90’s Nostalgia – Sundress Edition!

Well where the f*ck did July go?!?!? I really did plan on sharing some things with you all last month, but time kind of got away from me. And not for nothing, either: we have had a lot going on with the house, and I will definitely have some incredible “Before and After” photos to show you this Fall. 😀 It’s been really exciting but stressful, as old house renovations tend to be!

I have 2 garments to share today, which have been sewn for MONTHS. I haven’t done much sewing lately because part of the house goings-on involved me tearing my sewing setup down to reveal our lovely dining room. It looked beautiful but was also depressing, if you know what I mean!

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Sure it’s a pretty dining room, but I want to sew!!!!

I’ve just started getting the sewing stuff back out but haven’t had time to make anything. Hopefully soon! (Like, once we stop using the dining table as a closet and sleeping in the living room…)

My summer sewing was pretty successful this year. (Yes, I am pronouncing it “past tense,” because I don’t see how I’ll squeeze any more summer things in!) The first dress I’m about to show you was started the same week as my Myosotis dress, but I set it aside temporarily to hurriedly make that pattern. But I got back to my “Pepto-Bismol” pink sundress as soon as I finished the Myosotis because I knew it was exactly what my summer wardrobe needed. Then I made a second one almost immediately, lol.

Presenting: my Style Arc Ariana dresses!

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Pink!

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Pink, now with 100% more attitude

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Showing off the neckline

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Full back

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Big-ass pockets

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Nonchalant

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Is there a sewing blogger in the US that *doesn’t* own this fabric yet?

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Swish

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Aren’t they just so perfectly 90’s and cute?!?

I bought the Ariana pattern from Style Arc as soon as it came out: the combination of the shirred back panel, spaghetti straps, and not-too-full skirt pulled me in immediately. (And yes, the 90’s vibe, because duh.) Apart from some small fit complaints, I LOVE THESE DRESSES. Seriously, I want an army of them for summer. (So…2 down, 48 to go? 😉 ) It’s chic, but not fussy. And while I must admit to not being totally sold on the large patch pockets at first, I am glad to have them. (They also help to break up the expanse of skirt nicely…)

I really wanted a pink one just like the cover art, so I made one. #sooriginal

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Kick!

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Blue Kick

For the second Ariana, I copied a bunch of other internet sewing people and went to JoAnn for this cotton/linen/rayon blend. I under-bought slightly, so the CF matching isn’t great; and while shortening the skirt was the plan, it would have been a necessity with the yardage I had anyway. Oh well, I’m happy enough with the dress so it’s all good!

Pattern Notes

Pattern-wise, I made 0–that’s ZERO–adjustments (unless you include using the extra length Style Arc put on the straps) to the pink dress. I have had great luck with tops from Style Arc fitting really well straight out of the packet. I was pleasantly surprised by the bust area however, as I am really small cup-wise (ahem…A) and the princess seams have just enough room for my braless boobies. (So be warned if you measure into a Style Arc 4 and have boobs bigger than mine!) If I really want to be a perfectionist (and you KNOW I do…), I could use a little extra length in the bodice rather than just using the maximum strap length to cheat it.

The waist is bigger than I’d like–in the size 4, it is over 1″ bigger than my largest occurring waist measurement (thank you, period) and 3.25″ bigger than my usual baseline waist measurement. However, I was paranoid about the dress not fitting–and I don’t know why, because they give the finished measurements!–so I didn’t remove any width. (I blame the shirring and not having done it before, resulting in paranoia about how much the CB panel would shrink up.) The views from the side and back are not very nice, but ultimately I know I’m not going to open the whole dress back up to take it in. (The bodice is fully lined in self fabric.)

Honestly, combined with my small bust and the very nice fit there, I was worried I looked dumpy in a baggy-waisted midi length sundress. Tom said he didn’t think it was dowdy or frumpy, so here’s hoping he’s not a lying jerk! 😉 I should also note that because there is a hefty linen content in this fabric and I wore it multiple times before these photos were taken, the pink bodice has relaxed a bit versus the hot-off-the-machine fit.

