Nothing quite says "Dress, I am just not that into you." like a crusty-paint basement backdrop for documentation of the finished product.  Nope, I couldn't even be bothered to walk up the stairs to photograph this monstrosity.  I will say that the pasty, peeley walls do make me look somewhat  tan.  A trick of the camera, I assure you.

I will grant that the March Dress made me do some unexpected things while wearing it for photos.  For one, glaring at the camera just seemed the thing to do in this dress.  I even had the inclination to smoulder (as best I could anyway).  Also, I kept putting one hand on my hip.  Very curious behavior indeed. 
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As barely discernible in this picture, what we have for the month of March is a fitted and asymmetrical bodice attached to a almost basic straight skirt.  The fabric is a black burnout backed with a nude colored satin.  Impossible to make out are the gentle gathers, instead of darts, at the front and back of the skirt between the bodice darts.  Under the left arm you will find a side zip.  Also if you look hard enough you still will not see a sash tied at the waist made from the unlined dress fabric for a subtle bit of contrast.  The hem is a bit shorter than is usually sported at DotMC.

So, I like lists.  As evidenced by practically every post ever by me.

Good things about the March Dress/Experience:

1)  Used up some fabric that I had been hoarding.
2)  Learned that I can kind of smoulder.  If I want to.  On special occasions.
3)  Now I know - one shouldered styles are not so much for me.
4)  The shoes (Seychelles Aquamarine) bought to go with this dress are mine forever. ha HA!
5)  I did finish a lot of other projects while procrastinating on this one.

Bad things:

1)  Maybe I made a dress for myself that won't ever get worn - not how this is supposed to work.
2)  Not entirely convinced that the fit is right yet.
3)  Being frustrated with a dress does not make for an enjoyable hobby.
4)  Three attempts to get this dress done and it's still not perfect!
5)  I wasted a whole month's dress on this!  That's 1/12 of my new wardrobe ruined. 

The wounds are still fresh and I am willing to give March Dress a second chance.  Perhaps if I put it away for a little while . . . yes maybe, even in my closet, the dress will look much better to me when I take her out again.  I think that is a plan.  June maybe?  I'll take March out for a spin in June and we'll just see.



STATS
Needles broken/replaced:  1
Spools of Thread used:  3

 
 
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Well now, the March Dress is finally starting to look like a dress. Scoop!

Things I have learned:

1)  "My Double" dressform isn't my double at all.  I suspected this fact all along, but now I know the truth.  She is a shortwaisted, hardbodied creep who makes my life difficult under the guise of helpfulness.  Very tricky, My Double.  Very tricky indeed.

2)  I might be too decrepit and aged for a one-armed dress.  I just can't tell if it is sophisticated or just a little slutty.  March Dress!  You make me question everything!

3)  I don't have the patience required for things like "do overs" and "re-starts".  And because I am making the dress for myself, the drive to correct and make wearable is simply is not in me.  What keeps me going, you might ask?  Why you, gentle reader. 

Things I still need to do to be done with this woeful project:

1)  Shorten and hem skirt and skirt lining.

2)  Add a sash.

That's it.  Two things.  And yet the end seems so far away.  I wonder if I will ever change my mind about this dress.  Some projects are just jinxed from the beginning. 

At least it goes to show that life isn't all gumdrops and bubble gum at Dress of the Month Club.  Sometimes it's dill pickles.  (Which I don't personally care for - but someone else just might.)  And this is a dill pickle of a dress.



 

DO! OVER!

03/23/2011

1 Comment

 
When it comes to dressmaking, I have some skills.  That being recognized, I am not above admitting that mistakes happen.  So much of what I do is based on trial and error.  That's just my method.  I know, I could figure out all the complex mathematical configurations of my figure and compare that with the measure of pattern pieces and cut fabric, but I am just not going to take the time to do that.  Additionally, I am "not real into" cutting out a muslin version my dress beforehand to work out the kinks before even cutting into the chosen fabric.  I would say that 90% of the time my innate abilities (or is it laziness?) seem to work out.  Not so with the March dress. 

A couple things just aren't working. 

For starters I am not completely on board with this whole one-armed thing.  Now it could be that I have a weirdly shaped body, but I can't seem to get the bodice to fit at the bust line and not be too roomy where the strap crosses my body and veers down to the opposite armpit.  That particular piece pulls at a diagonal, but the fabric was cut to adjust to that.  Really!  What is going on?  I am losing my patience and interest.

Also, this is burnout fabric I am messing with here i.e. the sheer leafy fabric parts are structurally weaker than the non-sheer parts.  So, as I go I can already see the fabric begin to pull at the stitches and I do not like the looks of it.

So, what is there to do but start over?  Thankfully (and a bit mysteriously) I have tons of nearly-the-right color fancy fabric to use as lining for a third draft of this dress.  I happened to buy extra of the black in (unconcious) anticipation of issues. 
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For the third go at this frustrating dress I opted to cut doubles of the lining fabric and then basted one set to the black fabric.  I used this tactic for the February dress, which was made of sheer chiffon.  It actually works out quite nicely - gives a little stiffness to the bodice, enforces the burnout bits and makes the stitches stronger, and also makes the whole thing easier to sew.
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Finally, I have something that mostly fits and doesn't pull, and actually looks like a bodice.  You can see the green basting stitches that kept the layers together while I worked.  Those will come out.  I am still trying to perfect that band that runs shoulder to armpit, but it is coming together.  I think I'll get there.

