno.

    Hope the Lonsdale pattern arrives soon, so you’re not stuck in coat purgatory!

    • But I don’t like V-necks! ;). Which is why I made the non-V-neck view of the pattern. /sigh.

      • I have a bony sternum, so I’m not always a fan of the V either but I think it works as long as it isn’t too low. I was thinking of the halters I like on me, and I think the tie in the back, adjustable feature was what finally sold me on the style. And of course, they’re usually a V-neck! :-P

  4. If halter tops make shoulders look broader, I should make a million of them. I’ve got really narrow shoulders. I don’t think you look line-backerish at all. That’s a very pretty style on you and the color is great. Bravo for showing that dress who’s boss. Hopefully it won’t have to sit in the magic closet for long because it deserves to be worn!!

    • Hmm. I don’t know if they’re actually SUPPOSED to make shoulders look broader… I’ve actually seen them recommended as a good style for those of us with broad shoulders. I just for some reason never like them on me (despite loving them in theory). /sigh. You could certainly give it a try, though! :)

  5. I agree with the others..you look STUNNING in halter backs! Love it! Great job to really tackle this dress…it looks great!

  6. Hey lady, if I got the guts to wear a halter dress you ain’t got nothin’ to complain about! You look aaaamazing, so don’t worry.

    If it makes you feel any better you can borrow my 2 D-20 Flail.

  7. Well, you look gorgeous in the top photo. See my blog: are you ready for the Poodle Pants challenge?
    XX

    • Hmm. Possibly not my cup of tea ;)… although I would probably wear these over the high-waisted pants that are out there. But that says more about how I feel about high-waisted pants ;).

  8. frances

    You look fantastic!! The halter style really suits you and so does that blue. My suggestion for the next one you make is to put a keyhole in the front bodice.

  9. If you’re going to walk away, then make sure you’re wearing this dress – cos it looks awesome on you! You have great shoulders – show them off!
    Any small packages covered with NZ stamps in the mailbox yet?

    • Aww, thanks!

      Sadly, no. All of the stuff that arrived last week was posted pre-strike, so I don’t even know what’s happening to the “newer” stuff that’s coming into the system… Soon, hopefully! I am excited about that little gadget. :)

  10. Uta

    You look gorgeous in this dress! I love the lines as wel as the pastel color on you. I hope the magic closet works!

  11. Ah yes, the linebacker shoulders syndrom. I have the same problem, and I also never wear halter tops. It makes me feel manly and also seems to accentuate skinny-ness. When I see this dress on you though, the first thought is definitely not ‘oh look at those huge shoulders!’. Which makes me wonder if it’s all in the head. Or maybe it looks better on women with a full(er) bust, You know, divert the attention :) Anyway, to make a long story short, this dress looks very good on you :)

    • Well, I’m glad I’m not the only one. It doesn’t really scream at me in the photos the way it does in the mirror, so maybe it IS in our heads… I just don’t know. The dress is growing on me already, though…

  12. I’m giggling right now because I’m actually picturing a linebacker wearing this dress! I think you look very elegant in this dress- not linebacker-ish at all. I love the hem facing. I found a box of old hem facings at the Salvation Army the other day– maybe I should go back and buy them all…

    Also, nothing wrong with saying y’all…. ;)

  13. Sewista Fashionista

    I don’t think you look like a linebacker! Check out American Football during SuperBowl time. Trust me you don’t look like any of those guys!

    Putting the dress away for a time will be a good thing. Sometimes one can get so focused on the problems that one doesn’t see the whole picture. Some time in the closest will tell. When I am immersed in another project I find I am less emotional about the previous one.

  14. Scruffy badger

    Too super cute for words! It’s got a kind of baby doll look to it and really suits you I think. In a pattern drafting learning kind of way it would be really interesting to see before and after pics showing what you did. Not necessarily a request- but if you feel like it I bet other people would also learn from it? Otherwise I can go comparing :-)

  15. Joy

    I know what you mean about being conscious of the shoulders….but I think this style works really well for you. After all, it’s more about proportion than the an absolute rule. Anyway, it look fabulous – nice save!

