Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Returning to My Roots

Best sheet ever, y/y?
It's got representative animals for all the continents!

The Sew Weekly Reunion was good for getting my sewing again after moving, but after I finished my bolero I just couldn't seem to get myself started on another project. Even though I had lots of things on my HSF backlog, and a lot of stash to choose from, I could not for the life of me get motivated. It got even worse when I forced myself to sew a simple dress, but then didn't like it when I finished (I'll get around to taking pictures of it later, after it's had some time to sit in the magical closet of time and forgetfulness...maybe that will change my opinion of it?) and found myself in an even worse stew/rut/funk/state of inertia than ever. Finally, I figured I needed to get back to my roots and make another 1) sheet dress, with 2) a fitted bodice, and 3) a flared skirt, from 4) TNT patterns.

This photo has a slight ombre effect and weird lighting overall (not to mention a stupendously boring background of closet doors) because our new apartment complex is very...shall we say, utilitarian...and has no decent backgrounds for taking photos. You guys, I'm talking dumpsters and chain link fences everywhere, none of that landscaped birds-of-paradise nonsense, plus Mr. Cation was at work, so this was just quick photos from when I got dressed this morning.  
Oh my gosh, my calves look ridiculous.  
I am really liking that pleat synchronicity on the skirt and at the neckline!

Because I can't leave well enough alone (and also because I fell in love with this dress' pleated neckline), I decided to fiddle with the bodice of one of my favorite patterns, McCall's 5845 (now sadly OOP). I traced it up and started slashing and spreading to get what I hoped would be some nice neckline pleats. I got a bit carried way with how awesome I was at dart/pattern manipulation and arrogantly sewed it up without checking for fit (normally I sew up new patterns in lining fabric, modify after fitting, and then cut the altered pattern in fashion fabric, so as to avoid making an actual muslin).

You can see the places where I transferred out the bust and waist darts, and the subsequent huge neckline that I took in with pleats. 
Completed bodice: no darts, just pleats at the neckline! I'm still kind of amazed at how nicely it fits.

Imagine my chagrin (and near re-descent back into Sewing Funkland) when I finally tried on my completed dress (yes, that's right, lining and zipper inserted and pleats edge-stitched down and seams pinked/bound and everything...I only had the hem left to do) and it totally didn't fit at all! Due partly to my manipulations and the subsequent new shape of the bodice, and due partly to forgetting how tightly the original pattern fit, the bodice was too tight at the waist, the pleats at the neckline were slightly mismatched, the back neckline gaped like no other, and the shoulders were comically huge (akin to these Tang dancers). I hated it and wanted to throw it into the corner for Walnut to sit on. How could my vision have turned out so badly? 

After a day's sulk, I sucked it up and ripped out my zipper, my pleat edgestitching, and the shoulder seams. I cut out strips of fabric to patch into the waist, took a couple inches out of the top of the center back seam (resulting in an severely off-grain seam where the zipper is, but oh well), and took in the shoulders and hand-sewed the lining back down. Thank goodness that all that historical sewing has cured me of any fear of hand sewing! A couple of years ago this dress would have been scrapped because I couldn't be bothered to do "that much" hand-sewing, even though in reality it only took a couple episodes of Adventure Time.

Florida and most of the Great Lakes fell victim to my lack of muslin-ing. And lest you think it's not that bad...
Check out the little triangles at the waist where I had to piece in bits for the waist!
More hideous pattern matching: check out my North Amasian landmass on the center back skirt seam! Yes, those are foxes running from Eastern Europe into Canada, and getting beheaded in the process. Also note the smooth transition from Mexico into the Indian subcontinent. 
I never know whether to iron the pleats all the way down the skirt or not. 

