Burda 12/2016 Dress 118: Hi-Low (or is that low-hi?)

I decided to make this one in the midst of Fabricland’s annual December members’ sale, but wouldn’t you know it, I couldn’t find a jersey that seemed meant for this dress: too patterned, too poly, too thick, too sheer, too whatever. I ended up settling on this bright pink poly/rayon jersey. It is unbelievably soft; it is as comfortable as a t-shirt; it  is probably not meant for a dress. But who cares. It cost $6/metre and bought three, so plus the zipper this is about a $20 dress. I made it up just in time to wear to Christmas dinner with a friend and her lovely parents, and have worn it several times since, because it meets that cardinal rule of dresses in wintertime: snuggliness.

 

The pattern itself is awesome:

dress-cap-2

Keyhole slit, slanted waistline, gores in the skirt, pleats in the bodice, and fancy bell sleeves to capitalize on our current Sleeves Moment.

Before making it up I shortened that keyhole slit: bizarrely short upper torso necessitates these kinds of machinations unless I want to put my underwear on display which, despite the Accidentally Underdressed posts, I really don’t. Even so I need to be careful with my underwear choices in this one.

The Back. It doesn't *look* like pajamas.
The Back. It doesn’t *look* like pajamas.

After making it up I realized that I need to take some height and width out of the centre back and back neckline seams, which is pretty standard for me. But long hair=No One Can Tell, or so I say to myself. I also hemmed the sleeves more than the pattern said to so it would hit at my elbows, thanks to bizarrely short arms.

It’s almost entirely serged. The bodice is lined; for this version, I self-lined. I wouldn’t do that again, since the pleats x 2 make for a thick join at the front waistline.

The Side. Plus invisi-pleats at the shoulder.
The Side. Plus invisi-pleats at the shoulder. Can you see them?

The sleeve cap is pleated too, which is hard to see in these pictures or in the line drawing. Take my word for it: it’s cute.

You’re supposed to do a button-and-loop closure at the top of the keyhole slit but I just sewed it shut. The dress has a zipper up the back, for goodness’ sake; a functional button closure is not required.

Having liked the first one so much, I had to make it again.

bloggish-87

Hush. That’s how it works.

I altered the pattern to take out the excess width in the back, and lowered the back neckline by about an inch and a half. And then I went shopping.

Not intentionally, actually. I had to bring my coverstitch machine into the shop (… yes it did take me that long) and saw that the fabric shop across the street from the sewing machine store had a “CLOSING BY JANUARY 31!” sign along with “70% off lowest marked price for everything in the store!” This was the one shop on Ottawa Street where they sold really, really, really nice stuff. The kind of stuff that can cost over $100/yard so you go in, pet it reverently, and then leave quietly so as not to mark or damage anything.

The Back.
The Back.

I went in. It had been pretty picked over, but in addition to six yards of silk picked up for $35 including taxes (!!!!!), I found a plum poly jersey with a super sparkly gold lurex weave, marked down to about $3.50/yard. Two yards of fabric plus one metre of cheap polyester lining plus a zipper comes to a grand total of about $13 for the whole dress. And yes, this was the first of the Lurex Trend to be completed. It’s very sparkly. In some lights it’s more gold than purple.

The Side
The Side

Sewing your own clothes doesn’t always save you money, but holy hell that’s less than the price of a trade paperback.

Anyway. It’s a very, very light jersey–so light I took it home and discovered it’s almost transparent with the light behind it–and I used wisperlite (their spelling, not mine) lining which, incidentally, is both very very light and sheer and woven so tightly my regular machine needles did not want to puncture it for love or money. This increased the frustration factor, but also made it much easier to pleat the bodice as both together were about the thickness of a regular jersey. Because the fabric was so sheer I had to draft a lining for the skirt. Because it’s jersey and so light, and because I didn’t want to have a topstitch or even a blind stitch hem to break that lovely sparkle, I just left the hems raw. And again the keyhole was sewn shut.

The one bit of advice I have for anyone making this up at home is to baste the front bodice pieces to the skirt before serging. Both times now the machine has struggled to gain purchase on all those layers at the middle front and so one piece has ended up skewed, necessitating fancy hand sewing after the fact to make it line up properly. Can’t tell now but it was a bit annoying at the time.

