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The Mini Minnie Dress

Fyon's Mini Minnie Dress

I firmly maintain that Minnie Mouse has no monopoly on red with white polkadots, any more than Miss Piggie has a monopoly on pink. Nonetheless, this is the thing I have heard second-most-often about this dress, in either of its iterations. Sheesh. Fortunately, the most-often-heard thing has been random, awesome compliments. And despite being first on the list to make the Minnie Mouse crack, my ever-sweet husband has also requested specifically that I wear my version several times, so it must be a winner. Sigh.

This is the version created for my four-year-old niece, who requested it last month, with much batting of eyelashes and many applications of  “Auntie, I love you!” Let’s just say that as long as the cute holds out, she should do well in life. You may have to click through to the full size version to see the polkadots on this one. They are small, but I promise you they are there.

Young Image Summer 2011 patterns

The pattern I used as a base is Y1109 from the Young Image Magazine Summer 2011 issue (third down on the left in the image above). You can browse through the whole magazine here, but it won’t let me link to a specific page; there’s a good view of the dress on p. 19. It had the right general lines, in particular the centre-front bodice panel.

I made the size 104, the smallest for this pattern; my niece is 106 cm tall, although her bust and hips were a little narrower than the 104 called for. Still, I’m glad I used the 104 rather than a smaller size (had one been available)—the amount of ease is fine but definitely not excessive.

Naturally I couldn’t just make it up as is. So this is not really a fair review of the pattern or the magazine, although I did use all of the pattern pieces provided. The instructions are, well, distinctly translated, and in so many languages it can be a bit tricky to figure out where the information you want is; it’s mostly segregated by language, but not entirely. Also, the pattern pages are only marked in two languages, neither of them English (my guess is Dutch and German, but I confess I didn’t actually pay attention), so be prepared to do some translating. That being said, they’re not nearly so over-crowded as Burda pages and each pattern has its own colour, so that part was not bad at all.

Dress back

The pattern calls for a rear zipper in the bodice (not extending into the skirt as far as I can tell), but I opted for buttons, instead. You do have to add seam allowances. They may tell you that somewhere, but if so I didn’t find it. I just figured that all the European pattern magazines (maybe European patterns in general?) don’t have seam allowances, and an examination of the size/shape of the pieces will confirm that.  If I’d been less pressed for time I would’ve read up a bit more on how much to add for a centre button placket, but I was in a hurry, so I winged it. It’s not exactly ideal. I should probably have drafted facings or used a self-lining (which I think is what the pattern calls for), but I didn’t. And I’m balls at understitching, so my white cotton lining peeks out a fair bit. Ah, well. I also put the straps on the wrong side, I’m pretty sure they are supposed to angle with the shoulders, not puff up the way they do, but they look cute anyway.

Underskirt for dress for niece.

The skirt in the pattern has a slightly-gathered, shaped upper portion and a ruffled lower portion. In the photo (page nineteen of the magazine, again, but I can’t do a direct link and I don’t have the physical magazine with me to photograph), the dress has quite a deep ruffle on the lower part of the skirt; it looks much shorter on the technical illustration, which I found rather confusing. There’s no pattern piece for this, which is fine as it’s just a rectangle, but I couldn’t find the information on how deep it should be, either, just how wide it should be at the different sizes. My original dress had a simple dirndl skirt, so I did that for my niece’s version, too, but I used the pattern-piece provided, plus a lower ruffle tier, for the underskirt. I was winging it for the length at that point—I did a quick comparison with some dresses from Tyo’s closet that I thought were in the right ballpark length—overshot, and wound up hacking about four inches off the top of the underskirt. Ah, well. It all gathers to the waist, anyway ;). For extra flouff, I gathered some tulle onto the underskirt. I should’ve used more. I also couldn’t use my favourite gathering technique, the zig-zag over a supplementary thread, as my zig-zagger was frozen at this point (she’s in the shop as we speak), so that was a wee bit annoying. Yes, I used the gathering foot, but getting the precise length was not happening so I wound up hand-basting and gathering it that way anyway. *headdesk*.

