I don’t seem able to go to Queen W without coming home with some fabric; when I was last there, introducing a local sewing friend to the joy that is the textile district, this fuschia ponte knit told me it really wanted to become a long-sleeved dress.
Well, who am I to stand between a bolt of ponte and the deepest desires of its knit heart?
And after working out the fit issues with V8685 with the red bamboo jersey dress, it seemed that it would be a fairly quick and rewarding project. Which was true. And because I could alter the tissue in advance rather than trying to alter the fabric pieces after they were cut, some of the difficulties with the red one were solved nicely (like the shoulders).
1. Removed 1″ from the armscye, front and back.
2. Cut a 12 everywhere, except grading to 14 at the hips
3. Did an FBA on the front, rotating the darts into the tucks
4. Took out 1″ from the centre back length
5. Took out 1″ from the sleeve cap, and then another 2″ in the sleeve itself. Which turned out to be about 1/2″ too much, but I can live with it
6. And took out about 1 1/2″ in width from the sleeves, which at first were baggy as hell. Even now they are pretty loose
Because the ponte has a decent amount of structure, and because the fitted skirt on this version doesn’t have the weight of the full skirt on the last one, I didn’t have to interface the bands or yokes and I didn’t need to make it quite so tight. I replaced the neckline facing with a strip of bias tape cut from a matching cotton satin, to prevent the neckline from stretching or sagging out over time and reduce bulk. The dress holds it shape nicely and is super comfortable. And I got to wear it for the first time presenting a talk on my community climate change impact adaptation planning project as part of a panel on community engagement strategies.
(“Community Climate Change Impact Adaptation Planning project” is, to be fair, half the talk, since the project title is so bloody long.)
It was a nice little confidence booster, and I’m betting I’ll be getting a lot of wear out of this one over the winter.
According to the BMV size chart, I am a size 16/18. This dress was cut in a size 12 with an FBA on the front bodice pieces, grading to a 14 at the hips. As you can see it is still not too tight. I love this pattern, but be warned: size down.
Somehow or other this beautiful linen jumped into my shopping bag when I went fabric shopping with a friend. It was insistent on being turned into a big skirt, but all of my skirt patterns–even the pleated ones–have curved hems. A curved hem would not have looked right with this lovely poppy print, so I used the skirt part of the V1353 dress pattern, with wonderfully flat hems perfect for border and linear prints, and added a narrow waistband.
And then added a narrow band of matching bright pink cotton voile to the hem to finish it off. Just something a bit different. I cut two 2 1/2″-wide strips of the voile, sewed them together, matched the width of the skirt hem, folded it in half, and sewed it to the bottom edge of the skirt.
And I have nothing new to say about the construction or sizing on this one. This is a mid-weight linen, and I used a white cotton voile to line it. The seam allowances were serged before sewing them together; the hem on the lining is just serged, to keep it light and floaty; the hem on the linen skirt was serged to the hem band. That seam was then edge-stitched to keep it from flipping down after wear.
The pattern repeat wasn’t quite tall enough, and I didn’t have quite enough of the fabric, to line up the pattern perfectly between the front and back. Thus everything is about 2 1/2 inches higher on the back. But I don’t think it’s visible to a casual observer.
The zipper goes right through the waistband. There are no other closures.
It just so happens that it perfectly matches that coral voile blouse and a pink t-shirt I already have, plus the pink voile that I was planned on making into a top–fate, right?
I made this one before in grey, and you might want to go back and reread that post, because it’s been revised. If not, charge ahead, and be warned that you might be somewhat confused.
The fabric is leftover bamboo jersey from the first dancing dress of the year. I thought I might have just enough to make another one of these tops, which I did. But first, I had to redraw chunks of the pattern, some to do with inherent fitting issues created by improper sizing and ease, and some because of my weirdly short upper body.
The grey shirt, as snug as it felt in places, was oddly loose in others, particularly the back. The neck wasn’t as wide as shown in the pattern photo, and in the back, it tried to crawl up my neck whenever I wore the shirt. Also, there was a lot of excess fabric in the centre back. The sleeves were longer than they should be and didn’t stay in place. The fit was ok, but it wasn’t great.
For try #2, I made a lot of what are for me standard pattern fixes:
1. Shortened the armscye front and back by an inch each; in the front, tapered to nothing in centre; in the back and sleeve, took out that inch straight across.
2. Took out another 1 1/2″ or so lengthwise in the centre back and redrew the back seams to true them. This made for a narrower waist, which of course carried through to the front, as well as a shorter back.
3. Shortened the sleeve by two inches in addition to the 1″ taken out at the armscye.
Funny, right? My main comment for the first try when it was first done was that it was so tight; but all the fitting problems when wearing turned out to be from it being too *loose* in certain places.
I thought about adding extra ease across the bust but was concerned that would have ruined the line of the wrap-around side seam, so I didn’t.
This brings me to the inherent fitting issues, which are just …
Look at that picture.
Do you see any excess fabric *anywhere* in it?
OK. So tell me then why Vogue, in its infinite wisdom, has two inches of positive ease at the waist in that pattern.
Two inches! of positive ease!
That is delivering a product that does not in any way match what people are promised by the advertising. It’s dishonest.
Moreover, a purchaser can’t easily correct for this, because the finished garment measurements are nowhere printed on the pattern tissue for the shirt.
You can get the waist finished measurements, more or less, on the skirt pattern that accompanies it–assuming they’re the same, which is a big assumption.
But really, you have to fucking measure the tissue to figure out how big it’s going to be when done. (Fortunately the waistline is at least marked; the bust and hip points aren’t even marked so finished measurements for those, even measuring on the tissue, are not easy to determine. I was able to determine that there is indeed positive ease throughout the garment, but whether it’s 1/2″ or 1″ I can’t say.)
Repeating myself: I am a size 16/18 based on the size charts. I cut a size 12 for this; that’s how far down I had to go to get any negative ease. That grey shirt was the size 12. And it was TOO BIG to make this design work.
Pattern reviews for this shirt almost universally report difficulties with getting the neck band to lie flat.
The neck band is fine as drafted. It fits in to the neck seam just fine, so long as you stretch as you would for any knit neck band.
But it’s very wide, as you can see; both in terms of the actual band and how it’s supposed to sit on the shoulders.
That fit is only going to be achieved with metric shit-tons of negative ease. It needs to be very, very tight across the shoulders, chest and upper back to hold that very wide neck band as flat as it’s supposed to be.
And of course, Vogue delivers a pattern with POSITIVE EASE, then a bunch of people buy it and make it up and wonder what’s wrong with them that they can’t get the neck band to lie flat. It wasn’t the sewers, it wasn’t their skills or fabric choices.
It was Vogue, delivering a pattern to customers that did not match the advertising or product description, and not giving purchasers the information they need on the tissue to correct their issues before making it up. Not a surprise to anyone who’s been sewing with BMV patterns for a while, I suppose, but it irritates me to no end.
If you are making up this shirt and are frustrated to hell with the neck band: you’re making it too big. If you’re going by the size chart, go down at least by two sizes, maybe three. If the neckband isn’t lying flat, you don’t have enough negative ease in the chest, shoulders and back to pull it flat–that’s how it’s supposed to work. It’s not your fault.
It’s a slightly stiff (poplin?) lightweight cotton with a watercolour print of trees, leaves, flowers and birds. I lined it with white cotton voile to keep it very light and wearable for super-hot days in the summer (so here’s hoping we have at least one or two this year). And it is a V1353 again, which makes #3. I made a few minor fitting fidgets but otherwise it is the same as the rainbow linen one.
One of the fitting fidgets was less successful; the bust darts on the rainbow linen one are quite low, so I raised them about an inch on the pattern paper. When the dress was ready for trying on I realized this was because the rainbow linen one had loosened up over the year and now sits about an inch lower than it did, so now the bird-print version darts are too high. Oops. At this point it’ll either stay high, or loosen up and sink as the rainbow one did, and only time will tell.
This one was fussy-cut as I didn’t want to decapitate any birds in a pleat or a seamline. That would be grisly. So I laid the pattern pieces out on the fabric on a single layer so I could be sure that the birds remained whole. I also tried to maintain some print continuity between the skirt and bodice but the pleats made that really hard. It’s kind of there. I do like how one branch crawls up a shoulder (that part I do remember doing on purpose). You can’t clearly see any of the birds on a skirt in any of these pictures so please just take my word for it that no bird parts were severed in the making of this dress.
Does anything make this different from the rainbow linen dress or am I just bragging about the fabric find? (Cheap too! 40% off so like $8/m or so.)
Just the hem stitching.
