Dresses I shouldn’t be sewing

A dress I shouldn't've been sewing

Ok, this post has been in the “drafts” folder long enough that the original title was “Dresses I’m Not Sewing”. But since I seem to have fallen off (or on?) that wagon, and I can feel the itch for another one or two coming on, I’ll retitle it.

I’ve been trying to focus my sewing this time around very tightly on things I will wear in my everyday life, as I spent the first, er, twenty years or so of my sewing career making things that were mildly to wildly impractical, at least from an everyday standpoint. And I was doing really well, too, right up until about Christmas, give or take a Lady Grey coat.

Since Christmas, I’ve made the 70s dress, a fluffy petticoat, and now a skirt to wear with the petticoat. I’m feeling a little less guilty about the petticoat since I made the skirt, and a little less guilty about the skirt since I did wear it all last weekend. And I have worn the 70s dress out of the house once, to a friend’s birthday. It’s possible that when the weather is warm (I can’t say “warms up” as we were the warmest place in Canada yesterday for a bit and it’s been lovely for almost a week, but winter is bound to return before it goes for good) I can work on incorporating some fun skirts and dresses into my wardrobe a bit more. I’ve certainly had my bouts of creative over-dressing before, but I’ve been rather lazy the last several years.

Anyway, this post is not a to-do list. It might even be a to-don’t list. But it is a quick examination of some of the dresses, in my stash or on the internet, that are tickling my fancy right now, and tempting me from the Straight and Narrow Road of Practicality.

Maybe I’m just impatient for Spring.


Collette’s Ceylon

Yum, yum, yum. Colette’s pattern draft is probably about as far from “suited to my figure” as you can get, but I’m willing to dare it for the Ceylon. I love the waist panel; I love the little pseudo-bolero yoke (wouldn’t it look smashing colour-blocked?). I even love the buttons all down the front, though I don’t imagine I’ll love actually sewing them, or their buttonholes. The only thing I think I might want to change would be the skirt—wouldn’t it just be yummy with a circle skirt on there?

I especially love this version. Though it may be one of those cases where the way it looks on her figure and the way it would look on mine won’t add up.

When I start thinking about making this dress, I become paralyzed. Start with size 0 or 2? How should I do the swayback alteration? What about the SBA?

Now that I have a duct-tape quasi-double, I’m feeling a little more bold about tackling this, but… we’ll see. My guess is that I will need to do an SBA, shorten the bodice and/or the waist piece, grade out at the waist, and do a swayback alteration, possibly involving the addition of a back seam.

Style 3416

Maternity ?!?!

Ah, those 70s dress. Style 3416 crept into my stash last summer, mainly for the sleeveless dress version in pink on the cover. Imagine my surprise when I got it home, opened the baggie (it came in a baggie of three patterns for $1 at the thrift store) and discovered it was technically a maternity pattern. I’m betting it would be easy to de-maternify, though, or failing that just get pregnant again.

That was a joke. Don’t even go there. I may be at an age where most of my cohort are finally giving in to the biological clock, but while there are advantages to having your kids later, and advantages to having your kids earlier, I’m fairly convinced that there are no advantages to having both.

McCall’s Easy Stitch ‘n Save 8500

McCall's 8500

I know, I know, but look at the lines. Basic, scoop neck, princess seam. This is another one of those cases of “looking past the envelope.”

Or so I’m telling myself, anyway.

I had a dress like this in high-school made out of green crushed stretch velvet, with laces in the back (oh, the mid-90s…). I did love that dress. The only problem with it was the sleeves were too short.

I’m pretty sure with the right fabric, and maybe a detail or two, this dress could be the bomb. With buttons all down the front, I bet I’d love it almost as much as Ceylon…

When I get around to it.


Cheongsam pattern

And then the Sew Convert has to go and post about cheongsams, re-igniting a love of this dress-style I’ve probably nursed since first seeing the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom as a tot. Don’t laugh, I blame my 14-year-plus love affair with bellydance squarely on Princess Leia’s slave-girl outfit in Return of the Jedi. Well, and how awesome bellydance is, but that’s a whole nother story (and would require a whole nother blog, I suspect).

I had one of these I found at a vintage clothing store as a teenager. I loved it, but it always needed to be altered to fit properly, and since I kept fluctuating size what with growing up and then having babies, I eventually passed it on. Β This pattern is on the “Modern Sewing” site, which is a few of the same patterns as the Lekala people, but free, not custom sized, and not conveniently tiled for printing. I’m not sure I love the cut-on sleeves of this particular one, but I don’t hate them either and I’ve had good luck with their drafting in the past, and there’s back darts and a CB seam for shaping, unlike, say, the Folkwear pattern.

Contrary to type, I think I want a blue one. It’s possible I’m being led astray by Adey’s gorgeous wedding cheongsam

Since I just paid an unpleasant volume of bills today, which has me gasping slightly and vowing to sew only stash fabrics for the foreseeable future (yes, you may start placing bets on how long that lasts…), I think this one is going to have to wait a bit. Also, have I mentioned I’m terrified of double-ended darts?