Dress

Instead of little ruffles on the centre front panel, I made an altered, double-length version of the CF piece to create the ruching. Gather it to the side-front pieces, construct bodice as usual.

Buttons closeup

I was a little concerned about the button-placket not extending into the skirt. After all, even on rectangular little children, you want to be able to open it a little below the waist, right? So after some cogitation, I decided to add in an extra-wide continuous lap placket at the centre back to finish off the button placket. Of course, for these to work properly you really have to fold the outer edge of the placket to the inside, which I completely forgot to do. So it’s a bit wonky in that area. Fortunately it’s pretty much hidden in the gathers, anyway. And cute ladybug buttons make up for all manner of flaws.

I have been having some fun being the sewing fairy, I must admit. I have been refusing to sew for my adult relations (well, unless they come to visit me for fittings, which, considering we live 600 km away, is a bit of a deterrent), but this summer I dared to hand down a couple of pieces. My stylish sister-in-law had greatly admired this sundress last year when I wore it, and after thinking about it, I decided to give it to her. I still like it a lot, but it feels like a lounging-by-the-lake (or in the back yard) kind of dress, something she does a lot more of than I (which is not to say she is lazy, quite the opposite, but she is currently at home with small children in a house with no AC, rather than spending her days in an overly-cooled lab like I do). Rather more recently, I made a tunic cloning a RTW one that I absolutely love. I liked the clone, too, but it was a bit too short through the body. So with some trepidation, I handed it over to my going-on-fourteen-year-old-niece. I am absolutely terrified of trying to sew something for anyone in this age-set without their direct input, but figured it had a better chance of working for her than for me and was reasonably stylish reasonably recently, and she steals lots of clothes from my stylish sister-in-law (I should perhaps clarify that my stylish sister-in-law is the mother of the four-year-old who received the Minnie dress, but NOT of the fourteen-year-old), who I feel pretty comfortable about guessing styles for. Anyway, she claims she likes it and as she’s only 5′ 1″, the length issue is rather less on her. So we’ll see. I still need to make the longer version…

Oona, this one's for you

Before I left on vacation, I did bring home one more piece of thrift store fabric: this crazy border-print. There’s only about a metre, but it’s very wide. Whatever it gets made into will obviously be dedicated to Oona of the Carnival Stash.

Whew! I must now return to hanging out with my in-laws, soaking up the sun, and wrangling somewhat obscene numbers of small children. Gotta love vacation…

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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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McCall’s 3415: Pride, fall, yadda, yadda

McCall's 3415

I am feeling summery-dressy.  What better way to move on to my next sundress triumph than to finally get around to the lovely McCall’s 3415? I love this pattern so much—the sleek line, empire waist, CF seam. The high, round-neck version is my favourite. And I just happened to have this fabric perfectly matching view C on the pattern envelope. I pulled out the pieces, did some quick tracing, pin-fitting, and even made up the bodice-lining as a kind of muslin to check the fit. Everything looked good.

What could go wrong?

Those of you with keen eyes may have noticed that this pattern is Misses’ size 10. Most of the 70s patterns I’ve made up to now have been a size 12.

Now technically both my bust and hip measurements are in between these two sizes, and I’ve read advice that when choosing a size from the big 4, if you’re between sizes, go with the smaller one. And with the few modern Big 4 patterns I’ve made for myself (hmm, that might actually only be one) I’ve ended up with the 10. But 12 seems to be a more common size in the single-size vintage patterns that have thrown themselves in my way, so I’ve often gone with that, and, at least for Simplicity, have my alterations pretty much worked out. The addition of a padded bra to bring my bust up to the official size-12 range, and I’m good to go.

I’m not nearly so clear for McCall’s patterns, having only made up one for myself, and that one being basically unfitted. And a size 12.

