After the sewing mania that was the Gatsby dress and Jack’s costume for “101 Dalmatians”, my sewing room was in a shambles. It took me a good 2-3 hours to set it to rights.
Of course as soon as it was all pristine, I had to start cutting my next project.
I needed a palate cleanser before I embark on the adult/child matching PJ project for a close friend. I thought I’d whip up another New Look 6035 since I loved my green skirt so much.
I cut it out last night and sewed it up today. All in, I think it took me about 4.5 hours. It would have taken me less if I hadn’t needed to take in the side seams. Note to self: Always listen to your inner voice when it tells you to baste the side seams first to check the fit. Always. Of course, I didn’t and then needed to un-stitch the facing, the edge stitching, etc to take in the side seams. Every fabric handles differently, so even though I had already fit this pattern, this particular fabric’s properties altered the fit on this skirt. Live and learn (over and over and over).
I didn’t do anything differently to this version of the skirt. It’s a simple pattern; I didn’t even look at the instructions. Anyway, here it is in all its graphic floral greatness.
I just love this pattern. It is so simple, but so awesome. It’s an easy skirt to wear. It feels great on. Especially in this fabric, which I bought from Yardage Town in Encinitas. It has a little more drape than the cotton sateen I used last time, but not too limp. Just perfect. And I love the print. Graphic florals are really in right now too. Can’t wait to wear it to my “ladies who lunch” lunch tomorrow. :)
I know I’ve written about this in passing before, but it bears repeating. It deserves its own post actually.
I didn’t start sewing until after my son was born. And I was old when he was born. So I don’t have the experience or years of knowledge that some sewing bloggers have in spades because they learned when they were little. I took some classes at Purl Soho and at Sew Fast Sew Easy in NYC. I even hired a private teacher, Thea, when the babysitting for the classes became too much. But every new project I make has its own unique problems. Stuff never covered in classes.
Sure I have tons of reference books. Books recommended by other sewists. Books that I bought without recommendations. Books that random people have bought for me. I look at them. I look for particular answers to my particular problems. But there are inherent problems with books. If you are a visual learner, reading about a method might not be particularly helpful. You can’t have a conversation with a book or ask it questions. And worst of all, it might not address your problem at all.
And here’s where your sewing friends come into play. I like to crowd source my sewing questions/dilemmas. I am so lucky to have so many sewing friends who are way more experienced than I. I don’t know how lucky they feel to be my friend though. ;) I couldn’t have completed my Gatsby dress as successfully as I did without Beth, Sherril, Jeanette or Kellie. I don’t think I have completed one project without the advice and/or a shoulder to cry on since I started sewing. Some people are lucky enough to have fitting buddies, some have a mother or aunt or grandmother nearby to bounce questions off of, and some have friends the next town over. Some, like me, know that fitting/sewing advice is an email or phone call away.
When I first started sewing, reading sewing blogs and became a member of PatternReview, I started meeting other sewing people and bloggers because no one I knew sewed. I am a social person. I like to talk about my passions, so I sought out like-minded people. At first it was just to share the pleasures of sewing and fabric shopping, but it soon became clear to me that I had found people who could help me on my journey to sew better. And sewing people are very generous. Generous with their time and expertise. I am one lucky bitch to have such great friends, the sewing kind or otherwise.
It takes a village to learn how to sew. At least it did and does for me. How about for you? Do you have sewing friends that help you out when you need it? Do you have a fitting buddy?
Saturday night was the night of the Gatsby Gala and I did indeed finish and wear my Gatsby dress. It was a very interesting evening. Very interesting indeed. The dresses were all very beautiful. Most were beaded affairs. Others chose the fringe dress route. There was definitely a sexy 20′s vibe going on. I think I was one of a few of women who chose the 20′s dropped waist look. Here’s my review.
Pattern Description: 1929 Evening Frock and Vest. I made only the frock.
Pattern Sizing: Size 18. I made it up with an FBA of 1.5 inch increase. As I mentioned earlier, Sherril, Jeannette and Kellie helped me with fitting the bodice at PR Weekend in San Francisco. We added some fisheye darts in the front and back to make the bodice more fitted and flattering. The unfitted style of the bodice and dropped waist combined with my bust line and hips were doing me no favors. However, in the end, I decided to forgo the extra shaping despite my vanity as it took the dress out of the 20′s era.
