Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Modified Plan: Summer Dresses and Skirts Pt. 1

I'm not very good at making plans.  I always reserve the right to opt out of parties, conferences, and other events.  If I should happen to plan meals for a week, it generally turns out that eating the food I intended to eat on a particular day is the last thing in the world that I want to do.  I like to follow impulses, I guess.  So every time I try to do a "SWAP"--"sewing with a plan"--I decide that I would really like to do something else!  This time is no different.

If you read my last post, you may recognize the fabrics I used in my latest dresses as belonging to my SWAP!

However, these dresses were not what I intended to make.  The watercolor print on the left was supposed to be used for Ottobre Woman 2/2013 #13, which I describe as "a dressy tee with an asymmetrical drape feature."  Although I originally bought it with a dress in mind, I intended more recently to make a top out of the purple camo, because I do tend to wear more pants and dressy tees/tops.  But when I feel like sewing, I want to sew what I want to sew!  And lately, that has been dresses.

In part, this is influenced by the Summer of No Pants.  I remember it from last year--or maybe the year before--and while I'm not ever going to promise to wear dresses all summer, they are cool, can be very comfortable, usually look nice, and are easy--no worrying about what coordinates!  Just toss it on and go!  I have also been pretty excited to try out several patterns from the latest Ottobre Woman (2/2014), which features several very nice looking, flattering dresses.  The dresses above were made from that issue--a design that I wasn't, at first glance, very crazy about because it seemed a little... well... blah:
See what I mean?

But my pretty knits seemed wasted on tee-shirts, and I wanted to branch out from my go-to knit dress pattern (ModKid Kyoko) so I gave it a go!

When tracing the pattern, I lengthened the sleeves, since cap sleeves aren't my favorite on me.  One of the appeals of this dress is that there are no inset sleeves, which made it sew up that much more quickly!  I traced a sz. 48, which tends to be my usual size in Ottobre patterns, but I made the sleeves the length of the sz. 52.

I made the watercolor knit dress first, and it is a rayon/viscose knit, so I was a bit disappointed in how much the bodice stretched as I wore it.  It was about 2" longer at the end of mass than when I finished sewing it!  I'm trying to remember whether I rehemmed it--I want to say yes, but I admit that once something is finished, I don't tend to tweak it...

When I made the second dress--both in one weekend, mind you (it's that easy!)--I shortened the bodice by about an inch.  The purple camo is a cotton spandex--not so slinky--so has more recovery, and doesn't grow the way the watercolor knit does, which is great.

The gathers at the waist are done with clear elastic tape, and I feel like I finally got that technique right on these dresses--by using a stretch stitch rather than a zig-zag!

One feature I love about the dress is the pockets.  They're cute and easy to sew, if not terribly practical when made out of viscose knit or cotton spandex.  My 6 year-old thinks they are very cool, and puts her hands in them when she gets the chance.

One thing I did not do particularly well on the first dress was the neckline.  It has a binding, and it stretched out a bit more than I would have liked.  When I made the purple camo dress, I actually had a happy accident--I sewed the binding to the wrong side of the dress instead of the right side, and I used a stretch stitch to do it, which would have made it very difficult to undo.  So instead, I turned the neckline under and stitched it with a stretch honeycomb stitch.  It worked beautifully and lays quite flat!  Hooray!

The dresses are very comfortable--rather like a soft nightgown, which was a bit of a problem when I first wore them, but since I'm wearing one to work today, I guess I have gotten over the feeling of wearing pajamas in public!

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