Summary:
Pattern: McCall's 5845 bodice with modifications (besides replacing the front darts with neckline pleats, I also made the back neckline much higher, and widened/lowered the armscye), with the New Look 6723 skirt (but pleated instead of gathered).
Fabric: 2/3 of a 100% twin flat sheet (the last fun one I acquired before my Stashbusting Pledge), plus a bit of muslin (washed, of course) for the bodice lining.
Notions: A cream-colored zip harvested from this dress (which had already been cut up so that I could use the skirt fabric in my hobbit bodice), seam binding
Hours used: Somewhere around 12? But spread out over a few weeks, since I've been so busy with school (both teaching and attending!). It's never taken me that long to make such a simple dress!
Will you make it again? If I did pleats again, I'd want to lower the neckline a bit more so as to look more like my inspiration dress. I think this would make a nice LBD pattern...hmmm, that *is* the first Project Sewn Season 2 theme...
Total cost: $3 for the sheet, but I didn't use all of it (this is beginning to become a problem, since this type of dress always leaves 1/3 of a sheet, or about a yard and change, which is not enough to make anything else, but also too much to throw away).
Final thoughts: I'm so glad I took the time to save it, because now I really like this dress! Even better, Mr. Cation likes it -- he like maps and doesn't think this print looks anywhere near as loud as my other sheet dresses. Now I just need to figure out how I can work this into my curriculum; since I don't teach earth science or geography or even ecology, there's no obvious Ms. Frizzle connection. But! I realized that this dress could also be an advertisement for Another Sewing Scientist's "Map the Sewintists" endeavor. If you haven't already seen the incredible map, go check it out -- you might discover that there are people nearby who could help you with fitting! Incidentally, I can't for the life of me figure out how to move my pin from TCOCC to the Bay, so if you're wondering why I'm in the wrong city...

If I had done a better job of including every part of all the continents, I suppose I could've turned this into a "where have I traveled to" map for myself by embroidering little x's for all my trips...

I originally wanted to have this dress count as Falling for Cotton, but somehow I missed the "vintage pattern" part of the challenge description. While it certainly looks vaguely retro (kind of like Simplicity 5940?), it's not truly a vintage pattern, even if it is 100% cotton. Ah well, you can't do all the challenges!


48 comments:

  1. The dress is so adorable! Also, it cracks me up how instead of the fabric details that would normally need to be matched up are entire countries, and your hilarious critique involving the swallowing up of Florida and the Great Lakes. Too many Florida jokes can be put in this spot, but it's just too obvious. Even my family members out there poke fun at themselves!

    Anyways, the little X's would have been so fun, but then I'd imagine people would start pawing at you and between the pleats to find all of your destinations thus far. Not my idea of a good time.

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    1. I thought about Florida jokes, but in the end decided that I couldn't since I'm not from Florida. You know, that old "only I can bash ___ because I'm one of them" business.

      Now I'm laughing at the thought of trying to explain oh, I was harassed because I put little Xs on my map dress...

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  2. Urgh I can imagine how frustrated you would have been! All that work, especially with playing with darts (best. fun. ever) and then to have to piece it to get it to fit... you have better patience that I, I'd have tossed it pronto!
    I adore the fabric, but I have to ask - is there a New Zealand?

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    1. There is! I actually checked for that, because it is my dream to go there one day to see all the LOTR filming sites!

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  3. Haha! I love how sewing tectonics have brought together Mexico and India. Nice save!

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  5. Girl, your calves are to-die-for. I'm lovin' 'em.

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    1. Haha thanks! I love them most days too, but in that one picture they looked bulgier than normal.

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  6. I love this dress! This is one of the best sheets you have used. Remember that most things that bother you about your "fixes" will not be seen by others unless you point them out. This looks so good on you. I'm glad you went back to your roots. Sometimes we need to do that.

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    1. Sometimes I feel like I need to point them out first so that people will know that I'm not unaware...I'm just odd like that I guess!

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  7. Oh this dress is amazing, loss of Florida and all! I absolutely love a novelty print and this sheet has one of the best I've seen in a while. I may be obsessively checking eBay for map sheets, now...

    So cute!

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    1. I've seen quite a few map sheets, believe it or not, especially ones with a pirate theme, but this was the first one with animals, so I had to snatch it up, stashbusting pledge be darned!

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  8. Yay! Back to your roots with another sheet dress. I just love these!

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    1. I thought that I would grow out of them, but nope, one is never too old for a sheet dress!

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  9. I'm sure you found this terribly frustrating because of all of the problems you encountered, but I'm madly in love with it as is! I think you did a great job matching (or mis-matching) and I think it looks fantastic. I'm sure you can find a Ms. Frizzle-esque link to your classes in time. So perfect!