So now I have two versions of the same dress: one soft, snuggly, and work-appropriate, and the other sparkly and suitable for dancing. Both dirt cheap.

It’s International Women’s Day, and I don’t feel like celebrating

I did wear red.

Moreover, it’s handmade red. Coming soon to a blog post near you.

I made some small donations  (Oxfam Canada, for their recent report card, and the Canadian Women’s Foundation). I wrote a few emails to politicians. I shopped at women-owned local businesses.

But otherwise:

womens-strike_twitter_759

Not so much.

If I’m going to feed my daughter, I need to work. And there are no men in my life who can pick up the slack if I drop out of unpaid work for the day. I like to eat dinner–and my daughter also likes to eat dinner–every day, ideally; if that’s going to happen, I’m going to make it.

I considered asking the dog, as the only male in the house. He wagged his tail and barked. Was that a “yes”?

There was Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau’s inspiring call to social media inaction, in which I dutifully participated. It’s awfully selfish of us women to want to centre International Women’s Day on women, after all; and of course we all have a male ally to gaze at adoringly while holding hands.

This cruelly neglects all the male allies who so thoughtfully remind me that women in the middle east have real problems, and that, since I can vote and drive, I have nothing to complain about. I keep forgetting, somehow, that women–and only women–are supposed to be so fucking grateful for basic fucking suffrage that we don’t see, notice, point out, discuss, or try to change, anything else ever, especially if it makes men uncomfortable. The important thing, I try to remind myself, is that men don’t think we’re going too far or asking for too much or asking for it in the wrong tone of voice.

(Please don’t make me #notallmen this. It would be too depressing.)

Our main ally to the south seems determined to erase any progress that’s been made in women’s rights since 1923 and, as often happens with our main ally to the south, many American women have decided this translates to a new and global threat against all women. Outside of the global gag rule, though, not so much. The condition of women globally has not changed since January 2017. I get that you’re an empire and empires do tend to assume that they are the world, and that differences really only amount to local flavour, but actually: nope. Also, I hate to break it to you, but the idea that women globally pine for the rights and freedoms enjoyed by American women specifically and will take this new setback in their rights to heart because American women have reached a pinnacle of freedom we need to aspire to in order to motivate our own local struggles: also nope. We kind of feel sorry for you and have for a long time. The abortion thing, the health care thing, the maternity leave thing, the child care thing, the bible belt thing. Canada’s got lots of work to do and we’re going to do that work here, for ourselves. Thanks for understanding.

I feel for you. I’ll help you wherever I can. But I am not you.


I am angry.

I’m angry about the pay gap and rape culture and how long it’s taken for our country to take the plight of indigenous women seriously and I’m angry that the government has been dragging its heels on the abortion pill forever and that women in rural areas particularly on the east coast still have no access to abortion and I’m angry that at nearly 42 I’m still being harassed on the street by assholes who think women are public property. I’m angry that the feminine is still considered so inferior to the masculine that it is still, for kids at my daughter’s school in her generation, an insult for a boy to be called girly and a compliment for a girl to be called a tomboy. I’m angry that we are so incapable of seeing women as aggressors that abusive women can and do get away with abuse for decades and no one calls them on it; I’m angry that we still have to debate whether men are or are not more often the abusers; I’m angry that when men abuse women we still question why women didn’t leave instead of why men felt free to punch their partners in the face; I’m angry that almost every woman I know has been assaulted or sexually assaulted and only one of their assailants has faced any jail time and he was acquitted at trial; I’m angry that when an ex-boyfriend bragged to me that he bugged his ex-wife’s apartment so he could keep track of who she was fucking and I called the police they told me they couldn’t take a report because “no crime had taken place.”

And I’m angrier because my anger is considered the problem.

Listen: if you can read all that, and all the mountains of bullshit beside it, and not be angry–there is something wrong with you. If you find the anger off-putting, well, there’s the door.

Today, I’m mostly depressed that we as Canadians have become a shining beacon of human rights and equality, not because we’ve accomplished anything in the last 20 years, but because we’ve managed not to regress.

