vintage

In defense of internet friends and finishing WIPs

First, an update: I won! I was on the ballot for School Board Director in my township and I was actually the top vote getter for any race in the township. My colleagues on the slate with me won as well and now we are not only the endorsed Democrats, but the winning Democrats who will go on to run in the general election in November. Thank you so much for your support! (If you want to check out me and my running mates, see who we are and what we’re about and, if you feel so inclined, help fund our campaign you can do that at votelmsd.org.)

Now, sewing! The dress I’m going to show you today has a lot of different angles so I’m going to try my best to just do it chronologically. This has been over a year in the making so forgive me if some of the details are blurry.

A while back I found this vintage-ish simplicity pattern. It’s old enough that there aren’t a lot of copies floating around but new enough that it’s not in high demand in the vintage market so info was pretty scarce. It’s from 1996. Does a 23 year old pattern make it vintage? Anyhow, here’s the cover illustration:

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Let’s just say I was pretty liberal in my alterations. I redrafted the bodice to eliminate the center section and make the bodice one piece. I omitted the patch pockets and used my favorite pocket bags from the True Bias Southport dress to add inseam pockets. I ignored the patterned skirt and just used as much width as I possibly could since it was a gathered skirt and I wanted it full. And I lined/underlined the whole thing in the weirdest, fly by the seat of my pants kind of way. (Read a book to learn the proper methodology? Pah!) Also, I trusted the pattern illustration which I never do because it’s what the designer wanted it to look like and not how the drafter actually made it. Had I to do that over again I’d lower both the waistline (which is almost at my bra band) and the neckline (which is borderline choking me, which I hate. Turtlenecks and I are not friends.). I think I got this pattern for $1 at a thrift store in Austin with my mother in law but I’m not sure so let’s just go with it.

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Anyone who tells you that internet friends are not real friends are some combination of dumb, wrong, oblivious and obnoxious. In this case, my lovely friend Bianca (whose blog you should totally read. She makes the most wonderful clothes and she is just an all around fantastic human being.) just offered me up some Liberty fabric she had cluttering up her stash and wasn’t going to use. If you sew, you know what a gift this was. She gave me the wild floral I used here and some Carline poplin that, inspired by another favorite internet friend Roisin, will someday become a half shirtdress with as full a gathered skirt as I have yardage for. Unfortunately this fabric was just too sheer and fray prone for me to leave it unlined. So I went to my ever trusty Gaffney Fabrics who just so happened to have the perfect pink cotton voile on sale for something like $2 or $3 a yard. I thanked my lucky stars and frolicked on out of there.

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Like I said before, I made up a way to line this dress that confused even me. I figured I could put the bodice and bodice lining right sides together and sew the neck and sleeve hems and then turn the thing out and have it perfect. Turns out that’s a recipe for a date with the seam ripper and a year in the naughty box. I did have a cool way of finishing the hem that I’m rather proud of. First, you lengthen the main skirt by depth of the facing you want on the inside. Then shorten the lining by the same amount. Stitch hems right sides together, (my lining was nondirectional but if yours isn’t make sure you aren’t sewing it on upside down once it gets folded back). Press seam allowance towards the main fabric. Pin the top edge of the skirt and skirt lining wrong sides together at the waist seam, your facing will show on the lining side at the hem, and press. I hate hemming and will figure out all sorts of creative ways to avoid it, especially if they mean no measuring.

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I then had the pockets to deal with. In the end I serged the edges of the skirt pieces before sewing them together and finished the seam allowance of the pockets in self-made bias tape from the lining fabric.

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I didn’t do anything fancy at the waist (I used slippery thread and two rows of gathering stitches in four sections) but my gathers came out so pretty and perfect I’m going to make you look at them.

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So what do I think about this dress? I think it actually looks pretty amazing. It also feels amazing on. That said, I feel like I’m really nitpick on this one. The neck is too high and the back is a bit tight (I often have this problem, especially with dolman styles. I really just do better with a set in sleeve.). The waistline is too high (and this coming from someone who loves things to hit at a natural waistline, not where I like pants to hit/high hip) which also means my pockets are too high. This doesn’t look off but can feel that way. The waist taught me to never judge a make without a bra on. I finished at night and whipped it on and almost cried. A bra and some daylight made a world of difference. A belt really brings it together and defines the waist in a way I really like. Without one it is super comfy and I feel like I’m channeling another internet super friend, Shannon, who has been on a sack dress kick. My favorite parts are the fabric (so soft and breathable) and those perfect gathers and the shape they make on my body. In the future I’ll be looking at silhouettes with a heavily gathered skirt and without dolman sleeves. Will I make this one again? Probably not. Will I wear it all the time? Oh hell yes.

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