The instructions tell you to do a saddle stitch by hand to hold the wide hem band in place. I’ve yet to do so. (A saddle stitch is a kind of double running stitch that looks like a back stitch when done. Why you wouldn’t just do a back stitch, I’m not sure. I mean, in leather or anything with two visible faces, sure; but for something like this there’s really no advantage.) This time I did a 1/4″ running stitch instead, with an even width marked off by a quilting ruler and a chalk wheel, in white perle cotton. It’s a bit chunky but still shiny, and very subtle on the dress background. So subtle, in fact, that you can’t even see it in the pictures.
You can see a smidge of puckering in spots along that line because the hem band and the skirt were not precisely the same size, and that was with a good amount of pulling and yanking on the skirt to stay even. Overall I’m happy with it though.
According to the measurement chart I should be a size 16/18 (you’re all going to get sick of me saying that).
This dress is cut as a size 12/14 and then tweaked for individual fit issues:
1. Removed 1″ from each centre back seam, tapering to 1/4″ at the waist, to stop the zipper from gaping.
2. Took in side seams at the waist over 1″.
3. Took out length in the front armscye around the princess dart to reduce gaping.
4. Lengthened the bodice front about 1/2″ to eliminate waist tilt.
Fellow sewers, do you find it weird when people compliment dresses and overlook handmade pants and buttoned shirts?
I guess dresses look more impressive, but in my experience, pants and buttoned shirts are a thousand times more challenging. More seams, more moving parts, more things to be fitted and it’s more obvious when it’s wrong.
I can whip up a t-shirt in an afternoon, a skirt in a day, a knit dress in a weekend, a woven dress in a week or two–and this shirt took over a year.
Now a lot of that is plain old procrastination, of the “this is going to take forever, I’ll just make a dress instead” kind. But a lot of it is that this is a very very involved project.
It has a lined yoke, hidden button placket, proper collar and cuffs, hem facing, and a tower sleeve placket.
Plus I also decided to make this my first-ever silk crepe de chine project, so everything is made with french seams–which means, they’re all sewn twice. And sewing marks couldn’t be made with a wheel or chalk so were instead made with tailor tacks.
I bought the silk, I think, two years ago. I cut out the pattern over a year ago. I spent one weekend making all the tailor tacks. Another weekend sewing together the main shirt pieces. A weekend messing up the collar. A day fixing the collar. Another weekend making and attaching the sleeves, and attaching the hem facing. A day doing the handstitching and fixing the collar (again). And then another evening finishing up the hand-sewing.
The collar still isn’t perfect–the only thing I could think of to interface it with that wouldn’t alter the colour (it’s pretty sheer) is itself, so that’s what I did, and it is a bit wobbly as a result. And the silk was very stretchy, slippery and fussy so some seams are not as neat as they could have been. But overall, I think, it’s pretty. Plus it’s red silk and such a classic style I should be able to wear it forever.
Sizing Notes and Alterations:
–I chose the size based on the bust measurement as it’s meant to be loose and drapey and will be tucked into things with a snug waist. Thus it’s a 14 all over. (Which is two sizes smaller than I’m supposed to be–I went by the finished measurements printed on the paper pattern.) It’s mostly ok. I had to add in another button on the front to keep it closed across the chest because the volume is all elsewhere, which is annoying. I’d have to think about how to fix that if I make it up again.
Still, if you are thinking of making up this pattern, you can probably size down by two and still have a loose, drapey blouse.
–I didn’t shorten the sleeves on this one. Instead, I tapered from a 14 at the shoulder to an 8 at the wrist (small bones), so that the cuff is small enough to keep the sleeve from slipping down my hand. This keeps it in the loose/drapey mold. I probably could have taken an inch off the length, though, and kept the drape.
Other than that, it is as the pattern had it, and it all worked out fine. Fussy, finicky, and forever, but fine.
According to Vogue, I am a size 16-18. The website lists only the back length and hem width for this pattern’s finished garment measurements. What’s a sewer to do?
After long experience with Vogue et al’s ridiculous ease issues, I cut a size 14, which was still too big.
I don’t know about all of you but I’m getting really sick of Big 4 fit and ease issues. It wouldn’t be so bad if they listed meaningful finished measurements on the website (and if those measurements were always accurate–but they’re not) so you could pick a size that fits based on published information somewhere. But it’s a shot in the dark every time. The Burda mag has ease issues too, but at least with the pattern in front of me before I trace/cut I can figure out which size is actually going to fit.