I have to believe that we are capable, as a society, of recognizing that women are people and acting accordingly. Not almost-people. Not people-here-but-not-people-there. Not people-if-they-do-what-I-prefer. Not people-if-they-wear-what-I-respect. Not people-who-are-responsible-for-my-feelings. No conditions. No caveats. Not people-with-a-preference-for-unpaid-emotional-labour-that-I-am-entitled-to. Not people-who-inexplicably-choose-to-be-paid-less-for-reasons-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-sexism. Not people-deserving-of-my-respect-but-only-if-they-smile. Definitely not walking-sex-puppets-who-shouldn’t-leave-home-if-they-don’t-want-my-unsolicited-opinion-on-their-boobs. Or people-who-should-feel-grateful-we-let-them-get-drivers’-licenses. Not people-if-they-act-a-bit-masculine-but-not-too-masculine-god-forbid.

Just people. Complicated, flawed, people–horrible, wonderful, angry, happy, smart, stupid, girly, manly, strong, weak, successful, struggling, maternal, childless, ambivalent, ambitious, contented, resentful, single, coupled, tripled, promiscuous, virginal, slovenly, controlling, relaxed, energetic, tired, depressed, joyous–all of it. The full range of human experience, without any bits chopped off to fit in someone’s frilly pink box. Actual full human people who are here on this earth to live their own lives whether or not it serves someone’s else’s agenda or expectations. People who are, and can, and are supported in, living for themselves.

I have to believe we’re capable of it. We’re not there yet. It’s hard to feel celebratory today–but I celebrate each and every woman, today, who refuses to be less than she is.

Winter Dancing Dress: At The Ball

I might go on at length here–this dress was complicated and challenging but it worked out really well. She said humbly.

I was not sure I wanted to go to this particular dance party, as I’d heard Idiot Harasser might be there. There is little that is less enjoyable than buying a ticket, spending weekends making a dress, and devoting an evening to being harassed by an asshole who won’t take no for an answer.  I ended up going with someone else though, and spent most of the night well across the room; so it was a fun evening. And here, months later, is the dress.

bloggish-11

The sequins were bought as practice sequins. I actually meant to make a velvet dress for this occasion, and bought that fabric at the same time, but then I was flipping through a magazine when I came across this Dolce & Gabbana dress:

Except for the collar. Let's just pretend it's not there.
Except for the collar. Let’s just pretend it’s not there.

Which apparently retails for something close to five thousand pounds.

I liked the combination of the very ladylike sleeves and flounce with the sequins, and I thought … why don’t I try to knock it off? I mean, what is this? A sheath dress with puffed sleeves and a flounce. How hard can it be?

I had no intention of making this the masquerade dress, but I didn’t fully understand how time consuming this would be, and didn’t have the time to muslin and sew up another dress pattern, so the practice dress became The Dress.

I based the pattern off of this basic Vogue pattern:

Using the sheath dress variation.

It’s meant to be cut on the bias, but as the sequins were sewn to a stretchy (and transparent) mesh, I cut it out on the straight grain and converted the front pieces to a single piece. I adjusted the pieces to have negative ease, drafted a basic pattern piece for the puffed sleeves, and altered the neckline to a V after I’d sewn it together and tried it on. (I am not a fan of high neck anything.)

The Back
The Back

I then added a lining out of bamboo jersey from the stash, to add some opacity and comfort to the inside. (Sequins=scratchy) Same pattern pieces as the dress, with the shoulders extended slightly to cover the shoulder seams. The dress was then pegged quite a bit and the hem shortened to account for the addition of the flounce, and two flounce pieces drafted and added–complete with sparkly tulle. The original doesn’t look like there was a whole lot of gathering so I went with a 1.5 ratio and it seemed to work.

bloggish-3

I used bias strips of silk charmeuse scraps on the seamlines to prevent the dress from stretching or bagging out, and also used elastic at the top of the flounce to support the weight and keep it gathered in.

bloggish-5

And added clear elastic at the waist on the lining, between it and the dress, to keep the waist from stretch or bagging out from dancing. You know how knits are.

The Side.
The Side.

On this fabric, the sequins were small and thin enough that I just sewed right through them. It cost me three needles but saved me hours of time, so that’s a win in my books.

bloggish-50

I’m not under any illusions that this is as nice as the D&G original, but as a knock-off put together for under $100, it’s not bad.

