Saturday, May 16, 2009

Japanese dress #1

I knew it would be a bear, going in: I'm tall, barrel-chested, and increasingly chunky as I move into middle age. In other words, shaped not even remotely like the typical figure for which these Japanese patterns are drafted (ISBN 978-4579111497):

Given all that, I did reasonably well adapting (with much measuring, head-scratching, and hoping for the best) a sleeveless version of dress #23 to my shape and size. Here's the cheap cotton "wearable muslin" for what I'd hoped would be a repeatable "ATR" (around the house) dress:

The skirt, back and midriff came out fine, but I flubbed the bodice front. I sized it up and made it longer (even American patterns are 1-2" too short in the front torso for me) which turned out to be too big. Then I butchered trimming it down again, which is totally because I was tired and impatient and I should have known better than to keep going at that point. The funny pleats at the shoulder are because at try-on stage I discovered the shoulders were much wider than I wanted and I was too lazy/slapdashy to recut them, and just took a quickie pleat in the middle of each instead.

Even with such a flawed, ill-fitting bodice it's a serviceable garment, which is what I was aiming for. I'm wearing it right now and it's comfy enough that I probably will attempt it again someday. The challenge of getting the bodice to fit is far from solved, though, and some time needs to go by before I'll feel up for round two of redrafting.

I am pleased that I (deliberately) cut the midriff a bit loose, because, combined with the deep V neck, it means this can be a pull-on: no zipper required! The loose cut was planned with steamy weather in mind, the zipper-omission a happy coincidence. Of course, I discovered that after I'd done an astonishly good job installing the invisible zip. But if I don't need the zip, why waste it, so I ripped that all out and stitched up the center back seam.

You may be thinking, as I am, that for all that work it's a remarkably unflattering garment (I may not be slim, but I'm really not as chunky as I look in this dress). The thing is, I desperately need more lightweight, "breathable" (in both fabric and cut) dresses to wear around the house all summer. So I'm aiming for steamy-day comfort here, with no intention of ever appearing in public in it. That's what ATR dresses are for. I've got some more in the works, as I slog ever-onward in my quest for a truly great "TNT" (tried and true) ATR dress pattern. This isn't it, but at least I've got one more thing to wear on a warm day.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

New Look 6682 - photo

Here's New Look 6682 in action.
It would hang better if I'd ironed the closet-wrinkles out of it, but I didn't:

I've ranted about the short-comings of this pattern here. And I stand by my gripes, but guess what: I've worn this skirt several times now, and am feeling more favorably toward it.

Anyone's guess, really, whether the compliments I've received are for the skirt or just 'cause Amy B's fabric is so yummy. I'm maybe just the teensiest bit peeved that I get more compliments on this skirt than on other ones I've made recently that I like better, but that's a minor issue.

So, much to my own surprise, I'm considering making it again... with the necessary hip/waist cut modifications, and the length issue remains unresolved. I stood in front of the mirror and hiked it up and down for a bit and didn't come to any firm conclusion about whether it would be best longer or shorter or just where it is. Shorter would be a more useful addition to my wardrobe, so I might see how this turns out at just-below-the-knee length...

Burda 8280 - photos at last

Yes, it took forever and a day, but I finally got hubbie to snap some shots of the pile-up of un-photographed garments. Here are two of the short versions of Burda 8280 (officially my favorite skirt pattern of the moment, so nice to have found a "TNT"), both Amy Butler fabrics. I've worn these both a bunch of times, so comfy (very important) and pretty (can't go wrong with Amy B.) and (glorious additional benefit) flattering to a middle-aged figure. The "mod" one has a bias-tape finished waist, which I prefer to the facing the pattern calls for.

I also converted the pattern's single darts (one on each of four skirt sections) to smaller double darts, a bit more work, but a better fit for my shape. Plus, confession time: I no longer mark, measure, or pin skirt darts, just eyeball 'em and hope for the best. Slapdashery in this area has turned darts from a groan-inducing dreaded chore to a breeze. Probably not the best way to do them on every garment, but at the top of a skirt like this, works just fine for me.

Here's the long one, from Kaffe Fassett fabric. I used purchased bias tape for the hem finish, on a whim, but love how it turned out.

I've got another short version in the UFO pile... that's the first one I cut, where the subtle tulip shaping on the original pattern gets into trouble with the (can I call it "subtle"?) saddle-bagging on my outer thighs. I got as far as restitching with a narrower side seam in that area, but haven't done any ripping out. Partly due to pure laziness, and partly because I don't have a matching zip for that fabric yet. I'll get back to it eventually. And I have a red KF print that for some reason I bought 2 yards of; may do another short one out of that, which will leave plenty left over for the quilting scraps bin.

Monday, May 11, 2009

McCall's 4826

I went to the fabric store Friday to pick up something inexpensive to make a wearable muslin of this halter-top dress, and couldn't resist the navy-white gingham. Now I don't know which to do first in this dress: bake a pie or go milk a cow?

Yeah, it's totally farm-girly, but I'm kinda tickled with it, in spite of the fact that I'm 25 years too old and 25 pounds too heavy to wear anything like this in public. Which is fine, as it's intended for around-the-house wear only. I took a little bit of fullness out of the skirt, made pleats instead of gathers at the skirt top, left out the pockets, and made the halter-top fronts about an inch wider and overlapped more to reduce the extreme decolletage, which you can see in the pattern envelope here:

That skinny model can get away with a deep V neck, but I've got too much boobage for that. I went too far, though. If I make this again (which I might; I've got three yards in the stash of a gorgeous green and brown big fern print that cries out for a full-skirt treatment like this) I'll overlap a bit less. I briefly considered resewing that part of this one, but just couldn't be bothered.

I'm amazed, given the minimal attention I gave to pattern placement on the checks, that the gingham lines up so well. The sewing gods must have smiled on me as I threw this together, because the length turned out well, and it actually fits. All of which is amazing considering my utterly slapdash approach to this project: sew first, press later, didn't even press or pin the hem, just eyeballed it with a lickety-split, get-it-done-quick attitude.

The only downside to this is the gingham -- a poly-cotton blend -- is so lightweight I lined the entire thing with some white cotton lawn from the stash. So it was not only a lot more work, but is no longer the super-cool hot-day wear I was aiming for. If I do make this again I will use a more opaque cotton and only line the bodice (with the lightest, most breathable fabric I can find).