Three

MJ turns three today.

Here is the dress I made her:

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Pattern: Lotta Dress by Companie M
Size: 3T
Fabric: Cloud 9 cotton I grabbed off the clearance rack at Joann

I’m always learning new things when I sew. This time I learned how far ahead of the needle my serger’s knife cuts and why you don’t serge seam allowance after sewing inseam pockets.

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Pro-tip: serge those edges THEN sew.

After a long time out it turned out to be an easy fix. I removed the pocket, cut an inch off the width of the skirt, and started fresh.

It’s the same pattern as the dress I made MJ last year. I used the same button loop placket and cap sleeves, but added the i-cord and used inseam pockets because I thought I ought to mix it up a little bit.

I’ve sworn off Joann Fabrics. Again. Joann, why can’t I quit you? Oh yeah, because you are the only place anywhere close-ish that I can reliably buy notions which is something I re-remember every time I need buttons. I got super lucky, though, and hit a timely and unexpected jackpot at Urban Mining: vintage buttons!

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I stocked up.

Unbelievably I found buttons that were a perfect match in the quantities and sizes I needed. And I needed 4 smaller and 3 bigger, so let’s take a moment to acknowledge the improbability of finding these buttons in a space mostly dedicated to furniture and knick-knacks mere blocks from my house, no long, trying to trips to Joann necessary!

MJ, of course, would have been happiest with Minnie Mouse buttons. Here is the godawful dress I made at her behest also out of clearance Joann fabric that MJ spotted, adored, would not let go of, and insisted be made into a dress immediately upon arrival home. She will surely wear this dress instead. Ah, well, more power to her. The girl knows what she likes.

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Some Assembly Required

I saw this fabric online and had to have it. My favorite shade of blue! And a print reminiscent of that dandelion motif I so enjoy. I had visions of a summer dress.

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Pattern: Willow Tank Dress, Grainline Studio
Size: 6
Fabric: IKEA Ingelill
Mods: moved the bust darts up an inch & made them a little longer

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I’ve cooled on this fabric since I saw that someone online used it to make a privacy curtain for her cat’s litter box.

Also, it wrinkles like, well, like cotton would. I’m not usually bothered by that – I love linen and live with its characteristic wrinkles, and I’m bad at laundry and choose to wear wrinkly clothes rather than properly micromanage the dryer-to-hanger pipeline – but these wrinkles are deep and right across my lap. Meh.

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Boxy style is boxy

I rather like its fashion’s style, but I’m not sure it will fit into my life’s style so well. I don’t tend to “dress”, which here means owning a variety of clothes suitable for various specific occasions and, this is the part I’m bad at, remembering to use them rather than wearing the same dress over and over because it’s comfortable and already ironed (I refer you to my statement above about being bad at laundry). So while I look at this and think it’s perfect for a BBQ or pool party, I haven’t been to a BBQ or pool party since finishing this dress and probably wouldn’t have thought to wear it if I had been.

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I haven’t worn this once since the day I finished it excepting these photos. It seems too casual for the office, too short for chasing after kids, too loud when I’m wearing it, and yet when I look at these pictures it isn’t too casual or too short or too loud, is it?

Maybe if I can disassociate this print from kitty litter boxes it could still stand a chance.

Gaslit

The last time I wore my Wiksten Tova Tunic I had a series of revelations:

  1. Hey, this style is pretty flattering!
  2. Didn’t this pattern have a dress option?
  3. It does!
  4. That fabric I bought way back when for a skirt that never happened would be perfect!
  5. I should make a Wiksten Tova Dress!

And I did and it is SO GOOD.

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Pattern: Tova Top + Dress by Wiksten
Size: Medium
Mods: added 2 inches to the length*

Last week I found myself awake at 2 a.m. too angry and upset to sleep (work stuff) so I got out of bed and sewed it up but for the cuffs. I coulda gotten it all done, too, if I hadn’t tried to get back to sleep between 4 and 5.

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I just love this. It’s comfy and casual, but nice enough for the office. I wore it to work with my red saltwater sandals and on my walk to the car after work I saw another woman wearing a denim dress with red sandals. “We match!” I said without thinking, immediately relieved I hadn’t instead blabbed “we’re twins!” to a black woman.

 

*Folks, as written this dress would be seriously mini. I was surprised when I pulled out the pattern to see that the dress was not a whole lot longer than the tunic. I wonder if the dress is actually an extra-long tunic intended to still be worn with leggings? Or could be that I’m a prude who’s uncomfortable in short skirts; with the extra 2″ this is as short as I can imagine comfortably sitting in. And I really like sitting! I do it all day! Preferably without feeling the seat on the underside of my seat.

Never Enough Geraniums

I recently contacted my former boss to ask if I could use him as a reference. I had not had contact with him in years, but he was gracious and kind and I found out he’d had a daughter since we last spoke. If you’ve ready recent posts you know that I like making things for babies. This child is not a baby, anymore, she’s a toddler, so I went to the stash and fell back on my tried-and-true, often-made, always-cute Geranium Dress pattern. I kept the sewing simple: no notch, no sleeves, just a piping detail to add a little oomph.

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Pattern: Geranium Dress by Made by Rae
Size: 2T

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No major mishaps in this make, unless you count the fact that I forgot to cut out two bodices, but then I forget to cut the bodice lining when using this pattern so often that I congratulate myself when I do remember.

Geranium is always a lovely make.

Taking a Pattern for a Test Drive

In the past I’ve tried to skip the muslin process, often with regrettable results. I seem to think I should be able to cheat or outsmart my way clear of making a muslin. I started sewing with the misconception that a muslin is a chore you should try to avoid doing if possible, whenever possible. I’m having to learn for myself the hard way that what everyone says is true: if you want a better chance than a roll of the dice at a garment that you’re happy with, making a muslin is critical.

Now, I’m not going to say that me up and making two muslins for fun marks a sea change in my attitude towards them, but I think it does reflect a grudging acceptance of how important a muslin is. It didn’t hurt that both these patterns are free. Patterns can be pricey and if I’ve chosen to spend money I already have a personal investment greater than the financial one. Making muslins of French Navy’s Orla and Peppermint’s Peplum Top patterns felt more like I was taking them out for a test drive than a trial run, or as in the case of my Belladone, training for a marathon.

This post got too long, so first Orla. I had seem some very nice examples here and there, but I wasn’t up for another fitting challenge so I was fully prepared to make a muslin and chuck it. I was stunned that this fit so well right out of the (virtual pdf) envelope.

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Pattern: Orla by French Navy
Size: Small

Folks, if I found a dress that fit as well as this in a store I would absolutely buy it. Lest you think the muslin in this case was a waste of time, I decided to size up and make a couple small adjustments on my final version because I, ironically, am aiming at something less fitted. It’s currently more of a hospital gown than a dress – the fabric store is far and my weekends are busy, but hopefully I’ll get around to buying and installing the zip soon!

Dinosaur Dress

I bought this fabric ages ago, when I was first learning to sew and making oodles and oodles of kids clothes because I wasn’t ready to make clothes for myself, yet. I’ve always loved little dresses, but have always worried this makes me a bad feminist so I bought a bunch of red dino fabric with the intention of making dresses that were ever so slightly subversive. In time I let those worries go. It turns out the do-I-or-don’t-I-dress-my-daughter-in-dresses question solves itself when your kid is old enough to pick out her own clothes. This produces sometimes hilarious combinations on MJ’s part and sometimes frustrated feelings on mine as she eschews all other clothes in favor of the same Peppa Pig shirt and clashing teal sweatpants she plucks out of the drawer whenever they’re clean.

MJ is interested in dinosaurs and I thought this dress might have a chance, especially when she started demanding it while I was still working on it. I was excited to present it to her the morning after I finished it, but when I asked her if she wanted to wear it she said, “No, no wear dat.” She selected the day’s mismatched outfit and I remembered that toddler demands are not necessarily an indication of toddler desires and that toddlers are very literal. Wanting to have a thing and wanting to wear that thing are two different questions that might elicit two different responses.

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Maybe I should point out the pockets. MJ loves pockets.
Pattern: Geranium Dress by Made by Rae
Size: 3T

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This pattern is terrific. I’ve made lots and so has everyone else and with good reason. Excellent instruction, fantastic results, and lots of possible combinations even without purchasing the expansion pack which I own and am chiding myself for not have incorporated, yet.

There will be more Geraniums in other variations. I’ll keep making them, even if they’re rejected.

My Blue Period

I dreamed of this make between cutting it out and starting to sew. In my dream I forgot to sew the side panels on, a mistake I am glad to say I did not replicate in my wakeful state. I did try to piece the side panels to the front upside down – in my defense the curve of the sleeve looks an awful lot like the curve of an inverted armscye – so I credit my dream for the extra attention I paid to the side panels’ notches and why they might not be lining up. I had wondered why those notches were there when I cutting this pattern out. I couldn’t imagine how they would be relevant and considered omitting them. I’m so glad I decided I wasn’t smarter than the pattern.

I’d admired Forsythe for some time but it wasn’t on my must-make list because I’d already made Fen which has a similar vibe and even though I really like patterns which use coordinating fabric trying to find them mentally exhausts me. However! Given my love of jewel tones and adoration of the color blue (and this blue in particular: I refer you to Moneta which I finally got around to hemming in part because my machine was already threaded in matching blue for this make) it was only a matter of time before two suitable coordinating fabrics landed in my stash and lo:

IMG_9964.JPGPattern: The Forsythe Dress by French Navy
Size: Small
Fabric: Linen from Jo-Ann & cotton from IKEA in Ingelill

I was looking for an easy win and I thought I couldn’t go wrong with a boxy style. I can’t quite figure out what the problem is here. Something about my body shape and/or the excess fabric across the chest and/or side seam placement and/or weight of the fabric makes the dress bubble weirdly in the bust/underarm area. You can see it in the photo; it’s really noticeable when I’m in motion. On the one hand, who cares? On the other hand, I do?

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Looks OK from the back, though!

So we’ll see. Honestly it’s not the pattern. It’s just another example of how even when you think you can guess about a shape or style you really can’t.

I have some ideas for this dress. I might try basting the side panel seams closer to the neckline over the shoulder, moving those seams closer to my bust and farther from my armpits. I might try wearing this dress as it is; wear and washing might soften the fabric and help it drape better. Or I might give it to a bustier friend since all this dress needs to be a complete success is a curvier upper half. The dress is totally cute, it’s the fit that fails and that’s on me.