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    1. I've decided that I'm going to wear it for when I talk about different cultural norms in AP Psych!

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  10. Usually "sheet" dresses don't do it or me but this great. If only you taught geography!

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    1. How awesome would it be if I were a World History teacher! Actually, no, scratch that, I would hate myself if I were...all those essays to grade!

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  11. How fun! And "muslining" in the lining is pretty brilliant, actually. (I also can't figure out how to move my pin on the Sewintist map either, somehow I ended up about a county further south than I actually live, but I guess it doesn't matter much since I'm STILL the only one in my entire state!)

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    1. Aww, how sad! Well, if you ever make it out here, I'll be sure to overwhelm you with all the sewing talk that you've missed in your years alone in your state :)

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  12. Where do you find these fantastic sheets?! Too cute!

    Also, thanks for linking to the Sewintist map - I had no idea how many of us there were until I started blogging last year!! I was always the only one I knew...

    Cheers!

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    1. I make my rounds of thrift stores pretty regularly, and there are definitely more days where I come home empty-handed than not...which is probably a good thing, actually...

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  13. I love the dress. It was worth all that "reverse sewing".

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    1. I'm glad you think so too! It was pretty tough going, though, unpicking all those seams...

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  14. Super cute dress! It reminds me of one of my vintage dresses with a pleated neckline. I love pleated necklines. How fun, glad you stuck to it and finished this out!

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    1. Ahh, so pleated necklines *can* count as vintage!

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  15. Oh, Best Sheet Ever! Even beats out Star Wars sheets of an old flame. And, your dress is fantastic! I have bookmarked this page as I'm going to do this to a dress with waist darts. Not only because the neckline is so cool, I find that my body type does not like a waistdart. The bust darts can be adjusted and are okay, but a waistline dart does not fit no matter how much I adjust it, I just don't have enough curves. So, thanks for getting your sewjo back and whipping up this fabulous dress!! Curious: What animals do they show for the Ukraine?

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    1. I want to manipulate the darts on everything now, so beware! It's addicting!

      They don't have anything for Ukraine, but the closest animal to that area is a pair of foxes.

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    2. Ah, ok, foxes, good to know. I think I am going to try this dart technique with McCalls Fashion Star M6554. What do you think, would it work well?

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    3. I think it would...I'm no expert on dart manipulation or anything, but it seems enough like a basic bodice block to me!

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    4. Okay, excellent! I can't decide whether to leave the side bust darts and just move the waist darts into the neck gathers or to move both the side and waist darts into the neck? Maybe that'd be too much gathering.

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  16. I just went to the sewintists map and added a new pin for my new address (Redwood City, hooray!) and deleted the old San Francisco pin. That's an option, apparently.

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    1. Redwood City!! Let's hang out! We can meet halfway across the San Mateo Bridge :)

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  17. Super cute! The shape of the dress looks really good on you.
    You could use the leftover pieces of the sheets for bags or pouches of some sort.

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    1. I've been saving all my sheet leftovers for what I'd like to think will be a truly epic quilt one day. Hah! Like that'll ever happen!

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  18. This turned out so well! Great job, girl! I'm excited that you made it work despite the original setbacks... I have a feeling I never would've finished this! I love the sheets!

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    1. I was *this* close to not finishing it, but after the first flop, I knew I had to persevere!

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  19. That is a totally wonderful dress!

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  20. Love it! I'm so glad you stuck with it.

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    1. Me too! I'm pleasantly surprised by how much I love it!

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  21. That is an AMAZING sheet. Your dress is great too, but you just can't go wrong with maps highlighting animals. Glad you stuck with it. Now how do you manage to find the time to sew, teach, and go to school??

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  22. Hehehehehe... I'm soooooo gonna use this tutorial to make that awesome neck for my M5845!!!
    OOP, :(

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  23. This is fabulous. I think you've done a lovely job, and given that you adapted it so much I'm super impressed!

    I've inserted tiny triangles into things too, its a totally legit technique! (My logic being that you've done it and I've done it so it must be legit!)

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  24. I love to make dresses from sheets too! You always do such a nice job with the fitting.
    Betsy ~ http://princesstatters.blogspot.com/

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