Today is the 31st, so you know what that means!!!  Eighth Dress DONE!

Yes.  I am barefoot in 40 degree weather, but it's technically spring and I am from Virginia.  Since I'm not seeing daffodils yet, you bet your sweet ass I'm seeing bare feet.

Also, I think this needs a belt...?

And, did you check out my new blonde highlights?  Thanks Blanche! (The name of my hair dresser, not the blonding process.)  Onward....

*Eighth Dress Report Card*

PATTERN INSTRUCTIONS:  Very easy to follow.  They are eight pages long, but most of that is hypothetical alteration options, so don't be intimidated.  They were very clear and I would recommend this dress for beginners who want to make it look like they worked harder than they did.  It's like the Rice Crispy Treats of dresses.

PATTERN SIZING:  I wish this dress were a bit more fitted, but I think that's me just figuring out my sizing still.  I'm afraid to go down a size because it's easier to bring things in that to let them out.  It's just around the waist that's a problem.  The bust and length I'm very happy with.

I had my mistrusts about how the bust was measured, but they were right, I was wrong, which is a theme is my sewing.  For a more detailed review of how many opportunities you'll have to get a perfect fit, please see my aptly titled posted called This Pattern is Awesome.  The only alteration I made of the many offered, however, was the broad shoulders adjustment.  I'm glad I did,.  The dress fits better and it helped me get over my insecurity of making pattern alterations.

Next time, I might go a size down and use a stretch cotton for an even cleaner fit, but with a belt I think the slight looseness of this dress with be cinched away.

FABRIC CHOICE: SO happy.  Again, I would probably used a cotton with a slight stretch next time.  The big, mostly horizontal pattern worked really well.  Don't know if I'd recommend big patterns carte blanche but this one worked.

Pattern: $1.99 (on sale, regularly $18.99)
Fabric: $19.49 (I bought about a yard too much, so this just accounts for what I actually used.)
Notions: $4.50 (for the buttons...I had interfacing and black thread from previous projects)
TOTAL: $25.98

PERFECT OCCASION: I wanted more dresses I could wear to work, and this fit the bill.

WOULD I MAKE THIS DRESS AGAIN?:  Shirt Dresses are a favorite of mine and I was encouraged that I could really whip this one out and get it mostly done in a day.  I don't have definite plans to make this dress again, but if I come across a great fabric, I'm pretty stoked to have this pattern in my arsenal.


The Next Dress?

Yes, I'm already looking ahead.  The Ninth Dress is coming up fast, and then double digits!  I'll be a big girl then.

I know I still need to finish the Seventh Dress (not my fault) and post pictures of the finished Eighth Dress (soon! and thank god because I tired of spelling 'eighth'), but I'm looking ahead on the next couple of skills I need to conquer for this project.

I didn't set out to have a new challenge each month, just a new dress.  But it turns out I like new challenges and this is where I am so far (Here is a link to the Finished Dress Gallery for a visual recap as well.):

First Dress: Hey, it's a dress!
Second Dress: Stretch fabric
Third Dress: Sleeves
Fourth Dress: A Burda Pattern
Fifth Dress: Sew-a-long
Sixth Dress: Tailored, lining
(Seventh Dress: will be working with a silky material)
Eighth Dress: Tailored, pattern alterations, collar
Ninth Dress:....?

...I'm thinking of doing coordinates, so create all the looks of an EASY coordinate pattern that includes a dress.  I'm also thinking a fully lined dress that has no lining pattern included.  In fact there is fabric on the way for just such a project.  Any other highlights I need to hit before my run is up?  If you were my teacher, what homework would you assign?


Oh Hell No

I was so proud that I wrapped this dress up in almost one day.  You may remember I took a day off work this month and hoped to run through a short list of small things.  Instead I tackled on big thing: finishing this dress!  I was almost done, all I had left was the buttons and the hemming.  What happened?, you ask?  Why didn't you finish?, you ponder.  The sun must have gone down, dinner was ready, your sister-in-law called and asked if you wanted to watch one more episode of Rock of Love?  No, friends, none of that.  THIS is what happened:

Attack of the killer seam ripper!  Right in the middle of the dress too, oh hell no!  This is why I used my super dull seam ripper for so long, and lesson learned: this is the first dress I've used this new super sharp seam ripper on since.  I need to take it easy.

I had sewn a button hole in, but the tension go all messed up and the thread on the underside of the stitches looked more like crazy muppet hair than a buttonhole.  Little did I know how much worse it would get.

I did my best to patch it, you can't see it from afar (mostly thanks to the button), but I know...I know it's there.



Oooo, this is a fun part of a shirt dress, that rolled up, buttoned up sleeve-y look.  The safari look, if you will!  Here's how that happens...

