Back to the Simplicity 1577

another dark denim dress

I have started—don’t all act surprised here—making Simplicity 1577s again. I basically tried to re-create this dress, sans collar this time, because my previous version had an encounter with a bleach splash in which it came off the decided loser.

This one is in a much heavier, darker denim, which I am kind of enjoying. You might have noticed the last dress was denim, too: I have found that I’m sewing a lot of denim lately, making me look like some kind of absurd June Cleaver-as-barista. But it’s so convenient! Denim is my favorite fabric to try a new pattern in, since it comes in all kinds of weights, and a denim dress is nearly always wearable, and goes with everything.

Here’s a closer look at the bodice:
new denim 1577 bodice

I lined the pockets with some Liberty scraps I had lying around:
Liberty-lined pockets

Here’s the zipper, with the photo lightened a bit so you can see it:
side zipper

Oh, I forgot to mention that I piped the pockets with self-piping, of course.

And here’s the back: not sure why my dress form looks a little hunched over here, perhaps it was a cold day?
denim 1577 back

I made another one of these in this gorgeous black-on-black seersucker; it’s a little lightweight for winter but … I don’t know what it is about corded and ribbed fabric, but I cannot stay away. I just did a tidy of my fabric stash and the amount of seersucker I own for someone who is not a baby in rompers in Nantucket is absurd. Plus I have at least three pieces of corded cotton, including one in a bright peony pink that has probably been kicking around my stash for going on two decades.  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ (What types of fabric do you tend to hoard?)

Happy New Year/Dress

Happy 2017, people! Here’s a new dress that isn’t the same dress I’ve made the last dozen times:

Rushcutter denim dress

It’s the Rushcutter by In The Folds, sewn up in fairly heavy denim. I enjoyed sewing it quite a bit (once I got the pattern taped together), but I enjoy wearing it immensely.

Here’s the neck bit, isn’t it nice?
Rushcutter neck detail

Back zip, which I’m usually not a fan of, but this one is short so it’s okay:
Rushcutter back zip

I used some patterned bias tape from Daiso to finish the neckline:
floral bias tape neck finish

These pockets are HUGE. Really, really big:
Rushcutter giant pockets

Really:
Rushcutter giant pockets pt 2

They’re set a little low on the dress so occasionally I have to stoop to get things out of the bottom of them, which I find equal parts annoying and hilarious. (When I sew this again I’ll be putting a false bottom in the pocket somehow.)

This is a very, very comfortable dress, with a few caveats. First, the sleeves are a bit wide so they can get a bit jammed up in a coat. I sometimes have to do a quick ‘wrap’ of the sleeve around my arm before jamming my arm into the coat, to make sure that I don’t end up with bulgy elbows.

Also, this is a dress that’s much more comfortable standing than sitting, but that’s probably because I overload the pockets (because I can, because they are HUGE). So if you also load your pockets like Harpo Marx, you too might have to do a little adjustment and pull the sides of the dress forward when sitting so that your heavy pockets don’t fall weirdly down the sides of your chair. But it’s a small price to pay!

I like wearing this with footless tights and sneakers, or regular tights and ankle boots. I’ve worn this with bright yellow tights several times thinking that someone will say “hey, in those tights your legs look just like MUPPET FLESH,” but no one has yet. Which is probably because most of my friends and acquaintances are tactful, kind people, but it’s TRUE.

Oh, and the hem is faced, which is a treatment I always like, especially on heavy fabrics:

Rushcutter faced hem

I have a few other dresses I’ve made during this last blogging hiatus, and the goal/resolution is to post one a week until I’m caught up. Wish me luck!

Hey! Another Version of that Same Damn Dress

Gray Dotted Swiss dress

Oh look, it’s the bodice from Simplicity 2389 and that BurdaStyle Heidi skirt again! (Readers stifle yawns, reach reflexively for their mobile devices.)

This time it’s in this beautiful gray dotted swiss that I’ve had for so long that I can’t even remember where I bought it. I’ve been holding on to it FOREVER because I thought it would need to be lined, but it turns out no, it doesn’t. Here, have a closer look:

corner shoulder seam

It’s like chambray, but dotted swiss! Two of my favorite fabrics mashed together!

Here’s the pocket/zipper view:
pocket view

Why yes, that is gray-and-white seersucker piping! You can also just see that the pockets are lined in this very nice sheer gray voile.

Here’s the pocket-in-progress:
pocket-in-progress

Here’s the same piping on the shoulder seam:
shoulder seam

And finally, the back:
gray dotted swiss dress back

I didn’t even press this before putting it on the dress form, which is a miracle, if you ask me. But the fabric is very soft and light and so it seems that wrinkles take a look at it and say “yeah, no, I think I’ll try the next dress down, thanks anyway.” (Okay maybe there are a few wrinkles at the sleeve and skirt hems …)

I’ve managed to eke out a couple other dresses recently—I’ll try to get them posted soon.

Today’s Pattern Story: Vogue 7337

Vogue 7337

Kelli: Honey, what did I tell you about wearing your hair like that?

Shelli: I can’t remember … something about hands? No, I remember now, something about handles?

Kelli: If you want to be a black belt like me, Shelli, you have got to take this seriously.

Nelli: No talking in the dojo! I may be the smallest Sith Lord, but I can still kill both of you with a thought.

(pattern is available here)

Two Books: Sundressing and Boundless Style

A couple new sewing books (okay, one new, and one’s been out for a while) have made it across my desk (okay, cutting table) and they’re both interesting.

