The Second Dress REMIX! Begins...

Oh man, what a pace.  The Second Dress is still warm from the final fitting and I'm already cutting out the pieces for the Second Dress REMIX!.  This jersey stretch is SOOOOO much easier to cut.  As is the cotton print.  God, I love this fabric.

The trick this time is cutting the correct size.  You see, I'm not the size I thought I was and this one is being cut two sizes smaller than the last.  Should be easy, right?  But the Pieces in the Shape of the Devil's Tail kind of curve at weird places, and because of this curve I often need to cut "beyond the edges" of the pattern.  In other words, I need to wing it.  Here's my best guess:

Sewing the pieces together is a bit easier the second time around, but there will be whole new elements to this dress.  The zipper for instance.  But not the pockets, the pockets are straight up old school, and I'm even better than before:

But, again, the zipper.  Unlike last time, for the Second Dress REMIX! I need to keep the left side of the dress basically open until it's almost all put together.

But I'm getting there.  Eek!  It can't possible be harder than sewing the Devil's Tail, right?

PS, Get ready for a lot of posts, or just a few longer posts before the 1st comes around.  I promise the flood won't last, but for now...tick, tick, tick, tick..........


Voila!  I even finished it without thoroughly complaining about all the bodice re-sews.  Yay me!  I really like this dress.  I like this dress and fabric much much more than anticipated, and Matt even gave it the two thumbs up.  His favorite so far.

I'm really glad I didn't make both this and the more casual blue version of the dress side-by-side because I learned so much.  I learned I will probably never (or at least avoid at all costs) sewing with jersey matte fabric again.  I also learned that I am not actually a size 14.  (Tommie, you were right!)  But I also learned that if you leave a zipper out of a dress that supposed to have one, sewing it two sizes larger than you should have definitely helps it to fit better.  At any rate, I did end up being able to sew up the sides of the dress when it was done to create a more snug fit and still fit into it.  To see what I mean, the picture to the right is the before and after of this alteration...the right side is the "before" and the left "after". 

So I did make some adjustments, but overall I'm pleased with the final fit, if not thrilled:

It's a little tight across the back, but otherwise, the adjustments were servicable.  And fit aside, I really like this dress!  It's so satisfying to make your own clothes.  I can wear this out an about and I don't think it will catch people's eye for being misshapen.  In fact, it's a little everyday elegant if you ask me.  And since you're asking me, I'm also going to ask you something: what do you think about the length?  Should I let the hem out a little?  I have about two more inches I could play with.


*Second Dress Report Card*

PATTERN INSTRUCTIONS: Not overly simple, but probably nothing more that a "Beginner/Intermediate" rating.  It takes a few re-readings, and when it doubt I just made it look like the drawing.  Badabing!

PATTERN SIZING: Um, yeah, that was my bad.  I think I measured my waist after a sushi dinner and rice can be very unforgiving with those things.  I'll let you know after the next time.

FABRIC CHOICE: Nope.  Never.  Too stretchy for this girl.  Month Two was too soon to introduce such a stretchy, sticky knit.  LOVE how it looks though.  My anal retentive side was worried about how the vertical pattern would look along curves and the midriff there, but I think it came out great.  Also, I will give the fabric credit for being super super comfy.


Pattern, $10.17 (on sale!  and I'm going to use it twice)
Fabric, $22.56
Notions (interfacing, thread), $5.63 (and I have lots of extra interfacing)
Total $38.36

PERFECT OCCASION:  Work, running around town.  And it has pockets, so really anytime you'd need to carry something would be the perfect occasion.

WOULD I MAKE THIS DRESS AGAIN?: Yep, in fact I've already started.  It's almost the end of the month!


The Devil's Tail, cont.

Thankfully I did not count how many time I had to re-sew the bodice to the Devil's Tail pieces.  I'm sure it was close to ten.  Those are some tight turns, and jersey matte (or whatever it's called) does not move like you'd hope it would through a sewing machine.

But I've shed too many tears over this part of the dress so far!!!  No further comment.  Almost done...

The Devil's Tail

So the Bodice Lining, which the pattern calls the Shoulder Bands, but I will only refer to now as the Pattern Pieces in the Shape of the Devil's Tail, is no fun.  It must be me because this pattern had gotten such high marks on other websites, but it is really challenging.  It's great watching it come together, because it's such a cool, crisp piece, but getting there is an exercise in punishment.

The Pattern Pieces in the Shape of the Devil's Tail have so many similarly shaped curves that when they are sewn together, it's hard to tell which way it up.  Please pay attention to this, otherwise you will pin, stitch, clip, press, attach, stitch and backstitch the pieces together before realizing...before even understanding it is a possibility...that the pieces have twisted around to form your very own handmade Möbius strip.

