Easter 2016 – Part 1

I promise! Pictures of cute girls in adorable homemade Easter dresses are coming soon! Today I’m going to talk about momma’s Easter dress. The one that I decided I needed to make less than a week ago!

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And oh my goodness I am thrilled I took the plunge.

It all started when I saw By Gum, By Golly’s review of the book Gertie’s Ultimate Dress Book.  A whole book about making dresses? Yes please. But ugh. I’ve been having so much trouble getting a good fit lately. Did I really need another book. Well, Tasha’s review mentioned how well the neckline fit using Gertie’s patterns so I decided to give it a try, but not before going to our local book store to give it a quick look first. What I found was a book filled with exactly the style of dresses I love most!

Lots of different styles of bodices and different kinds of skirts (non of them dirndl, thank goodness).

I was immediately smitten with the dress in the upper right corner. It features a v-neck, puff sleeve, and pleated skirt. I took a quick dive into my stashed and pulled out the dress quantity of Tiger Lily lawn I’d stashed several months back. Originally I’d planned to make another Washi for the winter, but I’ve been excited to make non-elastic waist clothes lately. Plus butterflies are totally Easter appropriate!

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This pattern did end up needing some significant alteration. Like, I had to make the front darts smaller and the back darts larger. I also had to make the same alterations to the skirt. That wasn’t such a big deal. Normal for me. The hardest alteration to figure out was the sleeves. Those are always always always too tight on me. But this time I was determined to get the fit right.

There was a lot of swearing and seam ripping in my house last weekend as I tried and tried again to get the sleeves to fit. Then I had a light bulb moment and pulled out my sleeve sloper. My sloper is a little old, but I figured my shoulder shape hasn’t changed that much. Worth a try.

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Oh yeah, that is a big difference! My sloper shows I needed a much taller sleeve cap! Once I made that discovery the whole pattern alteration process went smoothly.

The sewing process wasn’t without its bumps though.

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I’d really wanted to use white piping in the neckline like the rickrack in Gertie’s. I even had white piping on hand. But ugh! I just could not get it sewn in correctly no matter how I tried. Of course 2 days later I realized I’d been trying to sew piping with a zipper foot. Whoops! No sense in ripping it out by that point. I’ll save that plan for next time.

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I also tried sewing in my zipper 4 or 5 times. Every gosh darn time the fabric puckered at least a little bit. I eventually settled for matching facings and waist seams figuring that after taking a seam ripper to lawn 3 or 4 times it wouldn’t survive a 4th or 5th attempt. Moving on.

And really that is a minor complaint in a dress that looks really great and is so light and comfortable I’ll be able to wear it to work all summer long.

Lastly, this is what happens when you ask a 4 year old for modeling ideas. Ha!

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Old Stand By

The Washi Dress is turning into an old standby when I need something quick and simple to sew. After a couple of failures I needed something I could wear as our weather goes through the ups and downs of spring.

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And I really like this pattern. I made one more tweak to the pattern to take out the gaping neckline and it worked like a charm!

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In fact I think I’m going to take this pattern and make it into a full bodice pattern with a back zip and darts. We’ll see. Might be worth playing around with because I feel like it is one of the most flattering things I’ve made in a while.

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The fabric is my favorite print from the Good Hair Day line by Kim Andersson from Winham Fabrics. As far as quilting cottons go, this is top quality. It hardly wrinkled after its initial washing or after being worn all day which was a pleasant surprise!

Now back to sewing Easter dresses and testing out my ideas.

Birthday Girl!

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My older daughter Lu turned 4 years old last week! Hard to believe these past 4 years have gone my so quickly, but here she is all tall and gangly and full of opinions.

And of course the birthday girl needed a new dress!

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I’d had my eye on this fabric from Sarah Jane for about 2 years, but this was the first time I really saw it becoming a dress. Oh yes, a Fairy Tale Dress from Oliver + S. So classic! And perfect to use with a border print. Then I topped it all off with some sweet pink voile and tulle I found at my local quilt shop. What girly girl has resist a poofy skirt?

