Totally discouraged…

I’ve been hard at work on my slow-moving self-drafted shirtdress, creating bound buttonholes for the spaces the collar passes through before tying, making french seams everywhere, double checking all the darts so they all line up, and finally I tried it on last night to check the hem and button placement.

And it’s horrible. Dumpy, unflattering, and just bad.

All I could think of was Trena’s “prison matron” dress, and like hers, mine’s got pockets, but that’s about it. I don’t even know if I can bring myself to finish it, but it’s sitting on my dressform for a while so I can mull over whether any of it is even salvageable. I just know there’s no way in hell I’m ripping out a million french seams! It’s got nothing to do with the Pattern Magic directions, as the collar is okay, it’s all down to the fit of the rest of the dress…

And the shirting is Prada, too! *whinge* And I made three muslins! *whinge* I did everything right, and the dress is just so very wrong. Which mostly discourages me from pattern drafting altogether. I mean, what’s the point in pattern drafting if the fit is worse than what I get straight off a pattern sheet? Because, really, Burda, Knip, and even Manequim fit me straight off the sheet, no alterations needed. Do I really need the extra hassle in my life to end up with a sub-par result even with all my designer finishing techniques? Am I happy to never be a pattern designer? These are the sort of questions I’m asking myself right now anyway.

Nude sheath dress in progress

I’ve been working on the partner to my grey tweed jacket, Vogue 8576 in a nude, pale pink poly/viscose stretch suiting I bought from Totally Fabrics during one of their fantastic sales.

I usually detest tracing Vogue patterns since their tissue paper is so flimsy, utterly enormous and so unwieldy to work with, but this one was surprisingly small since there’s only one view so no need for tons of extraneous pieces. Still not as easy as tracing KnipMode’s compact newsprint, for instance, but not enough to put me off sewing Vogue for months on end like it did previously!

The overall shape of this dress is quite simple, but it’s cut up into a ton of triangles and curves that can be tricky to visualise. So my first step was to lay them all out and see how they went together (seam allowances are included here so they don’t line up nicely like I’m used to though).

Planning Sewing Partnerships

In an attempt to get myself to focus on pairing up the lovely (and overflowing) fabrics I’ve got on hand with the lovely (and overflowing) patterns I’ve got on hand, I did a bit of mental and virtual pairing using my scanned catalogues of fabric and patterns and a bit a Photoshop wizardry. I don’t particularly like doing SWAP wardrobes as they’re so rigid they end up feeling like a chore by about the third garment, so instead I wanted to focus on partnerships of fabrics and garments that could go with each other.

The first is the most straightforward: a skirt and blouse combo.

The skirt is one from last October’s KnipMode and features two big chunky zippers on the wide waistband. I just took the plunge and bought two fantastic brass teethed ones with big ring pulls from Zipperstop’s eBay store, only to find out that the brown colour in their photo was actually bright purple. They’ll now definitely be a “feature”!. The blouse is from my beloved August issue and is the Marni catwalk clone – I’ll be sewing that in some pewter silk charmeuse from Goldhawk Road that really brings out the blue in the skirt’s wool flannel.

Patterns from a suitcase

My mom arrived on Friday morning, bearing a ridiculous amount of American cookies, candies, chocolates, cakes, and kitty treats, but also a few patterns that were on my wish list!

Vogue 1109 is a Sandra Betzina pattern for a knit top/tunic with really interesting seam lines. It kinda feels expected for all sewers to love SB without question, but to be honest, I don’t find her “all that” and this is the first pattern of hers I’ve even remotely liked (though not in either of those fabric choices, ugh) so I wanted to give it a try.

Simplicity 2647 is a knit dress with varying lengths and bodice treatments, but I really liked the short version with the wrapped side even though it’s quite similar to a Vogue pattern I already have.

Reddy, Set, Sew!

When I visited the States last summer, I bought lots of fabric but did very little clothes shopping, despite everything being so cheap on the “dollar discount”. The only garment purchase I did make was a simple black top from the Issac Mizrahi for Target range, and I’ve absolutely worn it to death in the past year. I was really excited to see that Vogue 8305 contains a shirt absolutely identical to my Target one, so I thought I’d give it a go in some inexpensive red cotton jersey to check the fit and construction before cutting into anything more expensive in the future.

Mock Frock

After seeing celeb after celeb wearing Roland Mouret’s fantastic Galaxy dress and spouting the true wonders of its inner spandex core, I was very excited to see that Vogue produced its own version of the Galaxy dress, Vogue 8280, and I bought it immediately.

Fast forward several months and I finally had the time (and the small waist!) to make this dress using the gorgeous grey tartan wool I’d bought especially for it alongside the pattern. It took me two days of sewing after quite a bit of prep work, but I thoroughly enjoyed making this dress and I absolutely love the end result! It may not have the magical spandex core, but it does have a fully lined bodice and a neat skinny belt I made to further acentuate the nipped-in waist.

Not your average von Trapp dress

As you may have already read, I started work on a sheath dress made from a 1960s dress pattern. I am happy to report that the dress is now finished, though the end result bears little resemblance to the pattern sketch. Mostly because the pattern sketch does not show a sack of potatoes. Once again I fell into the trap of being entranced by the lovely, stylish drawings on the fronts of vintage patterns, choosing to ignore the little voice in my head that knows you can only trust a photograph on these kinds of things.

60s sheath dress

Last night I started work on this lovely square-neck 60s sheath dress pattern that my mother bought for me at a flea market somewhere in deepest, darkest Pennsylvania: