Monday, April 04, 2016

"Operation New Dress"

Emery Dress with Vianne Cardigan

A few months ago I took a notion into my head that I wanted a new dress to wear to N's pop up restaurant I was going to on February 8th.  I wisely took my brand new Anouk cardigan that I'd just finished knitting for Untangling Knots Selfish Sweater KAL along with me to the fabric store on February 1st and selected a nice weight charcoal grey/purple fabric.  It matched beautifully under the shop lighting and I can sew a dress in a week easily.  No problem!

Spoiler: There were problems.

Gathered shoulder yoke pattern hack
I had dress woes from the start on this one!  First off I chose to do Colette's Peony.  I had won it in a sew along last year and thought why not?  I blithely ignored all the comments and complaints about how hard it is to get Peony to fit.  Perhaps in arrogance?  Maybe in delusion?  I figured, how hard can it be?  I did decide to make it easier on myself and do the gathered yoke hack they have on the Colette website.  I loved the look and thought two less darts to worry about.  Sweet.  And it could've been, but then I made my muslin and OH DEAR BOB!  What the heck?!?!

Not sure what body type Peony is drafted for but it is definitely not mine.  It was laughable.  Gaping at the neckline.  Bust darts no where near the right spot.  Too short in the bodice.  But the worst offender by far was the back.  Oh the back.  I should have taken pictures.  It was the most ridiculous thing imaginable.  I had a huge poofy balloon of fabric going the entire width of my back from the middle of my back on up.  I could have used it as a papoose to carry a small child in.

The Peony disaster was on Friday.  My dinner out was Monday.  I didn't have time to start messing about.  So I consulted the inter webs and chose Christine Haynes' Emery dress instead.  Everyone loves Emery.  There's nary a complaint I've read about it.  Awesome!  Just what I need.  A tried and true pattern.

Emery printed off, assembled and cut out.  Please be good to me!
I decided to do the straight muslin first and then once that fit do the gathered yoke hack from Colette. My first muslin did not go too badly.  A few minor fit issues.  Take in the shoulder darts, take in 5/8" on either side of centre back and things were looking fine.  So I did a new front with the hack.  Things were still looking fine although I was getting a bit suspicious about those armholes.  They seemed pretty low and gape-y.  I decided to sew in the sleeve and assess from there.  WOE IS ME.  I could not move my arms.  The sleeves themselves were fine, but that armscye?  Disaster.  So back to the drawing board.  I raised the armscye by about 3/4" thinking that would help, but then could for the life of me get my little brain to figure out how to adjust the sleeve pattern that obviously would no longer fit.  Out of frustration and not just a bit of laziness I decided that sleeveless probably looked a little better anyways, so moved on.

Sailing right along and feeling good about things I cut out my good fabric and set to work.  I pleated the skirt so as not to have poofiness of gathers at my midsection.  Then  I painstakingly did my first ever in over 30 years of sewing invisible zip and it looked good!  I was so pleased with myself!  All that was left to do was hem and facings.  Easy peasy.  By this point it was Monday afternoon and I had an hour and a half left before I needed to leave for the dinner.  I tried on the dress so I would be able to see how much I needed to hem it up.

First problem.  Threw my Anouk cardi on to get the "full picture" even though the neckline and hem were still showing unfinished.  It looked ridiculous. Remember that aforementioned matching business?  It so did not match.  But all was not lost.  Grabbed my Vianne.  Looking much better cardigan wise!  Awesomesauce!!!  Problem one solved.

Second problem.  Oh what the hell?  I lengthened the bodice by about 3/4" because on my muslin it felt a bit short.  This is not an uncommon problem for me, so I didn't even hesitate to blithely add that length in.  What I forgot to take into account is that the weight of the skirt would pull that bodice down a bit.  Damn.  Definitely starting to look school marmish and matronly instead of cute.  But it would be ok.  At least for that night.  My cardi would hide the too long bodice.  So phew!  No problem two for the time being!

Third problem.  Something is still off on the armscye.  Really off.  And what the heck!  My neckline gapes.  Still Vianne could hide a myriad of fit sins.  Third problem could wait until after the supper.

Fourth problem. I turned around to look at the back view.  My painstakingly done invisible zip had a bit of a weird buldge right at the base of it that I swear I didn't see when I ironed it all nicely.  Worst than that though?  I did my blasted pleats on the back the opposite of the pleats on the front.  And as it turns out pleats that face towards the side seams are a whole lot more flattering than ones that face towards the centre on me.  I had what appeared to be a giant ol' bubble butt.

At that point "Operation New Dress" became Operation Damn it All to Hell, I'll Just Wear Jeans. There are days that I honestly feel I should just toss out the sewing machine, fabric, all the patterns and give up.

A welcome distraction of deliciousness.  
So, I wore jeans and my favourite red Itch to Stitch Irena Top and I sulked about my lack of a new dress.  I didn't sulk for too long because the food was too yummy to worry about what I was wearing.

After a few days in the time out corner, I hauled the dress out again and set to work taking it apart.  I did a new muslin of the bodice in a size smaller (graded out at the waist) and tried it on for fit.  It was so much better, but there was still some funky armscye excess fabric happening since I wasn't using sleeves.  I pinched in a dart in the front armscye, then transferred that to my pattern, rotated the dart, reshaped the armscye and redid the bodice muslin.  Things were pretty close at that point to a fit I liked.

Next, I was still fixated on the gathered yoke hack, so with a good fitting bodice I did yet another muslin to test out the yoke.  At this point in the proceedings I figured I might have a new dress by the time I was 90.

Gathered Shoulder Yoke
Not so invisible, invisible zip -
 I think it's pulling a bit due to how I'm standing
Which finally brings us to today. Almost two months later. No, I'm not 90, but I do feel I've aged considerably through "Operation New Dress" hell.  But, at least I  have a dress to show for all that work. And I even learned some new tricks - making continuous bias tape from a square of fabric and using my Clover bias tape thingy as well as re-learned some tricks - moving and repositioning darts. However, I don't even like it anymore.  It's drab. It's dreary.  It's boring as all hell.  BAH.  I want flowers! I want birds!  I want quirky and fun!  C'est la vie. Least it's done and perhaps someday I won't dislike it quite as much as I do right at this very moment.

A new to me technique for making bias tape for my neckline and armholes.
Also the first time I've ever used my Clover bias tape gadget even though I've had it for about five years...
This is a game changer for me.  It was so easy!
Now, even though Mother Nature doesn't seem to be wanting too,  I'm setting my sights on spring. A Wedgwood Skirt, another Emery, a Susie and I've got some nautical fabric en route from an eBay purchase...  How about you?  Any exciting plans for spring crafting?

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