Hello all! I took a bit of an unintended break there for a couple months, huh? More on that at the end of the post, I want to get to that juicy sewing content first!
Here is my Christmas dress for 2016! I made one last year and at that point said ‘well how many Christmas outfits does one need?’ Naturally that meant that I decided three weeks before Christmas this year that I needed a new one. I couldn’t stop thinking about this vintage christmas card that Heather posted last year.
I had an idle look for fabric that would work and found some in Lincraft – it’s part of their basic cottons line. The fabric is VERY crisp, for better or worse, so it doesn’t drape very well and it creases lots and also it was very hard to hand stitch the facing down without it being very visible. But you know, once a year I can live with that. I don’t think I’d make another dress out of this fabric but it would make an ok shirt, or kids dress. The collar is just white homespun or broadcloth or something from my stash.
Anyway initially I was planning to make a half-shirt dress – like this one that Lily has since posted over at Mode de Lis. But then I figured I’d really left it too late, I didn’t want to muslin anything so I’d go with a pattern I’d already made, which meant B6055, my now most worn make. I love this dang dress. Except that the sleeves don’t have great movement, and I’ve been meaning to figure out how to put gussets in it and I figured a christmas dress was a low-stakes way to do that.
Figuring out the gussets was intimidating but fun! For the actual sewing part I used Gertie’s tutorial but since the pattern didn’t come with gussets I had to figure out how big to make them and where to place them. This was surprisingly hard to track down – lots of places say things like ‘just add a slit at the armpit’ but like… there’s a lot of variables there! After some googling I found a google book scan of a pattern drafting book which instructed on sizing and said to take the slice from the turn of the armpit in the direction of the shoulder point. So that’s what I did! It worked really well and was very fun. I didn’t finish the edges because the tute didn’t say so but I think I probably should have.
I also didn’t orient the stripes very well because I was spending my brain power working out which bit went where and didn’t think about it until afterwards. Oh well. The tute didn’t specify topstitching either but I thought it was a good idea. The gussets definitely make it much more comfortable and give much better range of movement – I still wouldn’t want to play tennis in it or anything but I’d say I have about as much movement as in a regular tailored shirt. I’ll definitely be using gussets more in the future.
Anyway the bodice went together smoothly, which it ought to because I’ve made it a tonne before. Except that I forgot it was meant to be cut on the fold so I cut it in two pieces and then had to sew a teeny seam allowance there – but it doesn’t seem to have made it too tight or anything. But then I ran into trouble with the skirt. I had decided to put in a waistband which I did by simply cutting the bodice 2″ shorter – and smoothing out the curve of it because as drafted it fits into a curved circle skirt – and then adding a 2″ plus seam allowance strip for the waistband. But I broke a bunch of my rules about sewing and made decisions before everything was together so I ended up moving the waistband up and then down again because the proportions were off. Note to self: ALWAYS put the skirt on the dress before making that decision, it will weight it down way more than you think. Because of this mucking around the skirt ended up an inch or so shorter than I’d prefer – I think the waist is actually maybe half an inch too high. Close enough!
I initially attached a gathered skirt because I wanted the stripes maximised. but I HATED it. I just do not like gathers on me, at all. I was also limited by the amount of fabric I had because I bought all that was left on the bolt so I found the gathers made the middle very bulky but the skirt was actually quite narrow and not floofy enough.
I think the best thing would have been to do big box pleats but I was coming down to the wire, time-wise and I also was kind of just done thinking about this dress. So I defaulted back to the pattern as-drafted. I tried to stripe match and to get the line down the middle to sit somewhere nice, with moderate success.
The cottons a bit sticky and also I was taking these hurredly on Christmas Day which was stinking hot so I didn’t get a good one of the side but the stripes line up pretty nicely. Please excuse the wrinkles – these are all after a full day of eating and sitting in a hot car for two hours. I think it held up pretty well! The collar is a bit off but I’ve since washed it again and now it’s lying properly – it takes a couple of washes for the interfacing to chill out.
I initially chucked in an invisible zipper because it was quicker but it wasn’t sturdy enough and it popped – also not helped by me deciding it was too baggy and cutting down the seam allowances before I put the zipper in! Dumb, breaking more of my own rules not to make anything drastically smaller before the fastenings are in. I then had to let it out again and use teeny seam allowances and it’s ok but probably could do with an extra cm or two, because it does ride up a bit when I sit.
Anyway I ended up going back and hand picking the zipper so I could get as close to the seam allowances as possible. This meant the zipper teeth show where the waistband is because it was too thick to turn under nicely, but that’s where I really needed the room so I went with it. I actually quite enjoyed hand picking and will definitely be doing that again in the future. It took a bit but it wasn’t as time consuming as trying to set in a zipper five times.
I was also contemplating putting cuffs on the sleeves to mirror the collar but then decided I couldn’t be bothered. In the end I think I like it better without. My cousin reckons it’s low-key enough that I could wear it on non-Christmas occasions, but I’m not so sure! Maybe with a black jumper over the top I could get away with it? Either way, it was a hit at Christmas, I felt very festive in it and my sewing-master grandma approved of the gussets. A win!
So about the break. I think I burnt myself out in October with a bunch of deadline sewing, and just haven’t been feeling it, so there’s been very little sewing and therefore no blogging. Initially I felt weirdly guilty about it but then I decided, you know, sewing is a hobby. It’s meant to bring joy. If I’m not feeling it, I’m not feeling it – although I’ve started to dip back in of necessity because I need some more warm weather clothes and sewing is the only way I get new clothes now. But I’m not putting any pressure on myself to either sew or blog, so I anticipate that things will still be a bit quiet around here for a bit, aside from a couple of FOs that I’ve finally gotten photos of so they will pop up shortly.
In the meantime I’ve still been doing crafty stuff – I’ve been catalouging my stash on the Cora app, refolding everything and getting rid of stuff I don’t love in an attempt to get all of my stash into the designated space in my craft room (there are a couple of secret boxes in the spare room wardrobe). I’ve started drafting a moulage using Suzy Furrer’s crafsty course and it’s going ok although she uses a lot of industry standard measurements with super don’t work for me, and I’m now at the part where I have to do all the adjustments to compensate for that and I’ve gotten a bit frustrated with it. I’ve also picked up a couple of stalled knitting projects and moved them to the next bit, which is satisfying.
I’ve also been extremely busy doing a new job at work – I go back to my regular position when I start back next year. I’ve been doing a similar job but the next level up (as well as training my fill in person at the same time) and it’s been really fun and interesting but definitely tiring, especially at the end of year panic where everyone realises they have to get everything done before January, and my manager was off sick and someone else was on leave and someone else left so I was the only one in my team there! Hectic.
I also started taking zoloft because I realised as we came out of winter that this one was really rough for me (and also tbh the US election news did not help my mental health at all. Yikes). I coped really well but doing that basically took everything I had. I’ve only been on it a week but already I am much less exhausted – I hadn’t realised how tired I was! I mean I knew I was tired but it had become normal to have absolutely no energy for anything. I am hopeful that zoloft will be the right drug for me and will help me get back to a better normal. I’m very lucky to have a great GP who is on the same team as me and determined to find the right thing for me, and helped me get over my weird reluctance to try meds – that internalised ableism will get you! But something has definitely been not right in my brain chemistry, and thank goodness for modern medicine, with all its downsides it sure has many upsides.
So that’s the story! As I said I suspect it’ll still be slow here but I’m getting back into sewing slowly so expect to see me around a bit in the New Year. Until then, happy holidays, whatever you celebrate, and here’s to a wonderful, safe, loving 2017 for all of us and everyone else.