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Partial back, wherein you can kinda-sorta see the poor fit at the waist and lower back.

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Ugh, such puff…

I made bodice adjustments before the blue one, I swear! I took off 1/4″ from each seamline on the side front, side back, and CB panels. And IT’S STILL REALLY BIG. O_o Again, I think I was overconfident about how small the shirred section would be in the end–it really doesn’t shrink up as much as you might expect, even after a steam. Before I make any more Arianas (and I will make more), I will spend more time fine-tuning the back waist area. I’ll probably remove excess from the skirt as well: I don’t think all that bunched up fabric (shirring + gathers) is flattering on me in that area. I’m thinking I’d like a version with no gathers at all, so that will probably be my next plan of attack.

Construction Notes

Mie at Sewing Like Mad has an excellent post about how she made her Ariana dresses, and I found it tremendously helpful. As in, I wouldn’t have been so successful without her thorough notes. (Plus her dresses are totally gorgeous!) If you are planning to sew this pattern, READ HER BLOG POST. Seriously, it will save you a lot of trouble. Her tip for attaching the shirred panel to the bodice is particularly genius!! I would probably not have thought of that on my own, let’s be real.

She also notes that, on clothing with no proper placket, buttonholes are supposed to be horizontal–I did not know that! Style Arc’s line art bears this out, but I wouldn’t have even thought about it had Mie not mentioned it. (See both of my Reeta dresses for evidence of me not thinking about such things–I put the buttonholes on those dresses going vertically.) So here is a huge “Thank you!!!” to Mie for taking the time to share her process, which awesomely includes the “why” AND the “how.”

My first shirred panel isn’t the greatest; the lines aren’t 100% evenly-spaced, and despite being sure I was never going to fit all 29 lines of shirring on that panel, I managed to sew 31 of them because I wasn’t counting and didn’t trace the lines!! O_o #sostupid The last few were the worst and curve up pretty obviously; those were helpfully put on the inside of the bodice so nobody has to see them but me. 😉 The second one was marked and sewn very neatly!

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Flexing, thanks to that shirring!

As for the straps, I went off-piste with those on purpose. The length of the straps–INCLUDING the extra Style Arc tacks on one end–was pretty close to perfect for me, so I went with it. I made the straps the same way I made my Reeta drawstrings, so they’re nice and heavy (because layers) but still thin and feminine. I did use Style Arc’s pattern piece for cutting them out, I just didn’t sew them as directed if that makes sense! I used the directions from the Ogden cami pattern to attach the straps: they are easy to follow and the result is clean and tidy.

I used smaller buttons than SA specified–I didn’t have anything suitable in a 5/8″ button but had plenty of white 1/2″ buttons (thank you, Past Mads, for buying one gross–144!–of those buttons…) that I liked just fine. Honestly, something about the scale of the buttons Style Arc suggests just didn’t feel right to me; 5/8″ seems too large for the sweetheart neck and delicate little straps and relatively close nature of CF to the edges (3/8″). Maybe that’s just me though?

Also, BEHOLD MY BEAUTIFUL HEM CORNERS:

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Sharp hem corners

(The blue ones are equally beautiful, but I didn’t get a close-up of them…)

Conclusions

I am 100% making more Ariana dresses! I already have tentative plans for at least 2 more beyond the ones in this post. I don’t often buy Style Arc patterns just because their designs don’t always “click” for me and my style, but I do know that I can rely on them for a consistent draft quality and fit. (That doesn’t mean I expect their stuff to fit me perfectly right out of the gate, but that I can reasonably expect the same general fit across their patterns against my own body because they are consistent.) If you want a summer sundress that’s so 90s it hurts, this is it!

And you guys didn’t think I’d leave you without any outtakes or .gifs, did you??? >=D

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Accidental strip-tease

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Puppy snugs!

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God I look like such a mom…

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Chomp chomp!

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You guys are the wind beneath my…skirt. 😉

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No dog noggins were actually smooshed in the making of this .gif

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A “Mads” in her natural state of being

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Don’t judge: that bench was wobbly and those shoes are tall!