I must confess that I am still absolutely miserable at fitting sleeves.  WHAT is the deal?  Why are they so hard to match up?  Each time (and there have been three occasions prior to this one) when I go to fit the sleeves there is at least an extra inch and a half of fabric.  I THINK I'm marking everything correctly, but clearly something's going awry.  Any tips???  Because the only thing I've done so far is shove the extra inch and a half of sleeve into the dress, sew at a seam where all the fabric lies flat, and trim the extra.  Doesn't make sense?  This is what I cut off:

Again, thank goodness for forgiving fabric prints, because it turned out okay... 

Is it warm yet?  Can I go back to making sleeveless things?  Can someone suggest a good tutorial or a comeback story about how you finally slayed/slew the ignoble sleeve?  I'm serious.

Ugh, and don't even get me started on turning those little button fasteners inside out.  Elapsed time, 10 minutes:



An Aside

You may remember the Seventh Dress dilemma.  You see, I had two great patterns from Granny:

One I 'loved loved' and one I 'loved' (though now that it's almost done I love love love it).  Anyway...the one I didn't do was the one I 'loved loved' and the matter was settled for me by hungry varmits.  All may not be lost...Lauren to the rescue!


The Collar

As promised, here's an update on the collar.  I am writing the blog post with one very specific payoff in mind, but we'll get to that later.

This is the first piece I've sewn with a collar, and really that's about as exciting to sew as it sounds.  Piece of cake.  The pattern piece starts a lot a lot a lot bigger than you'd (maybe just "I'd") expect.  I thought for sure I'd have to fold this puppy at one point, but no need.

Have I talked about all the facing on this dress yet?  N00b tip: you can use black interfacing on darker fabrics.  Doesn't have to be white all the time.  I taught myself that after the fact.  But no, that is also not the payoff.  It's not time yet.

Again, lots of sewing, triple layer threat here with the dress, facing and collar, but kind of pretty in a ripple 80s prom dress kinda way, no?

But I got the collar done.  Looks great.  I wasn't entirely congnizant of keeping the edges of the collar even until just before I tried it on and thought "oh crap, I hope I lined this up right", but the Fates smiled upon me:

Bad ass, huh?  Looks good, and the facing really does make it all so pretty and professional when it comes together.  Well, pretty and professional now...I will pop this collar to show you I mean business!   BUSINESS!

Looking back on this success is great because--just to update you on yesterday's roller derby bout (and again, this is definitely not the payoff)--we lost.  We were undefeated until then, but the other team played hard and got the job done.  So many life lessons in sports.  I'm sorry I only just took them seriously as an adult...

But to cheer you and me both up, here comes the payoff.  Just to recap this post: I sewed a collar.  It looks bad ass.  And I mean business!!!!  HERE WE GO!!!!!


The Dress is Coming Together, but I'm All Over the Place

So I didn't get all the projects done yesterday that I wanted to, but I did  just about finish this dress, so, um, that's awesome.  Oh!  And Matt and I also bought a new mattress that's so nice we had to finance it.  Aw, yeah.  But anyway...

...there's some of the work I did between mattress buying and Triscuit eating and 30 Rock viewing.  It looks like a dress!  Without buttons, collars, or sleeves!  Yep, I'm putting it all together.

I LOVE THIS FABRIC.  This is really looking good, don't you think?  Can I brag?  I was a little worried that this fabric would look way too spazzy with all the broken up parts--and it was definitely going to be impossible to match even if I wanted to.  But it works, the fabric actually seems especially forgiving in that way.  Yay!

And oy!  There is a ton of underlining in this dress.  You have to underline the facing and the collar.  Tricky stuff to learn to do by reading.  I should have looked for a good youtube tutorial; the last (finished) dress was the first dress I had to underline though and kinda figured it out by doing.  Believe me, I left out the blog entry on the technical acuity of the Sixth Dress and for good reason.  Not winning and 4-H awards there.  Went a little better this time.

And another oy!  There is just a ton of sewing for this project.  It's such a long dress and there are so many facets to it.  Sheesh.  Between the regular seaming, adding the facing, finishing the facing, and underlining I went through two bobbins.  A word to the wise here: In preparation of long stretches of sewing, move things towards the center of the table.  I vibrated a box of stationary and a chalk marker off the table.  No major casualties but I would have been upset if it had been the aforementioned Triscuits or mommy's glass of wine.

Next episode: The Collar....


Triple oy!  This post is all over the place.  I really can't concentrate on sewing I did 24 hours ago because I'm so focused on where I'll be 24 hours from now: tomorrow is bout day!  Yes folks, tomorrow is Roller Derby day where my team, the beloved Reservoir Dolls, take on our historic rivals the Quad Squad.  I'm delirious with excitement.  Heart stopping, wheel turning, body slamming excitement!  And it's a good thing, because my current bruises are fading fast.  I don't write about derby too much on this blog but every now and then that might have to change...BANG! BANG!



Happy St Patrick's Day to you and Happy Mental Health Day to me!  Random midweek day off?  Yes please! 

I hope to spend today cutting out a bunch of patterns from my newly acquired stash, I'm going to purge some fabric from my inherited stash (Beatrix Potter fabric, anyone?), and make progress on the Eighth aka Ms Frizzle Dress.

To get motivated for a day of fast and furious sewing, I've clicked through your blogs and sewing reviews.  Lots of links, only one picture!  Clickity clack!   Here's what I'm loving right now:
  • Something about this shorts and tights combo is making me swoon.  Good job, KristenMakes!  By liking this I can tell--like solitary confinement and inmates--that living in this icy tundra has made permanent changes to my brain functions.  Not too long ago, winter fabrics with summer patterns made me cringe.  But now?  This just seems practical for those fake spring days we have here in Wisconsin.  She's totally working it!  Plus, and it's another Built by Wendy pattern, like this little gem.
  • I have been searching the "Easy to Sew" section on PatternReview.com and came across this little temptress.  See upper left hand romper pattern, and then answer this: How old is too old for a romper?  I've wanted to buy one for years and knowing one is "easy to sew" is going to make it very hard to resist this summer.  Just a heads up, Wisconsin!
  • Also, and completely not in the realm of rompers....I need more wardrobe builders.  It was 58 degrees and inspired by the warm weather I broke out the Fifth Dress.  It reminded me I need more dresses that I can wear to work.  This and this and this, like the late Marlon Brando, are contenders.
  • I need a super simple and straightforward cardigan pattern.  I want it to look like this (crew neck, 3/4/long sleeves) but longer...any suggestions?
from thisnext.com
Crap, okay...enough blogging.  Off to sewing.


The Sewing Begins, the Subconscious Takes Over...

The sewing has begun!  The cutting is OVAH!  Oh man, this dress has a lot of marks.

Markity mark mark!
 ....Hello, this is Sandy's subconscious.  Those of you who know Sandy will know that I cannot let that quasi-Marky Mark reference pass.  Sandy wanted to be the Funky to his Bunch, the Good to his Vibrations, the underwear to his whole Calvin Klein modeling era.  1991 was a good year for Sandy nĂ©e Chinery.  Turns out 1997 wasn't so bad either.  But I digress...
Markity mark mark MARK!  With sleeves and collars and pockets, good lord.  But I was able to get it sorted out and fold it up for good.  I was inspired by how neat and tidy my Granny's old patterns were folded and put away.  I will endeavor to do the same.
Um, hi.  Sandy's subconscious again.  How did we just get from Marky Mark to Granny so quickly??
I finished the front panels on the dress.  Instead of darts, the boobs are right on a seam line, so you're sewing a little inverted-ly, or whatever, to make it work.  I tried it on Shoshana though and it looks good...if not a little Jekyl and Hyde-ish:


Probably Went a Little Overboard...

...on the fabric purchasing.  Just kidding!  I saw an online sale at FashionFabricClub.com and scooped up some more.  I'm so bad!  But I did go a little overboard on how much of this Eighth Dress Fabric to buy:

Note to self: When buying fabric for a fitted dress, hold fabric bolt up to self and don't buy twice as much as what covers your body.  

I blame my constant size questioning.  I blame the fact that I didn't pay attention to the fact that this was a 60" bolt.  I blame the economy.  I blame Scott Walker.  And now I have a lot of fabric...but I suppose there are worse things.  Thanks for all the compliments on this fabric choice too!  I'm really encouraged by the good signs, and Kat, I will lookout for the boob moving qualities big prints can have.

Speaking of having too much fabric, I should check on the status of my lining for the unfinished Seventh Dress.  So much to do, so little March left...


Bonus!  Dress Stencils have returned.  Ew, you can tell I'm outta practice.  This looks horrible, but here it is anyway!  Feast your eyes!  Nom nom nom...


This Pattern is Awesome

Wow.  I am impressed!  If you are a beginner who is terrified of making alterations (me!), I recommend sewing a McCall's Palmer/Pletsch pattern.  Granted, I've never actually sewn a Palmer/Pletsch pattern, I've just read through one, but already I'm in love.  There are so many good tips for pattern alterations.   And at one point they even tell you what to do if you have a flat butt derriere. 

Seriously, I feel like they are here to help.

Broad shoulders?  Yes.

Curved back?  No.

Sway back?....maybe??  But now I can find out!

And I've heard about them, but let me offer my sincere and formal apologies to those who need to make Full Bust Adjustments (FBAs).  They see like a killer and by far the longest and most involved adjustment for this dress.  Granted college did wonderful things for me up there, but after reading these potential FBA instructions, I will fondly remember the "Roses are red, violets are black..." cheers from middle school directed at yours truly and her truly unfull bust.  Fondly.