The first, Sundressing, by Melissa Mora, is a book of (you guessed it) sundress patterns. I was pleased to see this one because it has a very large size range: 0 to 22 for women (bust 31″ to 45″) and girls (2T to 12). Most of the pattern books I see, unless they’re specifically for plus-sizes, top out at about a US size 16.

sundressing

Sundressing features 21 different styles, photographed on a diverse range of people (the photography is really nice; it’s not just skinny white women in nearly empty rooms). But it’s the methodology that really sets Sundressing apart: instead of traceable patterns for each style, there’s one basic bodice, and Mora provides detailed instructions for altering the bodice for each style.

Needless to say, this is a LOT of work (I quailed just looking at some of the instructions) but if you are looking to get into serious pattern-altering, this seems like a gentle way to start. (Many of the resources I see for taking a basic bodice block and altering it for different design elements look a lot like this ‘how to draw a horse‘ joke.)

I’m not sure if I will sew anything out of this book (leafing through it made me realize my deep commitment to sleeves), but I did for a moment wish I had the kind of life where this dress made sense:

I was far more tempted by the dresses in Boundless Style, by Kristiann Boos (of Victory Patterns), even though the size range is smaller. It also has nice photography where the dress style lines are very clear, although the list of places where I choose to wear very high heels never includes “a lifeguard station” or “leaning on a rustic fence rail” or “a birch grove” (but maybe that’s just me).

IMG_7277

The theme of Boundless Style is one dear to my heart: swapping bodice and skirt matchups to make the Frankendress of your dreams. The ‘Catrina’ bodice is probably my favorite:

The patterns aren’t paper in Boundless Style, but come on a CD embedded in the back cover, which is a plus for some (print them over and over!) and a minus for others. (I know I *have* an external CD/DVD drive for my laptop, but it usually takes fifteen minutes of trying to remember where my past self thought my present self would look first before I find it. Past Erin is not a good predictor of future Erin’s thinking.) And sadly, although the skirts are very nice (including two six-gore options) there are no pockets included or instructions on how to add them. (I wish that the Nicola dress from the Victory line had been included: it’s been on my wish list for a while!)

If you’re looking for a few new ideas or inspiration to help you stretch your sewing wings a bit, I think either of these books would be worth a look!

An entertaining coincidence

About a month ago I managed to see the Oscar de la Renta exhibit at the DeYoung Museum here in SF, and it was lovely. If you like that sort of thing, it’s the sort of thing you really like, etc.

As I exited through the gift shop I checked out the postcard rack, and was struck by this image of an Oscar de la Renta dress featured in Harper’s Bazaar in 1969:

OdelaR-postcard

I was struck not so much by the dress (which is lovely, of course), but by the fabric—it was the same as some Marc Jacobs fabric I’d bought a few years ago! (I blogged about a dress I made in a different colorway of this fabric back in 2015 here.) It’s silk/cotton, not organza:

Untitled

You can tell better in this color image:

image from rarevintage.blogspot.com
image from Rare Vintage

Or in this of another Oscar de la Renta piece in Vogue:

I think this is a jumpsuit?

It’s not uncommon for designers to revive print fabrics—most designers don’t create their own prints, but instead work with fabric houses to select fabrics for their collections. (Here’s an interesting article about the process.) Some French and Italian print houses have been around for hundreds of years, and have catalogs going back pretty much forever.

It looks like this fabric was used in the Marc by Marc Jacobs line sometime before 2009; you can see a dress made with it here:

image from FashionFuss.com
image from FashionFuss.com

Rashida Jones even wore something in this fabric in an episode of Parks and Rec! But I’ve only found one thing from the orange colorway—a strappy top.

I still haven’t made up this fabric, and probably the upshot of learning all this is that I will wait even longer to find the “perfect” pattern. (But I can tell you right now, it probably won’t have ruffles …)

Book Review: Sunday Sews by Theresa Gonzalez

SundaySewsCover

The lovely people at Chronicle Books sent me a copy of Sunday Sews, by Theresa Gonzalez recently, and it’s a beautiful book. I would love to live in the perpetual Sunday of this book, where everything is suffused in a kind of mid-morning sunlight and you still have hours and hours left to get through all your weekend errands and projects before Game of Thrones comes on. In this particular world of Sundays, you spent all day Saturday clearing the decks for a Sunday of sewing by cleaning and flower arranging and bathing adorable impish small children (with maybe some baking thrown in) and exiling the menfolk to a corral somewhere on the rear of the property. (Don’t worry, they’re happy there. Poor dears, they don’t really appreciate Sewing Sundays, and you can’t really trust them around sharp objects.)

The projects in Sunday Sews are nicely thought out: they’re very simple, of course, but there’s enough leeway for creativity (I hate simple-projects books that are nothing more than ‘hey, make this pillowcase and then glue some rick-rack on it!’) In particular, there’s a boxy tee that has separate sleeve and hem bands that would be perfect for bias treatment or contrasting fabric:

Sunday-Sews-PicnicTee

There are also four different dresses, of which my favorite was the Weekend Wrap Dress (despite its lack of pockets—two of the other dress projects include pockets, though, very respectable).

Sunday-Sews-wrapdress

Unfortunately, though, the sizing in this book runs small—the “Large” is about a US size 12-14. There’s also not a lot of shaping in general; the garments are fairly boxy. Not a problem for the willowy models in the book, but …  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

So if you’re on the slimmer, taller side of the spectrum and are looking for some thoughtful, simple projects with a fair amount of scope for creativity, this would be a great book for you. (It’s certainly very pleasant to look at!)