Burda 8/2016 Skirt 123: An Anti-Winter Project

Winter is a tough season for skirts.

One thinks, on the one hand, “I want to be warm” (or maybe more accurately “I am so fucking sick of being so fucking cold goddammit why is it only February?”). On the other hand, one thinks, “If I wear the same pants again I may set them on fire.” Or, less melodramatically, “Ugh, again.”

But I think this skirt can manage some deep-winter wear without risking frostbite.

bloggish-135
Hey look! It’s one of the Renfrews I made up and didn’t blog. Mini blog-aside: seafoam bamboo jersey I tried to make into a pleated drapey top a few years back and never wore because it didn’t work, so I hacked it apart and made it into something else.

It’s to the knees, meant for a fabric with a bit of thickness and body, and fully lined. This one is made from a thick wool twill. The centre is a double pleat:

skirt-cap-2

Which is what makes the hem stand out so nicely.

Side-ish.
Side-ish.

The lining is a grass-green bemberg because that’s what I had on hand. I just serged that hem a few inches shorter than the skirt and otherwise left it.

The Back
The Back

The inside of the skirt waistband is made of the rayon twill I used for the drapey skirt; I didn’t want the wool against my skin in case I should ever wear a shirt untucked with this, so I split the waistband into two and added a seam allowance.  Otherwise I made it up as directed in the pattern with no alterations, using standard sizes, and it fits well and looks like it’s supposed to, and is even fairly warm (but no promises that I’ll wear it when it’s not at least near freezing). Overall it’s super simple and you could easily hack pockets into it if you wanted, without affecting the overall fit or line of the skirt.

This pattern is one that I am toying with for the black felted/embroidered fabric I posted about recently.  I need to play around with it a bit and see how it handles pleating before I make up my mind, but would love to hear any thoughts any of you might have.

Burda skirt 11/2015 #105: One Day I’ll Fly Away

I actually ordered a back issue of the magazine just to get this skirt pattern and it still took me a year to make it.

bloggish-75

I love the seam lines on this. I love the way the darts have been rotated into those seams. And I love the way the seamlines work with the godet to shape the skirt.

skirt-cap

I still love all of those things; but I wish I’d chosen a fabric that was a better match for them.

This is a fairly heavy fabric of unknown contents: Is it wool? Is it poly? Who knows? I don’t. It was free and I thought it would make something suitable for a funeral, when I thought I would have a funeral to go to. It is also a bit stiff. That’s not a bad thing necessarily, but it does make the shape of the skirt far more dramatic. And it makes it look like culottes from the front.

Side note: I do not like culottes. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve looked at a pattern over the last few years and thought, “What a cute skirt pattern! Wait … never mind … culottes. Bah.”

And from the back, you get a snazzy tail fin:

bloggish-81

However: there was no chance that I was going to special order a magazine for a particular pattern and then only make it once, even if it had been a spectacular success, which it wasn’t.  So I tried again in a different colour of the same rayon twill I made the It’s Fine dress in:

bloggish-112

Lord it’s dark in that photo. But hey! It’s a much drapier teal version of the same skirt. Rayon twill is about as unlike denim (also a twill, for those of you who don’t sew) as you can imagine: it is soft, drapey, clingy as hell. Just slightly thicker than challis. There’s maybe not much you can see here, but hopefully you can see that it does not look like culottes from the front. Nor does it have a snazzy tail fin from the rear:

bloggish-113

Instead, it drapes, just as it did in the pattern photo.

All around better, except for the fact that the rayon, no matter how low the temperature I used to press, insisted on going shiny at the seams. So frustrating.

At any rate: it’s a great pattern. Easy to put together, fun shape if you get the fabric right. The seam around the zipper is a bit too rounded and I had to take about half an inch off, and sewing around the peak of the x-cross seam is a smidge tricky and doesn’t make quite as obvious an angle as it does in the pictures.

Something you can’t see here is that the gores make nearly a circle skirt at the hem, meaning that if you were to twirl in this you’d get a nice round swish below the knees. I did try for you Dear Readers, but I nearly gave myself a concussion trying to turn a fast circle on the stairs. Not that the photo wouldn’t have been entertaining for non-sewing-related reasons, right?

