Kaitlyn’s Semi Dress 2018

In 2017, my friend Kaitlyn and I collaborated to make her dress for our school’s semiformal dance- she designed it and painted on it, I drafted a pattern and made it. That was undoubtedly one of the coolest things I’ve ever done, and last year, we decided to do it again.

This is the dress Kaitlyn designed. As soon as she showed it to me, I started contemplating how I would go about making it. I decided that it would be easiest to make the sleeves a separate piece from the dress itself. Therefore, the outfit consists of a sleeveless dress and a shrug that’s basically just two raglan sleeves joined with green fabric bands. I reused the pattern from her dress last year, which was a short-sleeved dress with a tiered circle skirt. I used the longest skirt pattern piece, and extended the bodice. By the way, it’s slightly hard to tell in the pictures, but I definitely didn’t accidentally cut the bodice too short and have to sew on an extra band of fabric to make it long enough. Haha. I would never do something like that. At least it’s not too noticeable…

The shrug was trickier than the dress. I had to sew the bands on in such a way that there were no raw edges and it didn’t get stretched out of shape, which required many, many pins, and some hand stitching.

The sleeve Kaitlyn designed is really cool! I was apprehensive about the leaf cutouts, but the technique I used worked well. I had Kaitlyn draw on the sleeve piece with a white quilting pencil where she wanted the cutouts. I then used a tight zigzag to go around each leaf shape, placing a piece of tear-away stabilizer under each cutout before I sewed. Then I very carefully tore away the stabilizer and cut out the inside of the leaves. After that I attached the bands, Kaitlyn tried the shrug and the dress on, I marked the sleeve and shirt hems, and then I finished the hem, arm holes, sleeve hem, and neckline. For the arm holes and neckline, I turned them under and topstitched with a twin needle. I was afraid it might distort the neckline, but it worked great!

As a finishing touch, Kaitlyn painted a vine around the leaves. Was I nervous about letting her paint on the entirely finished shrug? Actually, no. Last year I was definitely apprehensive about letting her paint the dress, but I needn’t have worried. She did an excellent job (but I have to say that because she’ll read this), and I trusted her entirely with this year’s dress.

I love how this dress turned out. It was so fun to work with Kaitlyn on this, and, while the project came with all the usual stresses of a big sewing project, the result was totally worth it.

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Simplicity 1194

It seems like a really long time since I made this dress, but it’s actually only been about a year. Maybe less than a year… Or maybe I’m making excuses for not blogging about it a year ago.DSC_0212 The only change I made to the pattern was to take in the bodice at the side seams. This is such a fitted style that having the extra ease in the bodice didn’t look right. I seem to recall that I had some trouble putting in the invisible zipper and getting it to zip over the waist seam. If I were to make this again, I would hem it by hand. I was too crunched for time to do that when I was making it, but I wish I had. Other than those few things, I like how it turned out. I wore it last year for Easter, and I made a matching pillbox hat. Alas, I don’t have much opportunity for formalwear in everyday life, so I don’t really wear this dress. As far as construction and fit goes, though, I would have to say it’s mostly a success.DSC_0213DSC_0211

Summer Dresses

Now that it’s January, I think it’s fitting that I tell you about these dresses I made this summer.  The pattern I used was Butterick 6318.  It’s one of their a Retro Butterick patterns, and I loved the waist ties and full skirt. You may recall from my Liesl Dress and circle skirts that when it comes to skirts, the more full the better.  Now, okay- the skirt on this dress that I made isn’t particularly full. In my defense, that’s because I didn’t have a particularly large piece of fabric to work with.  If I’d had more fabric, that skirt would’ve been super full.

So, goldfish. Or betta fish. I’m not entirely sure, but I love this fabric. It was actually a border print- the flower fabric that I used for the ties was the border of the fabric. My mom thought it would make a lovely tablecloth. 

This is my second version of this pattern. The pattern uses a facing for the high neckline, and I wasn’t crazy about the look of it. For this one I made bias binding from more of the border fabric and used it for the neckline. I also lowered the neckline a bit so it wasn’t so close to the neck, and shortened the waist of the dress so the waist seam would be better hidden by the ties.

All in all, this isn’t my favorite dress I’ve ever made, but I wore it a lot this summer and the fabric is really pretty. The ties can make the dress sort of hot around the waist, but it’s not a big deal. The ties cinch in the waist nicely. I’m sure I’ll wear this dress next spring and summer, and I love the betta (gold?) fish.

P.S. Happy New Year! I wrote this post last year and I definitely meant to publish it before now… May your new year be filled with lots of sewing and pretty clothes!

Liesl’s Dancing Dress

I am sixteen going on seventeen, so what better time to make Liesl’s Dancing Dress from Edelweiss Patterns? I’d been wanting to make this dress for a long time, so getting to finally sew it was frustrating, because of the chiffon  awesome! Despite the slipperiness of the chiffon, I had a great time making this dress. To be honest, one of my favorite things about the pattern was the fact that the pattern piece for the sleeves is enormous. It’s the size of the pattern piece for the skirt panels. There are seven skirt panels- the skirt is super full, and I love it- but the sleeves are still huge. I’m easily entertained.

The only change I made to the pattern was to shorten the bodice. I used French seams wherever the instructions suggested it, and the finish the French seams is beautiful. I wore the dress for my cousin’s wedding, and I’m planning to wear it for my school’s semiformal next month. I love wearing it; as soon as I put it on it makes me want to find a telegraph boy and go and dance in a gazebo. So far I haven’t managed to find a telegraph boy to dance with me, but I’ll let you know if I do. All in all, it was a really fun pattern to sew up and I love my dress!

Vogue 1542

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This is my third winter semi-formal dress. Who doesn’t need three dresses, right? I made this over Christmas break. Now, of course, I had to come up with a legitimate reason to make another dress, so I decided I would wear it to my school’s Latin Mass and Glee Club Concert. The pattern is Vogue 1542.

My favorite parts of making this pattern were pleating the sleeves and making the neckline decoration. I think that’s definitely the part of the dress that got the most attention. It was actually pretty satisfying to turn the tubes inside out and it wasn’t too hard to make the leaves and attach everything to the dress.

I love the asymetrical flounce, too! I think that, and the sleeves, give the dress enough interest that it could definitely be made without the neckline decoration for a slightly less fancy dress. As per some blog posts I read, I lengthened the lining, which worked out well.

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The dress fit fairly well in the front, but the back was much too big. I took in the princess seams a bit, and put in darts. Naturally, a better solution would’ve been to make a muslin to assess fit issues before making the real thing- and to make the seam allowance larger on the zipper- but since I didn’t make a muslin I added the darts. I know, I know- always make a muslin- but, well, I… Okay, I had no excuse. I just wanted to get started right away  on the real thing.

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Personally, as I was making the dress it reminded me of C-3PO, but that might’ve been because we watched all eight Star Wars movies over Christmas break 😉 I got lots of compliments on it and it was so much fun to wear! I seem to be attracted to flashy things for formal dresses- vivid red, sequins, gold- unlike my personality, but I love it!

M6953: Peach Dress

Have you ever made a mistake on a project so bad that you thought it was irreparable? That’s what happened to me with this dress. It was originally a muslin for a semiformal dress (M6953) I was making for a school dance, and I was making it out of a nice peach- colored cotton. After making enough to ensure that it fit, I put it aside for my fancy dress. After a few months, I decided to pull it out again and finish it. Continue reading “M6953: Peach Dress”

M7349 Dress and Matching Shoes

On Wednesday, I posted about my M7349 pattern hack, so now I’m sharing the original dress I made from the pattern- the one where I followed the rules!

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I made this dress for my school’s Sadie Hawkins dance (I was so excited to have an occasion to make another dress!), and I used a scuba knit. The pattern is just so pretty, and I love how it feels.

The other part of this project was the shoes. A few months ago, I found a pattern for sewing shoes- that’s right, sewing shoes! I decided that I should make shoes to match the dress even before I found the fabric, and when I was fabric shopping I found linen in the same print as the scuba knit! It was really awesome, since of course the shoe pattern uses a woven fabric. Here’s how they look:

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The shoes were easy to make, and people were amazed. I had such a fun time at the dance, and I also wore the outfit for Easter. I’m looking forward to wearing it many more times this summer!

M7349- Pattern Hack for Wovens

Usually I’m a good rule-follower, especially when it comes to sewing. If a pattern tells me to use a knit fabric, I use a knit fabric, because I know that if I don’t I won’t be able to get the dress on. However, in the case of McCall’s 7349, I decided it might be pretty easy to modify it for wovens. Yes, I know- it seems like the next sentence should be, I woefully underestimated the difficulty of pattern modification. Actually, it was far from the hardest or most frustrating sewing thing I’ve ever done- it was actually easy and fun, and my finished dress is made of woven fabrics!

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The back of the dress is one piece of fabric cut on the fold, so to modify it all I had to do was trace the pattern (I actually just cut it out with my rotary cutter) and add 5/8″ to the edge that would be placed on the fold. When I cut it out I didn’t cut it on the fold, so I had two separate pieces. Then, after I’d sewn the side pieces to the front and to each of the back pieces, I sewed the back pieces together and inserted a 22″ zipper into the seam. The only other pattern modification I did was add 5/8″ to the neckband, which I did cut on the fold.  When it was time to sew it on I folded the right sides together, sewed each short side, turned it right side out and pressed it. I then sewed it on and added a hook and eye to the back side of it.

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I love the shape of this dress, and I’m glad I chose to use a different fabric for the sleeves. I’m definitely planning to make it again!