Tuesday, May 24, 2011

THE DRESS - a saga

A long time ago, way back in the before time, I fell in love with this pattern from Burdastyle:

It's so billowy and summery and romantic. So breezy! So cool!

This was last summer, and I couldn't get the pattern out of my head. Then, months later on a trip to Louisville, Josh kindly allowed me to spend some time at Hancock Fabrics (which is as good as it gets within two hours of Bloomington), and I came home with some beautiful soft, soft, soft, linen in a light blue than verged on aqua. Here it is, and please excuse the poor photo. I'm not sure how to best photograph fabrics.

You'll just have to take my word for it. It's very lightweight, for linen at least, and soft as a baby blanket. Really. It feels wonderful. So with this beautiful fabric in hand and the pattern of desire in mind, I became transfixed on the idea of melding the two into one.

Now you may be thinking, "Are you delusional? That fabric is still way to heavy to handle all those pintucks (or whatever-you-call-ums)." And you are probably right. The linen is still not as lightweight as the cotton in the photo. Could it handle all those tiny tucks? With the school year underway and no time to actually sew, I literally spent the better part of a year debating and anguishing over this dilemma. Until I found this pattern:

Simplicity 8236
Kinda similar, right? Not as many tucks, and maybe more feasible in this fabric. But wait! I really wanted that scoop neck, the crocheted flowers on the collar, all the details of the original pattern. It was so perfect. Could I really settle for a substitute?


So, as foolish as this might seem for someone who has yet to sew a single truly successful garment (aside from some bloomers maybe), I decided to do a pattern mashup AND teach myself embroidery so that I can make this dress exactly how I envisioned. Maybe I'm crazy, but I'm taking this so slowly it just might work. I made a muslin over spring break:

Well let's face it. It's not spectacular. But it's also made from some cotton which (although it looks beautiful) is not suitable for actually wearing. Screw you Joann fabrics. There. I said it. But the overall fit is okay, and it will probably hang much nicer when it's in my beautiful linen and when my arms aren't in the air like an idiot. Also, this one was before I decided to do the mashup, and it doesn't have the scooped neck. While I don't have a photo for it now, I successfully managed to do the scoop neck on this pattern and have cut out and sewn up the front of the dress in the linen - hooray! It could have gone horribly, but it didn't. But now I can't move forward til I learn to embroider. Which brings us to this:

Anchors away!
and with a hunky arm to fill it out...

My first embroidery project. A pinup sailor girl from Sticher's Revolution SR10 Sailor's Delight on a shirt that probably cost about a dollar at Salvation Army. Let me just say, embroidery is probably one of the easiest crafts to pick up. You don't need a lot of supplies, it's not very expensive, and doing something like this is relatively simple. I'm not saying I'm a pro already, but I think this looks decent and means I can move forward on embroidering the neckline of my linen dress. There is a little puckering here, and I'm worried about stretching the linen with an embroidery hoop, but I will find a way to tackle that. There's plenty of resources online on how to execute different embroidery stitches. Here's one I found useful: Needle 'n Thread. I also discovered a blog which specializes in embroidered pinups, which is awesome: Sew Lovely Embroidery. They also have an Etsy shop where you can purchase their lovely patterns, which are so much better than the cutesy barfy stuff you find elsewhere. And then there's also Sublime Stitching, which has great resources, transfer patterns, and books to help you out. I purchased one used off of Amazon to get me going.

This post is getting way to long, and I need to wake Josh up and go jogging and not sit on this couch all day. But I did tell you it's a saga. To sum it up...

This dress is gonna happen, even if it takes all summer.
Embroidery is my new friend. It's relaxing, portable, easy to do while watching a show. I highly recommend giving it a shot.

The next installment - hopefully I will choose a design for embroidering my dress and have more photos to show.

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