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Attitude in motion

I have a few more summer items to share, which I will hopefully have posts for shortly. (And one of them will introduce you to the newest member of the “Mads” House blog team. 😉 ) After those are live I will be mostly caught up, yay! I still have 4 Driftless cardigans that haven’t been photographed, plus 6 t-shirts for Tom that I made back in…March? O_o

I have NO IDEA what I will sew next (it’s hard to plan these things when you can’t use your sewing space) so perhaps a brainstorm/planning post is in order…

What’s on your sewing table right now? Are you prepping for the next season or still stubbornly sewing for this one? Are you into the 90’s fashion revival?

 

 

These Are Clothes

Shout-out to Project Runway Season 9 Michael Kors, who used, “This doesn’t look like fashion, it just looks like…clothes!” as an insult, which inspired this title. 😉

Because I have a few repeat-pattern things to share today, I figured it was easiest to just throw them all into one post. And I’m just in time for the Sewcialists “TNT Month” theme, yay!

Ready? Here we go:

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I felt like I should have been on a boat in this outfit!

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…is this how people sit on boats?

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Frontal region

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#derpface

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#nowwith100percentmorederp

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A basic bitch in basic black…

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Yep, it’s a t-shirt!

These are my newest t-shirts! I made them with the Lark pattern, which is definitely my TNT for t-shirts. I love all the options, though I tend to stick to just a few of them (v-necks aren’t my favorite, either to sew or wear). I also love that, for a Grainline pattern, it’s quite long–I don’t have to lengthen it! The two striped ones are the drafted length (with about 5/8″ taken for a hem, I think? I don’t even know the pattern’s hem allowance…), but the black one was shortened about 2″ to make it more summery. One of these days, I will try making a more fitted version; I still feel frumpy in this weird middle ground between fitted and oversized! O_o

The navy/white Lark is bamboo/lycra jersey (Telio!), and the obnoxious yellow/navy one is a rayon/lycra jersey. The basic black tee is a tencel t-shirt knit that I previously used for an Inari a few months ago. I have to say that I’m not so pleased with how this last material is wearing: it pills very early into its life cycle. (And that’s from someone who will absolutely wear non-underwear things more than once before washing them whenever possible. O_o ) But that said, having a plain black un-cropped tee in my wardrobe again has been a lifesaver! Now I just need to make more, in a hardier material!

Meanwhile, I am putting together a list of “cool” knit top and dress patterns, because I feel like I’m wasting my bamboo/lycra jersey if I only ever make basic t-shirts with it! It drapes and stretches wonderfully, so I’m hoping to take full advantage of that with some twists and stuff. Ditto for the stash of wool/lycra jerseys I’ve built up. Watch this space! In the meantime, do you have any “cool” jersey top or dress pattern recommendations for me? I’d love to hear them!

And speaking of knit tops, here are 2 more:

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Weeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!

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Loud-ass outfit

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How I feel about my tummy showing most of the time…

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It’s cooooooooooold

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Sulky Mads

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Back view, with an “oops”

These are Lexi A-line tops by Named (of course). Both are made from scuba knits, which I LOVE for cold-weather garments. I am always cold, and this shit doesn’t breathe: it’s like wearing insulation! 😉 You may have seen the lapis blue one with my TPC6 trousers, which is usually how I wear it. Even with my 1″ of length added at the bust, it’s just not long enough to wear to work with pants or bottoms that don’t come up to my waist. That’s why I made the blush version, which is 2″ longer (3″ longer than the draft of the pattern, because of my 1″ adjustment). Which brings me to…

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I’ve shown all the good front views for the tops, so here are some of the back!

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Close-up of the pockets

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Hems!

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Walking away

…more jeans!