Check out those water stains now!

ANYWAY, I finally got the hang of it, and after a series of deep breaths and some all too familiar seam ripping, I untwisted, sewed and ended up with this:

Almost there!

A Laundry List of Sins

I have to get these off my chest.  So far I have...

...Used one of the pain in the butt to cut bodice lining pieces to test thread tension thinking it was a piece of scrap fabric.

...Sewn the pockets on the wrong side (meaning a left one on the skirt back and a right one on the skirt front). (Not a big deal with this dress, but the REMIX! will need a zipper, and that's a problem.)

...Sewn one of the skirt panels upside down.  You can tell here:

...Twisted up the lining around the bodice and sewed it to the verge of completion without realizing.  And by sewing, I'm including backstitching and trimming the seams.  More on this to come later...

But I do get a bonus point back for thinking to cut this skirt longer than called for after the First Dress was officially declared a Long Shirt, right?


Interfacing UPDATE

In a previous post, I hinted at some recutting I would have done if I weren't a handful of days away from the end of the month.  Specifically, I would have adjusted the bodice a little.  I'm hoping using a rotary cutter in the future will help me to avoid some of these mismatches, but it was just one part of the dress, so it's really not a big deal.

What I am tripped up on is the interfacing and how it was actually suppose to cut it.  Because I'll tell you now, I did not cut it the way I was supposed to.  Don't look at me like...it didn't fit.  How would you have cut this???:
Hear me out: I had the right length and width of interfacing (stretchy interfacing no less!).  What I interpreted this schematic to mean was to fold the interface "hotdog style" (or long ways if you had a boring elementary school teacher) just a wee bit, with selvedges matching.  You'd fold it just far enough to cut two of those number 5 pieces, twice.  Again, since the hotdog fold only went a wee way, you'd then also have a place where you had a single layer where you cut piece 3 and piece 4.

Well, the stretch of the stretch interface would only match up if I folded it "hamburger style" (read: short ways).  On top of that, even if I stuck with the hotdog fold, there was no way I was going to get piece 3 or piece cut out in one piece.  So now I have a ton of interfacing left.  Which is great, because you may have heard I haven't always had enough fabric to complete these projects.  But this is weird, right?

UPDATE: I have an extra piece number 5.  What does that mean????

Pockets! Skirt! It Looks Like a Dress!

Okay, so bodice is done!  On to the skirt, which is pretty fun, because of....ooooooh, pocketsss......

That is pretty sweet, don't you think?  I wish I could/would go back and put pockets into the Anna Tunic, but I never will.  I just know I won't, which is too bad because they are so easy.  Pockets are just doubled up kidney-shaped pieces of fabric sewn into side seams.  Since I'm not going to go back in time to change the First Dress, I will at least promise this for Dresses Three through Twelve: I will pocket liberally.

I had to try them out immediately, but this is when I started to doubt my sizing again...

No problem, I gathered the heck out of this mother.  In doing so, turns out I added another item to the List of Things I've Learned So Far:

6) Baste stitch for gathering with a thread that's a contrasting color.  Can you find the gathering here?:

NO.  You can't.  Neither did I for a while.  But once I got moving, oh boy, I do love to gather.  It's so satisfying to cinch it all up!  And then a little assembly, a little backyard photography, and BAM!:

Told you it's starting to look like a dress...


The Pressure of Having Five Days Left

Okay, it's a whirlwind around here.  There are only five days between now and the end of the month...tick, tick tick, tick....... 

I woke up early yesterday to get a head start on the Second Dress.  It's is soooooo great leaving the zipper out.  It's saving tons of time, but even better: It's super satisfying to fly a stitch up the side of a dress while the instructions are telling you to do eight other things to it instead.  In light of my rule bending, the bodice is already done.  Here's proof!:

Please excuse my nasty water stained iron covering board in the background (which you can't really see 'cause it flashed out...whew!).  I also took some pictures with me in the bodice so you could see how well it fit, but those looked a little risque.  Like, "a close up of my boobs" risque, so yeah...enjoy the messed up picture of the ironing board.

There were a lot of moving pieces to this thingamajig.  The midriff waistband was lined and interfaced, so at one point that meant sewing through four thicknessess of fabric.  But really, you can't even tell.  It doesn't bunch around the waist. I'm a pro.  Well, maybe not a complete pro.  It may not bunch but the fabric pieces didn't match up exactly so they gathered a bit.  There are quite a few of these:

Whoopsie!  It'll be fine....If I weren't under a timeline I would have gone back and shortened the bodice piece itself, but whatever.  It's not going to bother me.

