FABRIC: 100% cotton gauze in a predominantly pink floral design, 4 something yards @ 99 cents a yd.; 100% cotton quilting fabric for lining and contrast neck and cuffs; poly cling-free scraps for sleeve linings
NOTIONS: 2 spools of thread; had interfacing
PATTERN: Simplicity 3557, year 2007, for the dress; and Simplicity 2748, for the mini apron
TIME TO COMPLETE: Too long!!! I spent a number of hours in the Fall of 2010 to cut out the floral cotton. Then, several more hours were spent in mid-October 2012 just to figure out what I had done and cut out the pattern pieces for the lining/contrast cotton. Finally, in late October '12, I took many hours to finish the dress. After a little more time in January 2013, eventually it was perfected and I was happy. So, in total,...at least 12 hours? It's so hard to count time on UFO's.
The see-through cotton gauze fabric was probably not the best for this pattern (since it required a substantial lining) but, when it was so soft and so cheap, what seamstress could resist?! I think this dress would have had better drape with a softer fabric.
However, I am quite glad to be able to finally wear this dress for TWO big reasons. Firstly, it is nice to have a fall, winter, and spring dress that is not a dark color, like many conventional winter RTW clothes. Something about wearing flowers cheers me up a bit at a time of year when everything outside looks dead. Secondly, this was the very first sewing project that launched me back into sewing garments (and other interesting things) after a several year hiatus of sticking to altering, tailoring, and small projects. I did put this dress off to the side, and my "Happy in the Navy" Sundress ended up becoming my first 'finished' dress project since I've been sewing more frequently (spring of 2012). In my mind, my flowered pullover dress is still "the first". Now I am actually glad I didn't finish this dress in 2010 because I would have been disappointed then...luckily my navy sundress was a 'wow' project to start me out.
Simplicity 3557 was not exactly a hard pattern, it was in fact really simple with no big tricks, easy to understand, and straightforward. But, I have a problem with the pattern saying "easy-to-sew". To me, easy to sew means it is not only easy to understand how it goes together, but also comes together in a flash. ' Easy to understand' can be different for every seamstress, but this pattern had so many long seams, and it was almost at my limit as a tiresome and time-consuming dress. All the gores, and there were a lot, had to be stitched together, the seams stitched to finish the edges, then I top-stitched the seams down. All this stitching quickly ate up 2 spools of thread, and it was oddly hard to find a color thread to match. Isn't it how it goes...
The cool contrast neckline is the saving grace, otherwise the pattern would end up just blah! Following the directions to make the neckline produced a very stable, sturdy support for the rest of the bodice, and it was very fun and a different technique to do-it was the best part of my project. Even my corners came out so perfect.
As a pullover dress, the ease was quite generous, but I assumed it was needed to get into it and, for the most part, I was correct. The side ties help pull the waist and bust in a bit, but even the large bell sleeves added to the Mumu-like appearance. I eventually sewed the sleeves slimmer by several inches, and this alone helped immensely towards making my dress lose some weight.
What worked wonders for this dress was sewing in a strip of bias tape on the inside, just below the bodice seam in the center back, and sewing down a small piece of elastic that runs through that channel. Wow..perfect! I hope you can see a little of what I did in the picture at right. I can still pull the dress on, but it looks much slimmer, and the gathers pull the dress back for me and are cute from behind. There is still too much extra skirt fabric, especially below the back gathers, but I top stitched all my seams, so, as Tempest says "done is beautiful"!
As a side note, the only reason I lined the sleeves in a different material is for the basic reason of simply running out of fabric. I actually like the sleeves being lined in poly lining - it's lighter in weight than the rest of the dress. My 'make-do' turned into a nice design element that no one but me (and all of you) will ever know.
I hardly had much of any scraps leftover, but it was just enough to make yet another mini apron. Simplicity 2748 was unfolded again. This mini apron pattern was already used in my post for the "polka Dot Challenge: 3 for the Price of One". A a different view was made this time, one that is a shrunken version of a vintage style.
The mini 'shoulder' ruffles were so frustrating, tedious, and nearly impossible for my machine to handle. X-shaped back ties were also small work to get to come out right. Here again, the finished product makes my efforts worthwhile :)
It is nice to have a chance to get outside and run around, but 70 something warm temps one day turning into 20 something cold weather does too much havoc on many Mid-Westerners' sinuses like mine. At least, in this other picture, our dachshund was enjoying sniffing around with no cold ears!