That’s right, I made the ugly-ass pants in some of these photos, LOL! I kinda shot myself in the foot with these: I don’t think I’ll wear them much until Spring. To me, they don’t read as winter-appropriate and they’re kind of thin, but S/S18 will see them worn alllllllllllll over the place. I used my TNT self-made pattern, though this time I made a few tweaks:

  1. Enlarged those front pocket openings! They are now closer to the CF and cut down deeper as well. Much more proportional with the rise of the pants now! I made this change to the pattern itself.
  2. Shrunk the width of most of the pattern pieces above the full hip. This denim is really stretchy, and I knew if my last pair were too baggy at the waist, these would be a disaster! I actually made these changes to my pattern pieces, since they were needed after I cut the last pair anyway. I will have to watch out with future pairs, since stretch % is different for every denim!
  3. Despite 2., I still had to go back and take an additional inch out of the waist before attaching the waistband. O_o And they’re still a little bigger than I’d like in a couple of areas. But better too big than too small, eh?
  4. Omitted rivets and down-the-side bartacks and topstitching. I may go back and add these later, but felt the jeans were busy and tight enough to not need the embellishment. 😉
  5. Stupidly put the belt loops all the way on before finishing the waistband and facing. What I should have done is put the waistband on, baste my belt loops to it at the facing seam, and THEN sew on the facing, followed by topstitching the waistband and then bartacking the bottom ends of the loops to the jeans. I’m not happy with how the bottom of the loops look now and may go back and unpick them. 😦

Believe it or not, I bought this denim from Joann! I KNOW. I hardly ever find things there that I feel like I can’t leave the store without, in terms of fabric. (I am a spoiled USian, and prefer to shop online because #choices.) But my friend had this material and brought it to a sewing night, and I had to have it. The jeans zipper came from Zipper Stop, which I had shortened to 4″ for a fee. ($1 per zip, not bad.) The button came from either TaylorTailor or Wawak…I can’t remember!

I got a big assist from my Instagram friends when it came to picking a topstitching color for these jeans. I couldn’t decide what color would work best, but you guys came through! 😀 It’s perfect!

That will do it for me today–that’s a lot of crap clothes crammed into one post! But now I am basically all caught up: the black Lark tee and the Lexi tops were all made back in August, but weren’t blogged until now, and the jeans are from September. And I have one dress I made this summer that I didn’t blog because I don’t really like it and couldn’t get excited about writing a post for it, haha! It’s not that I want to pretend I don’t have FAILs, it’s just that I genuinely am not excited to write about that dress. Maybe for Fail February it will come out to play. 😉

As is customary around here, I have some outtakes for you! (Warning: .gif ahead)

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Running for warmth!

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Not a terrible photo, for once!

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That’s more like it! 😉

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Punching myself in the face, or fixing my Very Important hair?

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When will I learn that jumping doesn’t suit me?!?!?

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Calling this one the “TNT Happy Dance”

I don’t know what I’ll be back to share next, folks; it’s Totally Unnecessary Holiday Outfit season, which means I will be working (what’s left of) my ass off on something ridiculous for a one-night event. *eyeroll* But depending on how that goes, hopefully I’ll be back again soon with something fun!

Kielodoscope Dress (aka The Dress That Taste Forgot)

Hello there!

Somehow, I have made YET ANOTHER Penny raglan:

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Striped Penny, after a full day of wear

I wear that one a lot, too, in case you were wondering.

More miraculously, I have managed to sew a third consecutive pattern from my mega planning post. WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?!? To be fair, had I not started on this dress before our bathroom remodel swung into high gear, it wouldn’t be finished yet–it’s been hectic around here!

One word of warning: this dress is not classic, understated, or tasteful. At all. But I love it!

Behold, the pun-tastic Kielo Wrap Dress which I have dubbed “Kielodoscope”:

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Ta-Dah!!!!

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Wrapping it up!