And just to round out the Holy Trinity of Sewing Blog Photos:

bloggish-111

The side of the first one, complete with full wings.

V1389: Accidentally Underdressed Part II

It took me so long to make up the shirt from this set that not only is this pattern out of print, it’s not even listed on the website anymore. Oops. Also this means that if any of you like and want to make this … you’re out of luck. Sorry.

I actually originally bought the set for the skirt, which has some very cool seam lines on it, but this winter I found myself in need of long-sleeved shirts. Now, if you are like me, the word “need” comes to have a very ambiguous definition for sewing projects. Like: “I ‘need’ to find a jacket pattern to make up the felted black wool I picked up downtown on a whim,” or “I ‘need’ to find a lightweight jersey with a bit of body so I can try that jersey dress from this month’s Burda.” Or, more recently, “I ‘need’ to find some brightly coloured wool crepes so I can make up some skirts like Mia wore in La La Land.” None of these would pass the global-issues sniff test, and I wince a little every time I catch myself thinking anything like them.

However.

All of my previous year’s long-sleeved shirts were loose and drapey. And then last year went and did it’s I’m-2016-I’m-going-to-make-you-cry-uncle that we’ve all enjoyed so much. And I lost my appetite and a bit of weight. So last year’s “drapey” and “loose” became “looks like a five-year-old dressing up in mom’s clothes.” (Along with a few of last year’s pairs of pants, necessitating a new pair of Style Arc Jasmine‘s, but you don’t want to see another one of those, do you? Suffice it to say that it’s grey and it fits.) On a “need” scale this isn’t “I haven’t eaten in three days” but at least in a first world context it is somewhat legitimate.

So, after my recent sequin adventures and a black skirt that is in the blogging queue, and a long-sleeved shirt for my daughter who also has an unaccountable need to put on clothing that fits and is appropriate for school every day, it was time to do something about this. Shirt #1 was Yet Another Renfrew, and again, you don’t need to see another one of those. It is a purpley blue, long-sleeved, and I’ve finally altered the front pattern piece so that it fits properly, which just goes to show that buying a pattern from a company that specializes in patterns for pear shapes is not the smartest thing to do when you are not a pear shape, no matter how nice the pattern is.

bloggish-82
It’s pure coincidence that the colour matches the pattern envelope.

This is basically a raglan-sleeve t-shirt with a very wide neck band and a wide neckline. In terms of construction it is completely uninteresting, except for the neckband which has to be stretched out to its fullest extent while attaching to the shirt in order to lie (mostly) flat when worn. I made this a bit easier on myself by first basting and then serging.

When on the hanger, there are gathers along that seam that largely smooth out when it is stretched out on the body. However I do find that that neckband really wants to contract and it won’t stay as wide as it is supposed to according to the pattern drawing. I also find that some of the gathers remain on the back of the neck, but I don’t much care as that’s covered by hair anyway.

The Back. Gathers not visible, but everything else is.
The Back. Gathers not visible, but everything else is.

Overall it’s a fun pattern with some interesting details that make it a bit different–I mean, check out that side seam:

What looks like a seam on the back is actually the side seam
What looks like a seam on the back is actually the side seam

Such a small thing but a nice touch.

Dear god.
Dear god.

But I somehow doubt people are going to be paying much attention to the side seam because holy hell is it snug. There is nothing left to the imagination. This was supposed to be a shirt for work–and it probably still can be, if worn with a roomy skirt and a cardigan or blazer. Or I could go for broke and wear it with that front-split burda skirt I made in the summer and get myself sent down to HR.

It is a cool pattern, though. I’ll probably make it again, and maybe give myself just a smidge more ease.

God Laughs

Frances is the planner in our house.

I think I used to be. I remember a time when I would have very detailed plans for getting things done. It’s been a while and I seem to have forgotten all about how to do that, for better or worse, though it hasn’t made much of a change in what actually happens that I can see. For instance, I used to set an annual GoodReads goal of 75 books. And I would read those 75 books. In 2016 I decided that this was taking too much fun out of reading and I was going to get rid of the goal. How many books did I read? 75.

