|Celebrating the 70s with my vintage pattern and my dad's wood-paneled office.|
|Oh Walnut, why doesn't my dad understand?|
If you thought my mom was blunt about my sewing hobby, my dad is even more honest. When I came upstairs in this shirtdress, he looked at me, started laughing, and said that I looked like "a hospital nurse...or maybe a hotel maid." Oh, Dad. And to think I was even going for a (belated) Father's Day tribute dress!
See, this dress started when Father's Day came and went, but the Sew Weekly challenge didn't even mention dads at all...why is it that we can sew up garments in tribute to our mothers, but not our fathers? I suspect it might be because fathers are not usually known for their fashion choices, and mine is no exception. You know those dads who wear tube socks with sandals and shorts? Yup, that's my dad. Factor in that the sandals were less than $5 at Walgreen's fifteen years ago, and yeah... I will say, though, that my dad definitely fits a lot of the things on Dads Are the Original Hipsters. He was totally rocking the huge nerd glasses, Beatles haircut, and playing "How Many Roads Must a Man Walk Down" on the guitar when he was in college. Anyway, I decided to go ahead with my own dadwear-inspired challenge, which somehow crystallized as:
- A button-down shirt(dress). That's pretty much all my dad ever wears, even with sweatpants.
- No girly colors. My dad, who's a poster child (adult?) for old-fashioned ideas about gender roles, doesn't believe in guys wearing pink or purple (or getting ear piercings, for that matter). This dress is all about the brown and blue, albeit in more pastel, washed-out shades.
- DIY: whenever my dad could do something himself, he did. From building our treehouse to changing the oil in all our cars, from putting in new carpets or tiles to repaving our backyard, it was all about making a learning experience out of a task. So I frankensteined my own pattern for this dress instead of buying a shirtdress pattern. I think it worked?
- Conquering my fears: I'm petrified of setting in sleeves, multiple buttonholes that all have to line up, and matching prints. This dress involved all of the above. I didn't do a perfect job on any of them, but I'll say I did a pretty good job. A solid B+ effort. And this is because my dad is all about doing things that make you face your fears, whether it be just taking off the training wheels and going (I was petrified of falling off my bike onto my face), talking to strangers (have I mentioned before that I'm painfully shy? Teaching helped a bit with that, but my first decade of life was spent dreading the after-church social hour when I would have to make small talk with all the aunties and uncles), or driving on the freeway (I had a whole roundabout way that I would take to get to Costco without ever getting on the freeway, until my dad made me drive to the East Bay four times in one week before I started my first teaching job...yup, I didn't conquer my fear of driving over 35 mph until after college). Anyway, now I feel much better about sleeves, buttonholes, and prints, but I think I'll need to practice a bit more before I feel confident.
- As a bonus: a vaguely geometric/mathematical-looking print. See, my dad, a scientist, also doesn't believe in majors outside of the STEM subjects. If I got less than an A in math in school, that was a cause for concern, but a C+ on an English paper? Meh. Summers growing up were spent doing math workbooks specially sent from Hong Kong (teaching algebra to a fourth grader? sure, that's a good idea!), and culminated in taking the SAT in 7th grade. So this thrifted bedsheet, with a print reminiscent of tesselating cubes, was pretty much perfect. Also, I'm pretty sure it's from the 70s, which is when my dad was living it up as a young adult.
|And arms up...attempting to test the mobility of the sleeves/bodice ease.|
After figuring out the free-motion sewing of my darts/lowered feed dog issue, the Kenmore behaved admirably, even managing to pound out ten lovely, lovely buttonholes. Seriously, I was afraid to do buttoned anything with my Brother, since its buttonholer was so mercurial, but now I'm kind of hooked on buttons! I want to put buttons in everything now; I'd even go so far as to say that it's less of a headache than inserting a zipper. I'm sure part of my button love is at least partly due to how perfect and softly luminescent my buttons are, though.
|Close-up of my buttons, buttonholes, insides, and hem. Gosh, I love seam binding.|
|Back view...so pleased with how I lined up the blue bits!|
Fabric: Thrifted poly-cotton blend twin flat sheet...I was so excited when I found this one!
Notions: Ten 3/4" buttons, seam binding for the insides and the hem.
Techniques used: Buttonhole foot and Sunni's guide for preventing gaping in a button-down shirt...although frankly I don't have many worries on that front, despite not being a guy.
Hours: Ummmm...a lot. Let's just leave it at that. From figuring out the pattern, to procrastinating to avoid setting in the sleeves, to the many practice buttonholes, I'm scared to count. Okay fine, it's probably close to twenty.
Will you make this again? Yes! I really want to make another shirtdress; this is so comfortable and feels casual but put together and yet not too girly, even if it does make me look like I'm in the service industry, according to my dad. I'd love to make one in gray chambray with yellow buttons.
Total cost: $5. The buttons were 2/3 of the cost of the fabric. Doesn't that sound like the beginning of a math problem? "If Walnut the cat paid $5 for new dress materials, and ten buttons cost 2/3 as much as the fabric, how much is one button?"
Final thoughts: Okay, I know this is not really an epiphany for most people, but I'm going to say it anyway because I think you all should know how dense I can be sometimes: when a dress has ease built into it, it's more comfortable than a skin-tight bodice. In the past I've always fitted my dress bodices within an inch of their lives, and ended up, dare I say, overfitting them. While I love that look, it's not as comfortable as this looser bodice. And you know what? It doesn't look as sloppy and old-ladyish as I was afraid it might be! So yeah. There's my facepalm moment of the week. Anyway, I really like this dress, partly because it was a challenge to figure out and I'm pleased that I conquered it in the end, but mostly because it's comfortable and the print reminds me of an M.C. Escher piece of art. I know that's a stretch, but still!
|Running to and jumping on the windowsill and trying to balance on the narrow ledge while keeping a normal expression, all before the self-timer went off, was quite a challenge.|
|Okay, just standing here is much easier. And all those little rows of blue cube-y things make me so happy!|
Incidentally, if you're wondering what my mom said about my dress, her pronouncement was that it was pretty good, but the bust darts were too high. Darn, to think that I thought I could get away without someone noticing.