finished: Anemone Dress

Nothing to help me finish a dress than plans to make a skirt. I really planned to blog each day this week and make a simple skirt! I read the instructions, fondled my fabric. And then somehow spend my sewing time finishing the dress I’ve been avoiding for weeks.

Meet my Anemone Dress:
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It’s a sheat dress, using my sloper as a pattern. I transformed the bust darts into princess lines. Only at the front though. And only after I tried it on for fit.

This is stretchy cotton fabric so I thought I might get away with zero ease. I did. (I started out with cutting the dress with plenty of ease, basting it together to check the fit and eventually it turned out zero ease was fine)

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The fabric is a first for me: cotton with a bit of elastaan/elastine. I bought it by accident in the fabric shop in the next town over. I went there to support a small shop and to feel the fabric before I bought it. And to celebrate me with linen and make a dress as explained in the Craftsy Course The Couture Dress by Susan Khalje.

As I was chattering about that it was made clear that that was an old fashioned approach, using an interlining ánd a lining. Why not use a modern fabric that behaves all by itself? It’s so much easier! Here, like this one. Which colour do you like?
A zipper to go with that. Thread in the right colour. Some bias band. There you go, have fun.

I fell into that trap. The one where you doubt yourself and your plans. Where you rely on the expert. Only to come home and find you’re left with more answers. Like:

Q: How to finish the seam allowance if there’s no interlining to stitch it to? (And no serger or locking machine or zig zag on my sewing machine or even pinking shears)

Q: What kind of stitch does stretchy fabric require?

Now, a month later, I am very pleased with the dress I finished today. But I had to steer my head in a whole other direction to work with this fabric. I wanted to focus on the shape but instead had to focus on the material. For this I studied online and asked my sewist friends questions. But I’m still a bit annoyed that I let myself be taken from the intentioned path.

A: The seam allowance I folded under and stitched. Pressed open and left them as be. Some parts I gave a whip stitch finish.

A: for the side seams: just a straight stitch. Make sure you don’t stretch the fabric while sewing, let the machine transport the fabric. Having an old fashioned treadle machine was an advantage: it already has the small hole in the footer nowadays used for silks. My machine won’t “eat” the fabric and will not pull it down into the underbelly of the machine.
For seams that need to remain stretchy: the catch stich.

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from the book Couture Sewing Techniques by Claire B Shaeffer, one of the best books out there. She not only shows how, she explains why. Which helped me to couple this stitch to this fabric.

I finished a lot of details by hand. The edges, the armholes, the hem, the splits. It’s ok. Handstitching is not that much of a job, it doesn’t take that long. 45 minutes for the hem. Take it outside, sit in the shade, enjoy a little calm.

Front panel folded down and stitched in place at the sides. Inside:
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Right side:
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The hem and neckline I folded under and sewed with the catch stitch, leaving small pricks of thread visible in the fabric, from the outside right side. With the wild print it’s ok.

Hem, catch stitch, from the inside and from the right side:
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neckline at the back:
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The inside of the dress is not very neat but the outside looks good and it wears well. That’s all I ask at the moment. Other people might find sheer glee at knowing their dress looks at good on the inside as it does on the outside but I am not there yet. I might never get there.
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Now let’s talk about the shape of things.
First of all, on the cloths hanger the dress doesn’t look very good. It’s crooked. You can see how one shoulder is not the mirror image of the other one:
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But on me it sits well:
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(if you would kindly ignore the fold in my waist and just concentrate on the shoulder and neckline)
That’s a difference between Ready To Wear (RTW) and hand tailored dresses, writes Claire B. Shaeffer. RTW looks good in the shop, tailored clothes look good on a person.

OK, now I am ready to talk about that fold of fabric in my side. It is there because when I stand up straight I stand up crooked. Yes. I am standing straight in all these pictures. I am a twisted kind of person, I curve naturally. I really thought and felt as if I was standing straight up.

This is me standing straight:
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SWOING! Would you believe it?! My one hip is higher, my one leg gets less weight, my shoulder compensates my being lifted. I should be called “Mrs. S”
(I wonder if this has to do with the knee surgery I had as a teen, for years I didn’t put weight on my left leg and still have to correct myself often and distribute weight to it. How very annoying! This way, I might grow into a twisted old lady.)
Without a mirror or these pictures I would not believed I was in fact standing not straight.

In the sloper there is a correction for the folds of extra fabric this creates. It’s both in the back and in the side:

I did not apply it in this dress because it has long princess lines and no horizontal cut at the waist where I could take out the extra fabric. I did baste in the side “thingy to take out the extra fabric” but it showed in the fabric print and just wasn’t nice. So that’s how I ended up with a dress with folds. It’s ok, I move a lot in dresses and it won’t notice much. But in a next dress I will certainly make a cut at the waist and take out some fabric. In the back at the very least.

From the side the extra fabric at the back shows very well:
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That hem looks good though!

A look at the front curviness from the side. The princess lines take care of that 32G beautifully:
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With room to breathe. I like breathing. And is that side seam acceptably straight?

