You ever feel like your life is on repeat? I do. I seem to find myself occasionally in a sort of rut of recurrence. For example, yet again I have waited several weeks with a draft of this post (and edited pictures) sitting patiently on my desktop before I’ve managed to finish and post it. Quelle surprise. But it turns out that repetition is not necessarily a bad thing. What follows are a couple good things that came around again for me recently.
Recurrent Nice Thing the First: Once again I found myself just a day from opening night of my current show without a fancy dress to wear. But this time, instead of choosing a new-to-me pattern with a lot of details, I pulled out trusty Vogue 1250. I’ve made it twice before, both times in about 2 hours from cut to hem. It’s a magical pattern. I complicated it a bit this time by making it in lace and adding sleeves, but still it only took me a few hours. Magical, I tell you!
I grabbed this stretch lace out of my stash – I had ordered it on a whim from fabric.com years ago because I figured the lace trend wasn’t going anywhere and this gray lace wasn’t too floral-y for me, but it languished because it still felt too vintage-y for my style. The bright green ITY I found at Discount Fabrics in Oakland a while ago. I like the color, but every time I pulled it out it just seemed too bright to be anything but obnoxious as a dress. But together, they solve each other’s problems! The lace tones down the green and the green mods up the lace.
I took the speedy, lazy route and cut the (just two!) pattern pieces out of the lace and ITY at the same time. I was very careful laying out the ITY on the lace then folding them both together before I cut. Risky, I know, but it worked.
I knew I wanted to add sleeves, both because we were in a cold snap last month, and also because sheer lace sleeves are probably my favorite thing about lace dresses. The Vogue has a sort of cut-on cap sleeve that I had to convert to a traditional armscye – so what pattern did I grab for that? Simplicity 1716, of course! I reasoned that since it was a cowl too, I could more easily figure out how they would go together. I folded all the pleats out of both pattern pieces and matched the corner of the cowl, then pinned the Simplicity to the Vogue at the shoulder where it fell. This is what it looked like when I released the pleats.
For the back I simply matched the patterns at center back and cut the back armscye of the Simplicity. Unfortunately either my reasoning or my method were not quite right, because when I went to attach the front to the back at the shoulder, the back shoulder was about an inch longer. It occurred to me at that point that I should have measured the shoulder of the back piece and made the front shoulder match. Ah well. Yet another thing I do over and over again – do something the hard way first. But it was made workable by simply reducing the size of the front pleat by half. It’s a tiny pleat now, but it hardly affects the look.
Assembly-wise, I basically treated the lace and ITY as one as I constructed the dress, like an underlining. The only exception to this was the center back skirt seam. This dress is constructed very oddly, with the front piece wrapping around on the sides to become the back skirt which attaches to a separate back bodice piece. It makes it perfect for underlining, since it only has one seam in the skirt (the side seams end in deep darts at the hip) and you sew that seam before sewing the back waist seam. I sewed the two layers separately on the back skirt, which kept the lace layer and ITY layer free from each other at the hem. I hemmed the ITY normally with a twin needle, and I intended to hem the lace with a rolled hem, but I couldn’t get it to work on any sample pieces so I gave up and just trimmed it neatly (sadly, this lace doesn’t have a pretty finished border I could use). I used the selvage for the sleeve “hems”, but it’s not fancy!
I finished the back neckline with a piece of the ITY and serged the lace and the ITY together along the cowl. Man I love cowl necks. So. easy. I also serged the armscye seams, but nothing I do keeps them from popping out toward the sleeves, where they’re slightly visible through the lace due to my not-quite-matching serger thread. Ah well.
It was done in time to wear for opening, as well as my anniversary two days later. Two wears in one weekend for a three hour dress is a pretty high return on investment. See, repetition isn’t always a bad thing.
Nice Recurrent Thing the Second: After I posted my last dress, the fabulous and funny Anne of Pretty Grievances was in the middle of her own version, and she debuted it as part of her post on receiving the Liebster Award. She then generously handed out the award to 5 other sewists who had recently tackled the Duchess’ dress knock off, including me! Which reminded me that some months ago (okay, more than some – it was almost a whole year ago!), lovely Jess the Sometimes Sewist gave me the same award and I did absolutely nothing with it. So here are my answers to a conglomeration of both their lists of questions. Thank you so much, Anne and Jess, for the shout-out and for making me think about some interesting things!