Pockets

Still, when you’re using $2/metre thrift store fabric, you can’t really justify much in the way of muslining. So off I went. I liked where the under-bust seam was falling, so I didn’t petite the bodice. I did do a small swayback alteration in the back, but that was all. I blithely added side-seam pockets, even remembering to interface the front side seam allowance (a tip from the Marcy Tilton book) so they don’t bag out. The bodice is intended to lined, with lining and shell cut from the same pattern piece. This is of course just asking for the lining edges to roll out, especially as it would be pretty near impossible to understitch those narrow parts around the neck, and I wasn’t feeling up to painstakingly making a lining piece taking into account turn of cloth, so I went with my old standby: piping. Yay! Is it possible for a wardrobe to have too much piping? We shall see…

Piping and button-loops

The pattern instructs you to use hooks and eyes for the non-overlapping closure at the back of the neck. I’m not a fan of hooks and eyes generally, and this definitely seemed a little flimsy (not to mention Becky Home-Ecky), so I made little tiny spaghettie strap button loops. I cut them on the bias, used the bobby-pin method to turn them, steamed and stretched and ironed the crap out of them until they were as skinny as I could get them, and I think I’m in love. I’m also a little astonished I was able to find a bobby-pin in my house, but anyway. The cute little buttons are from the stash, and probably are of a similar vintage to the pattern, if not older.

Zip

And then I got it all stitched up, minorly flubbing the invisible zip because I was too lazy in the zone to re-read Sherry’s tutorial. It’s okay, not great, and I did have to rip to re-position the waist seams so they matched.

And then I made my worst mistake yet. I tried it on.

hmm

Oops. Ok, so it’s not totally, totally awful. The bodice is pretty much perfect, barring a small amount of gaping at the sides that probably has more to do with my poor fabric-handling technique than anything else. But that is, ah, a wee bit MAJORLY tight through the hips. And there’s the wrinkling in the back. And a bit of gaping over the pockets, probably to do with the tightness in the hips (the Marcy Tilton book also discusses the amount of ease you need to have side-seam pockets in a skirt, and I’m pretty sure I don’t have it here. Also the side-seam swings back, suggesting I need a bit more booty room. This is, shall we say, a bit unusual for me.Hmm.So, depending on how you squint your eyes, I did one of two (possibly three things wrong. Arguably I should have shortened the upper part of the skirt to accommodate my short waist, which would basically bring up the wider part lower down to where the width is needed. Alternatively, slashing and spreading to widen the skirt from waist down would’ve done much the same thing. For fun, I took a tuck with a bunch of pins.

Pin-tucked

I didn’t do as good a job pinning up the back (it’s tricky with the zipper) but I think that’s a definitely improvement in the front. The side-seams are still pulling back a bit, though, which I think means that more booty-ease is still needed in the back.

All of which is fascinating, but doesn’t help me save the dress’s current incarnation. At this point I’m considering removing the pockets and just making the side-seam as small as I can, but since I already serged the seam this won’t increase it by much. Maybe enough to at least lose the worst of that stuffed-sausage look, though… Alternatively I could try an add a godet at each side-seam, but that seems risky, too…

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The Red Polkadot Dress

Lady in a Red Dress

Some people can wear cinched waistbands. Some people can wear big shoulder-puffs. Some people can wear dirndl skirts.

Generally speaking, these people are not me. This is really too bad, as I like many of these looks on other people. And I’ve tried them on myself time and again over the years, only to go “ah, yes, that’s why I don’t wear this.” (with the possible exception of pouffy shoulders, which I like enough that I tend to ignore the linebacker effect.)

I really like the idea of dirndl skirts. They’re both ridiculously simple (gathered rectangle—can’t get any more basic than that) and economical of fabric, unlike my preferred circle skirts. But they generally sit right at the waist (not a good spot for me) and add a lot of visual bulk in that area.

With the shrug. There’s a bit of pooching out of the ruching at the bottom of the front panel, where the outer fabric is looser than the lining. Presumably I goofed my seam allowances slightly or something.

However, as I’ve observed before, something magical happens when I slide the “waist” of my garment up or down a few inches. I can wear empire waists or dropped waists until the cows come home. Now, I believe another term for “empire-waist dirndl” is “maternity wear”, but what about a dropped waist dirndl?

