a carefree mind of her own (the Seamwork Veronica dress)

Seamwork Veronica

Hey, a new dress! This is the Seamwork Veronica (with the subscriber modifications, plus more than a few of my own).

Anyway, back to the dress! Obviously, I had to add pockets:

Seamwork Veronica pockets

When I saw the subscriber modifications (specifically, the front panels for the skirt), my first thought was “pockets!” and my second thought was “STRIPES!”.

This fabric is a heavyish cotton knit with moderate stretch, so I fused some tricot knit interfacing to the pocket backing to keep them from pulling out of shape too much. I also zig-zagged some clear elastic along the pocket opening edge (although from this picture it looks as if I could have pulled it a bit tighter).

I added gathers to the center front and the center back to add some extra ease, and lengthened the back skirt about 3/4″ for a BBA (bubble-butt adjustment):

Seamwork Veronica back

Because it’s a knit fabric I didn’t have to put in the back zipper (the dress goes on fine without one). When I make this again I might cut that piece on the fold to get rid of the center back seam entirely.

Also because this is knit, I didn’t do facings—I did bindings instead. I used my tried-and-true “eyeball it” method and ended up cutting the neck binding about two inches shorter than the neck measurement, which seemed to work fine:

Seamwork Veronica neckband

The same technique worked for the sleeve bindings:

Seamwork Veronica bodice

There are a few more refinements I would like to make—the waist elastic is a bit bulky (even though I used a thinner fabric for the inside casing). I might try it with sew-through elastic next time to get a more even gather. The stripes are a bit off on the front waistband—I thought about cutting it on the bias and stabilizing it with interfacing, but I was too lazy. It would have been a cool effect … Sewing the waistband was definitely the trickiest bit, especially with this fabric. I am sure it would have been easier with a lightweight woven.

The bodice could also be shorter by about an inch, because the weight of the skirt pulls it downward and you don’t get the nice blousy effect you see in the pattern photos.

I’m surprised that this worked as well as it did because the pattern is not really intended for knits (  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ) and I changed it *so* much. I made it in a rush because I needed a comfy knit dress for a couple of looooooong plane trips. It held up fantastically, and looked just as good getting off the plane as it did getting on.

Next version is definitely going to be a gray sweatshirt knit, possibly with piping along those front panels, and I’m also planning on making it in a blue-and-white woven seersucker (because you really can’t have TOO MANY striped dresses).

Anyone else sewn this pattern? What were your modifications?

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Today’s Pattern Story: Simplicity 1374

Simplicity-1374

Mavis: I spent all last night sharpening my sleeve-wings—if I don’t draw first blood in this year’s Dirigible Dollies Derby, I’m just going to plop myself right down and cry!

Doris: Don’t worry, dear, I’m sure you’ll shred the other girls—you always do! Fingers crossed that this is the year I take the Puppy Picnic Princess crown!

Mavis: Either way, we go halfsies on the judge, right?

Doris: You betcha! I think he’s almost recovered from last year.

(Pattern available from LadyMarlowePatterns.)

Purge 2017: The Final Few

So I was about to wrap up everything for the Great Dress Purge of 2017 when I realized that I had never taken/posted pictures of the dresses that didn’t have any. (Oops!) And needless to say, those pigs in pokes were not bought.

So I’m going to keep the Purge open another week, and here are those last few unpictured dresses waiting for new homes:

(UPDATE: this one is taken) The lollipop-tree dress (number 14):
Lollipop Trees Dress

This dress has a center-back zip, a rarity for me (I have a stiff shoulder that makes reaching to the middle of my back a hilarious, Mr.-Bean-esque activity):
lollipop trees dress back

(UPDATE: this one is taken) This is the “Sherbet seersucker Frankendress”, number 18:

sherbet seersucker Frankendress

I didn’t *quite* match the stripes at the waist seam:
sherbet seersucker Frankendress front waist

