#sewtogetherforsummer just finished yesterday, but for the past three months sewists around the globe have been sewing up shirtdresses as a part of the Instagram based sew along hosted by Sarah @sewsarahsmith, Susy @sewing_in_spain and Monika @rocco.sienna. It's been an inspiring and motivating three months of seeing all the different patterns and variations being made up.
For my part I was consumed with indecision on which pattern to choose. It was a toss up between either Sew Over It's Vintage Shirtdress or Cashmerette's Harrison Shirtdress. I got as far as printing each pattern off and assembling the PDF sheets together, but that was it. I just couldn't make up my mind, couldn't find fabric that spoke to me and honestly figured it was going to just be another case of good intentions gone astray for me.
Then the Penny Dress was released to the Sew Over It PDF Pattern Club at the end of the first week of June. I've never bought a pattern, printed it off, assembled it and bought fabric so quickly in my life. It was THE PERFECT PATTERN. I love the way it looks on Lisa Comfort in the official photos!
I whipped home from work, fabric in hand, threw it in the washer and dryer then set to work cutting it out. I started by cutting the bodice, then quickly realized something had gone terribly, terribly wrong and I didn't have enough fabric for the skirt. I was so incredibly frustrated. I had no way of getting to the fabric store until Monday at the earliest and there went my weekend plans of making a new dress. URGH... whilst I was busy berating myself for obviously not following the lay out plans as carefully as I should have an email came out with the errata for the fabric requirements. So that Monday I was like a woman possessed. Zipped over to the fabric store after work, grabbed another 2.5 metres of fabric for the skirt, got home and did the whole pre-wash and dry thing and got the skirt cut out. I wasn't about to be deterred by something like insufficient yardage. I even made self-covered buttons for it.
Of course life being busy life I didn't get a chance to sew again until Sunday, but I knew it was going to go together easily and be such a great make. Except it wasn't. Don't get me wrong. It sewed together like a dream. All I had left after a short couple hours of work was hems and buttons. (Remember those buttons? Turns out they were about twice as big as they needed to be for the button placket. Arggghhh.) So I tried the dress on and pinned the bodice shut. OH. MY. EVER-LOVING WORD. It was possibly the most unflattering make I've ever made.
I looked nothing like I envisioned in it. I felt miserable and a whole lot of bitter negative self talk was going on in my head for the rest of the day and into the next. I was so distraught and discouraged. And then at some point I remembered something I'd heard Stasia Savasuk say on a podcast interview a few months back. It was something a long the lines of "It's not you. It's the pants. Change the damn pants." And that thought kept running through my head, slowly silencing all the negativity. It isn't me the problem. Technically it's not even the dress that's the problem. It's the style of the dress that was the problem for my figure.
I'm not happy about it, but like it or not I no longer have the small waisted hour glass figure I once had. My hip/waist ratio is pretty indistinguishable and the dress cut right across the widest part of my apple shaped body. The elasticated waist only served to emphasize it making me look much larger than I am. I needed to selvage what looked like a frumpy old lady dress and make it into something I'd be happy with. While I pondered things I made a new set of covered buttons.
Then I continued my mission by taking the elastic out and tried it on again. It was like a tent, but taking the elastic out brought the waistline down to a much better spot on my body (it's amazing how much a little bit will fix things!). I could already see there was potential for the dress after all so I went ahead the other morning and before work I took the bodice off the skirt and cut off fabric from the sides of the bodice tapering down from the armhole to waist. I then took the one piece skirt and carefully cut down the sides of the skirt. I basted the bodice and tried it on and it was already 100 times better. I took close to eight inches off the total circumference of the waistline and it made a world of difference.
Yesterday morning I set to work stitching. Because I had side seams now I figured I might as well add pockets while I was at it! I only had about fifteen minutes to work on it, so I chose to do button holes first. After work I attached bodice to skirt and did the hem. With much trepidation I tried it on again and fell in love. The fit is now exactly how I like it, it skims over curves instead of cutting across them and I think it's new modified version is the perfect shirt dress for what I wanted! I'm so happy with it and want to make another of my version right away! I wish I'd taken photos of the initial dress so that I could show you the before and after, but I didn't take them because at the time I felt so awful I didn't want to be seen by anyone in it.
I've seen loads of gorgeous Penny dresses made as designed by loads of different women of different shapes and that's great. It is a lovely pattern done with the quality that I've come to expect from Sew Over It and I'm still really happy that I bought the pattern and made it. I can even see the benefit of having made it the way it was designed in the first place. It may not have been the silhouette for me but it taught me a thing or two about acceptance of my self and as silly as it may sound I feel somewhat empowered by coming out on the other side of it all feeling fantastic about my self and about my skills as a seamstress. To top it all off I snuck in just under the wire for the #sewtogetherforsummer sew along finishing at 6:20pm of yesterday's deadline!