Saturday, December 1, 2012

Life is Dangerous on the African Savannah

After my knit fiesta dress turned out to have a less than satisfactory neckline, I quickly started another dress, hoping to finish it in time for Friday's WoF taping. Looking back, I should have known that that was a recipe for disaster; rushed, last-minute projects never turn out well. Especially when said project is the first woven, zippered dress in several months, and with a new, untested pattern. Here was my inspiration:

[source]

I loved the chevron pleats on the bodice, and thought New Look 6067 would be perfect for recreating that look. Elaine had found this awesome polka-dotted sheet that featured rows of large African mammals on it, and I was so excited to make it into a dress.

It was even the right color scheme and everything! 

Gummy was also pretty thrilled about this sheet...when it arrived he spent a good fifteen minutes rolling around in it like it had been smeared in catnip or something. 
Oh, I'm sorry, did you need this for something?

I really, really, really wanted to love this dress, but since I only started sewing on Thursday, I didn't have enough time to fit the bodice properly, resulting in a wrinkly, bulgy mess instead of the sleek, fitted look that I wanted. And most unfortunately, the row of cheetahs actually detracted from the cool pleats.

See those lovely pleats? Yeah, me neither -- I got distracted by the cheetah body parts. 

And here's what it looks like on me. Eeeyurgh.

Besides being poofy and weird, the bodice was also a little too long in front, but because of the pleat placement, I couldn't cut it any shorter without cutting off the bottom chevron. When I tried the dress on  Thursday night, I was so angry with it that I just crumpled it up and threw it on the floor for Walnut to sit on. Except that he refused to sit on it, and usually he's a sucker for fabric on the floor. Yeah, that's how bad it was. Anyway, after some mental distance, I decided that having it be a UFO was even sadder, so I hitched up my bootstraps and finished the waist stay and hem today.

Lining and waist stay. Oh, and seam allowances finished with rayon seam binding. At least it looks nice on the inside?
These photos are pretty dark and grainy since it was gray and drizzly all day, but I just wanted to get them done and out of the way so that I wouldn't have to think about this dress anymore.  

Back view.

Moral of the story: just because you love the design and the fabric print, doesn't mean that they should go together! This would have worked so much better in a solid color, where the pleat design could really have shone. In other words, the African savannah sounds cool and exotic, but when it comes down to it, life there is tough and not everyone can hack it! Or something. Yeah, coming up with analogies is not my strong suit.

Slouchy side view.
In the end, though, it didn't matter that the dress didn't turn out well; Mr. Cation didn't win on WoF, so I never had to make an appearance! It turns out that the audience is random people, and the contestants' guests only get shown if the contestant is the big winner. Ironically enough, I ended up wearing, at Mr. Cation's request, the very first "real" dress that I ever made -- which was sewn last minute, in a rush, right before a wedding! That one turned out just fine, though...go figure.

Summary:
Fabric: A flat twin sheet, 60/40 poly-cotton blend, and some more of my cotton voile leftover from my steampunk blouse for the lining.
Notions: A 22" zipper (my first dress zipper since oh, July), grosgrain ribbon, a swimsuit bra hook, and hook and eye
Techniques used: Putting in a waist stay, and I also tried just inserting my zipper without pinning or basting, as Tilly said professionals do. It worked, too -- this might actually be one of my better zippers in terms of matching at the waist seam and the neckline. Of course it would be, right?
Hours: Too many. Between trying to salvage the bodice to be best of my abilities, and trying to remember how to best gather so much fabric into so little bodice, and then the hand-sewing today...ugh. So much time that could have been spent making something I actually like and will wear. I'm proud of myself for persevering and not having a UFO, though.
Will you make it again? I really want this pattern to work, but I'm afraid I have such a grudge against it that I'm not going to give it another try, at least for a really long time.
Total cost: About $2, since the sheet was a gift and the lining was leftover from another project, so I only paid for the ribbon and zipper.
Final thoughts: I hate the bodice, but still love the fullness of the skirt, so if I find a cropped sweater or cardigan that I can throw on top, this dress might still get some wear.

It's a teensy bit better when I forcibly pull down the bodice to smooth out the wrinkles...


41 comments:

  1. first, I don't think it looks that bad - the print is awesome, too bad about the alignment of the cheetahs though. Second - did you notice that the inspiration dress, the bottom chevron is cut off? That and the sash/belt/strip sewn between the bodice and skirt (why is my brain failing me on terms) help define the waist on the original. Not that you want to pull it apart ;op But if you ever tried another one....

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    1. Huh...I didn't even notice that! Well, that's very useful -- thank you for pointing it out! I might give it another try once I've recovered from this one...

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  2. The skirt of the dress is great with the print, and the style lines are really pretty!

    If you could eke-out the bodice with just the dot print (or at least just the dots through the pleated area), I think that would look better (and more like your inspiration). I wonder if you could find some dotted fabric to match if you can't fit the pattern between the animal stripes...

    Super sad that Mr. Cation didn't win and you didn't get any face time on TV!

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    1. Hmmm, I think I *might* have enough to redo the bodice in dots...it'll have to wait til I get over hating this bodice, though! Thanks for the idea!

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  3. i do like the overall shape of the dress, maybe save the skirt and do a new bodice in a solid color? or forget the bodice, attach a waistband and at least have a really awesome skirt? the fabric is just too cute to languish in a pile on the floor! it is so frustrating when a garment doesn't work out, hope you find a way to use it!

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    1. I agree, it would be a shame to waste the skirt! Thank you for the suggestions on salvaging it...I like the sound of a solid bodice, say, in black...