Well, apparently that’s just fine.

I wrote a bit here about the bodice construction and my fitting challenges process. Having largely taken care of that, I came to the next stage in construction. The skirt.

Easy, right?

I had initially planned to do a gathered circle-skirt, like the original Katjusha pattern that was my inspiration. But on examining the amount of fabric I had left after I finished the bodice, it seemed like to get the gathering I wanted at the waist (er, hip) I was going to end up with an extremely SHORT skirt.  Whereas if I went with a dirndl style, there would be plenty of fabric for whatever length I opted for. Some quick and dirty measuring (aka holding the fabric up to my hips), and I was happily ripping away. Four panels of full-width (45″) fabric, a little below knee length plus a bit for hemming.

Red Dress

Confessions of a lazy seamstress: I didn’t even trim off the selvedges. I just tucked them inside the french seams I used to join the four widths. When they pucker up and throw the whole skirt off after the first washing, you can all laugh and point.So, I had settled on my width for the outer skirt, but my voile (or whatever this fabric is) definitely needed a lining. Back to my white cotton (yes, the stuff with the laceworked panel. Don’t worry, I’m moving from the opposite end of the length and there’s a ton of it.For my lining width, I used the width of the shirred back-panel, stretched out. It would’ve been smarter to determine this width before I did all the shirring, but I wasn’t sure it was going to shirr up the right amount at that point. Shirrly* you understand my quandary? Anyway, I decided to use this width for both the front and the back of the lining. I would gather the front to the bodice front, and sew the back flat to the stretched-out bodice back. But, you really want something underneath to give a dirndl (or any full skirt, really, IMO) a little oomph. I decided to make my lining skirt tiered. So I cut it approximately half the length I wanted, and then cut four more pieces of similar length for the bottom tier, and broke out the gathering foot.

Now, this is not my ruffler, with whom I have a passionate love-hate relationship. I wasn’t willing to deal with his idiosyncracies for four measly widths of lining. (If that sounds like a lot of gathering to you, please understand that I got the ruffler foot in the first place to make tiered skirts for tribal bellydance. The first such I made had 32 fabric widths in the bottom tier. And nine tiers, although I think only seven of them ended up being ruffled. So from my rather warped perspective, this is hardly any gathering at all

Red Dress

So I decided to play with my new, inexpensive, and untested gathering foot (Here’s a post contrasting the two). I popped it on, measured some 10″ lengths on scraps of the cotton, played with my stitch-length and tension settings, and after about three tries managed to get a gathering ratio approximating 2:1. Good enough. I began gathering.

I think I’m not going to become a huge fan of the gathering foot. It’s not awful. In fact, compared to some of the shit fits my ruffler has thrown, it was possitively easy to use. But the resulting gathering is not particularly even; it’s highly susceptible to the slightest difference in how I hold the fabric in front of the foot (crowding the needle vs. letting the fabric lie flat). The main thing I like about mechanical gathering with the ruffler over my preferred semi-manual technique (where you zig-zag over a supplementary thread… the zig-zag acts as a casing for the thread drawstring which you can pull up later) is that you don’t have to futz over the gathering being even, even if it may not be the exact ratio you wanted it to be. The gathering foot didn’t seem to have this evenness, and even worse it was pretty tricky to try to re-distribute the gathers after the fact. For the lining, I didn’t care, but I wasn’t enthused about using it for something that will actually be seen. It did turn out about the right length overall, so that’s good anyway, and it was quite fast.

I did give myself one further complication, which is that I had designed the bottom front of the bodice to dip down to a V. I love this feature a ridiculous amount, but it takes a bit of mental gymnastics to figure out how to reflect this on the gathered side of the skirt. At least, without sitting down and making an actual pattern and spreading it the required amount, which sounds suspiciously too much like work. Instead, I roughly measured the depth of the “V” (minus seam allowance) down from the top of skirt centre front, and free-handed an arch going from the skirt CF to side-seam. Good enough for government work, as my mother says.