What’s your favorite aspect of sewing? I think my favorite part is dreaming up garments and (eventually) actually ending up with them. I love matching fabrics to patterns, and I’m really loving frankenpatterning to create exactly the item I want – it’s just enough planning to be interesting without having to do any actual drafting. Knocking off a RTW design I’ve seen is probably my favorite type of sewing.
If you could have up to five yards of any fabric in the world for free, what would you choose? There’s not really a specific fabric, but really any of the print fabrics Boden uses would be amazing. I wish I could buy their bolt-ends. I mean, seriously, where does all the extra fabric from foreign manufacturing end up? I just love so many of the prints I see in RTW and I wish I could have access to that fabric.
What would you make with the mythical unicorn-like fabric from question 2? I would make what I usually make, of course – more knit dresses and tops. I generally don’t have any desire to copy a RTW garment exactly, so if I could get my hands on, say, a Boden knit fabric I would probably make a totally different garment out of it than the one they used it for.
What’s your favorite fruit or vegetable? I love squash. Winter squash like butternut and kabocha in the fall in soups and roasted in salads, and summer squash just sliced and grilled. I could eat squash every day. My almost daily lunch in the summer: grilled squash with hummus, roasted red pepper tapenade, and a slice of goat gouda on whole wheat lavash bread.
If you could travel anywhere tomorrow, where would you go? I’m gonna go with Hawaii. Specifically, Kauai, and the Waimea Plantation Cottages Hotel where we stayed the last time we were there. But seriously, can that happen? I could really use a magical surprise tropical vacation right now.
What is your favorite “end of the day wind down time” activity? Eating a snack (or four) and reading my blogroll.
What’s your favorite non-sewing project of all time? Even though I haven’t been doing it long, the silver clay jewelry I’ve made is my new favorite non-sewing creation. I think because I always thought making real silver jewelry would be something I could never do, but now I can.
What’s your dream job? I think that because I work in theatre, a lot of people think I must have my dream job… but honestly, although I still love theatre, sometimes I just wish I had a regular 9-5 job. I actually think copy editing would be fun… yes, you can all commence mocking me now. But I just really love proofreading.
Who has had the most impact on who you are today? My mom, without question. What’s funny is that all the things she did when I was a kid that I thought were totally weird (like sewing, gardening, making everything from scratch) are all things I like and value now. See Mom, I came around.
Favorite websites that make life easier? Well, I’m an obsessive weather-checker, so every morning I go to both weather.com (for the hourly forecast) and wunderground.com (for the current temperature at various locations around town). As far as sewing-related things, Pattern Review of course.
Favorite rainy day recipe? This amazing vegetarian chili. It’s so good, and so easy – it’s almost entirely made with pantry staples but it has so much depth of flavor. In fact, literally every recipe I’ve ever made from that site has been wonderful. Check out the recipe archives!
Why do you blog? For me, what’s coolest about blogging is that it lets me know that I’m not alone. I’ve always been someone who’s super excited to find out I have something, even something really minor, in common with someone else (side effect of being an only child, perhaps). So when I was discovering sewing blogs, I would always get so excited to see someone have the same fitting issue I was having, or someone who just made up the same pattern as me, or someone who bought fabric from a store I’ve been to, or mention another interest of theirs that I share. And it’s been even more fun and amazing to be able to put my stuff out there and have people relate to it, and to me. So I guess what I like most about being a part of the online sewing community is, well, being a part of a community. I’ve always had a lot of sort of unusual interests and hobbies that I don’t share with my in-person friends, so it’s amazing to make connections with people who don’t think it’s totally crazy that I make my own clothes.
Thanks again for the award and for letting me share! I’m supposed to nominate some number of blogs I admire with under 500 followers, but I always play pretty fast and loose with the rules of these things. I’ll just call out two totally awesome sewists that I’ve had the pleasure of hanging out in real life and call it good. Nhi of Detective Houndstooth and Ms McCall of Brown Paper Patterns are just as fabulous in person as they are on the internet, and they both sew circles around me. Go check out their blogs, you’ll learn some stuff!