Sew Grateful dress last year. And when I started working on it then, it was already a UFO.
I feel bad saying it, but I won't lie. Through most of the process, I kind of hated making this. Mostly it was because of the skirt. Usually full skirts are the easy part--not this time. I don't know why I thought making 72 tiny pleats (yes--that's how many there are), all lined up exactly on their lines, would be anything less than pure torture, but... Really, the skirt is what made this take so damn long. (Well, there's also a ridiculous amount of hand-sewing on the dress, but that I don't mind at all. In this case, it was actually quite relaxing to do, after everything else.)
But I also wasn't very into making this because, well, it's not really something I felt I'd want to wear anymore. I started working on the dress about a year and a half ago, and I've changed a bit since then. I still love shirtwaist dresses, but the rest... Those pleats do look nice, but they're not really me... I look better in dark colors than light... The bodice was looking way too big (and ultimately I cut four inches off the bottom, raising the skirt, and that helped a bit. Of course I didn't do this until after I'd already installed the zipper the first time).
Also, when I first saw this fabric, it was folded inside-out. I fell in love with the wrong side. It wasn't until much later that I realized it was the wrong side, though. Probably most people wouldn't be able to tell--it takes rather close inspection--but I can tell, and that's the kind of thing that bugs me. So I made the dress the right side out, even though it's the reverse that I really wanted. Oh, well.
Simplicity 3486. The fit still isn't quite right. (I wonder if that's partly down to the fabric--it has a loose weave and is pretty wiggly, so I wonder if it stretched/expanded a bit.) And I'm sure that part of the reason the waist fits a bit big is that I changed up the construction of the skirt. I wanted to use the selvedges as raw edges, and I wanted my pleats to be the width of the stripes, and fortunately that worked out to be fairly close to my actual waist measurement, but I definitely didn't make this one to measure the way I normally would. And it definitely needs to be worn with a belt.
And... the armscyes. As always, the main issue. I still haven't gotten them quite right. They feel great when I'm sitting or standing normally, but I spend a lot of time reaching forward, and that puts a strain on the back and causes digging in in the front. It isn't too bad, compared to some other things I've made. I'll keep working on it, though.
|(I don't know what I'm doing here. Demonstrating reaching forward? I never know where to put my arms in side-angles.)|
So. Why is this my Sew Grateful dress? A couple summers ago, I unexpectedly got an email from another Portland woman, Arellis, who read my blog. She was cleaning out her stash and wondered if I'd like any of the fabric. This was one of the pieces she gave me.
At that point, I had posted on the Sew Weekly site a couple times, maybe left a few comments here and there. My blog probably only had a very few comments, too. I hadn't really made any connections. Aside from people who work for local sewing-related businesses, she was the first seamstress I'd met in real life via the online sewing community. (And is, in fact, still the only seamstress I've met in real live via the online sewing community.) And she's also the only person (aside from my aunt) to ever have said to me, oh hey do you want some of this fabric? and just given it to me. I remember it was very startling--in a pleasant way, of course--for me to get that first email. I was surprised not only that she'd found me, but also that she'd picked me, and considered that I was a worthy recipient of her stash pieces.
Also, kind of--the buttons. They're from my mom. They were salvaged from some other (RTW) garment that she was getting rid of. She doesn't like to give me fabric--she thinks I have too much, and is probably correct--but I've gotten a lot of buttons from her this way. I'm pretty sure these are real shell. (The backs certainly look genuine.) There were only four, and initially I worried that wouldn't be enough, but I think they look fine.
(These weren't my first choice of buttons, but I picked the original ones to match the wrong side of the fabric. And now I actually think this is a better match than the first pairing was, anyway.)
That said, I can't decide if I prefer this with the self-made belt or with the little black one. Any thoughts?
Here are a whole bunch of detail photos:
|(This isn't the best zipper I've ever done; far from it. But with all the pleats, and the way the fabric comes out below, it was quite difficult. I'm extremely proud of how well I wound up hiding it.)|
|(This isn't really detail. But! It's the wrong side of the fabric. Isn't it cool?)|
|(Well, this isn't detail, either, but in case you wanted to see the right side of the dress, on a hanger...)|
|(And here's the back. This time with me in it.)|
|(More innards. At left is the hem, and you can also see the side seam. The skirt's folded up so that on the right, you can see the inside of the pleats at the waist, as well.)|
|(I even matched the insides of the cuffs. This is the underside--the cuff's folded down (or not folded up?), and the seam here was stitched by hand.)|
|(This is not just a gratuitous photo of me smiling. It's also a nice close-up of the collar and bodice.)|
And here are the project details:
Pattern: Simplicity 3486 from Knittn' Kitten, used before so free.
Year: late 50s/early 60s?
Notions: four shell buttons, salvaged, from Mom, free; zipper maybe $.50; two packages of rayon seam tape, say $.40; shell buckle, say $.50; 1 yard belting, let's make it a round number and say $.60--all from stash. (And yes, these are realistic costs, about how much I would expect to pay if I bought these same things, from the same places, now.)
Made before: This is my third time. (With variations, of course.)
Make again: Probably I'll wait a while again, but it's a shirtwaist dress, so eventually, I'm sure, yeah.
Sewing soundtrack: No idea. It's been quite a while.
First worn: Not yet; just for photos.
Wear again: Yes.
Total cost: $2.00