For the outer skirt, I used my preferred semi-manual gathering method, mentioned above. I use this for “moderate” amounts of gathering, or larger amounts (like this) where I value precision of the resulting dimension over precision of every little gather. I gathered the over-skirt to match the width of the underskirt, and stitched them together. Really, fairly easy peasy.

Twirling

Then, I did something I haven’t done since Tyo was a baby. I hand gathered the entire skirt front (both layers, and hand-basted it to the bodice. WTF? you are asking. I agree. But we were watching Sucker Punch with the kids last night and I could do the gathering and basting by hand without totally ditching the rest of the family. Normally I’d prefer to be hemming in such a situation, but I wasn’t quite sure of the finished length so I didn’t want to get ahead of myself and hand-hem four widths of fabric to the wrong length. I wound up shortening it by several inches, so it’s just as well I didn’t try this.

Possibly I should also have hand-basted the back to the shirring, as that was a beast to do accurately and took a couple of goes. But, water under the bridge. Man, I’m just full of platitudes today. If I can throw “a stitch in time saves nine,” in before the end of the post, I’ll be flying. Well, except that that’s one I rarely follow. It’s still good advice, though.

Red Dress

I am a little concerned that the combination of the front ruching with the full skirt have pushed this past “sundress” territory into the hinterlands of “something to wear to a summer wedding.” Since I don’t expect to be attending any weddings this summer, this would be unfortunate. I may just have to suck it up and be ridiculously overdressed (after all, it wouldn’t be the first time).I wasn’t actively going for a “vintage” look when I made this dress. Although maybe that’s an inevitable reference for any full-skirted, tight-bodiced dress these days. Anyway, pairing it with the shrug just turns the “vintage” look up to eleven. It goes, though, doesn’t it? This shrug is ridiculously versatile. Seriously, I wear it with EVERYTHING. I need about five more.All that gathering in the skirt interacts a bit oddly with the back bodice, despite my best efforts to reinforce the bottom of the shirring with some sturdier elastic, but it’s probably not something most people would notice (dazzled as they will be by the swishy, full skirt, right?)Incidentally, the length is only sightly below my knee. Tyo was standing on the picnic table to take the photos, so they’re from more of a downward angle than usual. I’m wearing the fluffy petticoat as well as the tiered lining.And obviously I need some red heels.

Final project and inspiration. I think I need a fluffier petticoat.

*I normally try very hard to resist the obvious sewing puns. I have never intentionally substitued “sew” for “so”. This one slipped through. I humbly apologize.

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The Grecian Goddess Dress

Grecian Goddess Dress

I will admit I considered various alternative titles for this dress. The KISS (keep it simple, stupid) Dress. The Shirring Saves (Almost) Everything Dress. I commented in my inspiration post that I could just use a rectangle. I probably should’ve. Instead, I painstakingly drafted a short kimono sleeve, then added fullness for gathering both top and bottom. Even that would’ve been all right, though, if I’d just had this top flow straight into the skirt. But no, I had to fool with an underbust seam. Which of course (because I didn’t muslin anything) was about two inches too low in the front, and not particularly even all around.

In desperation a flash of brilliance, I decided to shir. I stitched up the front and back openings a couple of inches, pulled out my elastic-thread-wound bobbin, and started shirring a long spiral around the dress, beginning at my approximate underbust and continuing down across the bloody “waist” seam.

Front view

This created a vast improvement—instead of a mumu I now had something much closer to the elegant, drapey concoction I had envisioned. By a miracle, the neckline didn’t gape OR fall off my shoulders, and the bra straps are completely covered both at shoulders and at the back.

Back view

But all the shirring in the world couldn’t save that lumpy, uneven waist seam from being lumpy and uneven. No worries, though, I had always envisioned this dress with a sash across the offending area. I had planned to do a self-sash, but found myself desperately short of fabric. My Japonais Mum to the rescue! I cut off a pair of narrow widths ( it was too narrow to do just one), joined them in the centre, and made a simple tube sash.

Because having a seam at one edge and not the other annoys me, I hit on the idea of rolling the seam to the centre of the back-side of the sash. Quite satisfied with how that turned out. Yay me.

