Saturday, July 2, 2011

The big reveal - Hot Summer Sherbet Dress!

Dun dun daaaaaa!

I finished something! And it's wearable! I'm pleased as punch, which is about the color of the dress I've finished. Take a look!

Not bad, eh? A little wrinkled, because as soon as I finished painstakingly hand-stitching down the facings, I rushed in the truck over to the vintage store that my sewing friend owns so that I could show it off to her. She is a wonderful lady. I started chatting with her once while browsing around her shop, and she told me she could answer my sewing questions from time to time. Poor nice lady, I'm taking her up on the offer every chance I get. And not only does she happily answer my questions when she's getting coffee at the shop where I work (I never let her just order and move on - that would be a missed opportunity), but she gifted me some free fabric last time she was in. A gift! It's some sort of beautiful silk in a white and brown dashed pattern - sort of like herringbone. She's just too nice.

Back to the dress. It's the McCall's 8305 in the linen/flax/? that my mom sent me. Thank you Mom! I think I've used it well. Oh and the earrings? They're from Mom too. Over all I am very proud of this dress. It may look quite simple, but I really took my time with it. The first big obstacle was the set-in sleeves, which I've never done before. I read Casey's tutorial here, and then promptly ignored some key directions. For example, Casey instructs you to do two lines of basting to gather the seam allowance. I read that and thought, "Two, why two? I'll just do one." If directions don't explain their logic to me, I'm likely to take the short cut. Well, turns out there is a reason for two lines of basting: It makes it easier. There. That's all I needed! Well, now I know. If you have two lines of basting, you are better able to control the excess in the seam allowance. Simple as that. Also, Casey told me to turn my dress inside out and insert the sleeve into the armhole so that it is inside the dress while you sew the two together. I didn't do that either. Turns out, that makes things easier too. Maybe I'll listen next time.

Here's something Casey doesn't say: you should hand baste the sleeve when you are attaching it to the bodice. She tells you that you can either do it by hand or with the machine, but there's no way I could have gotten it right first time with the machine. I tried and failed. Once I hand basted it though, it went in beautifully. So don't be lazy! Besides. It doesn't really take that long to baste around an armhole.

yeah, I see you lookin at my sleeve
Other things I did for the first time - I did a hand-picked zipper, referencing Tasia's helpful photos. Mostly I'm just afraid to try the zipper foot on my machine. I did once before, and I remember it went badly. I have a fear of invisible zipper from Sunni's horror stories (scroll down near the bottom). Apparently, you can't ever iron the zipper or baaad things will happen. Hopefully that won't happen here. I didn't stabilize my zipper either (like Sunni recommends), and I hope I don't regret it later.

Last of all, I finished the hem with pretty laces and I stitched all the facings down by hand. The facings were kinda a pain. My facings never match perfectly to the neckline of the garment. The should seams are always off and they always turn out too long or too short in the back. Or in this case, I thought they were too long, so I trimmed them, and then somehow they were too short. Oh well. I did discover, though, that it is much easier to stitch the facings while the dress is on a dress form - or in this case, on Eileen:

She may be made of duct tape, and she may have a slight uni-boob which is also slightly crooked, but she's a good stunt double. Sewing the rounded facings down works much nicer when they are lying on a rounded surface. I also adjusted the darts while the dress was on Eileen. I guess that might seem like an obvious thing to someone who works with a dress form all the time, but I don't use Eileen too often. And instead of just pinning the darts, I basted them by hand. Again, it hardly took any time, it was much easier to try on after (no pins to stick me), and I was able to sew over the basting quickly once I saw that it was a good fit.

So that's the story of my first finished dress! I think it's a success, and I would definitely like to use this pattern again. Black or navy? With a tapered skirt instead of A-line? Lots of possibilities!

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