Saturday, September 29, 2012

The Red Poppy Dress

I finished the McCalls 6503 dress, or as I call it, the Red Poppy Dress.  I made view A which has a ruffled collar and a gathered skirt.  Above is a not-so-great photo (I'm half in sunlight and half out), but I ended up loving the dress, despite some trepidations while making it. 

Here's the back:
 Mostly what worried me during the construction of this dress was the Liberty of London fabric; not only was it expensive (I bought it in 2004 on a trip to Glasgow, Scotland and I made no muslin), but I feared that it would have the same tendancy to wrinkle like my Easter Dress.  While making the dress, it seemed it wrinkled every time I looked it; I was ironing it constantly.  But strangely enough, it doesn't wrinkle nearly as bad while wearing it.  I don't know if this fabric is Liberty's "tana lawn" or not.  But it wears very well and has a wonderful sheen to it.

The pattern is well drafted and the finished dress measurements are very helpfully printed on the pattern.  Size 12 has a 28 1/2 inch waist, so I added a half inch to the waist.  The waistband on this dress makes waist alterations easy:  I just made the front waistband a half inch larger and adjusted the gathers according; no alterations to the front bodice were necessary.  Another change I made was to use scrap fabric bias strips to bind the armholes rather than using purchased bias binding as called for in the instructions.  I also didn't bother to add the facing to the waistband.  I cut it out, but by the time it came to apply it, I was sort of aggravated with this dress, and I realized that the facing was just to make the inside look pretty and really had no structural purpose whatsoever. 

This dress seemed to take me a long time to put together.  Which suprised me because one blogger said that the dress only took her two hours to sew (not counting cutting out).  I don't see how this is possible -  it took me about that long to make the neckline ruffle, attach it to the bodice, and sew the bodice facing.  Having finally learned my lesson while making my wedding dress, I took the time and sewed three lines of gathering stitches on the skirt to make the gathering process easier. 

But in the end it was all worth it:

You can see my "slip" peeking out from my collar above; my "slip" is really a simple Kwik Sew nightgown that I use as a slip if need be.  Because the cotton fabric was a bit thin, I decide an undergarment wouldn't be amiss. 

The sweater is from Lands End and the color matches the red poppies pretty well!

Overall, a very good pattern.  But I'm putting it away and resisting the temptation to make another view in accordance with my new resolve of no repeats - onward to the next project!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Back to Sewing!

 Not only did the Carpenter and I get married, but we bought a house.  And renovated it in ten weeks.  And I put my townhouse up for sale.  My real estate agent recommended a stager, who said, "You need to pack up and remove all your sewing stuff.  And store all your quilts."  (Buyers aren't excited by decor that includes quilts.  Who knew? )

I followed her advice because she's sold way more houses than I have.  My townhouse sold in four days.  (Whoopee!)

What this all means, of course, is that I haven't been sewing, due to everything being in storage, and, you know, moving.  But now we are in the new house and I will now have my very own sewing room, as opposed to sewing all over the house.  I had my new sewing room painted pink because I like pink, and if you can't have your sewing room the color you love the best, where else can you do it?

Right now it is a colossal mess: 

I can't figure out where to put everything because I'm overwhelmed by choice. At my old townhouse, I was limited by space so I made do.  Turn me loose on a clean canvas and I am discombobulated.  I'm confident, though, as necessity is the mother of invention, I'll pull it together eventually.  Friday, the Carpenter installed four recessed ceiling LED lights that light up the room like a Christmas tree. 

I've also been wrestling with a lack of inspiration.  I knew I needed to go a different way on my sewing, but I wasn't sure where.  Should I just stop garment sewing and return back to quilting?  I finally figured out no, I just need to try new patterns and techniques in my garment sewing.  I usually just use the same old patterns because I know they fit, but I was inspired to try a totally new pattern, Kwik Sew 3760, that I saw on a blog whose name I can't recall.  I really liked the green version, but I decided to try the orange version first:

I used a rayon/polestery linen-looking fabric that I bought at Hancock's for $ 4.99/yard.  I love this fabric; I've used it before.  It sews beautifully, it takes high heat during pressing, and it a breeze to wash and wear (no ironing required).  Ignore the wrinkles in my photo above; it was taken after a full day of work.  

This is a wonderful pattern.  I've shied away from Kwik Sew patterns after trying one nine years ago where it seems that it was drafted for someone with a large bust and small hips, and most women aren't built that way.  But this one fit perfectly.  The pattern contained the finished garment measurements on the pattern pieces, which is crucial for figuring out what size to make; I made the size Small straight up, no alterations.  The pattern went together wonderfully; all the seams and notches lined up exactly the way they were supposed to. 

(Again, ignore the wrinkles, this fabric really is nice and wrinkle-resistant.)  Normally I am a natural fabric snob but this very reasonably priced fabric at Hancocks is a pleasure to sew.  This pattern miraculously renewed my excitement in sewing!  And then I decided that I needed to pick another brand new pattern for my next project:  no repeat projects, is my new rule!  (But if I do, I'll dispense with the armhold facings and just use bias binding instead.)

I saw McCall's 6503 dress on Gertie's blog and went out and bought it the same day:

Moving has allowed me to be reintroduced to my stash!  I found a Libery of London print that I bought in Glasgow, Scotland probably around 2004.  I decided it would be perfect for view A. Fortunately, enough time has past that I have forgotten how expensive this fabric was or I would be afraid to cut it.  But in my renewed interest in sewing, I've also decided that the time has come to use the "good" fabric rather than saving it for some mythical perfect project.

My progress:

Can't wait to get this one finished so I can pick another new pattern!