Sash closeup

Obviously I need to shorten the dress a fair bit… it’s dragging even in the heels I’m wearing for these photos (and the odds of me actually wearing heels like that out and about in the summer are pretty minimal).

I might try the general idea again, without an underbust seam and with a bit less gathering at the shoulder.

In Me-Made June news,

MMJ 4

This is an older ensemble, meaning everything in it was made last summer and fall. It’s not terribly glamorous and I have a few issues with the fit of the blouse that I didn’t notice when I first made it (too bad since I made like four different versions). Still, it’s warm and comfy on a rainy, chilly day. These remain my single favourite pair of me-made jeans, despite a number of material failures (the pockets have disintegrated and much of the topstitching is failing).

JJ blouse
Knit top formerly known as Lydia
Jalie 2908 Jeans

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The Perfect Sundress

The perfect sundress

This is all Oona’s fault (yes, it’s an old post, but she linked it to me recently). Or maybe Patty’s. I haven’t decided. The Sew Weekly challenge this week is “The Perfect Sundress,” too, which isn’t helping. I haven’t done any of their challenges thus far, but it seems like a nice little community (though the site layout is still a bit puzzling to me), and since this week’s challenge coincided with something I’ve been wanting to sew anyway, I figure I’ll give it a bash.

So here it is. This fabric was part of my Easter thrift store haul. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it—that strong, woven stripe is a bit limiting—but when maxi-dresses started being dangled provocatively in my face (see above links), I knew.

Maxi dress option 1

Maxi dress option 1

Now, it’s not as if I have a shortage of maxi-dress pattern options.

Maxi-dress option 2

But, I may be stuck on this sketch I doodled out the other night. The neckline is like Oona’s, the sleeves more like Patty’s. It could be as simple as a rectangle cinched by an under-bust sash, but I’m thinking a bit more shaping would probably be flattering.

Maxi-dress option 3

I guess if I’m going to make this up this week, I’d better decide, though.

Maxi-dress option 4

So many maxi dresses, so little time…

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That 70s Dress (The Next Generation)

Simplicity 6023

I hate to admit it, but I sorta love the Saturdays my hubby works (don’t tell him!). There’s nothing to do but a bit of house-cleaning, some light yelling at the children (usually over their bedrooms, but this week, for variety, it was the back yard, which somehow became encrusted in stray bits of wood and empty pop bottles over the winter*), and, of course, sewing.

This weekend’s project was, natch, Simplicity 6023, that same pattern I won in Peter’s giveaway a few weeks back. Much easier to focus now that I have the Springy Coat out of the way. Which is good, because this was definitely one of those two steps forward, one step back projects. Not because the pattern was tricky, or the instructions were bad, or the fabric was ill-behaved. No, this was all about the stripes.

You may have noticed how little print and pattern matching I do? How I will move mountains (ok, cut bits on the bias) to avoid having to line things up? Precision sewing has never been my strong suit. I’ve improved, mind you, but I still regularly fall short of my heroes. Or just plain adequacy.

Stripe matching? At least the hem's nice.

I did not rip out every single seam in this thing but… well, there were a lot. A lot of perfectly good seams, too, except that the stripes were off. Well, more off than all the rest. Probably if I’d gone all couture and hand-basted everything, I could’ve gotten them mostly even. None of them are even remotely like perfect, but at least they generally line up (except across the bodice side-seams, there was no way to make that work with the amount of fabric I had.

Invisizip

On the up side, I conquered my first invisible zipper! And, I hate to say it, but I might actually be a convert. I used Sherry’s tutorial (though I read through Sunni’s, which is similar, and used some elements from it as well), and a regular zipper foot, and it went in like a dream. Aside from the fact that my impecise waistline stitching meant that, although I matched up the waist seam perfectly using Sherry’s tips, the stripes above the waist didn’t match up at all. So I had to rip half of it, fudge the waist a tiny bit (since it’s less visible than the stripes) and go with that. Pooh.

