About the First Dress

Oh, my people!  I'm so sorry!  I've been so excited about the new fabrics I'm becoming besties with and pattern paper as home decor that I've hardly talked about the First Dress itself!  How RUDE!  So even though I'm a still a little drunk on paper love (and Stephanie Tanner all of a sudden) let me attempt to fill you in on where we're heading.

So just a refresher...the Anna Tunic* is the brain child of the fabulous midwestern designer Amy Butler.  The Anna Tunic is a simple dress and I chose it because of that.  But also because I already own about three dresses that look like it and I love them all.  It was a simple decision.  Amy Butler also prints her own fabrics, which I won't attempt to do in these twelve months, but I may use one or two of hers down the road.  I think fabric making is pretty amazing.  I have an Auntie and a friend, LoSh, who went to school for textile design...jealous!  And I have a vague memory of a great fabric printing blog I stumbled on a few years back and can't find it now, so here's a textiley eye candy substitute: print & pattern.

AH!  I'm talking all about fabric again!  The dress!  The dress!

I know the first picture of the finished dress didn't offer much detail, so I did a little flickr search and came up with some close ups for you sexy beasts.  So, remember, this is not my picture!  Not even me, although maybe it looks like me because she's brunette.  (And remind me to tell you a funny story of when my lips looked as full as that upper left hand picture...):

I'm pretty sure this is an Amy Butler fabric too.  I like this better with the belt, what do you think?  I love the button closure.  I love it because it's classy.  But it also means I don't have to sew in a zipper.  And since they aren't regular buttons, they are shaft buttons, I don't have to do button holes either...WIN!  The yoke is wide and will make for cute little faux cap sleeves.  I might do some machine quilting patterning on the yoke to make it unique, not just a field of fabric, but we'll see.  (For examples of what I'm talking about see here and here.)

And finally, some of you HATERS out there are trying to talk me into this flower pin, but don't think I'm buying it.  It's not that I wouldn't like it on you, but it's too much for me.  I'm not an accessories girl (other than the aforementioned leg wear).  If the dress is done and there's a ton of time left in the month, then maybe....maybe.

Sewing begins Monday...I promise!

*annatude included


Pattern Paper rocks my socks

Confession: Last night I took the pattern to bed.  It was anything but scandalous...I wanted to faithfully read every step for sewing this dress before I did anything else.  There are some clever people out there, those people that make patterns.   Clever.   And now that have gained Dress Clairvoyance, the *snip*snip*snip* can begin and the dress will finally be off to a rolling start!

Mommy needs a new pair of scissors...
"Finally", you say?  Well, time for another confession: Even if they were published just recently, I wrote my first couple of posts a few weeks ago...back when I dropped off my sewing machine to get tuned up.  I figured it'd be a week.  Well, sadly I was wrong.  Very sadly: the father of the gentleman whose family business has been servicing Madison sewing machines for 30 years passed away after a long battle with Alzheimer's.  Clearly that pushed back repair times, and rightfully so.  Just because I'm pumped up about some dumb dress project doesn't mean he has to shake a leg at a time like that!  So if you're in Madison and need your sewing machine or vacuum repaired, please check this guy out.  It's Hans Sewing Center on Willy St.  I'd hope all of his customers would be understanding, but it's hard to say what it did for business.  In the meantime, while I wait for the machine and life to get back on track, I'm borrowing my very dear friend's sewing machine and trying very hard not to interrupt her ever-ambitious crafting schedule...thank you Ms. Stench Wench!!!

So anyway, on with the dumb dress project that I am, in all honesty, still veryvery excited about.  *snip*snip*snip*  Don't you just love pattern paper?  It's so intricate and still simple at the same time.  I sometimes wish I could paper mache my house in itAnd after twelve dresses I just might be able to do that...



Fabric Homework

Remember how excited I was about all that new fabric I'm going to get to buy?  Well, to justify all the purchases on my horizon, I organized--for the first time ever--all the fabric I currently have.  That's about 16 years worth of cottons, polyesters, knits, flannels, and whothehellknowswhat to make sense of.  And for a casual sewer, it was an inexplicable amount of fabric.  *cought*Mom*cough*....

To the trash heap!  Some of you might recognize my infamous Buffalo Shorts fabric...
But I organized!  Oh, how I organized...I separated reds, blues, neutrals, BIG prints, silks.  I even measured and recorded the decent size pieces.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I am on the road to success.  I'm so proud of this accomplishment.   In fact, I'm so proud I'm even going to share the most dubious of them: I threw away two unfinished, but almost finished, projects.  Gone.  In the trash.  And our trash pick up is just precious hours away!!!!!  (And I'm not going to post pictures of the tossaways, lest your comments send me into my garbage bins wondering "Why, WHY?!".  So there.)

The first one to hit the garbage was a dress I made by draping fabric across my body and trying to make it ruffly and flouncy.   Eyeballing a tiered, floor length dress with nothing but an image from the J. Crew website to guide me...sounds like a great plan, right?   Under my skilled hands, the ruffles became flabby gills drowning my body and the flounces became grotesque bulges of hideous proportions and angles.  Not even the sweet, pink daisy embroidered fabric could save it, which is really too bad because it was about $100 worth of it bought at a time when my paychecks barely covered rent.   I whistled a happy little tune as that ugly piece of failure hit the trash heap.

Hint!  There is actually a scrap of the quilt backing in this shot.
The second reject was the (makings of a) back for a quilt the Mister and I were going to make together when we first started dating.  This was a little tougher to part with.  We dug through every remnant bin in the Harrisonburg, VA area and salvaged all we liked, all that had "potential".  (The making of a disaster are spelled out in that one word, I know.)  And even though I couldn't bear to part with some of the top pieces, the backing was cathartic.   The Quilt That Never Was has officially dissolved, freeing up those tops to reach a new potential in other projects.  Probably projects without the Mister, but definitely with him in mind.  I'll let you know if any of those scraps show up in future projects on this blog.

It's a nice reminder of how great a clean slate can be.  After some heavy soul searching, my sewing table is clear.  Amen.


The First Dress: August 2010

...don't even tell me "But it's not August..." on the 26th of July.  (I'm looking at you, Brother...) I get a few extra days for the first one, deal?

Thanks to the helpful ladies at Gayfeather here in Madison, I'm armed with my first pattern, first fabric, and a sewing machine on it's way to a tune up.  You can't stop this party!

The first dress is a design from Amy Butler.  I've seen her stuff on some of my favorite blogs so I was happy and surprised that she had a pattern that seemed easy enough for a First Project.  It's called the "anna tunic", and that's because--are you ready for this?--'the clean lines give this dress "annatude"'.  You agree, non?

The pattern comes with several variations: Tunic (shown), Cami, Dress, and Mini Dress.  The Mini Dress is where we're heading, folks, and if you know anything about me you should have seen that one coming a mile away.  There's also an option to make a flower pin (you can see that in the picture above), but we'll have to see about that.

Picking out the fabric was super fun.  I almost want to finish this project already so I can go back and pick out more fabric for the next one.  I say almost because the fabric this time around is pretty sweet too.  Yep, that's right...I get to relish in this fabulousness for the next 30 days!:


It's a 100% cotton poplin batik from Indonesia, and 2-3/8 yards of summery, starry fun!  I think this fabric is pretty intense and if the sewing of it doesn't make me go cross eyed, I know it's going to be an adorable dress.  Stars have been a favorite thing for me lately.

The Mister thinks it's a little "hippie", but I think he just doesn't have the vision.

Here's the lining, it's a white voile...pronounced like "foil" with a "v".  It's lighter weight than muslin, and needs to be prewashed twice (two times!) in hot water.  I was told to never skip the prewash.  Damn.

So wish me luck!  I'm off to wash the fabric and cut the patterns.  And hope my sewing machine gets tuned up tout de suite.  I'll keep you posted!

***I really do want to pay a special thanks the ladies at Gayfeather.  I told them about this yearlong project and they answered all my questions, walked through patterns with me, and helped me pick some ideal fabrics.  I am sure they will become sewing mentors to me over the course of this project.  Plus, they have nifty little customer rewards cards that I am sure to fill up several times over in the coming year!  You want one, I know it.

Twelve Dresses? Say what now?

Hello all!  Thanks for joining me during this year long goal.  In 365 calendar days, I hope to have twelve more dresses in my closet made by yours truly.  And with any luck, I'll probably buy an additional one or two along the way....

"Why dresses?", you ask?  That's easy.  I love dresses.  Like, really, really love them.  Not only are dresses great because you don't need to match them to anything (one piece, and you're ready to go), they are also fun and totally comfy.  You can dress up, dress down, dress dress.  All in dresses.  I love dresses.  AND I love leg wear, dressy or not: Thank god for great stockings because midwestern winters can be pretty tough on a girl who wears frilly little frocks as often as possible.

"Well, what kinds of dresses will you be making?"  Um, hmmm...although I'm eyeing a complicated pattern I hope to one day call my own, right now I have no loftier goals than quantity.  If there are fun events along the way I might keep those in mind and maybe create and wear something I can be proud of.  Oh, and maybe the Mister will take me out every one and a while to show of my fine new linens.  But seriously, I'm just trying to keep my head down and make twelve of them suckers....

"Okay, dresses..got it.  You love them, you crazy bird.  Why one a month?"  Well, it's a pretty defined goal that has a pretty substantial reward.  I mean TWELVE freakin' dresses!?  And a month is a good clip.  The aforementioned Mister and I lead pretty busy lives.  We both work full time, plus he's a full time student and I play a kick ass sport that takes up a lot of time, so a month should keep me moving but not totally stress me out.....right, Mister?....right?

"So why a blog?"  Well, if you're not planning on making twelve dresses, a blog will let you live vicariously through me!   But also a blog will keep me on track, share what I learn, let you point out what I don't, and hopefully just give me a way to brag about what I hope are the most beautiful of all the fabrics in all the realm.

So here we go, off to do something fun and get a little messy.....