So next steps: Attach the skirt and the pockets.  (POCKETS!)  Then the sleevage/kinda' bodice liner looking thing...you know, this>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

And it turns out I really like the brownish-gray fabric anyway.  Maybe not to work with, but this is going to be a pretty dress, and the dark fabric is REALLY forgiving...I know.  I'm a waffler.  A waffler who has a lot of sewing to do.  Tah-tah!


Cutting the Second Dress

So, for a few reasons...namely that I don't have enough fabric to start the Second Dress REMIX!...I have decided to make one dress at a time this month.  They still have to be done within a month though, which is coming up quickly.  The delayed sewing machine and overactive washing didn't help either, but still, I press on.

I've started cutting the Second Dress.  I am so fortunate that those special ladies at Gayfeathers always make their fabric cuts generous so I didn't have to go back for more!   Plus, you know how I love the crinkle of a good piece of pattern paper!  AND!  I feel totally professional when I iron the pattern pieces before using as instructed.  Lah-dee-dah-dah!

I do have this to say though: Have you ever tried to cut matte jersey?  And in weird shapes like this?!:

Whew.  That was a little weird.  I learned a helpful hint for next time: use a rotary cutter.  Any and other other tips for working with this stuff are welcome.


Also, have you ever tried folding matte jersey?!  Not an easy task, my friend.  It almost sticks together and is difficult to get to lay flat.  This piece had to be folded almost like of like a burrito so there were two folds to cut on.  The selvedges met in the middle.  If you're working with a striped pattern like I am, I'd also advise making sure the folds are consistent so you don't have a pattern along the middle seam that starts
      on you.

Finally, I remembered the importance of cutting the notches in all the patterns for matching up later on.  It's not just a dangly little step to be ignored.  Who knew?  So anyway....Ball point needle in hand (most advised when sewing with stretch knit), I'm off to assemble these mothers.


Ready to Wear vs Pattern Sizing

Whoa.  It is quite a thing to see your dress size double before your very eyes.  I had always heard that pattern sizing is higher that street clothes sizing, or "ready to wear" clothes as the industry calls them, but I had no idea the level of deception at work here!

Now, don't get me wrong here.  I'm pretty body positive in general: at the end of the day, a number is a number is a number, and just that.  But I'll admit--before that day ended I had a little bit of "sticker shock" when I learned I was a size 14.  (PS, That's just one size behind that little hottie Miss Marilyn Monroe...eat your heart out!)

So, why didn't I catch this sooner?  Well, I guess the First Dress, the Amy Butler pattern, has more modern sizing, whatever that means, so I was pretty much the same size as the clothes in my closet.  Simplicity changed it up on me a bit, though.  They very much follow the traditional sizing scheme.

Okay, so sticker shock is over, I finally got caught up to what my real pattern size is.  We're done here, right?  WRONG!  I bought all my fabric based on my street clothes assumption.  For both dresses.  Unlike a good seamstress, I haven't memorized my measurements yet and have about a half a yard of fabric less than I'll need.  Whoops!
I realize body image, weight, and clothes sizes can be a really sensitive subject.  I hope I didn't gloss over anything here that offends you and would be curious to hear your thoughts on this topic.  While you're gathering those, though, I'm off to the dress shop to pick up a few more yards.


Second Dress REMIX!

How could I drop such a beautiful and bright fabric on you without just the *eensiest* bit of warning or indulgent excitement??  RUDE!

So, this fabric will make up the skirt of the Second Dress REMIX!  A purpley-blue stretch knit will make up the top.  I LOVE this fabric.  I should confess...I did buy it at a certain big box fabric and crafts store, not my super fun independent retailer, but I figured for a shadow dress I could get away with it.  I'll try to be good in the future.

Speaking of the dual nature of this month's dress project...having this bright, awesome print makes me love the brownish gray fabric more.  It's made so much better by the contrast.  I will have a fun work appropriate and a going-out-on-the-town dress in less than 30 days.  Yay.  Okay, enjoy the eye candy:


A Tale of Two Dresses

Devious Option C won out.  Please enjoy the sneak peek above.  I'm calling them Thing 1 and Thing 2.  Just kidding!  I love this idea to much to be that blasé.  I'm calling them Second Dress and Second Dress Remix!, always with the exclamation point.  Always.  

I worry about making two dresses side-by-side because if one fits funny, the other may too.  I'm also a little worried because it seems like quite the work load...and it will be a lot of thread and bobbin changing...and I'll definitely have to put a zipper in one.  But at the end of the month I'll have two more dresses, not just one.  My neighbor just had triplets.  I should be able to handle twin dresses, right?

