I was looking for a pattern for a simple but stylish pull over dress/tunic. As I searched for "the right one" I started to wonder if the image that I head in my head was just too simple to have a pattern. I did not want to 'reinvent the proverbial' if I didn't have to and, considering that I have not yet drafted a pattern, it would much easier if I could find the simple shift of my dreams! After a lot of time spent web searching among the "big 4" pattern companies and assorted Indie pattern companies I happened upon "the" pattern on Etsy. It is simply called, "Dress No.2" from 100 Acts Of Sewing (there is also a Dress No.1...more of a v neck and it too is on my list). I admire the look of a simple 'dress' (or call it a tunic) like this worn over slim pants...or leggings and I wanted simple design like this that would look good in a wide variety of fabrics and was "customizable". The sleeves looked good to me; simple but not too loose and easy to make short, long...or sleeveless.
This is a pattern that is so simple that nothing could possibly go wrong. Hummmmm.
- To sew it using my 20+ year old serger that I had recently spent the time to figure out. Until I can afford the Babylock serger of my dreams I want to at least take advantage of learning more about "sewing" with a serger....I had not used it in close to 20 years!
- The pattern features patch pockets but since it was so 'simple' I planned to add in-seam pockets instead.
- Rather than making a plain 'ole muslin test for such a simple pattern I decided to make a wearable 'muslin' from some very thin, but very cool, Indian voile that I had purchased this summer for another shirt project that I haven't sewn yet. The fabric was rather inexpensive so I figured it would be a nice summery wearable and I could buy some more fabric for the shirt later.
Mistakes began to happen at the get go.
- The voile was quite loosely woven and, while not that difficult to sew, I had to fiddle with the tension on the serger a bit to get right.
- I thought I had cut TWO sleeves, but I discovered that I had missed a beat and had cut only one. The problem was that I did not have enough fabric to cut another sleeve without piecing it and while that was doable, in order for both sleeves to look the same I had to remove the first sleeve and sew a faux seam in it so that the two sleeves would look the same. Off to a frustrating start!
- I added the in-seam pockets and sew-serged away. Of course I soon discovered that the size I had cut from the pattern was much too large. Before you ask the obvious, yes, I had read the pattern's finished measurements, but I have become so used to needing more room "up top" these days that I figured a looser fit would be fine. Not so! Additionally, the in-seam pockets did not look all that good either because the fabric was so loosely woven and lightweight.
- I took the dress apart; removed the pockets and redrew the pattern to size down. The neckline - which was already bound and finished, was also much too large and way too low so I had to pick that all apart as well. Again, because of the very lightweight fabric, the binding looked limp and not very good. So I made a new, improved, neck binding and added a 1/2" strip of lightweight sew-in stabilizer as I sewed it again. The result was a soft but much better looking finish. Phew!
- I sewed up the roll over hem, but then, when it was all done, I decided that it needed to be shorter. One more time - cut it all off, used a double facing this time for stability and re-sewed and aligned.
- I decided that I did want a pocket...maybe not two on this one...but I like having a pocket. The fabric really did not lend itself (to my eye) to using a contrasting fabric for the patch pockets. I was quite low on useable fabric by this time but I really wanted the pocket to be as 'invisible' as possible and I tried to match the pattern as best I could to camouflage it. It worked out well. I used a twin needle with solid thread in one needle and a softly variegated -slightly thicker thread in the other.
After all of the time I had spent to sew, rip, re-cut and re-sew this simple pattern I needed to add a bit of humor as a reminder to myself to measure twice and cut once, that almost any project will have a positive outcome with patience and care and that nothing that I do is all that important in the general scheme of life. It's ALL small stuff really!
Enter the "worry bird". I had fallen in love with the critters on this happy Halloween fabric. The color was vibrant and the bird so whimsical that the fabric makes me smile when I use it. I added a piece of it to the back of the top. An unexpected bit of brightness and light-heartedness.
It's difficult to tell from the photo age above, but I chose to use the "wrong" side of the fabric as the right side of the dress. The fabric's right side was too bright for my taste and the pattern looking kind of chunky and clunkie. The "wrong" side was subtle and softer.
When all was said and done (or should I say said and sewn) I am thoroughly happy with this simple "test" make. It's cool and comfortable and and not too.loose or too tight. The sleeves are a perfect - tapered and just right- and easily made shorter or longer. Personally I like the 3/4 length as patterned.
My next version is going to made from an amazing French twill from Emma One Sock. Four colorways are offered and I seriously want three of them...but I can only afford one....or perhaps I will throw caution to the wind and get two of the color ways....I like it that much! I received free samples of them and it is a luscious fabric that I think will sew up beautifully with the extra weight of the fabric. Substantial but not stiff.
My two favorite online apparel fabric resources have become Emma One Sock and Stylemaker Fabrics. They both offer unique apparel fabrics and superb customer service and free swatches! Also, for cool summery Indian cottons, voile and trims at really good prices check out The Delhi Store on Etsy.
Now back to regularly scheduled quilting. I feel that I need get the quilting projects in the "finished column" before I get too involved in making clothes.
- Have you ever made anything that at first seemed like more trouble than it was worth, but that, in the end, you learned a lot from making it?
- Have your projects ever taught you to appreciate things more...like patience, perseverance or skills?