Saturday, June 15, 2013

Further Fanciness

Aside from sewing and hiking, my third passion is guitar, and since that's the passion that has been winning my free time the last couple weeks I have nothing new to show this weekend. I have been spending some time thinking about my next big project, though, which is going to up the level of fancy in my sewing by a few notches, believe it or not. You guys, I'm so out of my element. I'm a bumpkin teacher, not an urban socialite!

Anyway, I have to go to a ball in September - a real, honest-to-goodness ball. It's for work and I will be actually working at the event, but I still need a gown. I had been going back and forth about making or just trying to thrift one, but then I bought some fabric so I guess I'm making it. A gown is really just a dress with a long skirt, right? I can make a dress!

The perfect warm grayish lavender... a bit darker in real life
I found this poly dupioni in the clearance section of JoAnn. I know I should do better than a JoAnn poly dupioni, but gowns really eat up fabric, $3/yd is well within my budget, the color is absolutely perfect, and, most importantly, it's not a shiny satin. This remnant of gray lace coordinates perfectly, but I won't be heartbroken if it doesn't make it in the final design.

Now I just need to decide on a pattern. Because I'm going to be working, I need a comfortable dress that I can move in. Pockets are a huge plus, as are sleeves, and the ability to wear normal undergarments is a must. Two weeks ago I was really sure that this was the one, but now I'm waffling. I'm afraid that the skirt might look frumpy unless I fit it perfectly. It will look especially bad if the seams aren't pressed totally flat, and I don't know if this fabric is capable of that.

Image from Simplicity
This dress turned out to be such a great design for working events that I kind of want to just make it again. I could incorporate the lace on the cummerbund included in the pattern. I am a bit concerned about being totally boring, though, both because the design isn't all that interesting and my fabric is plain, and because I just made it and it has some distinctive features.

Image from Simplicity
There are a few more patterns floating around my head and my super-helpful Pinterest board (what did we do before Pinterest??), but none of them are quite as good as these two. I have a couple months to make it but I'm sure they will just fly by, and as much as I would love to gather inspiration and dream up the perfect design I really want to keep it simple this year.

Have you ever made a gown? What did you wear it to, and how did it all turn out? If you needed a gown in the near future, what sort of dress would you want to make?

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The party's crashing us

Finally, photos are taken! I made this dress on a whim the weekend before last to wear to a cocktail party for work the following Wednesday. It had been quite some time since I made a dress, and everything was going pretty well until suddenly it wasn't. I was up late Tuesday night scrambling to finish, but the dress was completed just in time and I'm pretty happy with it.

Image from Pattern Review

I used Simplicity 1610, which is one of the new summer patterns, and I highly recommend it! I chose the pattern because of the basic design, the sleeves, and, above all, the pockets. I've worked enough functions, though not quite such fancy ones, in past jobs to know that I want to have a place to stash my badge, phone, keys, and so on. The dress was very straightforward to put together, and the troubles I had weren't the fault of the pattern at all.

I cut a 10 at the bust and graded to a 12 at the waist, which is normal for me, with no other alterations except that I sewed the back seam with a 3/8" SA because I was afraid of it being too small. I usually construct dresses so that the side seams are the last to be sewn in order to adjust fit, but since I've never set in sleeves with a pivot point like this I didn't want a bunch of dress hanging down on that step. Next time I'll sew the regular seam allowance, as this dress is a little too big, but that actually turned out to be a good thing because I can just slip it over my head without a zipper. It's also super comfortable, and since staff kind of blends into the background at these events, I don't really care that there's a bit too much ease.

So, it's a great dress, and I'm sure I'll wear it to functions like this all the time. That said, I'm going to try to never, ever sew anything in a satin again. The fabric didn't look all that shiny in the store next to the other JoAnn satins, but the more I sewed it the shinier it looked and the more I noticed that it shows every little wrinkle, flaw, stitch, and even the pinked edges of the wispy acetate lining that I used as a facing. To make matters worse, even though the bolt said it was 40% cotton, this fabric pressed like 100% polyester. I felt more and more trepidation about the zipper insertion, and as suspected it was a total disaster. I ended up just trying to squeeze into it without a zipper, and thanks to that 3/8" SA I could. Phew. Even though staff blends in, I didn't want my dress to look so totally homemade among the attendees' designer dresses!

I had forgotten how much fun it is to make dresses, but I also forgot how much I dislike sewing under pressure. I'm not one of those people who can whip up a garment in a few hours, and I like to take my time, go slow, and finish things nicely. There will be more of these parties and other events through the year, and I'm looking forward to making a few pretty dresses that are actually well-made!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Me-Made-May Week 5

Welp, just when you thought it couldn't get worse from me...

  • 5/26 - me made tee; worn doing yoga.
  • 5/27 - me made bag, mom-made scarf; worn to view The Clock at SFMOMA.
  • 5/28 - me made top; worn to work.
  • 5/29 - me made dress; finished just in time to wear to the party.
  • 5/30 - me made dress; worn to work.
  • 5/31 - me made skirt; worn to work and a coworker's baby shower. I would never wear the sweater that wrinkled - I just pulled it off the drying rack to recreate this outfit on the floor!
This week was crazy. Work was busy, the party was intense, finishing up the dress turned out to be harder than anticipated (more on that after I get some real photos) - I'm actually still recovering from it all!

I planned on writing a bit about my thoughts on MMM and my homemade wardrobe, but I kind of just want to be done with this challenge. I had a hard time with this. I knew taking photos would be hard, but I didn't anticipate that wearing me made items would feel like such a burden, especially since I wear something homemade about three out of four days anyway. If I thought about it I could probably come up with some insights about why this was and what I should focus on sewing, but I think I'm just going to go actually sew. There's another Archer on my sewing table, cut out and waiting for me!

How did your Me-Made-May go? Do you anticipate participating again? Did you start feeling bitter about wearing me-mades simply because you had to?