Friday, May 31, 2013

Stormy Dress Progress

T-Man is off to Lee Valley Tools playing with wood and learning how to make a cigar box guitar. (Can’t wait to hear how it sounds!) Yesterday while he was gone I finally felt well enough to get on with sewing Marcy Tilton’s V8876 dress:

V8876 MarcyTilton

Otherwise known as my Stormy Dress, this has been a more difficult process than than I thought it would be. Even with all my fitting adjustments to the pattern before cutting it out, it still needed a lot of further tweaking in the front bodice and shoulder/yoke areas. There was still too much cloth above the bust but luckily with so many seams to play with I was able to nibble bits off until it hung better. I still have a bit of work to do on the shoulder which is not quite right yet. I think I’m going to have to be resolved that the shoulder seam will not line up with my actual shoulder. Nothing new there really – it happens all the time! I don’t think this messing about will affect the little cap sleeves. I hope. Unfortunately I’m not so sure about the collar. I may have to shorten it or deepen the neckline seam a little, not sure which will work best.

Here’s what it looks like on Debbie so far:


Yesterday I was going back and forth between Debbie and my own body to try it on about a jillion times. Here the yokes are only pinned on and I haven’t actually permanently finished any seam allowances just yet. And I just realised that I stupidly forgot to put in the inseam pockets in my excitement to stitch up all the seams to try it on. Argh. I’ll tell you I’ve been making intense use of my un-picker on this project! At the same time I’ve also been trying to record any changes back to the pattern because I want to use it again for a vest version. I have no desire to do all this fitting twice. This is hard!

So while I’ve been thoroughly messing about with the 14-million pattern pieces for this dress, I was thinking about whether I should have traced off the whole darn thing first. For good or ill, I opted to only trace the yokes and the sides (front and back) just from the waist-level adjustment line up to the top. This was kind of a compromise. The drawback of working directly with the tissue is that if I mess up the pattern too much I won’t be able to recreate the original in order to start again. It also means that it’s no good to use for anyone else except me as I am right now. On the other hand, there are too many pieces to make it an easy task to trace them all. This is an advantage of digital patterns where you can just reprint if you need to. I mean really if you think about it tissue actually kind of sucks as a pattern medium. Thin, wrinkly, tears easily, hard to cut around without cutting into. The only real advantage is easy storage. Did you know that old Mr. Butterick came up with using tissue so it wouldn’t cost so much to mail his patterns? Not because it was the ideal pattern paper. Now you know.

Difficulties aside, I’m pretty proud of how far I’ve come in my skills. {pats self on back} None of this would have been possible even a year ago. I wouldn’t have a clue how to solve the multiple fitting problems and probably would have given up in disgust. I reiterate that this is definitely not an EASY pattern. Pattern envelopes lie! Who knew?

However I am grateful to both Marcy Tilton and her sister, Katherine, for their very cool, innovative, comfortable and versatile garment designs. They are very popular with the sewers who prefer a more artsy individual look but not totally out-there. Significantly they are also women of a “certain age” so there is some consideration taken of what works on more mature body shapes. Some others with a similar aesthetic are Sandra Betzina, Sewing Workshop and the late lamented Au Bonheur des Petites Mains. I’m sure there are more out there too. I really think there is a viable niche market for this type of sewing pattern. Hopefully their sales records back me up.

What I’m hoping though is that as my skills at patternmaking and fitting further improve, I’ll be able to break away from commercial patterns. (At least from buying new ones, most of which I never use. Oops.) I’ve already been pleased with several of my own efforts in this direction. Currently I’m working with relatively simple shapes so something like my current dress project is still pretty far beyond my drafting skills. It’s a laudable goal though. Wouldn’t it be cool to imagine a garment, any garment, and recreate it in your own size?

OK, back to the studio, damselfly! Wait! Lunch first.


Mary said...

It isn't an easy pattern, is it? But totally fun. I love the fabric you chose, and am looking forward to seeing the entire dress. NIce post!

Dixie said...

Sounds like you're learning a lot on this one. Makes me glad I don't wear dresses. If I did, I'd have to make this one.
I really like your dyed fabric. Very stormy, and arty-ness at its best!

Louisa said...

Thanks for your encouragement, Mary & Dixie! Really, it helps me keep up my efforts because this thing is taking for-EVAH!

Jean at said...

Wow! I guess I shouldn't be surprised, but you've been up to a lot since I last visited. I wish I had as much time to create. I'm going to go back and research some of the pattern companies you mention here. i never use patterns because I can't bear doing all that work and not having it fit. I'm too impatient to do a muslin. As a VERY "apple shape" person (plus short torso, long arms and legs) I'm skeptical about finding patterns that work.

I love the fabric you're using. Did you dye it yourself?

Please feel better!!! XXOO

Louisa said...

Yup, I dyed the fabric. It didn't turn out the way I envisioned but I love it even better!

Feeling quite a lot better now. Thanks!

pao said...

ooo,ooo I have that pattern too, but haven't embarked upon the journey yet. So it runs big, does it? My fav pants pattern from her does too. I love the stormy fabric you've produced to use for the dress. I try to think of it as the zen of seam ripping when I get to that part. At least then I know what I'm doing and don't have to make decisions.

Thanks for your kind words on Project Minima. I'm so baffled I could never handle such a project now.

Louisa said...

The bodice is actually quite close-fitting and the rest of the dress is loose and flowy. It's ME that's small in the shoulders and upper chest!