Birthday Dress

So, to catch you up...the lining for the original month's dress, the Seventh Dress, isn't in.  I knew it wouldn't be by months end, but ever-optimistic, I waited until the last minute to admit temporary defeat.  I hope to finish the Seventh Dress by the end of the week, but in the meantime offer up a mix and match dress from second hand fashions.  


An almost cute dress + a so-so shirt ≠ a short post.  
An almost cute dress + a so-so shirt = a super cute dress! 

That's right.  "Super cute."  I'm calling it.  When last we left, I had teased you with two almost workable pieces of clothing from good old St. Vinnie's.  Great colors, almost great fashion, and a badly collage-d preview of what could be.

But that misshapen dream is a beautiful reality now.  Armed with a pair of scissors, the closest matching threads I could find in my stash, and raw fearlessness I dove straight in.  Full tutorial starts now.  After a picture of the thread.

Brown (needle thread) and Blue (bobbin)

Step Zero) Obviously the first step is to find two pieces of clothing that you like and you think will work together.  I stuck to favorite colors of similar tones (plum and navy), but similarly sized patterns (tiny floral and thin stripes have a ton of potential) or a repeated motif would work too.

Step One) Figure out your general skirt to dress ratio.  The most helpful item for this step is a husband who is good at pretending to pay attention.  Babe, what do you think about this?  Okay, okay.  Now close your eyes.  Okay open them.  Now what do you think?  No...it's totally different, the skirt is about two inches higher than it was.  Yes it is.  I swear.  See it now?  Okay, good.  Now close your eyes again.... 

I decided I hated the empire--ahem, AHMpeeay--waistline of the original dress and very fortunately, the pockets of the original dress didn't look ridiculous when the empire band sat at my waist.

Step Two) Get the fit right.  Like any clothing item, you need to pieces to come together correctly at the seams.  I didn't want a skosh! of gathering so this had to be just so and the shirt was a little less than perfect.  A little big.  So I cinched up the back.  I took before and after pictures of the shirt on but those were boring.  Here's a shortcut to the results:

This isn't the only alteration to the back.  Oh no, Step Three)  Add a fun detail!  Sure, you could slap two pieces of clothing together and call it a day, but what is the fun in that?  I was so inspired by the buttony detail of the back and the potential of the back seam that I added a little keyhole.  Boy, was that fun to sew.

And totally worth it:

(Don't mind the sharpie on the arms.  That's how we roll when we play roller derby.) 

You can tell from the original picture that it was meant to be a pearshaped hole, but that was even worse to sew than a circle.  Another bad thing about this step was a husband who was tired of pretending to be impressed with my cleverness.   

Me: Babe, babe...look at *turns around* THIS! 
Matt: It's a hole.

Step Four) Cut, Pin, Sew and Pray.  'Nuff said.

Step Five)  Be smug.  This dress is cute!  The pictures came out dark, as is the norm in our house on these short winter days.  I will show them now in black and white, and totally impress you with Technacolor when the sun shines again.

I will totally do this again.  It's emboldened me to convert all sorts of goodies.  I must admit some inspiration by the very adorable Adventures in Dressmaking blog.  She's constantly editing off-the-rack clothes with super cute details.  Check out her tutorials.

So, be prepared for those pictures and in the meantime, if you could be so kind, let me know: what else would you mix and match?  Shirts with a dress makes obvious sense, but can pants or jackets make it into the equation?  Just not sure....


Mix and Match

I really feel on a roll with this dress. The skirt looks really great, so much zig-zaggy, chevrony goodness! But this little number needs to be lined and my coral colored silk is not in yet! Are my problem bourgeois or what???? But the show must go on....

While waiting for me fabric to come in, I still feel the urge to sew. Lately I've been inspired by these Anthropologie and ModCloth everything dresses that are mismatched but stay coordinated:

images from ModCloth and Anthropologie

I wanted to make my own! Instead of starting from scratch and trying to make something look like two dresses slapped together, though, I decided to do actually slap two things together. I went thrift shopping for two pieces with so much potential it makes you sick. Mission accomplished.

I wanted something I could wear to work, and I wasn't ready to completely throw myself into the colors of summer...Stupid summer, so far away...So here's what I found.  The dress itself:

Pretty cute, but it's also pretty busty, I really don't like those little ties on the sleeves, and all in all it's a little big. But navy is my second favorite color to wear and it was only $7.92. What a bargain!