Red fabric

Ok, if nothing else a post like this helps me prioritize, and fitting terror aside, I think Ceylon’s definitely ahead of the pack. I have a copious amount of a rather sturdy red fabric (right of picture, and rather more dark-red than the muted purplish colour in the photo, sigh. Actually, the muted purple it’s showing on my screen is rather close to the actual colour of the 70s dress, which photographs as black) that’s been aging in the stash since last summer, and would be a lovely Ceylon. I originally bought it for mediaeval-costuming purposes, but it’s the only piece I have in stash right now that’s large enough for a full dress, and a regular dress would be at least a tiny bit more wearable than a mediaeval costume…

Hmm…. I have to finish tracing out the pattern for the hubby’s shirt… maybe I could pull out some of the Ceylon pieces at the same time…

Bad, bad seamstress….



Filed under Sewing

25 responses to “Dresses I shouldn’t be sewing

  1. Sue

    Lol ….. there’s nothing like setting goals! I’m looking forward to seeing your version of the Colette pattern.

  2. Your comment about the relative benefits of having children either early or late (but not both) made me laugh out loud. You are SO right!

  3. I love your 70s dress! If sewing becomes too practical then it’s no fun anymore.

    Colette patterns scare me: I have a long torso, small build, modest bust, everything they don’t draft for.

    I believe traditional Cheongsam have cut on sleeves, if sleeveless, or set-in long sleeves. The movie “In the Mood for Love” has amazing cheongsam!

    • Yeah… I have a small bust and relatively wide waist (like, er, four Colette sizes bigger than the rest of me). But I couldn’t resist Lady Grey and Ceylon. /sigh

      I have that about that movie… I will have to check it out πŸ™‚

  4. LOL… I haven’t done an official inventory but probably atleast 25% of my creations never leave the house because they either just aren’t practical or they are not my style. But it’s always fun to imagine that you would wear them! I think I need to adopt your resolution to be more practical this year too!

    • Yeah, I had reached a point where the impractical, whimsical sewing just wasn’t fun any more. I guess there’s a balance… but I’d prefer it leaned towards the practical side… πŸ˜‰

  5. Yay! I think you’d look extra awesome-o in that cheongsam (hmmmmm…. i didn’t know there was a special name for that!) and you KNOW I’m up for seeing the Ceylon – love the version you linked to as well as Casey’s green one. I don’t know if I’ll ever go there!

  6. ohhh i want some of your discipline!! i think the cheongsam would look fantastic on you and i can’t wait to see the ceylon!

  7. I too have loved that Ceylon pattern ever since I first laid eyes on it some time ago, but I just don’t think I would look so good in it, and I don’t have the right shoes either.
    But, I love the vicarious pleasure of watch others make and wear it. And it would look good in red.

  8. I think a cheongsam would be well suited to your frame, but it’s certainly not the most practical garment. Here’s a thought, make a 2 piece cheongsam, which probably has a different name, but anyway, fitted skirt and top, of the same fabric, when worn together has the basic look of the one piece, but you could wear them as separates, thereby making them practical. (I think one of the women in the pictures from Sew Convert’s cheongsam post is wearing a two piece) .

  9. I agree with the others and can really see you in a cheongsam!
    I made some once in a black knit with a black blossom print – they were so sassy, very slimming, and flattered almost everyone. I wore mine to death!

  10. Oh, the Cheongsam (my Mum’s Chinese & pronounces it “Chongsum” the “u” sounds like cross between the “a” in Sam and a “u”, I don’t speak any oriental languages – more’s the pity, however I’m 99% sure that’s the right way to say it). Hang on… click here to here, then click the listen button to hear it spoken!

    BTW – re: tiling the pattern onto A4/Letter sized pages did you see this page:
    How to Print Patterns – (Modern Sewing Patterns), they then link you to this free web thingey that converts it for you! PDF Tile Printer :)!

  11. I am happy to see your 70’s dresses, they are strangely appealing to me also.
    in fact I recently bought an old pattern that I know I had sewn in jr. high school, back in my very early sewing days, something I wore forever. what does that mean that I now want to recreate it?
    Anyway – the cheongsam will look great on you, looking forward to it.

  12. I accidentally cut out a Spring dress last week. I had planned to make it with long sleeves, then doubted myself, and then turned out not to have enough fabric for long sleeves. It is too early to stop sewing cold weather clothes but sooooo tempting.

  13. You need unsuitable sewing to make all that kid sewing bearable IMO. I agree with your kids early or late idea, but having done both myself, it is still OK. 11 years of Primary school down, only 4 to go…..

    • I don’t do nearly as much kid sewing as you, as far as I can tell, but I hear you! πŸ˜‰

      That is a LOT of primary school… For myself, I think I’ll continue to harbor my illusions of having both kids out of the house by the time I’m forty πŸ˜‰

  14. It is the dress patterns that inspire the little catch in the throat and some “fantasy” sewing ideas – fantasy on my part since I never go to cocktail parties but always coo over those dress patterns. Folkwear has carried the cheongsam pattern and I have loved it for decades but not bought it since my social life does not include brocade-appropriate functions.
    You appear quite tall, the Collette dress skirt – maybe some godets that gave extra swirl at the hem to accent the flamenco flair of the bolero and waist panel. But that would be more work. And it already has a lot of seams, and buttons . . . πŸ™‚

  15. *g* And here I thought I was the only one who continuously envisioned circle skirts instead of gathered skirts on every dress… πŸ˜€
    I think there may be a Ceylon in my intermediate future, too. There definitely is a Cheongsam…
    Looking forward to your projects!

  16. Pingback: One year in Blogland | Tanit-Isis Sews

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