my ideal dress

my ideal dress//sewstylist.wordpress.com

It’s been a strange year in San Francisco. The glorious, warm, summery weather we typically expect to get no more than 2-3 weeks of down here Has Not Quit. Did I mention it’s been glorious? Glorious! Okay, I’ll calm down. But seriously, my closet was not prepared for all this (glorious!) sunshine. The heat would strike and I’d feel the need for a comfortable, easy to wear dress that was as feminine as it was sexy. Was I thinking I’d find the answer to my sartorial dreams in a vintage patten with a cover art model that looks like an extra out of a John Hughes film? Hmmm, nope. Can’t say that I was. Bad cover art be damned; when you make this dress up in something less visually arresting than peach+blue+yellow+plaid it kinda starts looking like a garment that would be equally at home on Audrey Hepburn or Bridgette Bardot. Right?

my ideal dress//sewstylist.wordpress.com

I came by Simplicity 7506 (circa 1986) when a member of my most excellent local sewing club brought a huge box of vintage patterns to giveaway at our last meet-up. I did have a moment of worrying over getting greedy around the free-vintage-pattern-awesomeness; fortunately the moment was brief. I’m not sure I realized when I nabbed this pattern that it was my dream dress. But The more I considered the elements of this dress—the full tea-length skirt, the princess seamed bodice, the button front, the pockets!—the more I started to feel the need to push all other sewing plans aside and proceed with making up this dress pronto. Friends, I’m so glad I did, because today was another glorious San Francisco summer day!

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The lovely fullness of this skirt made it easy to chill at the park without worrying about showing my lady bits, and since I made it up in an easy wearing grey/black linen blend (that has been languishing in my stash for at least a year) I could be totally casual about sitting on the lawn, noshing on a sandwich. This turned out to be the perfect fabric choice for this dress. The linen has the body to hold up the fitted bodice, but still enough easy, breezy goodness to hang loose at the skirt.

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I lined the bodice with a light weight rayon twill I had leftover from another project. This not only feels great against my skin, it also provides the opaqueness I needed up top. In other finishing news, I pinked all the seams because I really love the vintage look this gives and also because it’s a light weight, flexible way to finish a seam, which made it a good treatment for this light, flowing skirt.

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I used my rolled hem foot to finish the hem. Now I’ve gotta tell you, I’ve never had a rolled hem turn out this good! I’m not sure if the difference was me or the fabric… I’m thinking it was the fabric as usually I try to use that foot on silk, and the whole endeavor makes me want to cry. Things went so well this time I’m inspired to try using that little foot more often.

14454481452_45bd3fed74_oSpeaking of developing new skills, this dress marks the first time I’ve made spaghetti straps and that’s also my first button placket! I used Jen @ Grainline Studio’s method for turning the straps, as witnessed on her Instagram feed. Getting those suckers started was tough going, but once you’ve got that first inch or so turned the rest is a breeze. As for the button placket, I stuck pretty closely to the pattern instructions. Only change was stitching in the ditch to get the backside tacked down instead of doing that by hand. I did tack the lining down by hand, but it seemed like the placket should be as sturdy as possible. It came out looking clean, so I’m happy.
14269545089_7aa4c36469_oYou can also see in this pic that I made my own fabric covered buttons to match the dress. I got a bag of about a hundred little buttons at the thrift store, and covering them was a good way to uh, raise their profile a bit. They were fun to make and add a special, handcrafted touch to the dress, I think. Once I had the dress on I saw that buttons alone do not a fully closed dress make… Er, which is to say there was some major gappage happening in the in-between areas. If I make this dress again (and right now I’m thinking there’s a good chance I will do) I’ll probably add just a wee bit more ease into the bodice, which may or may not help with the gappage. But for this round I added the hook + bars you see above & problem solved!

14454456372_5864789c92_oYou know how sometimes you try on something you made for the first time and can’t help but let out a little squeal of joy? This was totally one of those times. I’m in love with this dress, you guys! My closet finally has the perfect dress for strolling, park sitting, barbecuing and cocktail sipping so long as SF wants to keep all this glorious weather coming!

MeMadeMay: week one

“I, ebony h. of the SewStylist blog sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May ’13. I endeavor to wear one sewn, refashioned, tailored, or upcycled item at least 5 days a week during the month of May 2013. I will take pictures of my outfits and post them all at the end of each week.”

I’m so excited to use this opportunity to share some of what I’ve created! And now, without further ado…

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Day 1: I like to call this one my Chakra Tank because the round orbs in the center of the print happen to line right up with my heart, navel, and sacral centers. It’s a Tiny Pocket Tank with the tiny pocket omitted.

ChakraTank-3I altered the arc of the neckline at front and back, and I slashed and spread open the back pattern piece, which resulted in a pretty a-line silhouette.

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I wore it with an H&M cardigan, MiH jeans, and No.6 clogs.

IkaatDress-2Day 2: This cotton ikat dress is probably the make I’m most proud of, mostly because it looks just as good on the inside as it does right side out. Nothing but french seams here, even around the pockets.

IkaatDress-3It’s the Tiny Pocket Tank again. It’s got the same alterations around the neckline as the Chakra Tank, and of course I lengthened it and added pockets!

IkaatDress photo bomb!IkaatDress photo bomb-2

So, these aren’t the greatest pics of me and the dress, but check out my cat Fig photo bombing! What a card! (Yep, he’s in both shots. Keep looking…)

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I wore it with an H&M coat and Loeffler Randall boots.

PrintedPortraitBlouse-4Day 3: I made up this top using the Portrait Blouse pattern from Gertie’s New Book for Better Sewing. It has the most perfect little capped sleeves. Don’t you love how the classic shape looks in this funky print?

PrintedPortraitBlouse-5Here you can see that I didn’t sew the darts all the way down to the bottom hem because I didn’t want the top too clingy around my middle. Also on display is my hand-picked lapped zipper. Well, you probably can’t quite make out the hand-picked part, but trust, it’s there. I did a bunch of hand finishing on this top and in that way learned how much I absolutely love hand sewing. Love! It’s so relaxing, and the perfectly imperfect look of hand stitches is lovely.

PrintedPortraitBlouse-1I wore it with a Zara tank layered underneath, a leopard print scarf from Target, a peacoat from F21, MiH jeans, and Chinese Laundry flats.

PrintedPortraitBlouse close up-2Okay, that’s all for this week! I hope you’ll check back again in seven days for more MMM madness!