My first favorite color to wear is plum, and I just so happened to find a plum top for this experiment of mine:

The sleeve coverage is much more suitable for the work place, as is the bust coverage. On it's own the top is “short and wide”, the worst quality any shirt can have. Just ask my friend Emily, we decided this a long time ago.

So how these two will come together is to be determined. I don't want to lose this pretty detail on the back of the dress, that will be the challenge.

Ah, the possibilities...

Note: The lining fabric may not be in before the end of the month, so I might—once again—fall behind on my sewing deadline goals.  This Mix and Match dress will be my offering.


The Skirt

Last we met, I had put together two of the skirt panels. Now they are all done, and looking damn good. I'll be the first to admit that the first one is the absolute best, but they are all shades of great. It's like choosing a favorite child or type of cheese.  Here are the ones you haven't seen:

The anal retentive part of me wants to get some orange Rit dye and color the little white scallops that don't quite match up. But the lazy part of me is tell me to get over it.  And lazy always wins.

Besides...there's so much chevron-y awesomeness! Just like I hoped. It makes me think of Charlie Brown's shirt, but in the best of ways. Actually this dress and fabric have always reminded me of a dress my Dad brought me home from Mexico when I was a little girl. He traveled a lot for work and usually brought me dolls or coins from all the different countries he visited, but one time it was this dress. It was gorgeous and white with lots of bright embroidery on it, but pretty unwearable. Every six inches or so was a two inch stripe of unfaced lace. One stripe hit right above my you-know-what and because of it I never really wore it outside my room. But it was gorgeous anyway. And this dress will be too, and infinitely more wearable. I don't know why it reminds me so much of that little Mexican dress, but it does, and I'm happy about it.


Stripitty Stripes!

Sit down.  Take a moment.  Breathe deep, and be prepared to be IMPRESSED!

Who dat???

I am matching some stripes hard core.  That is the front of the skirt, seen better here:

You can see at the bottom of the skirt I had to cheat a little to get the stripes to match as I wanted, but I will just sew the hem a little short.  I've not yet sewn the other two skirt panels together, but was so emboldened by this success that I took advantage of the unplanned possibility for the back of the bodice to match up.  BEHOLD!

Try to look beyond the deliciousness of the half eaten Ritz cracker sleeve and check out that stripe matching!  I hadn't cut the pattern pieces like that on purpose, but it worked out really well that there was a stripe to be had so near the back center.

It's a little wonky, even more so close up...

...but I've still managed to impress myself.  It must not take much* because the fabric pieces kinda bowed away from one another towards the bottom there and I couldn't get them to match up...

...but I feel confident in my ability to fix things I've screwed up (kinda).  I'll just cross that bridge when I come to it.

*Por ejemplo, I am very impressed when....

...this morning, and every morning, when I remember to unplug the iron before I leave the house.
...I do laundry before I run out of clean underwear.
...that time I recognized Debbie Gibson in Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus.  Seriously.  So impressed.


Granny's Old Patterns

I have made some major and successful strides with stripe matching lately, but before I forget I just wanted to have a heartful rap session on Granny's old patterns.  I really have to catalog all of them.  Apparently my mom used one of the patterns for her bridesmaids gowns but I have yet to figure out which.  A picture is in transit.

I have been able to enjoy some of the differences in patterns over the year while making this dress.  First of all, they used to print in color.  Wow, nice change of pace over the crazy hashmarking they try to use clearly now.

The paper and the patterns are pretty yellowed and I'm afraid if I keep folding and unfolding the pattern directions the paper will crack. 

When I ironed the pattern paper, it smelled like old Christmas ornaments.  I should mention all the pattern pieces were cut and folded oh so neatly back into the envelope, too.  I will work on that in the future with this cold hard proof that it is genetically possibly to do so.

Something else about this pattern, it only comes in one size in this envelope, which I didn't notice until after I picked it to be my Seventh Dress.  Funny.  I don't think that's a sign of old patterns, but it's significant that it's one of Granny's old pattern and still fits.  I inherited her wedding dress in the 6th grade and could not squeeze my tiny frame into it.  Seriously.  And I was seriously tiny, my only curves were the bulges from my knobby knees and elbows.

Oh, and the price for this pattern?  $2.50.  I put this number into the ole'  inflation calculator.  If this pattern was bought in 1980 (guessing) it should only cost $6.42 now.  Wow, if you see any new $6.42 patterns, please call me.


Sewing the Bodice

Sewing a boat neckline for the first time.  Sessy.  I've always like this look.  I'll be honest, it seems to boost the boobages.  Just sayin'...