Frances, on the other hand, while she struggles with the concept of planning anything with a deadline in the next month or so, excels at the big picture. She has been trying to decide where to go to college and what to study since she was seven years old. “Well Mummy,” she’d say, “I don’t want to get there and find out that they don’t have anywhere for me to sleep.” Similarly she is very concerned that some of her friends don’t have realistic career goals. Have I mentioned that they are thirteen? Meanwhile every project due date seems to come as a shock and with a frantic last-minute late-night work session.

Regardless: Frances plans, in her own idiosyncratic and not necessarily very functional way, and I largely avoid it. But even so, like many of you I bet, there is often some kind of vague plan-like entity in one’s head, particularly at a milestone like the New Year. At the beginning of 2016, my vague plan-like entities included: I Want To Take Frances Camping, Maybe I Can Get the Bay Window Replaced This Year, and Let’s Finish That Blackwork Sampler. I am 0/3 on that list. Similarly, if anyone had asked me, not that anyone would because this is uninteresting to everyone, which won’t stop me from telling you, I would have said that my sewing for the year was likely to consist of casual weekend wear, basics for Frances and some work separates. Cue a parade of dancing dresses. Surprise!

All of which means, as we stand here together at the start of the Grand Adventure of 2017, that I really have no fucking idea what I’m going to do. Sure would be nice to replace the bay window, assuming nothing else critically important on the house falls apart. Hopefully we’ll go camping. The poor blackwork sampler may languish for yet another year. I bet I’m going to make a grade 8 grad dress, but no promises. Most of you seem to have much more confidence in what Future You is going to want to wear in August. I suspect Future Andrea is going to spend August in a near-panic over her daughter’s imminent high-school-ness.

Most of the time I buy fabric with a garment or even a specific pattern in mind, but not always. Sometimes it’s just a very cool fabric that sits there and looks at me with (textile) puppy eyes until I let it follow me home. I have a few pieces of fabric in the stash that are a testament to this inconsistent planning, pieces purchased in a state of “this is amazing I have no idea what to do with it but I’m sure I’ll eventually figure it out.” I haven’t yet figured it out. Maybe some of you have ideas:

  1. Three yards of a silk charmeuse with an extremely large floral repeat. I’d like to avoid cutting into the print as much as possible, so the pattern would need to use large uninterrupted blocks of fabric with as few seams as possible and be drape-friendly.

    This section is between 3 and 4 feet long
    This section is between 3 and 4 feet long
  2. Three yards of a coral/peach silk shantung with a bright gold sheen and a papery texture–thin, all body no drape.

    bloggish-2
    It’s basically standing up on the chair by itself.
  3. Three yards of a hot pink silk chiffon with a thin gold lurex stripe. Tons of sheen, lots of drape, very sheer.

    This is about six layers thick, which doesn't show the sheerness
    This is about six layers thick, which doesn’t show the sheerness
  4. Black–I want to say rayon/wool, but I’m not sure–medium to heavy weight, lots of body. Large scale felted/embroidered multicolour pattern on the cross-grain. Don’t want to cut it up more than necessary. A jacket is one possibility but I have enough for two non-dress garments and would rather start with the second one, assuming it’s simpler than a jacket, to get the feel of the fabric. On the jacket though: fancy or casual? Blazer or bomber? Something else?
    Approximately two foot high segment
    Approximately two foot high segment

    And a detail showing several inches, including the little semi-realistic flowers scattered through the abstract felted squiggles
    And a detail showing several inches, including the little semi-realistic flowers scattered through the abstract felted squiggles
  5. A blue cotton with a gold lurex weave–I don’t know what is with this trend for me lately of gold lurex in things; apparently I want to be shiny–about 2.5 metres, soft and with some drape, opaque.bloggish-10

Soon to come, a purple jersey poly-and-lurex keyhole dress and a coral velvet poly-and-lurex sheath dress. Let’s dub 2017 the Year of Lurex. Then it sounds like I planned it that way. I think I can probably leave it at five lurex things though. (I hope I can leave it at five. Future Me, please let’s leave it at five.)