But there’s a nice seafoam-green zipper, if you like that sort of thing:
sherbet seersucker Frankendress zipper

(UPDATE: this one is also taken) Here is the ‘abstract windows shirtdress’, number 37:
city windows shirtdress

And a better view of the print:
city windows shirtdress

And last but not least, the ‘black pink/gray/yellow floral Heidi’, number 10:
pink and yellow roses Heidi

All the dresses (and their measurements) still available are here (four left!), and the form to request one is here, and all the other details and frequently-asked-questions are here. Just a reminder, all dresses are US$20 each (plus shipping) and I’ll be donating half of the proceeds to Chicago Books for Women in Prison.

ALL DRESSES HAVE POCKETS. (Everyone seen this thread?)

light-hearted I take to the open road

I’ve been doing more traveling again, so I thought perhaps I would do a little travel-stuff roundup of things that have been making that traveling easier lately.

I’ve carried one of these portable power bars for years, but I guess they’ve been discontinued (and that model, used, is selling for >$300, which is frankly ridiculous). The same company makes a smaller, cheaper one now—for $6, it’s worth checking out:

These are a lifesaver in airports—instead of fighting over an outlet, you can share and make friends! They’re also great in hotel rooms where they have inexplicably used up precious outlets by the bedside table with useless things like clock-radios.

Speaking of hotel rooms and their terrible outlet placement, I recently splurged on a set of extra-long lightning cables, which are fantastic if you like to use your phone as an alarm clock and charge it overnight—unless your hotel room is truly palatial, a ten-foot charging cord will let you keep the phone on the bedside table no matter where the nearest outlet is.

For long flights, I also just got one of these:

If you (like me) are just a little too short to rest your feet comfortably in an airline seat this thingumbob is amazing! The strap goes over the tray table arms (so be aware that it won’t work in an exit seat where the tray tables are in the armrest) and it’s very quick to set up and adjust. (You can fold the tray table up with it in place, too.) It is not super-sturdy (I had to reinforce the stitching where the straps meet the sling) and if you have very large feet you might feel constricted, but $14 for a MUCH more comfortable flight is completely worth it.

I was worried that it might be annoying to the person in front of me, but nobody on my flights turned around and gave me the stink-eye. The flight attendants didn’t seem bothered by it either, and it’s way better than the tiny stepstool I was using before (not joking).

Other things I take when I travel:

  • a stainless steel water bottle (gets less gunky than plastic, less likely to break in my backpack)
  • a travel coffee press (you can make cold brew with it!)
  • a travel yoga mat (this folds up pretty small and it has 100% improved my daily yoga practice compliance when traveling)
  • a large handkerchief or bandana (I like the excuse to use my Liberty ones, but any cotton handkerchief will do)
  • for very long flights I really like this travel pillow—it’s inflatable, so you’re not carrying a floppy drool-soaked foam donut around—and I think it’s less likely to give you a crick in your neck)

I also take a 4×6 soft mesh zip bag (I think I got it at Ichiban Kan), and while I’m waiting in the security line, I dump all the junk in my pockets (pen, notebook, phone, wallet, lip balm, handkerchief, change, etc.) into the bag, and then pop the bag into my backpack to go through the actual scanner. (Way more secure than those little bowls, especially if you’re pulled out for extra screening and can’t keep an eye on your stuff.)

Probably everyone in the universe is using packing cubes right now (but if you aren’t, I like these) but I’m excited to try compression cubes on my next trip.  I’ll report back!

If you’re a gadget-lover in general, you’ll probably enjoy Recomendo, a Cool Tools-style newsletter full of neat stuff (and apps and sites).

Anything you can’t travel without? Leave a comment!

It’s the only way to live/In cars

Once again I reflexively reached for the bodice from Simplicity 2389 and that BurdaStyle Heidi skirt:
Liberty Cars dress

This one is Liberty print—a piece of fabric I have had for a long time. I think this pattern is from 2009, but I’m not sure; it could be earlier.

