Morgan dress

Hello folks! I’m working away at some of that blog backlog, so I’m starting with the last thing I had intended to blog. To be honest, I think this one might be responsible for my general feelings of malaise re: blogging. Quite unfairly, I now think.

Here’s another version of the Dorothy Lara dress by Decades of Style.

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Construction-wise, there’s not much to say about this one. I made it almost exactly the same as my last version. It’s a size 44″ bust with a 3″ wedge taken out of the top neckline to reduce the blousing. I switched the zipper to the right hand side and left off the pockets. Simple. I did think about changing where the skirt gathers and making it across the whole dress or maybe even only at the sides. but because of how the dress is assembled, that would be a bit fiddly, or I’d had to have changed the construction order. So I left it as is. I did gather both the front and back bodice evenly across the middle, rather than at two points as directed by the pattern. I also left those un top-stitched. I did top-stitch the skirt and the neckline in black thread.

However. because of the fabrics, this one feels and acts really different to my last.

This one is in a rayon from Spotlight – it’s printed with little zebras:

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It was originally just a black and white print but I dyed it at the same time as I did the material for the sav-anna dress. I was always intending this to be a dress in this general silhouette but after sewing the green fabric up and realising that I just don’t really like wearing prints that much, I didn’t feel very motivated to sew it up. It’s also a little bit splotchy – I really should have gotten a bigger pot to dye in, so it’s slightly uneven. I avoided the worst bits when cutting but I ended up with a darker patch at the top of the skirt, and a lighter patch in the middle of the torso. I don’t think  it’s super noticeable – I see it because I’m looking – but I do worry they might look like weird shadows. If i decide it bothers me I can always overdye it another shade darker, to even it out.

He cried until I picked him up and then he wouldn’t let me put him down for the rest of the shoot.

After my first DL dress, I decided that I might like this print in this dress. I can’t figure out exactly my beef with prints but it’s specifically on my torso, and somehow the folds and gathers on the DL mitigated whatever it is that I’m not so keen on about prints. Honestly, I just can’t work out what my problem is with them, just that I feel not like myself if I wear prints near my face – the same way I do if I’m wearing autumn colours or super short skirts. Just not me.

Look at this ridiculous animal and his ridiculous feets.

I also knew I wanted to sew a rayon version of the DL dress to wear in Bali – last time I went I wore my Japanese flowers dress all the time and it was perfect – light and breezy, shoulders covered, easy to wear. I knew the DL would be even better and a rayon DL would just be perfect. So I cut this out and sewed it up and was very pleased with it. And then I tried it on and took photos and when I looked at the photos I just felt bleh about it.

I’m glad I waited to blog this – I did start before I left for Bali and the tone of that post was ‘I feel frumpy in this dress, I kind of hate it’. Now I’m back and looking at the photos again I don’t even know what my problem was! It’s fine! It looks good! I think it was a combo of being very very tired and also it didn’t look quite how I was expecting. Compared to the cotton version, the waistband is considerably looser even with interfacing, and also the rayon is heavy and drapey, so the torso area is much more droopy. For comparison, here’s me wearing both dresses in Bali, on the balcony of our villa.

 

S took these photos and insisted I posed

 

You can see the rayon version is much more sack-like and has less shape in the body. This was absolutely a plus side in humid Bali, but it left me feeling a bit glum. Like Leah said, I still do wince a tiny bit when I see myself in this dress, especially that photo where it’s loosened up a bit with wear. It’s not the silhouette I was expecting, quite, and my personal style is really sensitive about that sort of shape. It’s so interesting to me how such a tiny difference takes me from thrilled to disappointed in a make. I think this is why I tend towards overfitting for things that need ease in the mid torso, like shirtdresses. I have a fine line there between what I feel good in vs what feels ill fitting. I think I need to work on this because it’s objectively not accurate and, frankly, it’s not practical because a gals’ gotta have sitting room in her dresses!

Feets

I did in fact wear it almost constantly in Bali. Honestly, I should have sewn one more DL dress and then taken only these dresses and maybe one pair of shorts. That was all I wore. It was as perfect for the climate as I had predicted.