At the end of the day I only went for the broad shoulder adjustment, which I'm not 100% sure I need, but I didn't want to miss out.  I'm a funny girl.

My concern about this dress, of course, is it it will fit at the end of the day.  The instructions called for weird bust measuring so I'm a size smaller than most of my other dresses. 

(Yes, I am sewing a dress with a "Safari Touch"...)

But I have Shoshana and will do a quick fit once the pieces are cut.  Oh that girl, she's a problem solver.


Eighth Dress Fabric

As I tore through the local fabric shop the other day with no sale fabric left uninspected, I stumbled across the p. e. r. f. e. c. t. fabric for the Eight Dress.  In the section called "Graphic Canvas" I found THIS!

Why wouldn't you want to wear this?  Like most of my dresses in this project, I would never ever ever buy a dress made from this.  But! when you know that you'll proudly wear something you've made anyway, it's fun to dance with the fashion devil a bit.  Plus, you gotta make a shirt dress interesting.  Here are some scissors for scale:

(Damnit, a lot of my pictures aren't saving the "rotation" lately...)

Does anyone remember the Ms. Frizzle books? That is exactly how badass I am going to feel when wearing this. Teaching science and anatomy and how water treatment plants work to strangers in my awesome dress.


I Just Bought a Metric CrapTon of Fabric

What else is there to say??

From reading your blogs, I know this is a right of passage that many of you have enjoyed already.  Go crazy in the sale section of a fabric without nary a project in mind.  Wow, is that a lot of fun or what??  You should have told me.

Being the planner I am, the "nary a project in mind" lasted until I was stuck in the fabric cutting line.  Here are my hopes, dreams and desires until new ones come along:

Bathing Suit.  Granny's old stash has a cute pattern Lauren and I are considering.  Sale rack + favorite color = SOLD!

1 yard Lycra blend

Cardigan. This was on sale???  I almost bought this for Matt's cardigan but decided that I would like it more.  Confirmed with the hubbs, so true.

1-2/3 yards cotton knit

Sheath Dress, when the time comes that I am actually brave enough to match plaid.  It's such a smart looking fabric though.

2.5 yards cotton/wool knit

Summer Dress from Granny's stash.  This is almost certainly my Ninth or Tenth Dress.

2 yards of rayon.

View F of the Sixth Dress?  There wasn't enough fabric on the sale bolt for the full dress, so maybe just the skirt?  Grrrr, my overplanning kills the fun.

2-2/3 yards of rayon.

And the far left fabric?  I didn't get a clear picture of and am too lazy to upload more pictures, but I still love the Second Dress...it's a possibility!  It's also clear that I need some new patterns in my life.  I have enough fabric for just a little while, but just in case the bug hits me again soon, help a sister out!

  • How much do you buy when you're stash building?
  • What are your favorite resources for cheapo fabric?  On line/in person...preferably near Madison, WI *wink*


The Eighth Dress

So the lining fabric wasn't in, but that's okay!  There's just going to be a little back and forth-y for the next few days as I wrap up the Seventh Dress and plan the Eighth.  I'll go back to Granny's stash for a future project, but I've been sitting on a classic pattern for a few months now.  I picked it up at a McCall's $1.99 pattern sale last fall.  The classic, my favorite, Shirt Dress:

I'm not entirely pumped about making this dress, but I feel obligated too.  I love love lurve shirt dresses, but all the buttons and tailoring and blech.  I'm a little overwhelmed already.  But I've gotta do it, just like a Burda pattern. It's a rite of passage.

Out of all the variations I'm going for the traditional sleeved, collared version:

And now what about fabrics?  Totally hipster plaid?  I might do that.  But I also have a black (read: originally black, currently overwashed navy) that needs to be replaced.  So I want to add sewing black on black to the laundry list of details?  I just don't know!


The Seventh Dress, revisted

I know I still owe you a picture of the finished mix and match dress, but I gotta get back to this other little project I've been working on: the Seventh Dress.

I'm going to stop by Gayfeather today to see if I my sizzy silk came in, but I have a few other things I can be working on in the meantime...the belt and the hem.  God, it was so nice to not have to hem that mix and match dress.  I hate hemming.  It's said.

The belt fabric is kind of weird.

It's half and half.  I'm using the half of the fabric in the foreground above.  I have no idea what you'd use this fabric for as it is...any thoughts?  Anyway, I only got a half yard of it, and I'd recommend a few inches more if I were you.  You'll need to cut four pieces of the belt pattern piece and if you quadruple fold the fabric, it's pretty tight:

Plus, it was a little constrained by the weirdness of the fabric pattern:

I did shortened it a bit, but I think we'll be okay here.  I cut the fabric so the heaviness of the pattern (the larger concentration of flowers) was central.  I think it turned out great!

It's so exciting seeing this dress come together!  Ugh, and I know I still need to hem, but that will be for another day.