And I Thought (twelve) Was A Lot....

Great idea, great execution, great seamstress.  And her deserved reward is 365 dresses.

Thanks for the link, Mom!


Fabric Remorse

What's a working girl to do?  I spent my lunch half-hour hopping over to Gayfeathers to pick out fabric for the Second Dress.  I knew a half-hour wouldn't be enough, but I'm pretty stubborn when I have a checklist of things to-do in hand.  I went in looking for a solid stretch navy and a coordinating print, but instead left with two yards of a pretty, but maybe not quite right, brown-gray stretch:

These pictures make it more drab than it really is...I had to take them inside.  Stupid rain.
I had a strong inclination towards a "fall appropriate fabric", which initially drew me to navy, and ultimately to this fabric too.  But I think I fully committed to the change when I convinced myself that it would be easier to sew the dress in all the same type of fabric.  (Is that even true??)  Either way, I left the shop with the brown-gray stretch.  Not the navy blue.  Not the fun, bold cotton coordinate.

Le sigh...

Don't get me wrong, I think it will make a nice dress, and this fabric is perfectly suitable for a super fun lining (I'm thinking lilac), but I'm not Japanese school girl excited about it.  Plus, I really loved the fullness of the skirt when made with a cotton fabric versus a stretch knit.  

What's a girl to do?!

I think I have three options here:

Option A: Love the one you're with and make this dress with this fabric.  You can always make another one!
Option B: Get thee back to a fabrick shoppe and get thee thy fabric thou wanteth!
Devious Option C: First, stop talking like Shakespeare. Then, make two dresses.  One with this fabric and one with the other fabric you'll have after a quick trip back to the fabric shop.

Oooh, now that I mention it, I'm kind of excited about Devious Option C...


Studying My Patterns

I have found an invaluable resource in the sewers at Pattern Review.  With the help, acumen, and studious nature of the ladies and gentlemen on that site, I truly believe that every single pattern available in the world has been tested and reviewed.  I'm sure of it.  This is actually the site where I found the pattern for this dress and was encouraged to give it a try.

Not only was my Second Dress on their "Top Ten of 2009" list, but from the reviews I've found I am able to edit out certain less-than-exciting parts of the Second Dress pattern.  Here's what I've learned thus far:

1) I probably don't need to do any interfacing (as this pattern calls for) if I pick a knit that's heavy enough.  Beautiful.
2) I don't really need to do a zipper if I use jersey for the whole thing.  Sweet.

I'm pretty sure this site is like a beautiful Magic 8-Ball, but instead of telling you to "Ask Again Later" it tells you "You Know All Those Things You Were Dreading About this Pattern?  Fuggedaboutit."

The Epic Return of The Sewing Machine

The same afternoon I emailed Dave at Han's Sewing Repair, I heard back that my machine had been finished the day before! Victory!  Plus, my sweet little sewing machine got high marks from the expert himself:

"If you had taken the same money and bought a new machine, you would have ended up taking a huge hit in terms of the quality."

Did you hear that?  A huge hit in quality!  This baby is rock solid.  Though I must admit that when I picked up the machine I barely recognized her.  I have a way nicer sewing machine than I remember--yes, I really am this novice of a sewer.....  But just in case my memory is serving me correctly and this sewing machine looks like it's yours instead in a "they switched my baby" sort of way...message me.

(P.S.--Actual sewing to start up again soon on this sewing blog of mine.  I apologize for the delay.)


We Interrupt This Regularly Scheduled Second Dress Gushing...

...to bring you an important announcement about our basement: It's flooded.  

Our washing machine overflowed, which has happened before but never for three hours without someone finding it.  I left it on and went to work, which I NEVER do, and is why you should never do it either.   I feel awful about it. 

That being said, I'm a pretty happy purger, so getting rid of some of my things is alright with me.  Plus, I think I'm a little numb to all this because last week I found a box of love letters and trinkets from the beginning of mine and Mister's relationship that had succumbed to water damage.  The problem though is that this time around some of Mister's irreplaceable books and works of art are in critical care and that is none too good.

My poor mother-in-law (pictured) was just a few hours from heading home when this happened so this what a send off.  She may never come back.

You may be asking "Why is she sharing this on a dress sewing blog?".  Well, if I grumble a little more about our washing machine during the prewash later this week, you'll understand.


Are You a Font of Sewing Knowledge?

Then I have just the thing for you...

