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Take a nothing day

July 13, 2011

Now, I’m not claiming I can turn the world on with my smile, but I do have a knack for making a nothing day seem worthwhile.

I feel a Mary Tyler Moore marathon coming on.  Hello, tween years, when the word “tween” didn’t exist.  Ahem, Nick at Nite, thank you… not original broadcast dates.

Finally finished my Simplicity dress from 1973, and after a boatload of tweaking, it fits just about to a T.  Does that mean it fits to an S?  Wonk wonk.  With every new, in this case, old, pattern I stitch up, I realize more and more that I really need to invest some time and thought into making slopers.  All the alterations I’ve made thus far are so annoying and time-consuming, yet necessary for a good fit.  When combined with my impatience and perfectionism, things can get a little hairy over at threadsquare.  Although, I have been curbing the impatience lately, as the perfectionism wins over :)  Granted, this pattern fell into my lap, and wasn’t my size (it isn’t a multi-size pattern, which I found to really appreciate overall). Yet I can honestly say that my skills might finally be ready for using a shell or sloper, then jumping off from there.

You know, I hadn’t even sold myself on this dress pattern and textile combo at first.  But I love the end result.  My wardrobe is probably becoming less cohesive by the garment, which is a shame, but I’m using up old fabric and learning new skills. Right after I decided this would be my next project, Lisa wrote this post in the Colette blog’s designer series.  Could this be a Pierre Cardin knock-off?  I mean, the pattern envelope states “designer”, but it’s so generic, with no licensing info to be found.  Or is it simply standard 70s fare?  Keep in mind that my version has been taken in drastically to highlight the waist, whereas the envelope photos illustrate a much more A-lined shape.

This cotton pique was a bit sheer, so it’s fully interlined with China silk (if I were purchasing new fabric, I might have tried my hand at the popular Bemberg lining for a change).  This made the process a little slower, as the bust darts are curved, thus needing to be sliced down the center instead of simply folded.  I decided to have the interlining and fashion fabric darts face each other, to prevent unraveling.  I then stitched the remaining seams as one unit, as you normally would when interlining.  The bust darts & yoke could still use a bit of tweaking, but I can live with them in this dress.

Look at that wet dog!

My now-standard hand-picked zipper was applied after basting up the back seam, then taking in quite a bit.  The armscye and neck facings were interfaced with China silk and understitched, the latter not called for in the instructions.  I mentioned this in the last garment, but it really does make for a more polished look.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my facings peeking out.  They were then slip stitched to the inside, along with the hem (more on that below).  All the hand stitching was done with silk thread, such a dream.  I was really trying to complete the entire garment on Ricky (the whole vintage theme), but she didn’t cooperate for the neckband and side seams.  Maybe she doesn’t like to sit for a week, or maybe she really does need to have a timing adjustment.  I couldn’t even bring up the bobbin thread the other day :(

Mushka always wants her cute mug in photos.

Potato sack, anyone?

I do think this will make a sexy little black dress, a wardrobe staple that I am lacking, so I marked up the pattern pieces will all of my adjustments for ease of use next time ’round.  As you can see, I took in several inches on the sides and back, including a little grading on the center front seam.  The bust darts started pulling, so I took them in as well (making the aforementioned interlining technique a little tricky).  Ultimately, I still ended up adding darts under the bust, marking my pattern, of course.  There’s only so much side seam alteration one can make before things just pull and hang oddly.  Again: sloper is in the near future.

Visible here are under-bust darts, and a bit of taking in on the center front seam. You can also see that while the under-bust darts are constructed with interlining/fashion fabric as one piece, the regular bust darts are constructed with wrong sides facing.

Was a little unsure of the length at first, something I always struggle with.  But then I remembered this handy trick to finding one’s best hem lengths:  stand in a ballerina’s first position while looking into a mirror.  You’ll see at least one area of negative space between your legs, in the shape of a diamond.  That area, or areas, is the most flattering hem length for you.  My diamonds are just below the knee, and a bit above, into my upper thigh.  Maybe the LBD will be a shorter version, with some of the fullness gone from the skirt?  Va-va-voom.

After marking the hem, I carefully pinned & serged the interlining to the cotton, to prevent any shifty behavior.  How frustrating would it be to finally finish, and have the interlining pulling the dress in every direction?!  A length of hem tape was machine stitched along the edge, then I eased in the fullness while hemming with a slip stitch.  The serging actually helped to ease in that fullness, which was a  handy trick to have learned.

This dress is so comfortable to wear, and the silk interlining definitely feels luscious on the skin.  But I was still a bit iffy on the print.  Confidence boost:  total stranger at the bus stop telling me how lovely the dress was this very morning :)

6 Comments leave one →
  1. July 13, 2011 3:58 pm

    LOVE! :D

  2. July 13, 2011 5:19 pm

    I remember this pattern. Unfortunately, this was my (ahem) productive era, so not a chance I would ever wear it. Understitching was shown to me by a professional seamstress, when I moped about my rolling facings. I still use if after 35+ years.
    You have done a lovely job of work, and should pat yourself on the back. BTW, if you ever figure out how-to do the back-pat, let me know how!! Cordially, Nehmah/Emily

    • threadsquare permalink*
      July 13, 2011 8:35 pm

      Productive, as in a maternity dress (reproductive)? Is that why you wouldn’t wear it now? Because that would be perfect! But I’m not rushing things over here…I’ll just keep this one in mind :) Thanks so much Nehmah!

  3. July 14, 2011 3:32 pm

    The dress is beatiful. I totally understand why the person at the bus stop complimented you. I really like how the keyhole opening is formed by the seams. It looks so much better as a fitted sheath dress than a 60’s A line style.

    • threadsquare permalink*
      July 14, 2011 3:56 pm

      Thanks, Audrey, what a sweet comment! If I were Twiggy, maybe I could get behind the A-line, but fitted items tend to flatter me much better.

  4. January 6, 2012 12:57 pm

    This dress is beautiful! Like Oona, I think I missed this one the first time around. Love it!

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