Monday, August 1, 2011

Sew Weekly: Nautical-Inspired Dress

Look at that hideously uneven facing and waistband. Ugh.
Sigh. What a dressy mess. What a messy dress. I'm actually surprised that there even is a dress to show for all my work, given the issues I had with it. Especially since I hate going back to fix mistakes (this has been a problem my whole life, whether with writing essays, painting, or anything, really); I'd rather just do it right the first time, and if it's not right, too bad. Unfortunately (or fortunately), this approach doesn't work with sewing since if I don't go back to fix my mistakes, oftentimes I won't have a wearable piece of clothing. So I am slowly learning to bite my tongue and just make the corrections. Who would've thought that sewing would turn into character development?
It looks so normal from the front!

And then when I turn around, you see the off-kilter collar and waistband.
Not quite a full circle, but still good enough...
Anyway. This dress is largely unfitted because I wanted it to be a whip-it-up-quickly deal. The bodice is just a T-shape with no darts or seams. Obviously, this only works because I am relatively flat-chested. The collar I "drafted" (in the loosest sense of the word)using Tuppence Ha'penny Vintage's tutorial. It was challenging to think through what the order of construction should be once I got to that point. I've never attached a collar to anything before. I ended up sewing the shoulder seams of the bodice, then sandwiching the collar between the spread-out bodice and the facing. Yes, I made a facing! I'm thinking that they aren't actually that bad -- I probably was just scared away by one bad facing pattern. The waistband is just a rectangle that I measured out and attached, and the circle skirt was drafted using some basic math. I really love the flowiness of circle skirts! I decided not to attach the white bias tape to the bottom since I was mentally so over this dress, but I think it's okay. The hem is just my normal baby hem.

...for some crazy twirling action!
Fabric used: Thrifted not-quite-navy-colored poly-cotton blend bedsheet, thrifted white bedsheet for collar and waistband.
Notions: Navy invisible zipper, black grosgrain ribbon
Pattern used: None, and it shows :\
Time required: Too long, for an unfitted dress that has no sleeves to set in or darts or any kind of shaping! It took me one evening to cut out all the pieces, another day of sewing and tearing my hair out to assemble, and another evening to bring myself around to ironing and hemming. 
Total cost: ~$5, and $3 of it is the new zipper and ribbon...I do so love using thrifted materials!
Things I've learned: I need to pay more attention to seam allowances, especially when I'm not using a pattern. A quarter of an inch here, an eight of an inch there, and it all adds up to a section being an entire inch off. Always measure and try things on as you go, and don't assume that a tiny mistake won't make a difference. Do it right the first time. Also, a small bust does make bodice-making easier.
Final verdict: Maybe it's the subtle influence of Comic-Con, but this looks a little more costume-y than I'd planned. I think it's still acceptable to wear out in real life, but just barely. Fortunately, my husband likes it. He also swears the back is not all that bad, and only I or another seamstress will notice something so minor...but considering that he's said this about every project I've had issues with, I don't know whether I believe that panacea anymore.

This week's Sew Weekly challenge is to make something western-inspired. While I have the perfect thrifted 70's pattern for that, I don't know if any of my stashed fabric really fits. I may have to pass on this one in the interest of not buying anymore fabric. That doesn't mean, of course, that I don't have other projects planned!

Walnut the sea monster sneaks up on an unsuspecting Mardi Gras rubber duckie.
This is what that silly cat did after the shoot. He burrowed himself into a little wrapping paper cave. Probably embarrassed about compromising his cat integrity by wearing a little paper hat.


  1. I have always problem with seaming allowances >.< I'm enough patient ; )

    you look so cute in this pattern ! am waiting for more ; )

  2. mrs. chan. i love how you see life lessons in your sewing projects. you are immensely cute! and perhaps, you can wear a wig and go as one of the sailor moon characters at next comic con :)

  3. @ClouDesignThank you! Yes, seam allowances are so easy to get lazy with!

    @jennilynHaha if I ever need a last minute costume that involves less work than Bellatrix, I can just put my hair into "meatballs."

  4. The dress looks great, despite the problems. the funny thing is, i see problems like that in shop bought things all the time.

    I am not surprised Walnut is hiding (although he looks so cute!) some pets get embarrased by photos. Ever since I took a picture of him soaking wet, Isambard Steamparakeet HATES having his photo taken. He attacks the camera if it gets close enough. A shame, cause he is so cute too!


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