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Skirt flaps for daysssss

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Wing-a-lings

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Back view of the wing-a-lings

Where do I even start with this one?? I had mentioned in the planning post that I wasn’t really sure if I had a suitable fabric for this pattern: it needs about 2 yards of a light and drapey fabric with at least 20% stretch, and most things I could think of only had about 2 of those qualities. A review of my stash spreadsheet reminded me that I owned this Nicole Miller fabric, and my inner mad scientist began to plot. (Fun Fact: I also totally bought the bright stretch twill version of this fabric, because of course I did. #ALLthepixelatedfabrics) The fabric is described as a chiffon, but it’s not as sheer as I expect a chiffon to be, polyester or not. This polyester/spandex blend has a very “springy” quality to it and the weave is tight, but the fabric drapes pretty well. It IS a woven, and barely has adequate stretch for the pattern’s guidelines. FWIW, I sewed the dress with both my serger and sewing machine. Sewing machine work was done with a straight stitch and a 70/10 Microtex needle.

This project was very much a whim. I got the idea, dug out the fabric and put the PDF together over Labor Day weekend (in between trips to our soon-to-be-remodeled bathroom to work on paint stripping: FML), and cut out the fabric on Labor Day. I worked on it in spurts after that point, but since it’s a pretty quick sew, it came together in no time–I finished it in about 10 days, which for me is pretty quick for a full dress in a woven! All that was left was to make time for pictures, which we did this past Friday!

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Goofing off

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Candid

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Back split

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Portrait pose

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Eeeeew nature!!!

Pattern Alterations

After I got the pattern taped together and cut out, I held the pieces up to my body (which is super scientific, I know) to see how things were looking. It was obvious that the bust point and waist were too high for me (front AND back), so I went ahead and added the necessary 1″ at the bust line on the pattern pieces. This put the bust and waist in the right spots but I needed to re-draw the dart point and legs AND true up the new side seams. Easy enough, but important to consider!

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Revised pattern pieces

However, since Named drafts for a height of 5’8″ and I am at most 1″ taller than that, this added torso length makes the dress almost too long for me. After wearing it for these pictures (in flats), I am happy with the length but definitely wouldn’t want it any longer.

I also changed the slope of the shoulders. Named patterns tend to angle too steeply upward at the inner shoulder/neck for my body, which I notice in my Inaris. (In other words, my shoulders are less sloped than what they are drafting for.) So I made this change to compensate for that quirk.

Finally, I lengthened the tie pieces at the start. They just looked really short to me, even after taking into account that they are cut on the fold. I wrap them around me from the front, around the back, and then tie them once they come back around to the front. As drafted, they measure roughly 33 3/4 inches (not including seam allowances). The final length of my ties is a whopping 49 inches and I love them. 🙂 I actually had to go back and measure those, since I just cut them out on the fly, LOL.

Additional Project Notes

I didn’t really bother with pattern matching with this fabric; I only had the bare minimum 2 yards (Named calls for 2 yards at 60″ wide, and I had 2 yards at 58″ wide) and at first, I was worried I wouldn’t have enough. I did have enough, but only just enough. Plus the cutting person at Joann’s didn’t even out the already-cut end of the yardage before measuring, so one end was less usable for a “cut on the fold” application because of the inward angle on one layer’s raw edge. Needless to say, I laid the two main pieces out on the fabric together BEFORE cutting anything, LOL. That’s what happens when you buy fabric without a plan, folks! 😛 I considered myself lucky not to have to piece the ties together, especially after deciding to lengthen them!

The colors move on the diagonal–I cut this dress on-grain with the stretch–which made it that much more of a challenge to line up the bands of color. Combined with the lack of extra yardage, that meant taking a more relaxed approach to “stripe” matching. So I did! This is most evident at CB, where the diagonal color bands are offset by a few inches. :-/

Finally, I increased the height of the back split: I couldn’t walk in it as it was drafted!! (Well, I could walk, but only Geisha-style.) The original split measures 15 3/4 inches, and mine now measures 18 1/2 inches (both measured from the hem once sewn). I also made my own bias out of leftover fabric, and used that to finish the armholes and neckline. To cut down on bulk and because of concerns about pressing a sharp crease in poly/lycra binding strips, I serged one side of the bias binding before attaching it, and then topstitched from the outside to finish off those areas. Not super classy–what about this dress is?!?!?–but effective nonetheless. 🙂

For the record, all my pattern measurements are taken from the EUR32 size–they may be different on another size.