The slight irregularity at the top is due to my not reading Sherry’s other tute, on facing an invisible zipper, until after I’d half attached one of the facings. Silly me, thinking I’d just follow the pattern instructions… The side on the left in the photo, which I did following Sherry’s method, turned out much better. I should probably have stayed the back of neck before all the messing around, though—it’s a bit stretched out and threatens to gape.

My new best friend

Speaking of zippers, let me introduce you to my new best friend! A few weeks back I had lamented the inadequacy of my zipper foot, and some of you wise people had told me that there were much better fish in the sea. So last week I finally made it to the sewing-machine store, discovered that my machine is an “oscillating hook” Janome, and came home with this little gem on the right.

Isn’t that the cutest little foot ever?

By twiddling the green knob at the back, you can adjust the foot’s position to the left or right of the needle, or right in the middle for straight stitching. Perfect for edge-stitching! And, because it’s so finely adjustable, perfect for pushing up the edge of the invisible-zip coils to stitch right alongside them. Yay! I interfaced the entire zipper length plus a bit with knit fusible and had no problem with the zipper bubbling, buckling, or anything.

The back---wrinkled from being tied 😛

FIT: Despite the photo (wrinkled from being tied), the back fits really well with my little swayback adjustment (though it wreaks havoc with the stripes). Although the tie pretty much disguises most issues in this area, anyway. I made my ties extra-long, because it seemed like a good idea at the time, which turned out fun—I like pulling them around to tie in the front. A nice option to have, since often back ties drive me nuts.

With my bodice-shortening, the waist-seam falls about a thumb’s width above my natural waist, which is roughly where it’s supposed to according to the pattern, so yay! That being said, my bodice-shortening alteration raised the neckline, and I would probably have been just as happy with the lower neckline. This is a bid demure.

I did take each side-seam in about 1cm (so a total of 4cm reduction all around). This is similar to what I did on the first 70s dress; I’m not sure if it’s because I’m more of a 10 (bust measurement would suggest this but everything else says 12 or larger), ease in the dress, or, most likely, the fact that I keep using stretch wovens.

I took the same 1 1/4″ hem the pattern allowed for, but because of my fiddling pieces up and down to get the stripes to match (yes, my cutting was even less precise than my sewing!) I probably lost about an inch in length there. It’s fine, though, falling at a good spot above my knees.

Buttons---Yoke (left) and Cuff (right)

I did the cuffs with the wrong side lapped out. D’oh. Figuring out which way they should lap, BEFORE the sleeve is set, was a head trip in itself—I’m actually impressed that I got them both the same way, so I’m not going to sweat it.

I had three of these vintage plastic flower buttons in one of the random button baggies I’ve picked up over the last six months. I spent a lot of time hemming and hawing over buttons (and Syo spent a lot of time making art with them while I did it, and then being irate when I broke up her faces to lay different combinations on the dress).  I covered a key-chain ring with fabric to put behind the one on the yoke, which hopefully looks more centred in real-life than it

Simplicity 6023

does in this photo. The third button I sewed on turned out to have a broken shank (I’m not sure how this worked since all three were held together at the shanks by thread in the button jar…); fortunately, none of the buttons are functional, so I just stitched through the holes in the flower. You can see it if you click on the photo to get the full-size.

As you can see from the outdoor photos, we are finally not only snow-free, but practically warm here today! (Temperatures were in the low teens C!!!1! That’s like, gosh, almost 60F.) And tomorrow is supposed to be even warmer… maybe I can actually wear a skirt. Or a dress…

So, another contribution to my 70s wardrobe. Although it’s not getting me any closer to fulfilling Joy’s  Bellbottom Challenge. Maybe I’ll move on to the Simplicity 6602 suit next… though I think I would probably try to merge the pants legs with my Ellen pattern. I have no particular desire to mess around with high-waisted pants.

Toodles!

*I feel it necessary to explain that I DON’T randomly chuck my recycling around the yard… but the kids apparently think that empty bottles are the cat’s meow in playthings, especially when you can fill them with water and leave it outside to freeze and then it snows and they get buried and you have to get more and… well, it was a mess.

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