Rant aside: I made it work.
It’s a knit dress with a fitted two-piece yoke, an empire waist, and two-piece raglan sleeves with length options. I made view D.
Standard fixes for me:
1. Took about 3/8″ off the shoulder seam.
2. Took in about 1/4″ on the raglan seams, front and back.
3. Took in about 1 1/2″ on the top of the zipper, and nipped in quite a bit at the waist through the back seam. If I made this one again I’ll distribute it more but after edge stitching the yoke to the top and skirt, I didn’t want to unpick to take in at the sides.
4. Shortened the back yoke at the waist too. I’d rather have taken it out of the seams at the top and the skirt but, again, edgestitching.
Next time I’d also broaden the shoulders at the sleeves and widen the bodice front a bit. I’ve got those pleats stretched out pretty far and it’s not meant to be like that.
I used knit interfacing on the yoke pieces and sewed them up with a regular stitch rather than stretch or serge. The last thing I wanted was for the yoke/waist to bag out and that skirt is pretty heavy. So the waist is, so far as I can make it, not stretchy. That’s making what looks like pull lines–it’s not; it’s the interfacing letting go of the fabric after washing. I ironed it back on and it was fine. There’s also clear elastic all over the place. You can see it a bit at the shoulder seams, which I’m not 100% thrilled with, but anything that keeps it from becoming a bright red garbage bag through wear gets a thumbs up from me.
I think it’s going to be a perfect summer dancing dress.
There’s been a discussion on the McCalls FB group–several, actually–about BMV sizing and ease. So a slight rant extension:
Sizing charts put me at a 16-18, as stated.
This pattern is described as close-fitting.
According to the BMV ease charts, that means 0-3″ of ease at bust and hips.
That’s the manufacturer’s sample photo, which certainly shows very minimal ease.
Knit garments often have negative ease and rely on stretch for fit.
The pattern has 1 1/2″ of ease at the waist according to the pattern tissue, which should have meant a 29 1/2″ waist on a size 14.
But when you measure the tissue and subtract the seam allowances, it’s actually 30″. So that’s 2″ of ease at the waist on a close-fitting knit dress.
This pattern has the perfect confusion storm of wearing ease, design ease, and inaccurate finished measurements combining to create a pattern where it is impossible to know from any published information which size is going to fit.
With a dress like this, 2″ of ease at the waist is going to completely destroy the fit. There shouldn’t be any ease. In order to support the pleats in the top of the garment, the yoke pieces need to sit securely on the hips. In order to hold the weight of the skirt (particularly the flared one) the waist also needs to fit snugly, or the whole thing would just stretch out into a potato sack. A ponte might–might–be able to hold the structure with 2″ of wearing ease at the waist, on one of the sheath versions. But the lightweight jerseys recommended on the pattern? Or for the flared skirts? No. The only way they would hold the shape of the dress is if the yoke and waistband pieces are snug enough to rest the structure of the dress on the hips, and not just hang from the shoulders.
If I had cut the size 16 that I am supposed to be and sewn it up, it would have been a waste of my time and the fabric.
BMV, fix your damned issues, and stop gaslighting your customers. You have a sizing/ease problem. The only people who don’t see it have somehow convinced themselves that making a muslin first for every freaking pattern is a necessary state of affairs. God help me if I always started with the size you told me I’m supposed to be; nothing would ever fit.
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.
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:
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Overall it’s a fun pattern with some interesting details that make it a bit different–I mean, check out that side seam:
Such a small thing but a nice touch.
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.
After wearing it a bunch in the winter and spring, an update:
The neckband on this version does not stay flat. I am constantly pulling at the shoulders and sleeves to get it back to where it’s supposed to be. Particularly at the back of the neck, it is always riding up and needs to be tugged back down.
Which means that, despite how snug it is, it is actually not snug enough for that wide flat neckband. Version number two solves a lot of these issues, and you can read about it in this August post.
Be warned that this is a shirt pattern that does not work without a *lot* of negative ease, so if you aren’t a fan of tight knit t-shirts, this is not a pattern for you.
I altered the pattern tissue after my first attempt so I wouldn’t have to worry about remembering what needed to be changed, and on the August long weekend here in Ontario, I finally cut out that fabulous rainbow linen, and sewed it up on the Monday holiday.