  16. I’ve been digging into my Grandma’s stash while staying with her, so I know exactly what you’re talking about with the 30+ years old supplies! I love using them though, despite some of the issues (like discolouration) that comes with them.

    I also know what you mean about halter tops. My arms and shoulders are too rounded and sloped to really pull them off, and I find that I tend to slouch even more than average when I have something pulling down on my neck. But darn it, they actually look quite lovely on you. *fist shake* I don’t see the linebacker effect on you, but you’re probably right about the mirror-to-eye distortion. I think that catches us all! It’s one of the reasons I love blogging about my me-made garments – forces me to look at them in another light!

  17. Okay, so I’m a little late to this party ;) but… as said above you do not have crazy lookin’ shoulders – in fact (and I say this in a strictly platonic way of course) you have a lovely toned ‘n’ sexy set of back/shoulders/arm-combo that you should be very proud to own. So, hush-up now and just accept that you look good in halternecks and consider that and end to the debate ‘cos we won;t hear you utter another word on the matter unless it’s a positive one so there (LOL!)!!!!

    • LOL! If it helps, I wore the dress to work yesterday and enjoyed it thoroughly. At least Joy and Lisa are with me on the halter look—though the rest of you may be right that it’s (largely) in our heads. I think the A-line skirt balances it off in the photos, but when looking in a mirror maybe I focus too much on the upper body alone, not taking in the full silhouette sometimes…

  18. I’m a big halter top fan! And I think this dress shows off your shoulders to maximum advantage! And I don’t see any line-backerishness, but I understand how most women have an issue (real or imagined) with some part of their body (I do, too). So, why not add a strap down the center back (or a pair of straps)? It would visually break up the space, while still having that open-backed feel.

    • I actually love the view of the back, it’s from the front I feel, ah, broad. Body image issues are so bizarre, especially since I realized it doesn’t actually matter what my weight/shape is… the issues stay the same. :P

  19. Lucy

    Oh, I love that dress, and yes, I love it on you, shoulders n’all. Glad you’ve been wearing it and enjoying it :-)

    I know exactly what you mean about feeling uncomfortable with a style though, and indeed halter-necks in the specific. I’m somewhere between a pear and an hourglass – my B:W:H measurements are 36:30:42 and my shoulders are about the same width as my hips – and worry that halter necks just emphasise the ‘pear’ aspect. I keep feeling like I need a session with a stylist or something just to tell me ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ and then I’d know! Maybe I’d even feel comfortable wearing one, although I doubt it….

  20. I think sometimes having good posture makes us think our shoulders look too big. We’re not used to seeing women stand like that, so we think we should hunker down and hide.

    You look wonderful :D That blue is a super-flattering color too!

  21. Ali

    I think you look gorgeous as always. Take that dress out of the closet and strut your stuff while we’ve still got sunshine :) I actually like a halter on rectangular gals like us, I actually think it balances the body. I don’t wear them that often because of bra issues and they always look funny with a cardigan (on me). But on a roasting day, nothing more flattering than a halter. Great job!

    I’ve been coveting the Longsdale dress too and haven’t snapped it up for precisely this reason — it won’t get that much wear :( Though I’ll bet your version will convince me otherwise. I’ve been doing a s#$&load of shirring lately and I entirely blame your red dress ;)

  22. damn lady, you’ve been productive! love the dress and it looks really good in you. i think you’re hallucinating linebacker shoulders, they don’t look that way to the rest of us! after all the cool stuff you’ve made, i think i need to figure out shirring :)

  23. Kelly

    That dress looks SO.MUCH.BETTER! since you altered it. I love it and it’s lovely on you. No linebacker issues at all, really. As far as how it hangs in the back – ((it might just be hanging up on your underwear!)) maybe try it over a silky pair?

  24. Girl, you are crazy. That dress is awesome. No need for a magic closet, just a shrink to help you with your head case. ;) Seriously. I love the dress.

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