If I make this again, I want to re-angle the darts toward the side seams about 1/2″ at the apex (the root is in a good spot). Without getting too gorey here, I will say that the apex as-is is over the edge of the “bullseye” rather than the center of it. 😉 I also have issues with all my bras and this dress!! I have one bra that fits my breasts well (I call it my “Honest Bra” because there is no padding, LOLOL) but it makes me look droopy and sad in this dress. My other bras really don’t fit–they’re too big and the cups buckle due to lack of, er, “filling”–and in this dress, you can really tell unless I tighten the straps up really tight, as we did for these photos. (Yes, “we”: I needed a bit of help with that!) So that’s a bummer, and I may need to give myself a little more ease (width-wise) from shoulder to bust point in any future versions to skim over that problematic area.

Gripes

I think that, as sewers, many of us find comfort in the presence of directions: they help us get from point A to point B as the designer envisioned. But often, it is best to trust your experience (assuming you have it) and think critically about what the directions are telling you to do before you do it. Case in point: the Kielo instructions tell you to finish the raw edges of the side seams, hem, shoulder, and center back seam allowances before you do any sewing on those seams. And, instead of doing what I would normally do–think about it, and decide whether or not I agreed–I did as I was told. This was a waste of time and serger thread and electricity, y’all. I should have just sewn the side and center back seams on my serger to start with, although I did use my sewing machine for the shoulders after serging the allowances separately so they would lay as flat as possible. Luckily, I realized the wastefulness of those instructions before I got to the hem; I turned that raw edge under 1/4″, and then turned up the remaining 1/2″ and pressed again. Much better!

I also should have been more critical of the order of events, but ultimately found those aspects of the instructions much less annoying than the finishing BS noted above!

For all my complaining there, I am a proper Named fangirl–I love their work, their design and drafting sensibility, and pretty much everything about them (especially now that their PDFs come layered). So if the worst thing I can say about their patterns is that I don’t like some of the instructions, I’m still a very happy bear! ❤

And now, for some outtakes!

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Artful (Read: Blurry) backside

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What Tom gets when he says, “Say Cheese!!!”

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Table acrobatics?

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Tangled.

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My favorite pic, tbh…

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The colors!!!!!

So that’s my Kielodoscope dress! Eye-searing, yes, but I like it. And it’s done just in time for cooler weather that isn’t sleeveless-dress friendly, LOL.

What have you been sewing? Do you ever buy fabric without a plan? 

A New Toy!

Do you guys have any tools on your sewing wish lists? Things that you just can’t justify spending money on, but that you really want or that would really make your life easier? Last week, I got to cross one of those “things” off my list, thanks to some really silly luck.

Some things just aren’t meant to be…like me and Alice. She was a great deal and I had high hopes for our togetherness, but we just didn’t “fit.” (Heh, I made a terrible pun.) I packed her into the car and took her back to Joann’s last weekend. I didn’t have my receipt (which is what happens when I send my husband to do my errands!) but they were kind enough to take her back anyway. The young lady running the returns desk nervously pointed out that, without a receipt, I could only get a gift card with store credit. Oh darn, what would a silly sewist do with store credit at Joann’s??? =D As if that weren’t enough, the “lowest” price they had sold it for (which was the refund amount I’d get) was HIGHER than the price I’d paid for her. So let’s recap: I got rid of a too-big dressform, got my refund, AND basically got free money for more sewing things. Even *after* I told the lady what I’d paid for the form. Naturally, I decided not to argue further. I wasted little time in deciding what to buy with my fun money:

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Olfa Self-Healing Cutting Mat!

Not only was I armed with a big gift card, I found a coupon on the Joann’s app (I love technology!) for 40% off one regularly-priced item. On this cutting mat–a 3-piece set that clips together to form one giant mat that’s 70″ long and nearly 3 feet high–that was a big deal! It smells funny, but whatever. I’d wanted one of these for a while but wasn’t going to drop that kind of money. I love it when things just work out! I’m having fun with it, but I am a little scared of my rotary cutter!