And here it is almost November and I’m finally blogging it.
Am I the only sewer out there who persistently underestimates how long it’s going to take to actually sew something up? I had this idea Sunday night: “I’ll spend tomorrow sewing and then I’ll have a dress for Tuesday and salsa dancing!” And this was, technically, almost true, if one extends Monday by 45 minutes or so into Tuesday morning. I started after waking, and barring food and bathroom breaks, kept sewing all day, all through the evening, and into the wee hours of the next day.
But except for the interior tacking stitches of the bodice lining to the bodice, it is done. And I wore it to work on Tuesday and will wear it out salsa dancing.
Every alteration made to the tissue but one was exactly what I needed. The shoulders are just where I want them; the arms don’t gape or bubble anymore; the waistline doesn’t tilt and it sits just above my natural waist.
But I shaved off a little more from the waist itself than I should have. There’s lots of seams so it wasn’t hard to do.
Dear Readers, this dress is perfect, so long as I have no plans to breathe or eat.*
Unfortunately, I always have plans to both breathe and eat. Breathing and eating are always high on my list of priorities. I like oxygen, and I like food. So.
I’m calling it the Three Pounds Dress after Regina George in Mean Girls, because this dress would fit just perfectly if I lost three pounds.
Or so I assume. Given my aforementioned love of food, this 3-lb weight loss seems very unlikely.* Still, in theory, if it were to happen, the waistline of this dress would no longer be painful after consuming a meal. Anyway:
I LOVE IT.
Unintentionally constricting waist and all. I love the colours, I love the pleats, I love how it swishes when I walk (you’ll have to imagine that part; I have no video footage). It is just the dress I pictured when I bought the linen, which is a very gratifying feeling and makes up for the loss of sensation in my feet. (I kid.) As a kind-of-bonus, the waistline goof does make for a more interesting silhouette.
I am definitely going to risk losing consciousness and wear it out salsa dancing. If I do faint I have faith that some kind soul will pick me off the dance floor before I am trampled, and in the meantime, it’s going to be fun to twirl in.
*I ended up having a fairly stressful August/September and lost the 3 lbs despite myself, so now I get to breathe even when it is fully done up. Huzzah!
Thanks to the Golden Age of Introversion Online, I can trust that you will all know what I mean when I say that I am an introvert.
I score well into the 90s on any test measuring that trait. Go ahead, throw one at me: it’ll spit back a result roughly stating “you never leave your house, do you?”
Q: When you go to a party, do you …
A: [interrupts] A party? Are you out of your mind?
Q: When approaching a group of strangers …
A: [interrupts] Strangers. Oh god. Is hyperventilating an option?
You get the idea. An instinctual horror overtakes me at the idea of being in crowds, particularly crowds of people I don’t know, and especially particularly crowds of people I don’t know with whom I am expected to interact.
This made it extra fun when I got to organize public meetings for angry crowds of people I didn’t know with whom I was expected to interact, but that’s a story for another time.
I am also a bit of a goody two-shoes.
People are generally surprised when they hear me swear for the first time, having assumed that I would never do such a thing. I’ve never been drunk. The closest I’ve been to smoking is picking cigarette butts off the ground and putting them in the garbage. I’m a professional tree-hugger by trade and I tend to sign up for volunteering activities well beyond my time and mental resource capacities. I got straight As. And I’m one of those unfortunate people who tends not to consider that lying is an option when being asked a direct question until after I’ve answered it truthfully. My main hobbies are sewing and reading, for the love of god. Sewing and reading. Put a bonnet on my head and slap me back in 1850, why don’t you.
In fact, my reputation for goody-two-shoes-ness was so complete that druggy friends in highschool would use me as their mule. (“Can you hang on to this for me until third period? Thanks. Oh my god. Do my eyes look fucked? My eyes look fucked, don’t they? No one’s going to check your bag you look too innocent.”) (And they were right–no one ever checked my bag.)
But I did have one minor vice.
Using friends’ fake ID to sneak into nightclubs underage and go dancing.
(American friends, the legal age here is 19. So this was strictly a highschool endeavour as back then we all graduated at 19.)
Possibly alone amongst all of my nightclub-sneaking acquaintance, I’d go the bar and get a water and spend the night dancing. Because it was fun, and all-ages clubs were spectacularly lame–empty and boring, populated by the sad dregs of young people without fake IDs and older men with young-people fetishes. Ew. Sure the real thing was filled with letches with a blood alcohol level so high they didn’t even know they weren’t maintaining eye contact, not to mention the smoke that would take two showers to get out of your hair. The music was loud and the dance floor was packed.
