It started out innocently enough. McCalls released this pattern this spring, number M6891, and it looked sorta easy:
If you look closely, you can see that there is a one-piece collar (no separate stand), no waistband (although there is a waist for easier fitting), no front bands, and only six darts; if you make the sleeveless version (the blue dress in the upper left corner), it should be easy-peasy. Right?
Blog reader Rachel emailed me back in March, asking me for a recommendation for a shirtdress pattern, as she was planning on making her very first shirtdress, and I recommended this one. (I regret that now, and Rachel, if you are still reading, I am REALLY, REALLY SORRY! Go make the Colette Hawthorn instead - not only is it easier but there is a sew-along that will help tremendously.)
Still thinking this would be quick 'n easy, I decided to use the wonderful periwinkle linen I got at Mood in December:
No, the problem was the collar/front/facing pattern pieces. So many symbols: squares, circles, triangles, dots, lines - you get the drift. The construction technique of this collar was previously unknown to me, and I had a frustrating time trying to figure out how the whole sha-bang went together. I can't imagine a beginner trying it.
A sleeveless shirtdress shouldn't be this confusing/difficult. I finally managed to get it together, and then it sat for several weeks, needing buttonholes, buttons, and hemming. I procrastinated on all fronts because I knew the hem was going to be a huge PITA and I was right. The skirt of this thing is a half circle skirt, so it is on the bias at the sides. Combined with this fabric being a lightweight loose weave linen, I had serious side stretch. My attempts to put in an even hem were unsuccessful.
So it hung on a hanger for even more weekends, sucking my quality sewing time because I have this completion complex: I can't work on another project until my current one is done.
Last Saturday, to save my sanity and my hobby, I finally decided to throw money at the problem: I took this dress to the woman who hemmed my wedding dress and begged her to hem it for me. Despite her look of horror (she knows bias stretch when she sees it), she only said in her Bulgarian accent, "Next Saturday."
I skipped out of the shop before she changed her mind. This past Saturday, I picked it up and happily paid her for her trouble. I wore it to Mass this morning and got the Carpenter to take a photograph before we left and the winkling began:
She did a great job and the twenty bucks I paid her was worth every penny - not just so this dress got done, but because once I subcontracted out the hem, the floodgates of creativity and sewing came pouring out of me and I finished three, count them, three projects since the day I left this dress with her, plus I did a muslin (gasp!) for a project I HAVE become obsessed with.
Otherwise, there isn't much to say about this dress; I made a size 12. I added 3/4 inch to the hem for some unknown reason. I added 1/4 inch to the front side seams of the bodice and skirt, just to make sure the waist was big enough, and I sewed the waist seam just a little less than 5/8 inch just to make extra-super-duper sure there was plenty of room in the waist. The color is wonderful, and I enjoyed wearing it today, complete with the Gertie-slip I finished Friday night.
So ultimately, what was the problem? I think I was just bored. This isn't what I really wanted to be sewing. (Plus that collar thing really was objectively insane.)
So I'm on to new projects that I keep researching, and compulsively buying supplies, and I'm in the grip of happy obsession. Fortunately, the Carpenter is tolerant - I haven't been this sewing-crazed since the Tippi Hedren suit!
More to come . . .