In-action shot making peanut sauce at the cooking class we took

The waistbands are noticeably different – I notice in the cotton one that it sits right on my body whereas the rayon one sort of hangs out from it. So I suppose I could always take it in a bit. But I don’t think I will bother. Body image issues aside. I do wish that I had remembered that I was intending to take some length out of the centre back to account for my swayback. It droops quite a bit there and I can feel it dragging a bit as I walk. I also need to increase those neck darts to reduce how it sits up at the back of my neck.

I also can see that I could have taken some length out of the front in this version – the waistband sits a little bit below my actual waist and there’s folds and gaps there in certain photos. So if I were to make this again in rayon, I think I would take maybe an inch or even just half an inch out, to find a bit more of a compromise between fitted and loose and comfy. I am also hanging this draped over the hanger rather than with the hanger in the shoulders (does that even make sense??) to reduce the amount of dragging that the bodice is subjected to. Rayon is heavy!

That said, it’s possible that the rayon will firm up more in multiple washes, in which case it will be perfectly fit in about six months. Even if it doesn’t, I am still (now) very happy with this dress. It’s not how I was picturing it but it’s definitely fine, and it will be a perfect summer dress. It will probably be a weekend dress rather than weekday because I don’t feel quite neat enough in it to wear it to work but honestly I need those in my wardrobe just as much – and my office is too cold to ever wear rayon dresses in, anyway.

So there we have it. I’m very glad I waited to blog this and I think I might finally be getting the lesson to not judge my makes by how I feel the second I put them on, because that moment is often overshadowed by too high expectations and weird body image feelings.

I reckon I could manage at least one more Dorothy Lara in my wardrobe, too… what a great little pattern this is!

Teacher’s Pet trousers

So here are my Ginger jeans! This will be a long, picture heavy post, be warned!

Most of you will be aware I live a happily pants-free lifestyle. Not nudist (too cold! Too sunburny! What if I sit on something?) but all skirts all the time – except on weekends when I live in store bought yoga pants. However this time of year is so cold and I hate stockings and tights so much, I start to think that some work appropriate pants might not be a bad idea. I have all kinds of body/gender/appearance issues with pants which make me pretty wary of putting a lot of effort into fitting them and then finding I dislike them. But I had heard such great things about the Ginger Jeans that I thought I’d give them a go.

I can definitively say that when it comes to pants making, I am as clumsy as a camel. However! I triumphed in the end.

Actually these went together pretty easy, in essentials, but because I was changing things up they needed a fair bit of tweaking. The fabric is ponte I got on sale at spotlight. I figured it’s about the right stretch factor and I didn’t care if I wrecked it or didn’t wear it. I had 2m and I have almost a half a metre left because of my very wide fabric and from not doing back pockets. I wanted slim black pants because I felt that they were most likely to fit into my existing style and not make me feel like a lumpy teen who is trying to work out what to wear (exclusively jeans and Tshirts for years, and it worked ok as camouflage which was what I was going for, really. I find wearing jeans now makes me feel uncomfortable and not like myself).

I wanted to make a highwaisted pair that would look vaugely retroish, and I did not want to muck around with a zip. My number 1 problem with pants (apart from mild dysphoria, I am not kidding about that part) is that my stomach squishes when I sit down so that + jeans button = angry red welts and extreme discomfort. I toyed with the idea of a side zip but in the end I thought that I would just go elastic waisted the first time to try them out. I had seen Gillian do the same and it solved a lot of my ‘difficult waist’ fitting issues and I also figured it would be easier to fit the crotch curve if I didn’t have to set and reset a zip.

And then the villagers all burst into song…

To adjust the pattern to take the fly out I just folded that part of the pattern out. I wasn’t sure what to do with the pocket stays so I cut them on the fold, overlapping to take out seam allowance. I figured since they get caught in the fly they would be about the right size. WRONG. I don’t know if I used the wrong piece or misunderstood the way the pockets go together – I found that part of the pattern hard to follow because I was just skimming along and for complicated things I tend to need to do to understand them – but the pockets were way too big and had a fold in the middle. I just unpicked them from the waistband and chopped them off in the centre to make them hanging-loose pocketbags. The stays are some stash fabric with a slight stretch – not 100% sure what it is but it’s definitely cotton something.