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My husband is so good at making bows! Clearly the birthday girl loved it.

But I couldn’t only make something for Lu. A few days before the party I decided to make the little one her own spring dress!

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This is the trusty Geranium Dress pattern. At this point I can make one from printing the pattern to sewing on buttons in about a hour. I just don’t get sick of this pattern.

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And I had some sweet little vintage duck buttons that work perfectly with Ann Kelle’s cute fabrics.

So pleased to be able to make something springy for the girls! Next up, Easter Dresses!

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Photographs Can Be So Helpful!

February was a pretty frustrating sewing month. As you already saw with my previous post, finding the fit I want has been a bit elusive. But I’m okay with that. I knew I was going to encounter some issues as I tried my hand at new and non-cup size specific patterns. But the weather has also been really warm recently. We had the warmest February on record and all those long sleeve jersey dresses are not quite as practical as I planned!

I’ve also been thinking about shape. What kinds of skirts shapes am I gravitating towards and where do I want the waist to hit? I had this epiphany while taking a ballet class. I hadn’t taken a ballet class in over 4 years, but decided to go back to it recently. And this is what I’ve been wearing (sorry about the red-faced post class photo).

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So something somewhat fitted, but not overly clingy on top (t-shirt from MischiefMadeMe), waist defined at it’s smallest place, and a skirt that is more of a circle shape that ends above the knee. I feel good in this. So good I don’t have the desire to cover up going to and from class.


 

Now lets look at what I was sewing this month.

First up is the Emery Dress. I’d made one of these before in corduroy. It’s cute, but the dark fabric made it hard to see the fit issues. So I bought some very cheap quilting cotton to work up another version.

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From the front I’m really happy with the shoulders and bust. I ended up going down a full size then adding a FBA and I think it works. Some slight pulling on my larger bust side, but not bad. Looking at this in the photos I can see the waist is too low. The neckline is also pretty high for me. I feel it makes my bust look lower than it is and doesn’t leave enough visual space between my bust and where I’d like the waist to hit.

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And then there is the back. Whoops! I’d asked Christine Haynes what she thought of the back gaping and from the photos I sent it did seem like maybe the shoulders were too wide. But she also had suggested maybe the back was too long. I didn’t think that was true from studying myself in the mirror. Wrong! My husband took this photo and d’oh! Yeah. Back is too long.

So in the very near future I plan to wack off the bottom of the bodice and also add a sway back adjustment and see how I like it. It is such a classic pattern that I’d love to figure out the fit so I can adapt.

I may removed some of the fullness from the waist of the skirt and make it more a-line. We’ll see.


 

February  was also when By Gum, By Golly’s had a series on a wrap top. I haven’t spent too much time on vintage styles lately, but a knit wrap top ticks all my boxes. Vintage inspired – check! Comfy yet chic – check! Creates a nice neckline and defined waist – check! Pairs well with dresses – check!

Turned out I had Cake’s Pavlova Wrap Top pattern. It is so similar to the pattern Tasha used that I figured it was worth a try.

The day I made this pattern was one of those days. The kind where you apply fusible interfacing to the right side of your fabric, and accidentally seam rip holes, and sew on the sleeve bands with the wrong side facing (but only on one side).

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But overall not bad! I only wish I’d learned my lesson from sewing Cake patterns in the past and sized down. This is a size 40 and it’s pretty generous. Next time I’ll try the 35.

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I also might play with the way the ties are done. Maybe. I have some gorgeous pink wool jersey I’d like to use for a future version, but I think I need one more test in the smaller size first. And now that time has passed since I made this I’m feeling more positive.


 

Anyways, what do you think? Are these worth trying again?

Also thank you to everyone who commented for a cause on my anniversary post! I ended up making a a flat contribution instead of just going by the number of posts, but the feedback you provided was incredible helpful. Thank you!