Monday, April 23, 2012

Four Sew Weekly Challenges in One Dress!

I have fallen dreadfully behind in Sew Weekly Challenges. I think it started when I couldn't think of anything to make for the inspired-by-art challenge; my favorites all lend themselves to costume-y pieces, and good heavens, I've got enough costumes as it is. Then I got into getting ready for the Ren Faire, and things just fell further and further by the wayside. Well, I'm remedying that situation by completing four challenges in one fell swoop: is that a record? Please let it be a record! Anyway, here's the potentially record-setting dress:

An ocean-y dress for the city surrounded by ocean on three sides!
Look! I'm a giant! With a giant, but perfectly fitted butt.

Side view: I am so happy with the fit!
Challenges accepted:
  1. Mad Men: This is the curve-hugging sheath dress of Joan's, as I knew I should have just done in the first place, only in a totally not-Joan fabric. But I took the time to really fit the dress, even in the above-the butt area that usually ends up saggy. Because Joan would never wear a saggy-butt dress.
  2. Pantone Colors: Here are Cabaret, Starfish, Sweet Lilac, Driftwood, and Cockatoo, all in one fabulous fabric (Odyssea by MoMo for Moda).
  3. Very Important Pieces: I only had 1.5 yards of this fabric because I got the end of the bolt, and it's so unique that I knew I had to save it for something deserving of its awesomeness. This was the kick I needed, and I had barely enough for this sheath dress. 
  4. Local Color: A marine print for the city of my heart, The City By The Bay, San Francisco, where I grew up and am so excited to be moving back to for the summer! I was so thrilled that it was a gorgeous weekend -- so sunny and warm and clear and totally unlike its usual foggy self -- when my husband took pictures we were able to see all the way down to Ocean Beach and all the way over to the Colma Hills. That is very rare indeed! I wanted to hike up (because there are four huge hills) to the reservoir so we could get a shot with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, but we had a wedding rehearsal to get to, unfortunately. 
Staring down at the ocean while my husband worries about us getting run over.

This dress, in case you don't recognize it, is yet another version of my TNT McCall's 5845.  I finally got around to recording my changes to this pattern: wider and lower armscyes, lowered front neckline, raised back neckline, narrowed center back seam at the top, longer and more scoop-y back darts in the skirt.  I also attempted to put in a back vent, but was thrown off by the lining. It's a little wonky inside, but nobody will see it, right? Oh wait, except that I once again tried flipping it inside out to wear: when I walked out into the living room, my husband's first comment was "Goodness, how many dresses did you bring with you?!" See, I did such a good job with lining it, he thought it was another dress! Okay, the fact that I used an old patterned sheet for the lining probably had something to do with it, but come on, give it to me.

It's like Miss Lavender goes to Hawaii, the sheath dress version!

The hem is finished with seam binding and invisibly catch-stitched. I love how it looks from the outside! The inside...ehh. I tried following Sunni's tutorial but was totally confused, so I ended up just winging it. And here's another question: when you make something with this many colors going on, how do you choose a thread/zipper color? I went with a cockatoo-ish thread for the fuschia zipper because that's what I had...I guess I could have hand-picked the zipper and switched colors for every section of color.

A closer look at the inside.
The back with the zipper and non-matching thread. Hmm, I should probably put a hook and eye at the top there.

Fish-scale belt! And a close-up of all the phaeophyta, and the weirdly branched sea creature tentacles?

Fabric: 1.5 yards 44" wide 100% cotton twill for the shell, poly-cotton blend sheet for the lining
Notions: 22" zipper, seam binding tape
Hours: Six-ish, mostly because of zipper issues (I had to rip it out and put it in several times), trying to figure out the vent, and hand-finishing the hem
Will you make this again? Almost certainly, as this is my sixth incarnation of this pattern, albeit only the second one with the actual skirt pattern, and even then with some significant changes...
Total cost: $8 for the fabric (yay for end-of-the-bolt discounts!) and $2 for the zipper, so $10! When I showed it off for my very frugal dad and told him how much it cost me, he approved (actually even my dad, who tends not to care about/notice clothing very much at all, was impressed with the level of fit I managed to get on this dress). 
Final thoughts: This dress is what a bizarre Joan+Ms. Frizzle cross would wear for teaching about marine ecosystems. In other words, I love it. I am also pleased that I have a fish-scale belt to go with it! I think Ms. Frizzle would approve, although I'm still working on aquatic earrings and shoes. I only wish sheath dresses didn't get so wrinkly across the hips from sitting, but oh well, you can't expect to have your cake and eat it too (and this dress is definitely cake!).

My city is so beautiful when it's not shrouded in fog!
And for the perfect San Francisco poem (only the fog tends not to move on):

Fog, by Carl Sandburg

The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on. 

Now I need to get started on that kirtle that I thought I had all that time to make. We're going to the fair(e) this Saturday, eep!


  1. I love this! That is such a great fabric and you achieved a fantastic fit!

    Funny, we sang a song based on that poem for a choral concert in high school. I think of it every time someone mentions San Francisco.

