Sunday, January 4, 2009

New year, new sewing

It seems like every time I'm away from my machine for a while, all of a sudden I get this urgent need to sew. It happened again over the holidays, and so upon my return I immediately started working on McCall 5658. Normally, I'm a fairly conservative dresser, so one-shouldered dresses seem a bit flashy to me, but I've seen a few really great ones lately, and I like my shoulders, so I figured why not give one a try?

My original idea was to use some vintage yellow drapes from my stash to make the skirt, to fashion something like I talked about oh so long ago. I learned a lot while making this dress. Lesson 1: I am not currently capable of working with anything but woven cotton. Try as I might, this vintage fabric was far too fussy for me. By the time I realized this, I had already made the bodice in black cotton sateen, so I searched my fabric stash for something else that might work. I finally settled on a black print with tan and purple that I bought in Cameroon many years ago. Although I was never in love with this fabric, I bought 6 yards, since that is how fabric is sold there. It was among the most muted fabrics I could find, so at the time I figured it would be easier to work into my American wardrobe.

In Cameroon, people regularly wear the same boldly patterned fabric from head to toe--I find this a bit overwhelming on myself, but while making this dress I learned lesson 2: my somewhat bold African prints could totally work as the skirt to a dress with a solid colored bodice. I actually really like this look, and I especially like that the busy fabric is not near my face--I think you can get away with a lot more in a skirt.

I'm still struggling with fit issues--both in knitting and sewing. And I think the big culprit is ease. I picked my size based on my measurements, and trusted the pattern company and their idea of the appropriate amount of ease. I was a bit skeptical of 2 inches of ease on a bodice that really needed to be fitted, but I went with it anyway. Sure enough, the bodice is pretty huge on me, which almost works, but any wrong move could result in a wardrobe malfunction.

The tricky part is that the skirt seems to have the right amount of ease--I think I'm going to have to cut a different size in the bodice than the skirt next time.

Despite the fit issues, I'm actually very happy with this dress. I think it looks cute, is both a bit dressy and very unique, used up some of my stash fabric, and best of all--I think this was my best sewing yet! I am most proud of my zipper. Although it's not perfect (still a few puckers, and wonky stitching near the top) it is light years ahead of my last zipper. My secret? I used this wonderful tutorial at Sew Mama Sew that has you glue the zipper in place before top stitching. Genius!! And thank goodness, I found a washable glue stick in the house I'm subletting! This experience has been very encouraging--unlike many other previous failed sewing projects. I think I'm starting to make progress.

Next up, I'd like to make several dresses from one pattern in order to perfect a basic dress that fits me well. I've chosen New Look 6824. It has a great 1960s vibe, and many options that I really like.

Thanks for stopping by and don't forget to enter my giveaway!


Anonymous said...

what a lovely dress and a great tip re the glued zipper, thanks a lot, happy knitting and sewing from

a Dutch knitter (who occasionally sews, too)

Sara said...

nice work! i like the necklace with the dress also.
I think you are right about the busy print working well as a skirt. And the fit issues is exactly my main problem also. If we ever manage to get together for a sewing class we should make it a fit class!

The zipper tutorial is a good one, i have mixed feelings about sewmamasew as they have a policy of not replacing orders (or even crediting the amount of the order over cost) when they are lost in the mail overseas! i was out over $50 when an order didn't make it to me. So i now go elsewhere for my fabric, but they are great for tutorials on the blog.

Sara said...

(i hope thats not too negative, i just feel like if thats their policy then they should be OK with people sharing that fact. i have had much better customer service experiences with Purl Soho, who sent at no cost a half yard of fabric when after getting all the way home I discovered that a fat quarter I had purchased there had a cut mark in it.)

isolada. by design said...

Oh, WOW! It's fabulous! Of course you could wear a one-shoulder dress. You've a lovely figure! And I do love the bold print with the solid bodice. Yes, definitely accentuates the face and knows style and statement. Very, very nice. I've made some skirts and fit is not easy. Feel great about your new year accomplishment. Can't wait to see the New Look 6824. Wonderful!

KellyT said...

I would suggest putting in an invisible zipper. They are a god send! They alwasy turn out perfect. I have only used invisible zippers for the past ten years and I hope I never have to sew another lapped or centered zipper again.

Hilary said...

It is absolutely stunning!! I think the fabric combo is perfect, and the fit is great (if the bodice is too big, I sure can't tell!). I hope you get a lot of use out of it, because it looks amazing! Also, thanks for the link to the zipper tutorial. I need a whole lot of help with my own zipper installation.

Anonymous said...

Dress looks fab on you. I haven't checked tutorial you mentioned but it looks like you used an 'invisible zipper' which shouldn't need any top stitching. I used to be a dressmaking teacher and I would recommend that you put that kind of zipper in before you do the seam, which is a bit scary at first but it is the only way I have been able to eliminate all puckers. Then you don't need to top stitch as it looks like a continuation of the seam.

Looked at your New Look basic and it will look fab on you whether you choose the full or straight skirt versions.