Next up I will put on the skirt, line it, and add a side zipper.  I am hoping that will be the easiest part.  Adorable Boyfriend has put in his two cents and thinks the skirt should be asymmetrical too.  I completely disagree.  Anyone else have an opinion? Ruffles?

Also, I guess while I am asking, if anyone out there in Internetland happens to have a bust size in the 34-36" range and is in need of a one shouldered black and tan frock, I happen to have two extra bodices laying around just waiting to become dresses.  Let me know . . .

I, for one, cannot wait to be finished with this dress forever.  You, my patient, patient friends, must be bored silly.  I have high hopes for April.

 
 
The first question people asked when the subject of dressmaking comes up is, "Did you make the dress you're wearing?"

To which I nearly always sheepishly respond, "Uh. No.  I don't have time to make dresses for myself." 

The second question thrown at me is generally, "Where'd you learn to sew?"

At which point I am forced to admit, "Oh, you know.  Here and there.  And in my basement."

Now, the third question is almost always "How long does it take you to make a dress?"

Well, kids, with regard to this little gem I will unabashedly answer "About three years and some change."

Enjoy, Kirsten.  I'll work on a list of things you can hide in those "secret" pockets.  Number one is obviously a kitten. 
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When I went looking for the My Blue Dress, which is very close to becoming Kirsten's Blue Dress, I was forced to dig through a bin and a half chocked full of the Ghosts of DotMC Past.  Being confronted with so many unfinished projects should have been a  daunting experience, but I must have been in an ambitious mood because I interpreted the confrontation as a challenge.  With an upcoming clothing exchange among friends on the calendar, I thought it would be best to finish some projects and potentially hand them off to those in need.  I also love the prospect of housecleaning.

Those of you who have been around since the olden days may recognize some of the pictured fabrics.  More embarrassing than the fact that I may just be a hoarder is the fact that most of these dresses were extremely close to being finished products.  I just opted to pack them away instead.  

From left to right:

    Laura Dress 2007 - Just needed some handwork to sew the collar lining down.
    Made for a craft show 2007 - Minimal handwork at collar.
    April 2007 Birthday Dress #1 - Sewed in skirt lining.
    April 2007 Birthday Dress #2 - Added skirt lining and a zipper.
    Combo of 2009 Brianna and Jenny Dresses - Tacked lining in at back seam.
    Jillian Jacket 2007 - Ironed. (sigh.)
    Sample that led to 2009 Jenny Dress - Tacked in lining.

So, high fives all around.  I finished a bunch of dresses.  Yay!  What?  The March dress? 

Uhhhh . . .

OK.  The truth is that I am having problems with the fit and rather than concentrating on a solution, I am ignoring the problems and working on other things.  So, go ahead, add this personality deficiency to the list.  1) Hoarder of stuff; 2) Nonfinisher of projects; and 3) Ignorer of issues.  And sure, go ahead add on 4) User of passive voice.  

March is half over.  I think I safely have one more week of living in denial.

 
 
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I am addicted to multitasking and most of the time I am pretty proud of my ability to simultaneously design a dress in my head, watch a B&W classic, and hand embroider linens.  But there are times when my need for busy-ness works to my detriment.  For example, while cutting out the March fabric, trying to surreptitiously watch Big Love, and both listen/appropriately respond to adorable boyfriend, I made a major dressmaking mistake. 

You see, for March I am trying something kind of new:  a one-shouldered little ditty.  My brain though, while attempting to process both polygamy and conversation, went into autopilot and instructed my scissor wielding hand to behave in the usual manner.  Normally, that would be extremely efficient, but when one is making an asymetrical bodice only one front and one back need be cut - not the typical fold-over-to-double-the-fabric-and-cut trick. 

Point being, the outcome was a severe waste of fabric and enough pieces to make two bodices.  So I figured, why be a waster?  I'll make two dresses.  Oh, I weighed the pros and cons.

Pro:  Two dresses are better than one!
Con:  Why does anyone need two of the same dress?

Pro:  You'll put throwaway fabric to use.
Con:  Ack, more work.

Pro:  Maybe I could give one away?  Or sell.  I mean sell one.
Con:  One armed jobbies have to REALLY fit - you don't know anyone you-sized.

Pro:  If you find someone you-sized you can hang out and be all twinzy-like.
Pro:  Yeah, it'll be super cool because the dresses are, by default, mirror images.
Con:  Make a new friend?  I'm shy.

So the thought process went (while I worked on Kirsten's dress, reviewed a new recipe, and listened to Taj Mahal) until it was decided that I would go ahead and at least put the two bodices together.  The bodices are the most difficult part anyway so it would be good practice.  I think I might just try two different skirts.  I think one will have to have ruffles.  Why not?  I have an extra to fall back on?