Then I decided to do something super-smart and get married at a ridiculously young age to a guy who promised he loved dancing too and we would go out dancing all the time–and after the wedding ceremony reneged (on that and a pile of other things which shall remain nameless). And my friends stopped having so much fun at bars, and I had a kid, and the kid needed a fair bit of extra help, and then my friends had kids, and one thing let to another and almost 20 years passed without dancing, barring the odd wedding.
(Sometimes being a grown-up just sucks.)
Then my Dad got sick and family dysfunction exploded into new shrapnel-laden patterns and Frances’s hips got worse and we were told she would need reconstruction surgery and I decided that this would be the absolute perfect time to just go out dancing with strangers.
“Oh my god this is such fucking bullshit. This year is a bullshit monkey that can suck on an elephant’s balls I am so sick of this. No embroidery in the world is going to distract me from this overwhelming mountain of fucking bullshit and its bullshit spawn. Either I am going to punch this year in the fucking face or I am going out.”
I went out. I found a meet-up group for dancing lessons and just showed up in a room of strangers and started learning the bachata. I did not even know what the bachata was. Now I do. It’s a 4-step latin dance. There has also been some swing dancing, involving a lot of spinning, which is fun, even when I trip over my feet and/or fall over. If no one gets a concussion or loses a limb, I count it a success. (The secret to happiness is often having a low bar.)
As a result, almost every free weekend night for the past month-plus has been taken up with dancing. With strangers and near-strangers. It has been a very effective distraction.
My one issue being:
An almost complete lack of going-out clothes.
I don’t buy clothes anymore and everything I’ve made myself for the past few years, that one dress excepted which yes has now actually seen the outside of the house, has been either for work or for casual wear. I’m not even sure what counts as dancing-wear for the 40-something set. (Going shopping for some brings to mind that scene from Sisters–you know the one.)
So when I haven’t been out dancing, I have been home sewing clothes for dancing. My poor neglected pile of library books remains noticeably un-shrunk.
Which brings me, at incredibly long last, to V1353:
(Andrea’s Prologues! Now 10% longer, with added swearing!)
Here is the first try:
The fabric is a mid-weight linen/rayon blend bought last year at Fabricland, lined with a poly/rayon that I’ve decided I really like as it is mostly rayon and not at all slippery, unlike bemberg. Easy to sew with, presses beautifully, dirt cheap.
This is a test version, so I made a few obvious adjustments to the pattern–grading between a 14 at the waist and an 18 at the hips and bust, then adding another inch at the bust to the side front piece, plus an extra 1/2″ to the shoulders–but otherwise left it alone to see how it would work up. The instructions were clear and worked well, all the notches matched, and it mostly fit.
I do recommend basting the shoulders together quickly before adding the lining to see how it fits. A few more changes at that point:
1. removed 1″ from each centre back seam, tapering to 1/4″ at the waist, to stop it from gaping. I could have taken out a smidge more and will for version #2.
2. Took in side seams at the waist about 1″ (1/4″ per piece). Will take in a bit more from the next version. The bodice is quite loose.
3. Need to take out some at the armscye between the front and side front pieces–a bit too gapey. Also need to lengthen the front piece on the next version as it’s just a bit too high to hit the waist properly in the front. Since technically it isn’t supposed to hit my waist at all this isn’t a pattern error–but thanks to being bizarrely short-waisted, it does hit my waist in the back and I’d rather lengthen the front to match than shorten the back.
Then hours upon hours of hand-sewing to finish internal seams plus the saddle-stitching, which is a nice touch but does take forever.
I love it, and have a fabric and lining all picked out for version #2–this brilliantly fabulous lightweight linen which just screams dancing dress. (For sure it does not scream business suit or casual summer shorts.)
I’ve yet to see any bad versions of this pattern on the interwebz, so it seems a pretty safe bet and like it suits a variety of body sizes and types. I’ve noticed that for those who posted their tweaks and fixes as part of their review, taking an inch out of the top of the back centre seam on each side seems like a consistent alteration, so be warned.
Who knew I would finally have a valid excuse to sew up a bunch of dresses?
*I don’t think they do, actually. But bonus points if you recognize the source of the quote.