ANYWAY.  This dress looks so easy breezy but only because it has a lot of facing at the neck and armholes to make it look simple and clean.  I feel like that is an older fashion, but maybe I haven't sewn enough?  I don;t think it's just me though.  Everything these days seems hemmed or lined, but a simple facing is something I've only come across in this pattern and at choice 80s wear from St Vinnie's thrift store.  Funny.

The bodice is almost put together.  I took a picture of me wearing it but then you could seem how dirty my bathroom mirror is, so instead you'll have to marvel at this beauty, as worn by my dining room table:

Okay, the left shoulder of my beauty.  Nice line matching though, huh??  When putting in the facing I screwed up a bit and quickly learned this fabric does not love seam ripping.  I'm supposed to work with silk on this project too?  Sheesh:

Bad seam ripper.  But again, good line matching. *winky face*

Anyway, the neck is all faced, and get ready for a seizure inducing photo of my beauty, as worn by my busily patterned ironing board cover:

Even the wrong side of this fabric is adorable. 

Note: Oopsies, I forgot the dress stencil this month!  Note to self: get that done pronto.


Matching Stripes

I may have over analyzed this one a bit, but I did my homework on matching stripes and placing pattern pieces on this one.  A small price to pay for confidence, Michael...(Arrested Development reference.  Sorry, it had been a while.)

The biggest focus was the skirt and its stripes.  It's a full skirt, but is pieced together.  Two pieces to make the front, two pieces to make the back.  Crap.  How in the hell would I get straight/matching/desirable stripes at the end of all the piecing?  My quest began...

The pattern instructions call for the skirt pieces to line up as the left pattern piece is in the above picture, but the skirt would have a chevron pattern in the front.  I didn't know if I wanted that.  So I considered lining up the piece like the one on the right, so there is one straight line in the middle of the skirt and the chevroning would happen on the side margins.  I thought that's what I wanted, but I thought the fabric might hang weird.  Grain lines and whatnot, blah, blah, blah...

Ugh, too much visualization.  That is the hardest part about sewing for me....trying to imagine how a fabric and a pattern will go together.  So I cheated.  Notebook paper, here I come!

Again, this is what I thought I wanted.  Match the stripes down the front center and let the gathering take care of the rest...Cute mock up, huh?

Here's the next option:

Oooh, I like this.  It's more interesting and I don't have to worry about how the fabric hangs because this is the way the pattern wants you to cut it.  Smart, pattern.  Very smart.

So I started cutting.  They always tell you to get extra fabric for matching stripes, but these little pieces fit like peas in a pod.

The bodice fit just as well too...matching stripes over the shoulder is my hope.  EEK!  No going back now...

Sewing and swearing to commence soon.


Seventh Dress Fabric

I think I have a favorite fabric design house.  I think if I had all the money in the world it might be Liberty of London, but I don't.  So I have very happily laid my lot with the still-not-quite-inexpensive Free Spirit fabrics.  The Fifth Dress was a Free Spirit fabric, as it turns out...and so was the ivory bark fabric I considered using for the Fifth Dress instead.  Their designs are fun and whimsical, feminine but not girlie, bold but still regulated.  Big patterns and bright colors are definitely outside what's in my store bought wardrobe, but I am enjoying sewing with them.  I really like what they have going on over there at Free Spirit.  Yes ma'am, I do.

So, not looking for Free Spirit fabrics, not yet knowing my kinship to their designs, I headed to local Gayfeathers Fabrics.  I had a gift certificate in hand and a green or blue raw silk in mind...and then I saw this!!!


Can you feel spring returning to the Northern Hemisphere?  Can you feel the rush of Vitamin D, which has been leeching from your body since September August, coursing through your veins??!  Yes, a light weight coral cotton is the cure!  I'm surprised your doctor didn't tell you that.

An aside: Can someone tell me the proper name of this fabric?  The type of fabric with those little bumps?  Thanks!

Ooo!  I'm so excited.  This dresspattern you may remember, has a little band around it that I will make out of a complimentary floral print:

I realize my pictures aren't the best tonight, so you can look at the whole fabric collection here, and really, why wouldn't you want to?  I appreciate that only the coral was available to me, otherwise I may have gone a more predictable (for me) route--Marine or Lilac.  And I'm kinda lovin' on Toast too.

I seriously doubt I will be able to wear such a spring-y dress on my March 1st birthday, but I am ready to forge ahead!  I've never matched stripes before so that will be a new skill, and I'll be lining this skirt on my own.  New Skill #2.  With silk.  #3.  I've wanted to work with a slippery fabric, but think it's best to start on something that will be mostly hidden.  The fabrics on order, but it is also coral.  Yum.  Thanks to my hubby for a gift certificate to Gayfeathers so I can treat myself to only the finest.


The Seventh Dress! I think...

So I think I've narrowed down my selections for the Seventh Dress to two options.  One I like a little more, but one has less mouse bites in the paper.  *shudder*

The Simplicity pattern on the left artfully covers said nibbles.  (Seriously, Matt had to take this book out of my hands after a minor freakout.)  This is the dress I'm considering from that pattern:

Pretty.  80s.  The style era is appropriate considering this will be my birthday dress.  And I haven't made a fuller skirt in a while.*  I know the short sleeves are a little daring for a Wisconsin March, but to hell with it.  I am just tempting the warm weather to join us a little early this year.  You're welcome.

The second pattern I'm considering is equally daring, weatherwise:

What?  I can wear a cardigan.  This book is from Golden Hands' "Mid-Season Fashions" which has great and not entirely dated fall and spring clothes.  I tried looking to buy a replacement copy of this book so I can make this dress without fear or rapidly increasing heartbeat, but to no avail.  Instead Lauren has offered to photocopy this dress for me sometime.  She can handle the nibbles and I will ultimately be happier making it at a later date.

So I guess I have officially chosen the Seventh Dress!:

*I have updated the "Finished Dress" gallery.  I realized I hadn't done so when I went on a hunt for the last time I made a fuller skirt.  Whoopsies!


Best Christmas Ever

So, you'll recall I received Shoshana as an early Christmas present.  The sewing gifts did not end there though.  I was promised a box o' fun from my Granny.  At the time, I had no idea it would have to do with sewing and the only hint I was given was this, from my Mom:

Oh, we had fun getting it together.  After we threw away all the mouse eaten ones.

You should know I am insanely and unfairly afraid of mice.  Thanks, Mom.  So imagine my horror when a package arrived from my Granny the next day full of black walnuts.  You sent me mouse-leftover nuts.  Do you hate me??!  I called my mom for the details. 

Oh god no...that's not it.

Whew.  And so I made a Black Walnut Cake.  Betty Crocker.  Recognize.

Anyway...Parcel post took a little while and after another week went by a large, heavily postage stamped box arrived.  Imagine my unbridled joy when I opened it and saw THIS!

Don't see all the potential there?  Then imagine my unbridled joy when I saw THIS!:

Patterns, tens of patterns.  Beautiful, vintage patterns.  Seriously, this was so much fun!  Thank you, Gran!!  I still have a lot of fun rifling through everything.  I'll be picking this month's pattern from the stack, although before I share the real gems I had to show you these hot little numbers, straight outta the 70s:

My Granny, mom and aunt have actually made/worn most of these clothes. God I hope they used that parthwork fabric for the pants on the right.

So I'm about to dive right in, and will reveal the Seventh Dress soon!



Spotted!  The rare Coldius Mattimus in his natural habitat.  Note the cold weather plumage, gray with tannish cream trim.  Breathtaking.  A fine specimen.



Blizzard conditions also = bad lighting.

Oh!  Sassy!

*Sixth Dress Report Card*

PATTERN INSTRUCTIONS: Very easy to follow, through the twenty something darts, lining, hemming, zipper it was all very clear.  

PATTERN SIZING:  This was the dress where I learned about sizing, finally!  You can read more bout that here.  I had to let out the thigh region a bit and now this dress fits like a glove.

FABRIC CHOICE:  Oh yeah.  I am so happy this pretty bird cotton has a home.  There are no scraps from it at all, and it all just feels right.  I am proud of my color coordinating and am really excited for a drop dress red dress to be added to my wardrobe.  I would never buy this color, but am thrilled to wear it.

I did not save a single receipt for the course of two months and have nothing to report here.  But since this was meant to be a stash-busting dress I'm comfortable lying to you and saying this cost me zero dollars.  Zero.
PERFECT OCCASION:  Valentine's Day!  14 days until this number hits the streets if Madison.  LOOK OUT!

WOULD I MAKE THIS DRESS AGAIN?: Is it bad that I want to View F next month already????  Can you picture a chartreuse-colored cotton silk blend?  I seriously want to make every iteration of this pattern.  Money well spent.