  2. i love that neckline most of all, but that entire dress is really wonderful and seems to fit you superbly. you look very happy wearing it, which is always a sign of a job well done!

  3. Oh, stunning! That is awesome fabric. I would've gone with the blue thread, too..

    And congrats on the 4-in-1! ;)

  4. Wow! This is by far the best dress yet! I love that print so much :D

  5. It's gorgeous! And the fit is absolutely perfect - you look amazing in this dress!

  6. Absolutely STUNNING! Fabulous fit and great photos! ohhh...happy you are moving back to San Fran for the summer!

  7. Oh, so pretty! Love the fabric, style, fit - it is a perfect dress!

  8. Oh my GOD is this awesome. The fit is fabulous and the colors, girl, please, if Joan Harris taught marine biology, I would SO take that class. My only quibble with this is no Walnut shots...

    I love that poem, always have.

  9. The dress looks amazing (as well as your butt!), I love that shape of dress.

  10. Wow, gorgeous dress! I love the print, and it looks like it fits perfectly!

  11. As uusual your creation fits to a tee . . .

  12. Where on heavens did get that gorgeous fabric! The color and print is amazing. An yes, I do think that you set a record. One hundred percent sure!

  13. It's a fabulous dress! I love that you conquered four challenges with one garment because that is just sheer brilliance :) The fabric is so dreamy - I applaud you for taking the plunge and using it to make such a great dress!

  14. Your dress is gorgeous! I'm finishing up this dress myself, all it needs is a hem.. Lovely dress....

  15. It is absolutely fabulous, both the fabric in itself and the dress. I particularily like that you made it work out of a yard and a half. Go you :-)

  16. I would SO wear this. It's gorgeous!

  17. Oh my that dress is fabulous! Could I steal it off you? :-P It has all the elements of awesomeness - great fit, awesome print, classic style, great colours. Fantastic!!! And the inside is just as neat. :-D

  18. Beautiful! The insides are so clean too! I love that fabric and it goes perfectly with that silhouette :)

  19. CINDY!!!!!! I AM SO EXCITED RIGHT NOW!!!! The print on that dress is mad!!!!!!! So pretty!!!! Um, your inside looks like an OUTSIDE!!! Serious!!!!!!!

    I get the saggy above-butt thingo too, esp with RTW... since I started sewing, it hasn't been too bad.. but I do avoid making fitted skirts when I now theres a potential saggy bum situation.

    I really like this dress and the photos are so fricken pretty!!!!

    I really love how you finish the hem with the ribbon thing.. I'd love to learn how to do that,

    xoxoxoox Neeno

  20. Oh, that's fabulous! The fit is sublime! Couldn't it also be an art dress? Thus fulfilling FIVE challenges? It rather reminds me of an ukiyo-e print reinterpreted for the modern era (just like 19th century Art Nouveau fabric designers reinterpreted ukiyo-e for their time-period)

    And the lining really is gorgeous enough to wear inside out!

    Sadly, I am seriously behind on Sew Weekly too, but I'm hoping to get a few things made for it soon. I doubt I'll manage to be quite as clever and prolific as you though!

    1. Oh, and I think your thread around the zip looks fine, and it's exactly what I'd do with a zip in that fabric, but with a different fabric I do sometimes get a bit insane and hand pick it with different thread colours. I did that with my Love at First Flight dress. A pain but worth it in that instance!

  21. Addddddoooooooorrrrreeee it! I too am very far behind on Sew Weekly projects. There were a few that I was just meh about the theme, and then a bunch a really wanted to do but got too far behind in my week to bother. And I'm currently suffering a "I hate every single piece of fabric in my stash but cannot justify going and buying more fabric with a stash that size" blues... But this! Lets talk about this! It's so quirky-cute-vintage-adorable I could die.

  22. so lovely mrs. chan!

  23. Wow! You look great! The fit is perfect and I love this fabric!

  24. I LOVE THEM ALL! :) It's a great idea that you used a zipper with a different color. With good sewing skills it definitely turns into a very interesting "designer" detail! :)

  25. That dress is STUNNING!!! I love that you used a zipper with a different color.

  26. It's a stunner! Loving the MoMo print, and the fit is perfect.... it all makes up for the lack of hook and eye. They're so boring to put on, anyway.

  27. You look so good in each and everyone of your versions of this pattern but this has to be my favorite. It took me a while to realise that the inside out pic wasn't another dress too!

  28. I love everything about this dress. Congrats on making something so utterly gorgeous.

  29. WOW! THat dress is absolutely stunning. Your fit, the print, everything is just beautiful.

  30. Your dress is amazing, but what really got me from those photos is the fact that you were ON THE STREET that I grew up on. My mom still lives there. :D


Thank you for taking the time to tell me your thoughts! I appreciate reading them and I try to reply to most, if not all, comments, especially when they are questions. I ask that you keep your comments polite, and if you're a spammer, don't bother because your comment will just be deleted! Also, if you're commenting on a post that's more than two weeks old, it will be moderated.