Needless to say, the March dress/es is/are in the works.  The fabric is a nice drapey black with sheer leaf-shaped cutouts.  I am lining it with a light nude colored satin.  I am off to less than robust start, but I think things will turn around.  Surely.

Two weeks to go!

 
 
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Earlier this month I got an email from DotMC co-founder/bride-to-be Kirsten:

"I think I'm ready for a new signature all-purpose party dress. Green with brown leaves and I have had an amazing run, but it's just time. And by "new," it could very well be the exact same cut in a different fabric (navy cotton?). Care to dust of the ol' Dress-o-Matic?"
 
Granted this request goes against my current me-me-me belief system, but it's just so hard to say no to a friend with dire dress needs.  And, thankfully by "new" Kirsten also means "dress you already started and intended to keep for yourself".  It just so happens that I have a mostly made dress in my possession that fit Kirsten's description to a T. 

A few years back, I decided that I wanted "the perfectly polished navy blue dress" to wear with some yellowy leather boots I bought.  I found a beautiful lightweight wool and a kicky, colorful silk lining and started work.  Now, as we know, pre-2011 Liz didn't like to try on dresses she made for herself until it was too late.  Needless to say, the post-zipper/pre-hem dress has been in storage ever since, waiting it's turn for alterations. 

When I got Kirsten's message, I dug out the dress and, well, it's just as pretty as I remember.  (Sigh.)  When I had Kirsten try it on last week, it fit her perfectly.  I guess the dress was just meant to be hers.  I am in the process of making a few changes - just to up the ante.  The dress originally had a high back and I am going to give it a low scoop.  Also, I think I may lose the cap sleeves.  

Although I am happy to put a previously unfinished project into circulation, I'm afraid that I am a tad jealous that I won't get to wear this one.  Envy aside, what are friends for but to augment the closets of their nearest and dearest.  

Sooooo  . . .  about the March dress?  Tick-tock, am I right?  More to come on that.  As you can see I got distracted. 

 
 

Workspace.

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There are some universally recognized attributes that make for a good sewing workspace.  Good light, a suitable cutting area, convenient "pressing facilities" a.k.a. an iron/board, fabric scraps . . . yeah, yeah, sure . . . and a . . .MAGICAL SEWING CHAIR WITH A SUPPLY DRAWER!  What the . . .

I have to admit that I have never seen such a thing until now and I must have one.  Can you imagine sitting at your sewing machine? 

"Oh, where are the scissors?" 

"Only right here in the drawer!"
 
"Drat, I just broke a
needle."

"No big - I have extra in this drawer attached to the very chair I happen to be sitting in." 

"Now where's that ever elusive seam ripper?"



"Right where it should be in this here drawer."

Alas, Sears Catalog Item No. 2000971 cannot even be found at the far ends of the Internets.  The closest I came to sewing chair induced bliss was a similar item with a hidden(!) drawer featured in Popular Mechanics Magazine.  From 1910.

Thank you very little information "super" highway.  I think what my workspace really needs is a time machine.


 
 

Measurements!

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Most definitely, accurate measurements are key.  So why not write them down?  And the more body parts you measure, the better.  Nobody likes an uninformed dressmaker. 

This chart is just too adorable, and especially handy if you are working with a pattern.  I suggest you print it out and find yourself a pencil and a measuring tape right now, before I stop typing.  Before.  I.  Stop. Typing . . .

 
 
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Let me start by saying that when the time came for me to pack up my Barbies I was more than a little sad.  Allow me to add that even when I was past the point of playing with dolls, I left my Barbies out on shelves in my room arranged in various scenes, one on top of the other (à la mini high rise).  Now I must admit that I was, maybe, a little older than I should have been when I dressed each Barbie in her original outfit and packed her carefully in tissue paper.

This month, I am feeling a bit sentimental.  It could be because I have been going through boxes from a recent move and continue to stumble upon silly childhood tidbits and holdovers.  Or it could be because I have a birthday coming up . . .and you know how THAT goes.  So as silly as it is, and as much as I don't really want to admit it,  his month is kinda of inspired by Barbie - but not just any Barbie. 

I have a very distinct recollection of being taken, by my dad, to the toy department of Mervyn's and being allowed to pick out any Barbie I wanted.  In this memory, I am using my own money.  The little lady pictured here is the one I chose.  Now this story is notable for a few reasons:  1) This particular doll is from 1979-1980, which makes me a little on the young side for things like memories.  2) Similarly, being so young where did I get all this cash?  I am sure it was just a handful of change and that my dad pulled a switcharoo with the cashier, but still.  3)  Remember Mervyn's?  What a funny name.  Remember when they had toy departments?  4) Of all the Barbies out there, I chose this one? It makes one wonder.  Elizabeths (I guess) do not prefer Blondes.  They also seem adverse to pink.

Nostalgia aside, back to March.  I guess it's not so much Barbie that inspired me, but the cool Spanish stylings of my very first Barbie.  Quiero un vestido that I can castanet in.  Whilst wearing a mantilla.  ¿Qué piensa usted?