True to form, I couldn’t even post this at the beginning of the year like a normal person. (Grammar note: “post” and “normal person” with reference to a sewing blog combined into a single sentence: eep.) Here we are, edging on February, and it’s as much as I can do to say, “bah, plans, who needs ’em.”  However I grudgingly accept that maybe I could use some plans for these ones … and potentially some help in developing those plans.

Burda 11/2016 Dress 110: It’s Fine

You can see almost nothing about this dress (pattern here) thanks to the print I chose, a rayon twill from Fabricland that is soft, drapey, colourful, easy to sew, and obscures any seam not outlined with a highlighter pen.

bloggish-42
The Acceptable Front

So, in words: shoulder yokes, gathered bodice to a snug waistband both front and back, pleats in the front skirt, gathered bell-shaped sleeves. Like so:

dress-cap

Or like so:

Still can't see the gathers or pleats, right?
Still can’t see the gathers or pleats, right?

Yeah it’s all pretty well invisible.

It made up just fine and it’s a perfectly ok dress for work, and because it’s rayon, I’ll be able to wear it in the spring, too. But I don’t love it enough to make it again. The print makes the whole thing so impossible to read that the wearer becomes an amorphous blob of paisleyish floral stuff with no details about the garment or the person underneath the garment even remotely visible. It’s practically a caftan.

The Perfectly OK Back
The Perfectly OK Back

The pattern itself works up just fine–everything matches, everything works, it’s not too challenging. It’s not the pattern’s fault that I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would.  If this is something you wanted to make up, I recommend picking a less busy print.

By the way, get used to stair photos for the next little while. We have entered the Cold Grey Bucket of Suck winter period here in S Ontario and I plan on keeping my acquaintance with the outdoors limited to shivering from the front door to the car. Weird shadows and bad light are the name of the game until probably May. Sorry.

The Side. Because it's not a sewing blog post if you don't get all three views, or so I have been told.
The Side. Because it’s not a sewing blog post if you don’t get all three views, or so I have been told.

I. Am. So. Sorry.

As we all know, 2016 sucked.

Jesus Christ what a terrible year. From the never-ending stream of celebrity deaths (and not the awful ones! What? Why?) to the terrible environmental news and the disastrous American election and Brexit and Syria various global catastrophes to the smaller and more personal crises of harassment, Frances’s health issues, my Dad’s decline and death and its related catastrophes, friends’ minor and major upheavals, house stuff, money stuff–fucking hell.

2016, were you high? Please tell me you were high. Please, please tell me this was some opioid-induced fever dream from which, in two days, we will all awake with 2016 to do all over again with less of the soul-shredding. Because I don’t know about all of you but I am feeling a bit shell-shocked here. Like … is it done? Are we done? Is it going to get worse or is this the bottom? Can it get worse? Of course it can get worse, dumb question. Please, Universe, don’t take that as a dare. We are collectively penitent for our sins and I am in particular very sorry for choosing Flaws as my word of 2016. 

I am feeling kind of like the person who didn’t bring an umbrella, so everyone is getting soaked by the rain. Yes yes I know my accessories don’t influence weather systems and Donald Trump was not elected because I was looking to exercise my tolerance muscles, but holy motherfucking christ on melba toast. “I want to learn to accept the flaws in myself and other people,” said the naive January-2016 version of Andrea. The Universe cackled: “You got it!” And thereupon I was deluged with an epic thunderstorm of personal failings, familial grudges, medical snafus, friend crises, minor criminal shenanigans, a neverending stream of celebrity grief on FaceBook, and a collective decision by a throat-chokingly large number of my fellow humans to embrace xenophobia, racism, misogyny, anti-semitism, and homophobia. At some point in there my poor overwhelmed tolerance muscles hit a series of barbed-wire walls and quailed away. My god. I wanted to learn about Flaws, not see humanity drown in a toilet of its own inner sewage.

I mean there were good things. There was my aunt’s book release and there was finding out that Frances is probably not going to need hip reconstruction surgery for at least a few more years after all. Which hurray, but you know, first I had to be told that she DID need surgery and quite urgently in order to avoid dislocation, which turns out to have been a pile of horseshit, but just because it was horseshit doesn’t mean I didn’t panic for a few weeks straight.

