Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Sunny Days & Stormy Dress

We’ve been having fabulous weather in the last few days: sunny but not too hot. For me that is perfect! I can tell everyone else is enjoying it too because people are smiling and being friendly while basking on outdoor patios, steps and lawns. It’s quite a different vibe to the surly attitude that’s inspired by the usual sodden rain. Gardening is also a popular pursuit and I’m planning to get out into mine today. But first, a Finished Object!

Stormy Dress

Completed:  June 2013

Fabric:  rayon/linen (from a bolt gifted me by a friend), natural light beige, hand-dyed by me with Procion MX Black.

Notions:  non-woven fusible interfacing, medium-light weight. 9 buttons. Sewing and serger threads.

Pattern:  Marcy Tilton Vogue 8876, View A with cap sleeves and button front.

Mods:  usual gazillion fitting alterations, starting with a size 12 at the neck and shoulders and morphing to a 14 at the waist and down. It’s loose enough though that I could have gone with a 12 all the way. The shoulder needed taking in about to a size 8. Further tweaks to the above-bust area were needed mostly, I think, because the fabric stretched some on the bias. Unlike the pattern recommendations I cut doubled front yokes and interfaced the centre fronts.

Comments:  This dress was a lot of work but I’m very happy with the final results! It was most definitely not an EASY Vogue though especially with all the pattern pieces, seams and hand-finishing. I did some things differently than the pattern directions and finished the front facings by folding under the seam allowance and slip-stitching. There was an awful lot of slip-stitching here, including the front yoke facings and the hem facing. It does finish off the inside nicely! Some people have mentioned that this dress is short. I didn’t adjust the length at all and it comes right to my knee. But then I’m under 5’4” so YMMV. I only had 9 buttons instead of 10 so I re-spaced them and luckily that put one right at the bust where it’s needed.

The pockets didn’t hang quite right due to the floppy nature of this fabric. I added a piece of iron-on straight stabilizer to the top of the finished pocket and then tacked them to the seam allowances where they overlapped. This helped a great deal and I was glad that I didn’t just whack the pockets off in disgust! I like pockets.

There was a lot of seam ripping going on as I tried to make everything fit smoothly. Debbie Double was a big help too as she held still while I fussed and pinned. Then I double-checked the fit on myself before stitching everything more permanently. I had a bit of a wrestling match trying to turn the spaghetti tubes inside out for the tie neck. I was trying to do it as one long piece but it was easier to do in two pieces and tuck the join inside the channel. I used my hollow brass rods from the hardware store and they worked really well, though I bent them a little. Oops. These are much cheaper than the tools available for sewing and you can have a number of sizes on hand right down to teeny-tiny. (Doll-makers use them for doll fingers.) And in varying lengths as well. To use them you put a larger rod inside the tube which is stitched across the top end, press a thinner rod onto the top of the first rod at the seam and push the tube up the thinner rod. Pressure on the seam keeps it from blowing out. It’s a bit fiddly to get started but usually flows quite well after that. If this doesn’t make sense I’m sure there’s a video out there somewhere.

Unfortunately the photographs don’t really show the fabric very clearly or with the correct colours. My camera had trouble rendering them in the light from my studio window and no amount of messing about in Paint Shop Pro would help. Because the substrate is a natural light beige (white rayon crossed with natural linen) and the black dye broke into gray and navy when I scrunch dyed it, it’s a really subtle patterning. Stormy!

I happily discovered that my Marcy Vest fits over this dress nicely and the collars kind of interlock in a pleasing way:

StormyDress and MarcyVest

Another combination is always good! I can also get a light T-shirt underneath if I want more warmth.

diamond-body In answer to a few questions that I’ve had on my fitting of these patterns, I have to remind you that I have small bones and very narrow shoulders so things fit me differently than someone else with a more “normal” body shape. In assessing my own body shape I used to think I was a pear because my hips are wider than my shoulders. No. Pears have waists and I don’t. They also have their widest part quite low down. I do have somewhat heavier thighs but my hip begins a short way below where my waist would be if I had one, and I don’t get any wider. My weight is all in my middle and my arms and legs are quite thin. Not to mention the fact that post-menopausal hormones tend to cause more fat to be deposited right where I don’t need it! But I’m not an oval/apple shape because the average of my hip, tummy and waist measurements is larger than my bust. Ovals are more proportional and the fluff is distributed more evenly everywhere. I think the diamond body shape is not very common at all. And it usually gets dumped in the apple box.

So why do I care about the body shape label? Because I think it helps me with fitting issues and why my body seems so much more difficult to work with. All the fashion advice out there isn’t particularly relevant to my age and life-style but there are a few tips that can be helpful. And I just like knowing why I’m so darned frustrated with ready-to-wear! It just doesn’t work with my body type. Moving right along…

We took advantage of the lovely weather yesterday and went for one of our marathon walks downtown. 12.2 kilometres! I had to be bribed with Toble gelato just to make it home up the last hill. We got to see the new Star Trek movie (really good!) and also visit my favourite fabric store, Dressew, for some fabric and buttons for T-Man’s Thread Theory Newcastle Cardigan. Wouldn’t you know it? I didn’t have anything suitable in stash! We got some slate-gray fleece, smooth knit on one side and fuzzy on the other. There was just enough left on the bolt too. I hunted for something interesting for the yokes but decided that just using self-fabric with the fuzz on the outside would look nice. The buttons are thick plastic and look like slate – an exact match. I love Dressew’s fabulous button collection. So much fun to hunt through.

While I was at it, you don’t think I could get out of there without something else for me, do you? I found some brown/black crinkle nylon/polyester which should make a nice vest with a little bit of water resistance for walking/hiking. Don’t know if I’ll have enough time to make it before our Big Trip in August, but we’ll see.

More anon! I still have to show you T’s really cool cigar box guitar that he made. It’s not quite finished yet but we picked up some glass neck slides, picks and a cable and gear to attach it to his computer. Yes, it is acoustic/electric! Funky.


Heather said...

That is a really cute dress! And cool dye job on the fabric.

Anonymous said...

Lovely addition to your wardrobe. You seem to have a handle on the fit issues.

Mary said...

Your version turned out so cute. I love the vest with it. The last time I wore my dress, I belted it with a wide elastic belt and love the effect. Shall we make one more each?

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Unknown said...

I came to your site because of a very old post you did on a kumihimo braid. I love reading your recent posts as well, even if I'm not a seamstress. I have the same body shape as you, and have quite a hard time trying to find clothes that fit my thickness, and don't balloon off of my other parts. Glad to know I'm not alone!