… and dance.

I cut a straight size 20 which from the size chart would be a bit small for me but I figured negative ease would be fine. When I first tried them on they were HUGE around my waist. I did some tweaking and pulling and found that the side seams were balanced and the hips and legs fit how I wanted them to. All the excess was in the rise. I ended up taking 2″ from the front, tapering to about 1″ at the crotch, and then back out to four whole inches off of the back. Yikes! I’ve since seen a lot of people, including Heather, saying that the larger sizes run big. It’s a shame as it makes it hard to fit yourself and also means people who might fit into them won’t try them.They do fit my hips perfectly though, which I find a bit strange as the issue I have with bought pants is if the hips fit then the waistband is too tight!

I’ve adjusted the pattern pieces with my changes, but not my last extra skimming off of the rise so I have to go back and do that. I kept adjusting and sucking the front crotch in more until I had taken a good 1″ off all the way down. There’s still a bit of weirdness at the base there – I looked around online and saw that a fair few people have that too, but of course it’s a bit obfuscated if you have a fly.

Some weirdness

I’m not sure how I would fix that (hit me up if you know!) but I’d rather have that little pooch than the camel toe I get with most RTW pants so I can live with it. I think I could do with taking a 1/2″ fold at mid-rise as it seems to want to creep down and pooch a bit there, so I’ll do that next time.

The back is creeping up my bum a bit – it’s only very bad when I stand like above (and it’s more visible there because the shiny fabric + exact light conditions are showing it up. I think next time I need to add width to the inseam. I don’t know enough about pants but I suspect that would help with some of the inner thigh pulling, too? I did basically no fitting of the back because I pretty much couldn’t see it. I was sewing exclusively at night and black pants and low light meant no mirror viewing was really possible. I just made sure they were comfy and I could sit in them and went for it.

I’m really glad I had left the fly off so that I could do all this adjusting! For the waist, I cut the waistband as drafted except I put it on the fold the other way – so instead of joining at the front it joins at the back, folding out what I approximated to be the length of the overlap. I then attached it as I would a regular waistband – band to yoke, facing of band to front of band. Then I zigzagged some elastic in to the facing part, closed the yoke in and topstitched it (not very neatly – I was ready to be done at that point and I suspect this pair will mostly be worn with tops untucked). The elastic is the exact size of my waist when standing, so that at rest there is no wrinkling or anything – it’s more that it expands easily when I sit but then doesn’t sag out afterwards. I used 1″ elastic as that’s what I had that fit neatly in the band. I suspect I have already popped some of the topstitching stitches from getting it on and off, as they’re straight stitch and not very flexible! I probably should have used lightning stitch but I used straight throughout. I did take some detail shots but they all came out blurry and weird so I have nothing to show you, sorry!

One last butt shot.
Ok I lied
This one doesn’t even count as a butt shot. I don’t know what you mean.

After this I still spent a bunch of time fiddling with the pockets. The instructions have you either french seam, or serge and sew so that the serging is inside the pocket, and the clean finish is outside of the pocket. You can see what I mean in the sewalong. I found this made them bulky and I had a very visible and unattractive line where the pocket was. I spent some time moping about it because I have feels about my stomach. I think the issue is that the pocket happens to end right where my stomach is the biggest and also the lumpiest, on the edge of the ridge where my belly is dissected with underwear/waistband lines. I thought about my boughten jeans and how they have the serged edges on the outside, so I went back and unpicked the bottom seam and sewed it that way.

Tada! Lumpy pockets!

I also found the pockets quite shallow. I can’t fit my whole hand in there, and I think if they were longer they would have a more effective stay effect. I found the shallowness a bit weird on a high-waisted pant but perhaps that’s more flattering on people without big stomachs? I don’t know. Anyway if I make these again (which I intend to) I will lengthen the pockets by a few inches so they hit me in a better place and have enough room for my phone, as well as fitting the stay properly so I can have it all the way across my stomach, which I think will reduce how wrinkled they look and minimise any tucked-in tops’ wrinkles showing through. I didn’t bother making the coin pocket.

