Monday, August 11, 2008

Summer's Not Over Yet...Pushing Daisies in Evanston*

For all the talk of summer slipping away like an eel, I'm not quite ready to write the season off just yet. In fact, I'm the type that won't even officially acknowledge fall until sometime in October or at the very least when the cool, jacket-weather winds blow through late September. To be completely fair (hard to do, I know) we've had a really mild summer so far in Chicago - no 100 + degree days, and the one day to date that was unpleasantly warm was actually only about 85 degrees but felt a lot hotter because of the humidity. Considering both coasts (East and West in the U.S.) have had some really scalding 24-periods during the past couple of months, well, I feel blessed and unable to complain about a few scattered thunderstorms here and there.

So I had to make a dent in my collection, so I really just went for the heaviest bag of fabric. I grabbed a hefty one with 3 yards worth of a pale grey super-soft jersey that I bought thinking I'd make Valerie's top again. I thought why not slay two birds at once and use some other fabric at the same time? So, just goofing around, I put a remnant of this pretty peach flower-print stretch lace on top. What a knock out! Then I pulled out Simplicity 3759 because I like the simple lines (read: super-easy to make) of View A. Figuring I'd cut two dresses at once, I uncovered another Vogue Fabrics bag with a lightweight sheer white knit with appliqued t-shirt weight fabric daisies in periwinkle, ruby and dusty beige. Summer magic, not fall lust.

So I headed off to Vogue Fabrics yesterday (Sale Sunday, folks!) with a short list of stuff to do: finish sewing bathing suit, and cut out two dresses while I was renting the classroom for $5 for the entire day.

Well, I ended up only getting one dress cut out and sewn. But I consider that an accomplishment of sorts considering this fabric has been neglected in my closet for at least a year. I remember buying three yards of it at Vogue Fabrics in the silk room. I don't have a receipt to show for it now. It was probably $2.99 to $3.99 a yard. It begged to be made in a flowy dress from the get-go, although I was thinking more along the lines of a wrap-dress not a t-shirt collar dress that it consequently became.

But I'm quite happy with the outcome, especially since it's wearable, with virtually no detectable flaws. Here's a short-list of what I like about this dress and some things to watch for if you, my friends, are decide to use this pattern:

1. This dress is ideal for women with small shoulders. It is a Misses/Petite Knit dress, according to the boldface print on the back of the envelope. It's also a raglan sleeve style, which is also flattering if you're small-boned and -busted on the top. I'm both, and I'm happy with God for making me that way. It makes sewing that much easier.
2. Probably the hardest part is the collar. While I cut a size 8 straight through from top to bottom with any alterations, I did cut a size 10 in the neck band, and actually could have gone with a size 12 in that department. I'd always always suggest cutting that piece out longer than you think because the pattern doesn't know how much stretch your fabric has. If it's too long, you can always cut, if it's too short, well, I'm not aware of any fabric growth hormone to make it longer. Be sure to notch it as suggested, and fit that part first, adjusting the threads on the ruching on the front bodice to fit. Then pin the rest of the collar all around. I serged the whole kit-kaboodle with the 'fake' serger stitch on the classroom Viking 735.
3. Since the fabric was so lightweight, I lined with a nude light knit that I think I got on what used to be the dollar a yard table (it's now $1.29 yard). I simply cut a top front and back, and both skirt pieces from this jersey. Stitched them directly to all pieces. Then sewed together the lined sections. I didn't line the sleeves because a) they don't need it b) it would appear too heavy.
4. I blind-hemmed the sleeves because anything else would have drawn attention away from the loveliness of the appliqued flowers. I did adhere Steam-A-Seam2 so I could keep the hem straight while I was blind-stitching, but that was awkward and time consuming because I had to pull away the somewhat sticky raw edge of the sleeve bottom just a little so I could do the hem properly. Sure, I could pin it, but I dislike having pins sticking out while I am sewing. It feels like I'm just going to get jabbed (Ouch!) that way. So I'm not sure what's a solution. Anyhow, the results looks good. So I'm content for the moment.
5. While I stitched the skirt lining and main fabric as one piece, next time around I would attach them separately so they hang free. I think it'll look better and be easier to hem. Right now, I've got to undo a little bit of the stitching at toward the bottom of the dress, so I can blind hem the edge. I'm hoping it'll still look smooth and pucker-free, fingers double-crossed.

All in all, I more pleased than Hawaiian Punch. I started the dress at 11:30 a.m. (laying the fabric, pinning the pattern pieces) and finished sewing around 4 p.m. (minus the hem, which is still undone). I love a pattern without zippers and buttons! This particular pattern might be a little boring for an advanced sewer, but it's great for a novice, especially someone who wants to sew with knits but doesn't know quite where to begin (start with the proper needle - I used a ballpoint one for jerseys - and fix the tension accordingly). Another note: this dress, with its below the knee hem, is probably a little demure for my taste. (I feel like I should go to high tea or at least a wedding reception wearing this). A certain, nameless member of my family would adore this dress. So while I'm not wild about the dress, I'm not entirely displeased, I do delight in how it turned out. I plan to cut at least one more out since I know exactly what to do and when. Yesterday, I also cut out the view B (a top) with the flowered remnant. I ran over to the main room to buy a yard of $1.29 sheer pink mesh, which I'll use to line it to make it distinct from the dress. By the way, when I wore the finished dress afterwards around the store, more than few admirers thought this was a top and a skirt, not one complete dress. So to make sure that the eagle-eyed sales staff doesn't think the top-to-be made isn't just part of the original dress, I'm lining it in pink so it's clearly different. So...summer stick around! I'll treat you well, well everyone's getting ready for autumn all too soon.
* Here's a fabric swatch, I'll upload a picture of said dress as soon the sun cooperates with my camera (i.e. I get an overcast day) and my hair's up to speed.

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