Liberty cars dress piping

Ironically, it was purging so many dresses that finally led me to cut into this long-hoarded fabric … even the fabrics that I loved the most (yeah, looking at you, popsicle print) only gave me a kind of “happy to have known you” feeling as I packed them up to ship them to new wearers.

So with this empirical evidence reassuring me that it is unlikely that I will wish I’d saved some special fabric for some theoretically ‘better’ use*, snip snip went the scissors into this Liberty!

Liberty cars dress back

I’ve worn this a couple times so far and it has made me very happy. Beep!

(Oh, and speaking of the Dress Purge of 2017 … there are a few dresses left, but August 6 I will be sending whatever hasn’t been purchased off to Goodwill and tallying up the totals.)

(*also it looks like this fabric is still available from third-party sellers in a different colorway)

The Purge (2017)

It’s been forever since I posted, I know—sheesh, 2017, amirite?—and I just moved house, which of course has everything topsy-turvy. (I have *almost* got my new sewing space sew-able, though.)

As part of moving I had to round up all the random plastic tubs of fabric and dresses I had cached all over the old house like some kind of textile squirrel, and all I can say is … whoa. It’s pretty easy to say “oh, I don’t have that much stuff” when you can only see one or two bins at a time, but when moving them takes double-digit trips (in a Honda Fit, but still), saying “I don’t have that much stuff” only provokes bitter, bitter laughter.

So: I’m purging! Very, very slowly, but still … and, as the zeitgeist would have it, I’m getting rid of the things that don’t “spark joy”. Some of what I’m letting go is fabric (mostly I’m giving to local swaps and Goodwill but I’ve put some up on Etsy, here), and some of what I’m letting go is vintage (still trying to figure out what to do with vintage when you’re way too busy/lazy to list it online the way it should be listed), but some of it is dresses I’ve sewn myself.

I’ve always had a hard time letting go of dresses I’ve sewn, for one reason or another. Part of it is that, well, I really LIKE them—I wouldn’t have made them, otherwise. Part of it is of course the ‘sunk cost fallacy’: “I spent X hours and Y dollars on this, I should keep it until I figure out what to do with it … “. And of course there are all the same reasons that anyone keeps clothes they no longer wear regularly: “I might fit into this again someday/I might need it/I might take it apart and make something else out of it/I have wonderful memories of wearing this” and so on.

And a large part of it is that I feel that handmade dresses should be worn by people who will appreciate them!

People have often asked me to sell (or make replicas) dresses I’ve made and featured here, but sewing isn’t my job, it’s my hobby. So I don’t do custom work and I don’t have a dress or alterations shop. I usually point people towards the Association of Sewing and Design Professionals and go on my merry way.

All this is, of course, a long lead-up to me saying, “Hey! There are bunch of dresses I’ve made that I no longer have physical or psychological space for—would you by chance want one?”

I’ve put them all in a Google Spreadsheet here. Most of them are linked to blog posts where they were featured; a few I’m still trying to track down. (You could treat those as grab-bag or lucky-dip dresses if you want!)

I’m not trying to make a bazillion dollars here, so every dress is $20, plus USPS Priority Mail flat-rate shipping. I will ship internationally (with the warning that it will be expensive, and you’ll be on the hook for any customs duties).

If you see a dress you like, fill out THIS FORM with the dress you want and your email and mailing address, and I will send you a Paypal invoice for the $20 plus whatever shipping costs to wherever you live. Then you have a week to pay the invoice (or the dress becomes available to someone else).

I’ll strikethrough dresses on the spreadsheet as they are claimed and remove them when they are purchased.

Here are some questions I thought you might have:

Q. Do these dresses have pockets?

A. ALL OF THESE DRESSES HAVE POCKETS.

Q. There’s a dress of yours I want that isn’t on the list! Will you be selling it?

A. Uh, maybe? You can email me and ask. (I won’t be selling any Liberty-print dresses, any Tetris dresses, or the Star Wars dress, though.)