Did it look like the photo/drawing on the pattern envelope once you were done sewing with it? Kinda sorta. I think the pattern drawing is of someone who is 8 ft tall and 9 inches wide. So on me it looks somewhat wider and shorter than the svelte drawing you see above. I guess ladies in the 20′s had to deal with idealistic pattern drawings as well. ;)
Were the instructions easy to follow? Yes. They were a little old fashioned, but pretty concise and very clear. I followed them for the most part, except for topstitching the skirt onto the bodice. I emailed Beth from SunnyGal Studio last week hoping she would share some of her expertise with me. She had some great tips for order of construction and how to attach the skirt to the bodice, particularly the vee insert at the front. Her advice and lots of practice on scraps were how I was able to make it through
the torture of working with silk charmeuse the construction of this dress. One note though about the pattern instructions, they mention piecing the skirt pattern pieces depending on how wide your fabric is. Beth advised to place the front and back pieces on top of each other to match the side seams and then mark a point for the piecing join so it is the same on both sides.
What did you particularly like or dislike about the pattern? I loved how perfect it was for my event. I loved the vee insert design detail (until I had to actually sew it of course). No real dislikes actually aside from the lack of shaping (ahh vanity, you are so cruel a mistress).
Fabric used: Silk charmeuse in the most gorgeous shade of emerald green. I was hoping for my own Atonement moment. Haha. The lining is a silver china silk. Both fabrics I bought from Mood Fabrics. I bought the silk charmeuse in person at the NYC store, but the lining from their on-line store. Originally I was going to use some raspberry colored china silk for the lining, but thought it was too garish in the end and ordered the silver at the last minute. I was anxiously tapping my foot waiting for the UPS man to deliver it last Wednesday. My silver sequin trim is from Pacific Trimming. Both fabrics were wonderful to work with if a bit recalcitrant.
Pattern changes or design changes made: The main change I made was including an FBA on the bodice. After constructing the dress and trying it on, I took a photo of it to send to Beth, Sherril, Jeanette and Kellie. Beth suggested pleating the straps since they were a bit too wide and matronly. I also took in the side seams a bit and put in some shaping at the CB. These changes necessitated a zipper; I put it in at the side seam. Of course, as luck would have it, I had to insert that stupid zipper in three times. Three times. Into silk charmeuse. I wouldn’t wish that on my worst frenemy. Oh, ok, maybe I would. The last change I made was to construct the lining as one piece (meaning bodice and skirt in one but with a front and back). This meant free hand drafting the skirt portion off of the bodice pattern piece. I flared it out at the waist and made sure not to exceed the width of the skirt.
Any problems encountered during construction? I think the toughest problem I encountered during the construction of this dress was overcoming my vanity issues. Sigh. Then there was the silk charmeuse. Oy vey, this fabric is a bitch. A gorgeous bitch though. It was like working with liquid gems it was so lustrous. But oh it was so shifty and wouldn’t hold its shape. I had to stay the neckline with silk organza. I constructed the bodice separately from the skirt to save having the skirt pattern pieces lying around and losing their shape from handling, whims of the gods, etc. The vee waist seem was highly tricky. I kept making samples, but each one was successively becoming crappier, so I had to just go for it on the real deal. Was there swearing? Yes. Was there screaming? Yes. Did I finally manage it? Yes. Was it enjoyable? NO! Is it behind me? Yes thank the gods. Did I mention the THREE zipper insertions???
Any new techniques learned? Well let’s see, the vee waist seam with the inset corners. Sherril sent me this on-line tutorial on inset corners from Threads. It’s fantastic. Bookmark it!
Any interesting design details in this pattern? Did I mention the vee waist seam? It’s the make it or break it detail of the dress. And the wrong trim could just sink it. I love my trim.
Which sewing machine(s) did you use for construction? Since I was working with silk charmeuse again, I chose the Emerald 183 again. However, I opted not to use the walking foot and weirdly didn’t have any slippage issues. Weird.
Time to complete construction: Not including the muslin and the pointless dithering over the shapelessness of the dress’ silhouette, about 4 and half intense days.
Will you sew it again or recommend it to others? I most likely will not make it again as I don’t foresee going to any more Gatsby galas in the near or far future. But I definitely do recommend it to anyone who has their own Gatsby gala coming up. I would advise making a muslin first for sure though, preferably in a like fabric. Making my muslin up in actual muslin was quite demoralizing. Definitely consider reshaping the straps/armhole to be more appealing. And don’t forget that the trim makes this dress, so choose carefully.
Conclusion: One of the most impactful things Beth told me in our conversations about this project was that this was a costume. At first my immediate reaction was it’s not a costume, but she was right. It took a lot of pressure off of me. Where and when the heck am I going to wear this dress again? Probably nowhere and never. It’s a costume. And after all the angst and trials in making the dress, it ending up being a great dress. Nuff said.
And now without further ado, here’s how the dress looked on me.
And my beautiful parents.
And because my project list is long with a lots of deadlines, I spent my entire day working on Jack’s costume for his acting debut as Scottie Pup #2 in the school play, 101 Dalmations. Here he is in a partially constructed Scottish tam. I had not yet added the pompom or his scotty ears when I snapped this picture. But isn’t he just the cutest??? I know I’m the mom here, but come on!
Thor received his scabbard in the mail last week. My sister sent me a picture of him using it. Too cute. The scabbard was a hit with him. I’m so happy.
My sister said her skirt fit and that she liked it (no photographic evidence though). And my mother has been wearing her new robe daily since it was gifted. So I’m putting all three of these projects in the win column.
I have made significant progress on my Gatsby dress. I still have to hem the dress and the lining and add the trim. I am not in love with the silhouette on me. And this “easy” pattern was actually really difficult to execute well with that vee insert in the front waist. But I will wear it tomorrow evening and hope the sum is more than the individual parts.
I don’t know about you, but picking up sewing (as if you just pick it up, hah!) has really changed my life. No, really. It has changed my life in so many ways.
- My perfectionism, which was just a minor irritant before, is now in full bloom. I regularly have conversations with myself that go like this, “You’re going to go out of the house wearing that? It has a pulled thread in the hem! The side seam is ripply! I wouldn’t be caught dead wearing an off grain garment!”
- Housecleaning is completely and happily ignored. Oh wait, that happened pre-sewing too.
- I stare at other people’s clothes with a maniacal gleam in my eye. Or sometimes, I even ask to touch their clothes, saying, “Don’t worry, I know what I’m doing. I sew.”
- I procrastinate my sewing projects with other sewing projects. Well, I procrastinated before too, but not by doing the same activity. I should get an award or something for this high falutin’ procrastination.
Seriously though sewing has changed one major aspect of my life, my love for reading. I have been an avid reader since I learned to read. My mom always read a ton. I did too. I would rather read a good book than go play outside. (We were a rather indoorsy, sedentary folk.) In junior high and high school, I would read until the wee hours and then have to get up at 6:30am to go to school, bleary eyed or not. I read the Lord of the Rings eleven times. ELEVEN. TIMES. All three books. Who has time for that???? As an adult, my love for books still knew no bounds. I once stayed up all night to finish a book before work. But when I got to work, I felt so nauseated from the lack of sleep, I had to go home and go to bed. My boss just laughed at me and said, “That must have been some book!”
But since I have started sewing, reading has completely gone by the wayside. Why would I spend time reading when I can read about sewing or actually sew something? That’s a waste of my time. I could be sewing! I have tried to read. I remember the feeling of losing yourself in another world, another character. Living and breathing with them as you follow their stories. I remember it fondly. I would like to read. But sewing has such a hold on me. I have been in its grip, under its control, for nigh on 6 years now. When I’m not sewing, I feel guilty that I’m not sewing. I plan my days, my weeks, my workouts around what I have to sew that day or week. Nope, can’t work out today, I only have 4 hours until I pick up Jack. Can’t waste my time working out when I have the Gatsby dress to make. If I can’t work out, how could I possibly read. That would be the height of insolence. It would be punch in the nose to sewing!
Do I miss reading? Yes. Will I get back to it ever? Probably. Maybe when I’m 80 and can’t see to thread my needles anymore. But right now, I am so happy with sewing as my hobby, I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.*
So tell me, how has sewing changed your life?
I can’t resist showing you my Mother’s Day present from the little boy who lives with me. So sweet!
* Yes, I am an obsessive/compulsive person, bordering on clinical. And yes, these obsessions can last decades.