Sunday, April 15, 2012

Easter dress

I made this dress a couple weeks ago right after a really warm spell in March. I was raring to make something light and cool, and then of course it got a lot cooler right after I made it. I ended up wearing it with tights and a jacket for Easter because it's so bright and flowery. (I ditched the jacket for the photo shoot, and it wasn't too bad. I'm just very Texan and prefer to be warm at all times.)
I used the same vintage pattern as the jet lag dress from a couple years ago. I bought the fabric at the same time as the green fabric for that dress, which I intended to be a wearable muslin for this fabric, but then I was concerned that the pattern looked too distinctive and costumey to have two of. But a couple weeks ago I decided I really wanted to make a dress out of this fabric, and it was the only pattern I thought would be nice and for which I had enough fabric, so I decided to go for it.
I thought the print really changed how the dress looked, so even though it's obviously the same pattern, it doesn't make me feel like I'm wearing a costume. It's amazing what a print can do. (Side note: I had a dickens of a time figuring out which way was "up" on the print. I could tell that there was no 180 degree rotational or reflective symmetry, but which one was right-side up was not clear to me. I settled on this in the end, and at least it's not clearly wrong. Maybe it could go either way.) I incorporated my ideas from that post for getting the fit a little better, and it wasn't as tight just below the waist. I also did a good job of keeping the fabric, which has a horizontal stretch, from being distorted as I sewed. Good use of staystitching and making sure the feed was smooth were the two main factors. Go me!
The one thing I'm not really pleased about is the placement of the pattern on the front.
I wasn't planning on trying to match the pattern for a variety of reasons: I didn't have much excess fabric and the center front isn't on the straight grain, plus I'm too lazy for that kind of thing. So I knew the pattern wouldn't match up, and I didn't care about that, but I felt like on the front it's close enough to matching that it's awkward.
And the fact that the center front isn't on the grainline means that the distance between the repeat gets larger from top to bottom.
This isn't as obvious when I see pictures of myself wearing it as when I look at it up close or in the mirror, but all in all, I'd prefer for the pattern placement to look more arbitrary. It's not a big enough deal to keep me from enjoying the dress, of course!
I felt great in this dress for Easter, and I think it'll be nice for the summer, too. The fabric is really breezy, and I think the pattern will help hide the inevitable sweat stains I'll get if I wear it on a warm day. (I'm a sweaty lady.) I don't know if it'll be a good biking dress. I think the skirt might be just a little too apt to float up a bit, not enough to be truly scandalous, but enough that I might feel uncomfortable without tights. I haven't taken it for enough of a test ride yet to see.

Yay new dress! I made another new dress that week that should make its blog premier soon. It's just been too cool since I made it to get good outdoor photos. Come on, warm front!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Fashion risks

OK, this post is really just about the conflict between creativity/expression and the desire to fit in, not about any new sewing projects. Since it is a handmade dress, though, I decided it can go on the blog.

I'm going to the symphony later today, and I decided to try on my outfit this morning. It's a matinee performance, so I didn't want to look too formal. I've worn this red (perfect) dress with these gold tights and Frank Lloyd Wright glass design scarf before, but with the scarf tied in a knot in front. The scarf has some gold in it that matches the tights, so I was playing around with getting the gold to stand out more, and I ended up with this vest-like arrangement of my scarf. I let it hang down like a stole and then belted it with a tie I had removed from a skirt a long time ago.
I really like that you can see the design on the scarf better than when it's tied up normally, but it's a very unusual look, and I'm nervous about wearing it. I'm thinking about swapping out the tights for black ones so the only out-there part of the outfit is the way I'm wearing the scarf. I like the way the gold appears in both the scarf and the tights, but I think I'll feel more comfortable in something a little more toned-down. If I had black tights with an open weave design of some kind, maybe that would help tone down the color but still give that outfit harmony with the gold. Alas, my only patterned tights are blue.
Jon thought this outfit was really cool and was very supportive of me being creative with it. I'll have to ask the friend who's going with me to the symphony what he thinks. Interestingly enough, just last week the two of us were talking about how we've both had changes of heart in thinking about how we dress. We went to high school together (he was my prom date), and at that time we were both fairly uninterested in how we dressed and kind of felt like it was stupid to care how you looked. We've both come to different feelings about it recently, seeing it as an important way of presenting yourself to the world. It's interesting how people change.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Refashioned shorts

I've had these floral print ankle-length pants for a long time, and they just never worked. The length was wrong, and I was never happy with the way the pockets gaped. I kept thinking I just needed to figure out how to rock them, but after years and years, I gave up on them and they went in the sewing room refashion/alteration pile. This pile is surprisingly hard to tackle. You'd think that alterations and refashions should be easier than new garments, but there's something about the clean slate that makes new things easier for me.

Last week, I finally tackled the refashion/alteration pile, and this is the first thing I worked on. After looking at myself in the mirror with the pants on, I decided that the length and pocket gaping were the only two problems. The fit through the hips and legs was good, so I just had to decide what length to make them. I'm very fond of knee- and just above-knee shorts, so I decided to add another pair to my wardrobe. I hacked 14 inches off the legs and made a narrow hem at the bottom. I thought about cuffs but took the easy way out.

Then I made the painful decision to sew up the front pockets. The pocket gaping has always bothered me on these pants, and with the pockets shut, they are nice and smooth over my hips. I am a big fan of pockets, but I think the unattractive gaping would be a deterrent to wearing the shorts. Of course, it will be easy to reopen them if I change my mind.
I wore these out for the first time on Tuesday. It may have been slightly chilly for shorts, but I really liked how I looked! I think these will be a great way to make summer shorts outfits look a little classier, especially for bike dates. I just wish I had done it sooner. There are a few small stains on some of the white parts, so I'm thinking about dyeing them cobalt blue. We'll see if I ever get around to it. In the meantime, they're quite nice as-is.