So once this was all done and I was pleased with my pants I grabbed a free minute and had a quick photoshoot. When I got the images off my camera I felt bad. I had just thrown on whatever shoes and a plain white tshirt so you could see the pants properly and I just felt weird and lumpy and strange. I might have well been wearing a chicken costume for how comfortable I felt. A lot of this is complicated feelings about my body and presentation that I can only barely articulate. I spent a week feeling glum whenever I thought about it. I did spend some time looking at images I liked of people wearing pants and decided that the main issue was the length. I had hemmed them at regular pant-length because I wanted these pants for warmth, dammit, and cold ankles wasn’t part of my plan! However they were actually hemmed a bit too short for that, and shifted around when I moved or sat, so they looked like I’d grown out of them. And all the photos I liked had people with cropped pants. So I decided I’d crop them and see how I liked them.

I basted them higher and they looked a bit like this:

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Look at these space dorks and their dumb short pants. That one guy is so embarrassed by his short pants that he’s passed out! And look how smug that lady is. I guess I’d look smug if I had a Science blue space nightie and matching slippers.

So I unpicked everything and tapered the legs in about 1cm each side at the bottom. I wasn’t very precise about so hopefully they’ll be fine. They certainly look better at least to my eye! Then I thought about how to style them for photos. Usually I go for ‘how to make the details the most visible’ but honestly, you’ve all seen ginger jeans before. I wanted a confidence boost. I pulled this top out of my wardrobe – I bought it in Bali last year and haven’t worn it because I don’t have anything it goes with! A match made in heaven. I hope you can still see the pants properly – I pulled it up for most of the photos so hopefully it’s clear. I’m still working out what shoes I like with it too. The white ones are a bit of a look, which I’m a bit unsure about, but I love the shoes and if I wear them with my shirtdresses I look too much like a nurse! It would be good if they could get some wear.

Sitting view, v important

I grabbed some rare winter sunshine to take these photos, and had a lot of fun doing it. How do you like my teal wall? I’m taking advantage because soon my bed will be where I’m standing, no room for photos! Can’t wait to go be able to stare at this lovely colour every night, just as soon as the paint stink dissipates. Before the teal it was beige. Floor to ceiling beige. Nightmare.

Minimal downcreep at the back when I sit

I was very nervous when I went to look at this second batch of photos but luckily I love them! They made me feel really good, and good about the pants (especially with a shirt long enough to hide the weird butt business). The power of styling! Must remember that. Utilitarianism and practicality is all well and good but it only goes so far. It also made me realise that part of the problem was that I’d created a wardrobe orphan! My general style silhouette is wide bottoms, slim tops. So none of my tops worked with this because I only feel comfortable if that’s flipped – slim bottom, bulkier top – like a shirt or an oversized jumper. I do try so hard not to make wardrobe orphans, too! Well at least it has one matching top. I suspect these will get more wear in warmer weather anyway, because the ponte is quite thin, so the thin lawn top is perfect. Honestly I never find pants as warm as leggings/stockings + skirt, unless they are going to be, like… flannel lined wool pants I guess. But I will have to think about sewing some shirts for these pants, especially as I am planning more. I have some thin denim to make some jeans-like pants – I’m not interested in the full jeans thing but some slim denim pants with a side zip sound like a go. And I would like to try the wider leg in some bengaline I have. Perhaps merging the high waist with the wider leg? Or perhaps I’ll muslin the lower waist and see how I like it. I’d also like to compare them with my Colette Juniper pants which I never wear because the rise is too short, and see what the shape of the rises are like compared to one another.

I guess I do this pose a lot, huh?

Phew! That’s a lot of words (and photos!) Everyone who stuck with me the whole way gets a gold star.

Here’s your TL;DR: I made pants, and I liked it! They would be a pretty quick project now I’ve fitted them (especially with no zip!) and for someone used to circle skirts they take up a very modest amount of fabric. I’m pleased I tried something different, and very excited to have a pants pattern in my arsenal.