Was it really just one year? Doesn’t it kind of feel like it was ten? I kind of feel like I’m ten years older.

There were good things. There were. And I am clutching them greedily in my secretive fists in case 2017 tries to take them.

And I promise I’m going to choose a much friendlier word for 2017. Something so inane and meaningless that taken either as a dare or a jinx, it would at worst be no more than a minor inconvenience. Like Tea, maybe. Puns. Artichokes.

I also promise that I did some sewing and some of that will turn up here.

Winter Dancing Skirt #1: It seemed like a good idea at the time

In one of the September fashion magazines–I forget which one–I saw a picture of a sequined pencil skirt–I forget which designer–that looked like it would work for dancing and/or dating in the winter. Tights, t-shirt, jacket–you’re good to go.

bloggish-66
The Front, in bad light

And so when I was downtown looking for fabrics to make into a dress for a masquerade party, and I saw these sequins

I mean, holy hell. Look at them! Purple blue green teal depending on the light, matte black on the reverse. It’s like mermaid scales.

It’s also heavy.

And expensive.

Plus heavy. I got one yard, that being all I could justify, and then two yards of a cheaper ‘practice’ sequined fabric (that ended up being the masquerade dress. More on that later).

The back of the fabric is a heavy black knit, perfectly opaque, with lots of lengthwise stretch but very little widthwise.

The pattern is based on my skirt sloper. I looked at my pencil skirt patterns and none were quite right. I wanted something fairly dramatically pegged, not too long, without a waistband, and all of my pencil skirt patterns–all three of them–were either too straight, too long, or had too many pieces, which I didn’t want to mess with on account of the sequins.

I traced out the sloper, compared to current measurements, altered slightly, determined the length I wanted (I think it’s 18″), pegged the bottom side seams by about an inch on each piece, and cut.

And then began the true joy of removing sequins from seam allowances, first marked with white thread so it would show up on both sides. I tried to just sew through them but these sequins were having none of it.

The sloper is the result of Suzy Fuhrer’s skirt sloper class on Craftsy, and I just want to say: she gets a lot of rave reviews on those classes but IMO she adds too much ease and she relies too much on “industry standards” for certain measurements. My skirt sloper is based on ignoring her advice on those, and even so, it was loose enough after the first draft that I had to sit down and take out a bunch more sequins so I could take it in a bit more.

I also ended up pegging the centre back seam by about an inch on each side, too, after the first fitting.

Even pegged as it is, and without a slit or vent, I can walk up and down stairs and sit comfortably.

The Side
The Side

The waistband is just a facing of black twill tape. I wanted something tough without any give or stretch that could support the fabric and to which I could attach a hook and eye closure, which is just a smidge tighter than the skirt so that the zipper doesn’t strain and so the skirt stays at my waist.

The skirt itself is just three pieces with darts and a zipper; putting it together out of anything else would have been quick and simple. It took hours longer to remove the sequins than it did to actually sew the skirt. But now it’s done, praise heaven, and I can wear it.

I have enough of the sequined fabric left that I could make the front piece of a simple shirt, and I might. I thought maybe a scout, with sleeves and black from a regular black knit fabric. But not until after I’ve recovered from the tedium of sequin removal.

Pigeon Wishes

Learning to sew and delearning compulsive shopping habits

knitting soul

turning the knots into something beautiful

Freshly Sewn

A sewing blog

Climate Change Hamilton

Be a Climate Change Champion!

trishburr.wordpress.com/

Insight into my work and inspirations

3 Hours Past the Edge of the World

Design Inspiration, Sustainability, Sewing, Style & Cake

Symon Sez

Passions gone public

Sew Pretty in Pink

Andie's sewing & crafting adventures in Toronto, Canada

THORNBERRY

Things I make and holidays we take

A Confederacy of Spinsters

Sex, Dating, and Surviving Your Twenties

AOKville.com

Jen Lawrence, Writer

Sophie Long

Hand Embroidery

Struggle Sews a Straight Seam

Just another WordPress.com site

douglust

she's a threadhead

Miss Celie's Pants

I sew. I Machine Knit. I cook. I travel. But, I do not clean.

this is moonlight

adventures in learning to sew

Bag'n-telle

Design-It-Yourself handbags