I've been taking it easy since the wedding, and have only made a few garments. One is for my mom (still in progress), two are classes I am teaching at Needlework over the summer, and one is a totally out of season somewhat-disaster dress.
This first dress is the Staple Dress, designed by April Rhodes. I was a bit worried about this dress because it kind of looked like with the wrong fabric, it could be a sack. Thankfully, Needlework got in some super soft Rayon Challis that drapes beautifully, and although this is definitely not my normal fitted bodice, I can tell this will be the dress I reach for all summer. It kind of almost feels like I am not wearing clothes at all when I wear it. Heh. So cool and breezy and I love the pattern and colours so so much.
I am teaching this as a class in August (and yes, Liz has a matching Staple Dress out of the same fabric!), but if you are a beginner sewer, you can probably tackle this dress as it's only a couple pattern pieces and it came together pretty quickly. I opted for the drop hem and some extra lines of shirring at the waist for some waist definition. I also added three inches to the length to account for my height.
The next make is a Scout Tee by Grainline Studios. Liz & Kate have made so many of these and I kept eying their Scout Tee's in envy and debating whether something with no darts was something that would even remotely flatter me. Question answered: It's good, but not awesome. Which, actually, for a t-shirt that's made of a woven fabric, is probably the best I will ever get. You can't argue with how fast it is to sew... about 2 hours, including the time I spent tracing the pattern and adding two inches to the length. I may try adding some darts to the back, like the Colette Laurel, to give it a bit more of a shape. I will definitely make more, it seems like the perfect around-the-house, walking-the-dog t-shirt for summer.
That brings us to the problem dress. And yeah, I see that you are all thinking "It looks fine!". Let me start at the beginning. I spotted this dress a couple months ago, but thought nothing of it until I saw Caitlan's versions. Something about seeing outfits on people that have the same kind of body shape and face as me makes me want to make those things, too. The problem is that, in Australia, it's cooling down now and in Canada it's getting warm. But suddenly, making a Lola dress was all I could think about. I wanted a green one with white trim! And a seafoam one with peach trim! And ALL THE COLOURS.
Before I continue, I should clarify that I am not sure how many of the problems came from all the changes I made to the pattern (and my lack of Mock-up), and how many are from the pattern itself. Based on pictures of other Lola's, I suspect some are inherent in the pattern, but some mistakes are 100% my fault (for instance, I am pretty sure the ginormous neckline was my own doing, somehow).
I spent an entire evening (about 6 hours) after purchasing the pattern tracing out all the pieces and re-drawing each one larger (I am about one size larger than the largest size in the pattern according to the measurements). I also added 1.5 inches length to all of those bodice pattern pieces and 2.5 inches in length to the lower pattern pieces. There are lots of pieces and this was very frustrating and time-consuming. But I was cool with it... in my head, I just kept thinking "Sweatshirt dress! Sweatshirt Dress! Eee!"
I was bummed to find out that French Terry/Sweatshirt material is about $30/m. Tooooo much money for sure. I finally found some in the discount pile at Fabricland for $10/m that had a faded stripe down the center fold from where the bolt had faced the window. Still, it seemed like a miracle that I found the green I wanted on sale, so I bought 3m to account for working around the faded section and for the lengthening I had done on all the pattern pieces.
Pretty much everything after that went wrong. I serged together the whole dress and tried it on. Jay looked kind of alarmed when I tried it on and instead of his normal encouraging noises, all that came out was a kind of "Ohhhhhhhmmmmmmaaaaaggghhhh" sound. It was a SACK! Worse than a sack! A fat suit sack with a neckline so huge it could fit three heads. I went back downstairs and cut the white ribbing band for the neckline, in hopes that putting it on would magically draw the whole top part together and make it less hideous.
When I came back upstairs, I took one look in the mirror and burst into tears. I don't often cry while sewing (in fact, the last time was probably grade eight when I serged a hole in the butt of a finished pair of pants), but this was BAD. Now, in addition to the huge neckline, there was a big, ripply, weirdly misshapen bright white band and the whole dress still looked like it was made for someone three sizes larger than me.
Jay tried to offer suggestions for fixing it but I was totally beyond reason and the most he was able to convince me to do was not to throw it in the garbage while I was upset. Then yesterday I was telling my class about how awful it was and how it was completely unfixable. They are going to totally roll their eyes because last night I attacked it with renewed energy and did actually manage to fix most of the problems. Heh. But it was kind of an epic overhaul.
- I unpicked all the serging on the neckline band and removed it. (Not. Fun.)
- I pulled it onto my dress form inside out and pinned out fabric everywhere that I could, including taking HUGE wedges out of the neckline, front princess seams, and back princess seams.
- I re-serged those seams, and then repeated that process again to remove more fabric. The only section I was unable to fix well was a bulge of fabric at each armpit.
- Then I re-cut the neckline band and instead of cutting it to the pattern piece, I just stretched it as much as absolutely possible around the neckline curve while setting it in (despite all the pattern adjustments I made, I think this is a flaw in the pattern itself, as I have now noticed a wrinkly neckband on many other Lola's on other blogs)
- Now that I had stopped trusting the pattern at all, I cut the cuff bands by having Jason pin them to the desired tightness on my arm, and then I stretched them to fit the sleeve.
- The white trim at the bottom of the dress was horrendous. My first attempt ended up too tight, and gathered the whole skirt in in a really unpleasant way (lumpy and uneven). I ripped out that serging and cut the band to match the pattern piece this time, but it was still kind of lumpy and weird. I ripped out the serging AGAIN and just serged off all of the now fairly frayed bottom edge, and just stitched it up under the dress. I am pretty happy with that finish now, and see that other bloggers have decided on the same effect.
So.... it's done, now. I do think that if I bury it in my closet until autumn, I might love it when I pull it out. Because I lengthened the pockets when I lengthened the bottom pieces, they are deep enough to hold pretty much all of the Harry Potter volumes, and I need to bend in half to find anything in them.... but they are super warm and cozy and I think huge pockets are an awesome accessory while dog walking.