Q. There are no prices on the spreadsheet, how much are the dresses?

A. Every dress is US$20.

Q. What are you going to use the money for?

A. I’m going to give half of it to charity (likely Planned Parenthood or Chicago Books to Women in Prison), and I’m going to use half of it to buy more fabric. (Yes I know this negates the whole concept of “getting rid of stuff” … but, FABRIC!)

Q. What if I don’t support the missions of either of those organizations? 

A. Easy! Don’t buy a dress!

Q. I want to buy a dress but I would like you to ship it (some way other than Priority Mail Flat Rate). Can you do that?

A. Sorry, flat rate only, as I need to minimize the time I spend in line at the Post Office for my own sanity and the sanity of those around me.

Q. Will you make (my requested alterations) to the dress before you send it to me?

A. No, I’m afraid not … your local dry cleaner/alterations shop can help you out.

Q. Are these dresses new?

A. All of these dresses have been worn. Some have been worn more than others. (Any notable flaws are listed in the spreadsheet.)

Q. Are the measurements body measurements or garment measurements?

A. They’re garment measurements, measured flat across the front and doubled. Make sure to leave wearing ease for yourself!

Q. Why don’t you just give them all to Goodwill and be done with it?

A. I’m worried that they will be treated as rags because they don’t have labels. 😦 I want them to go to good homes!

Q. Speaking of labels, will you put a label in the dress to show it was made by you?

A. I won’t sew one in for you, but if you add $2, I will throw one of these in (until they’re all gone). That $2 will go directly to charity.

Q. I would like to pay some other way (not Paypal).

A. I’m sorry, I can only take Paypal.

Q. Will you be purging any of your sewing patterns?

A. Maybe? (Oh god I haven’t even thought about culling the patterns yet … ) If I do I will put them up on Etsy.

Q. When will this purge end?

A. At dawn. When they’re all gone. However, I have to get these OUT OF MY HOUSE so anything that’s not gone in a month or so (end of July) will probably go to Goodwill after all.

Q. I have a question that you were unable to anticipate! How can I ask it?

A. Leave your question as a comment on this post and I will answer it as soon as possible.

Here are some of the dresses, patiently waiting in their bins for new owners:

Prisoner of my own device

This is the Rushcutter dress again—this pattern is definitely one of my favorites now, even though I’m convinced I look faintly ridiculous in it. (Actually, “Faintly Ridiculous” would be a great title for an autobiography.)

Stripe Rushcutter

This is some old Marc Jacobs stripe denim/canvas—it’s plenty heavy, either way. I made another dress with this a while back, but it just didn’t work and I both took it apart AND bought more yardage. So I had plenty of fabric to work with.

This dress is all about the stripes—here’s the side panel:
Rushcutter side panel

And the pocket:

Rushcutter pockets

And the back, which is just kind of ‘meh’ but at this point it would have been masochistic to take it apart to get that back panel to be more even, so …
¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

Rushcutter back

And here’s a better view of the front insert, which I did actually take apart and recut when the first try didn’t work out evenly:

Rushcutter bodice

I didn’t actually make any of the adjustments to the pockets that I wanted to—mostly out of sheer laziness—so I am still having to bend over to fish things out of the very bottom. But that’s a small price to pay for HUGE POCKETS.

So far I’ve been wearing this with black tights and ankle boots, or black leggings and gray Keds. (The biggest issue is finding a coat that fits over it, because of the extreme A-line.)

Here’s what it looks like on (you can tell I’m bad at selfies …)

img_7983

I was wearing it all day, so it was a bit wrinkled at this point. (Also, I needed a haircut, since remedied.)

Pretty sure there’s going to be at least one more of these before I’m done … maybe something in broderie Anglaise for summer?