I have gone through and labeled all of my blog posts.  I'm trying to keep the labels concise and helpful.  Obvious labels are "First Dress", "Report Card", etc...  But one of them I hope you particularly find worth using, and where your font-like qualities come in handy, is the "Help Me" label.  (Believe me, if they let me use exclamation points in labels, several would be there).  You'll find this label on posts that have burning questions about what in the hell I'm supposed to be doing.  Search it, use it, tell me what to do.


The Second Dress

First, the bad news: I have yet to get my sewing machine back, which is making me sadder than Paula Deen at a margarine factory.  I have been so struck by guilt when I think about following up about it with everything going on in the repairperson's life, but this morning I sent an email off and will hopefully know what's up soon.

On to the good news: in spite of my actual inability to put together a dress, I'm forging ahead with--you guessed it--THE SECOND DRESS!  Again, I know I'm getting a head start on the month, but I am dying to do some sewing right now, and I'm planning a long family vacation in September that will keep me away from any project for a week.  Can we just agree to nickname this blog "(twelve or however many I feel like) dresses"?  

Okay, SECOND DRESS!  I'm trying to learn a few new techniques each time and although I worry I may be skipping ahead a few with this one, who cares, I'm going for it: I'm going to sew with knit jersey.  Behold!!!!:

Not the jacket at all, but I love that dress.  Did someone mention POCKETS!?  Pockets get an MVP award for dress/skirt addition.  I have a feeling I might make this dress more than once.

About the dress: The top half is that damn jersey and the skirt will be cotton.  I'm off to pick up fabric tomorrow and you know how excited I get about that.  I'm looking for a solid color for the top (maybe also in navy) and a bold coordinating printed cotton for the skirt.  I'm going to try to keep in mind that summer is getting precious short around Wisconsin and will try to pull the dress together with more neutral colors and layering in mind.  The last dress was a summer explosion and unfortunately will soon have to go to the back of the closet for a while.

Now, here's a picture of my infamous Buffalo Shorts, which I love.  I sewed these about five years ago and offer as proof positive that jersey knit is my b#@&%.  Plus, I am so confident in the quality of my sewing machine tune up that I am sure the machine alone will make this seem so easy.  But if/when stuff hits the fan, I learn all sorts of new swear words, or I haven't syked myself up enough for this, I know you'll be there for me.



It's done!  It's official!  And it's SHORT!  And...it had perfect timing, I had to return the sewing machine to a friend so she could put the finishing touches on a special body suit we made.  (More posts to come on that later, maybe while I'm on sewing machine hiatus...)  I actually finished the dress last weekend, but needed to get good pictures of the dress before posting.  

If you feel like you're looking up my skirt, you might be.  The Mister took these pictures.

Anyway...oh my gosh, I'm still so excited to make eleven more of these things!  I can't wait to work on pockets, pleating, adjusting patterns, and learning how to do button holes.  Have I mentioned I already bought two more patterns?   I might start my second dress before the next month--make it a bakers dozen--if I get my sewing machine back this week as scheduled.


*First Dress Report Card*

I had my good friend take a quick peek at it to give tips on some of the things that bugged me.  It's a little long in the arm holes (Exhibit A), and a little poofy in the hunchback area (Exhibit B), so that's unflattering.  We determined I just need to do some darting, but overall I give this dress an A++ for cuteness (Exhibit C...okay, maybe this is just me being cute).

Exhibit A                                      Exhibit B                                               Exhibit C

PATTERN INSTRUCTIONS: Clear, but required this novice's full concentration. I tried listening to music but that did not work.  (Loretta Lynn on Pandora Radio is a favorite when I'm doing housewife-ily things.)  I highly recommend the whole advance reading.  Fabric use was resourceful.

PATTERN SIZING: A little off, but this time I blame myself...maybe I just don't know how to measure my bust?  Is it with or without a bra on?

FABRIC CHOICE: Like I mentioned, I would have picked a fabric with a clearer front/back had I thought that far ahead (thanks for the tip Tommie Gunn!), and the stars were a little too dazzling in week two of starting at it, but this is one-of-a-kind.  I love this dress.

FINANCIALS (by popular demand): Note:
I'm trying to use independent pattern makers and natural fibers, so if you plan on making twelve dresses your budget may vary greatly:
Pattern, $16.00
Fabric (lining and exterior), $31.10
Notions, $5.50  
Total $52.60

PERFECT OCCASION:  All of summertime!  (Minus work, it's probably a little short for work...)

WOULD I MAKE THIS DRESS AGAIN?: In a heartbeat.  I'm thinking of ditching the yoke gathering and making it in a woolly fabric for winter.


YAY, First Dress was a success.  Any suggestions for the next....?

(Also, if you'd like, be sure to check out all the completed projects on the Finished Dress Gallery page.)