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  4. I too vote a new solid bodice or chop it off and wear it as a skirt. You are correct in thinking the chevron pleats would have shone in a solid.

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    1. Thanks for weighing in! It's beginning to look like I definitely need to save the skirt for something!

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  5. I agree with the other posters, perhaps you can salvage his dress with a new bodice. I also like you idea of throwing a cardi over it.

    Meanwhile, don't give up on this pattern just yet! I'm seeing it in wide stripes to highlight the chevrons... what is that technique called? So it looks solid at the pleat, and the stripes show as it moves away from the pleat?

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    1. I love the idea of making the chevrons into a sunburst look with a striped fabric...it sounds brilliant! In the meantime, I'm definitely on the lookout for cropped sweaters and cardigans!

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  6. Am I alone in thinking this is great as is? I would wear the sh*t outta that jungle boogie magic.

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    1. Awww thanks Heather! It makes me feel a lot better knowing you think it looks fine!

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  7. I love that fabric and even if it's not turned out quite as you'd hoped it's definitely worth saving. I love the shape of the skirt with your boots so even if the cheetahs don't work with that shape bodice you're so creative I'm sure you can fix it. Hope WoF was a fun experience :)

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    1. Thanks for the encouraging words! I do love the skirt with the boots, so I'm going to have to figure out some way to make it wearable. WoF was still fun, even if he didn't win!

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  8. Sleep on it a while, you might warm up to it. ;)

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    1. I'm going to be sleeping on it for a while ;)

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  9. Wow! Great idea to use a bedsheet as the fabric! I often do that for lingerie. Your construction is also amazing!

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    1. Thanks, I'm all about reusing quirky bed sheet fabrics! I need to see some of this lingerie of yours; I never would have thought to use sheets for that!

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  10. i'm with heather lou here, i love the dress as it is.. and the print is awesome!

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    1. I think the dress would have been fine if I didn't have a very specific idea in mind for it, but thanks for your reassurance that it's fine!

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  11. Wow if you call this one a failure, your wardrobe must be looking pretty good! I think it looks great, and perhaps time will change the way you feel about it. I say, wear it with pride!

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    1. I think I just had very high standards for how this bodice should fit after seeing the inspiration photo...thanks for your kind words, and I really do hope time changes how I feel about it!

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  12. I think you need to put it away and pull it back out in a week. It may not be what you visualized, but this is not a bad looking dress. In fact, I really like it. If the cheetahs in the chevron bother you, think about how you would take the upper part of the bodice, make a blouse out of it, and make a skirt out of the bottom of the dress. This print totally rocks, and it looks much better on you than you think. Maybe a wide cummberbund or something?

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    1. Hmm, a wide cummerbund might work! Thanks for helping give me some perspective on the overall look!

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  13. Maybe you should make a second - white / cream-colored - version of the Jacci Jaye underbust corset or a wide corset belt to match this dress. It would hide the cheetahs as well as the wrinkles.

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    1. Time to go dig out my underbust corset so that I can see if this is a viable option! Great idea!

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    2. That's exactly what I was thinking. Or just some kind of belt/sash, even if some of the top parts of the cheetahs were still showing. I think the dress is AMAZING, and not just the skirt - the zebras are perfect! I don't think a non-sewasaurus would even notice the cheetah pile-up. It's not a part of the body that people naturally tend to spend any time looking at...

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  14. okay. i agree with you. that's a major bummer. what if you disguised the cheetahs with Ye Olde Fabric Marker (or paint, you are far more crafty than me in your crafty tools). just pick a nice shade of cheetah and color in from the bottom of the cheetah pleats to the top of the cheetahs in the skirt. and it would create an added bonus of darker waist slimming jammy.

    though that is not a jammy you require.

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    1. Hahaha a nice shade of cheetah! Unfortunately the fabric is more poly than cotton, so that's not a viable option...thanks though!

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  15. Fold it away for a few weeks, months, whatever and forget about it for awhile. Maybe you will see it differently later. I do love the print. Sorry about WofF. Can't wait to see Mr. Cation on WoF. Hope you enjoyed the experience. Regena in TN.

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    1. I'm hanging it away until I get some mental space. I'll let everyone know when Mr. Cation's WoF episode airs and everyone can commiserate with him! It was definitely an interesting experience, though, so it was totally worth it.

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  16. I think it's a fun dress that looks very nice on you just as it is!!!

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  17. The skirt is wonderful! The zebras are fantastic too. But I agree the chopped up cheetahs might not be the best. But there are lots of ideas here for reclaiming it and it definitely deserves a go over until you love it. Good luck!

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    1. I appreciate the encouragement! I'll definitely give this dress a make-over once I've had some space from it.

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  18. I love this! Maybe you would like wearing it more even if you just popped a wide belt over the waist!

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    1. Time to try it on with all of my belts...

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  19. Fantastic print, and I do think that the dress looks great on you despite the wrinkles!

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  20. You may have saved my day, even if it didn't come out as you wanted it too... because I've desperately been looking for a pattern to match that exact dress!!! I would NEVER have looked at that New Look pattern, but it's perfect.
    Now I'm just going to stare at that birds eye view dress to wonder how they got the bird-on-the-wire print part to go evenly around that skirt when its supposed to be a full circle skirt. And the gathering at the back but flat at the front? Odd.
    I digress - I love the side shot of you and the mis-matching but matching insides.... gorgeous!!! If you're not happy, I reckon this is totally worth a take two - it's an awesome dress :)

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    1. Oh, I'm glad that this helped you out! Best of luck with making the dress. I think it has to be specially printed fabric meant for this particular dress, but you can always applique your birds on?

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