I consider those folds the only thing “wrong” with this dress. There’s so much “Right” with this dress! In the back, at the top, the dress clings to my skin beautifully. No gap. Further down it follows the curve of my back. At the front there is no “side boob fabric” gaping. The skirt flares inward a bit below the hip, creating a flattering shape for my body type. The hem is fairly straight. All the things I wrote about in previous dresses are not problems here.
Yes, very pleased.

Another more twisted thing I noticed: I carry my right shoulder in front of my hip. My left is at the side. I twist my upper body to the left. You can see on pictures that my one hand is more turned inward than the other. Had I be wearing rings today you would have seen one on one hand but not on the other. Because again, I am standing straight:
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I’ll leave it for now I guess. If I learn to adjust my posture permanently I might have to make new slopers…

(still, I guess I better learn to get a better posture before I grow old and crooked and set in my ways. But for the time being I want to wear my handmade, adjusting for crookedness, dresses. They already make me sit up straight and breathe better. The twisted posture thing I’ll tackle when I enter the final third of my life, at age 80.)
(what? I’m growing to be a 120 years, don’t you?)

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Sewing: the joy of hand stitching

see those little pecks in the lining of the back?
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That’s understitching, done by hand.
I can’t believe it but that was one of the loveliest times I had last night, sewing in a little understitching by hand.
It goes quite fast to my surprise. And there’s maximum control over fabric and thread. Sewing by hand: a lovely thing to do?

It prompted me to take on that other job that was still waiting: fixing the neck line of the pink flowery dress. It was all wonky and tilted because I put in front darts when tired and not smart enough to get a ruler.
Without unpicking the seam I folded a new line and pressed it and sewed it in place by hand. The new line is on your lieft (my right when wearing it):
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Folded it too much perhaps and now it’s not the same as the other side?
No. It was folded while I was wearing it and although it looks crooked in 2D it is actually in harmony in 3D. Or harmony-ish.

In the picture there’s also a little tell tale handstitching at the top of the centre back. I pulled on a wrong thread and the centre back seam came undone. So I stitched a little.
Also one side of the front might benefit from a little extra understitching…by hand.

Since I seem to love to stitch by hand.

Wriggle Dress: finishing touches, ugly bits.

I am not very subtle with my finishing touches I’m afraid. Whatever got the job done I did. There are some truely ugly bits…. and I am going to show you them.

For the sideseams I got confused about how to combine lining and sewing back and front together and still get a decent finished sideseam. So I just did first things first and I lined each piece separately:
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Then sewed them together using the tiniest of seam allowances (on the inside)
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Then I got worried that one line of stitching will never hold together two pieces of cloth and seams would be bursting and I’d be running along the street clutching pieces my dress together while trying to hide my face at the same time…

So I sewed a second time over the side seams. Which made them rigid and will probably chafe my skin when wearing them:
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Also I could not figure out how to sew the shoulder straps together. How to fold them into each other, lining embracing lining while the interlining was too thick to fold double? Not while there was also width to adjust and those pesky folds on the right shoulder to keep in check.
So I sewed things in place by hand and then ran the sewing machine over it. And then sewed all the little bits and frays in place by hand.
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This one has not yet received a go over with the sewing machine. The underside is still running wild. The sewed line you see is a basting that keeps the interlining to the fabric. (too narrow stitch width for basting I know)

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Now here come the real ugliest bits:
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This is the side seam under one armhole.
I took in the side bust a bit but only áfter I had sewn the side seams in my no-clutching-double-stitched-faux-French-seam style. After I took it in there was about half an inch of seam/fabric flapping on the inside so I decided to cut that away…

I’ll hand stitch over that to keep the fraying in check.

The other really ugly bit is the end of the zipper which the lining does not hide and the finishing of said lining. I tried a handrolled seam but … yeah… not easy.
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Also, this lining is such thin and delicate cotton, I wonder how long it will wear. This dress really makes me think about the thickness and sturdiness of the fabrics I combined in it. In a next dress I will be paying more attention to that: match them better.

Well, it is nearly a dress now. I will be wearing it. All that remains to be done is two little jobs and one big one: finish right shoulder strap, do something to that ugly side seam trimming and Hem The Dress.
I’d love to finish it to today, if I can find out a way to hem it by myself.

I have a shell! It’s a dress!

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I am satisfied with it 🙂

It is not finished yet. It requires some finishing in hand stitching:

  1. zipper and its side seam
  2. the lining of the bodice needs to be tacked down
  3. skirt hem

and it requires some magic I have yet to invent. The neckline has too much fabric at the moment (I redrew the neckline from the original pattern, I wanted it higher):
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But look at the fit around my waist!! I have a waist! And the little curve in my back!

At the back of the bodice, where the empress waist connects, there’s a tad too much ease. As you can see in the picture below.
The last minute ‘hunch back alteration’ I did worked beautifully, the bodice lies flat against my back at the top. I’ve altered my pattern block already.
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All in all I am happy 🙂 Just a few more things here and there and I will certainly wear it.
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I think on a next dress I prefer fabric with a little bit of elasticity. This non-elastic fabric really makes you stand on your toes. Well worth to buy nice, good fabric though. Beautiful stuff. If you are going to pour so much energy and attention into it, you might as well work with the very best you can afford.