Saturday, August 1, 2015

OAL 2015: Don't Let The Bird Do The Dishes Dress and White Sunshower Cardigan

*Warning - I fully believe that the size of the post/number of pictures included should be proportional to the size of the project. This is two projects in one. You have been warned.*
I almost can't believe it myself, but it is true ... I managed to finish my entry for the Outfit Along by the deadline! Sure, I posted my pictures on the final day, but hey that still counts, lol. So... this is my outfit.
Obligatory front and back shots.
The Outfit Along was hosted by Andi Satterlund and Lauren of Lladybird, and it involved making a dress and a sweater to be worn together (an "outfit" if you will) over a 2 month period. You could choose any patterns, you just had to make an "outfit" that involved knitting and sewing and have it submitted by July 31st. I ran into a few snags with my first choice, causing me to find myself a month into the challenge with no sweater started. I raided my stash, and picked a newly released pattern by Andi for my sweater and got to work. This means I managed to finish this whole outfit in less than 1 month!
Realistically I will wear this sweater open most of the time.
My timeline was pretty tight for a person who works full time and has lots of other obligations that take her time. Mostly I was only able to knit on the weekends, with a few weeknights in the beginning. Happily, this pattern is deceptively simple and I've already made several of Andi's patterns (meaning I know how to make them fit me), so I was able to knit it quickly with no fuss.

So, let's talk about the dress first :)
This dress has been floating in my brain for quite a while. I picked up 3 yards of this awesome fabric at The Sewing Studio's mega sale in July of 2014. The fabric was a bit of a splurge for me, but it was just so ludicrous I had to get some. I was really inspired by the dress that Sewing Pies made out of this fabric for the first year of Sew Dolly Clackett, and I had to be part of the club. The Birds Doing Dishes Club. This fabric is called Don't Let The Bird Do The Dishes and is by Michael Miller Fabrics. It's a quilting cotton, but it's worth using solely for its print.
To make my crazy bird dress dreams a reality, I reached for what has become a tried and true pattern of mine - Simplicity 1419. The entire dress is from this pattern, but I decided to switch things up this time (this is my 3rd iteration) and use the scoop neckline from Simplicity 1873 in hopes that it would make the dress a bit cooler for the insane Florida summer I'm currently living through. Ugh.
There's a bird nesting on my boob!
I'm honestly thrilled by how this dress turned out - certainly my best version so far from this pattern in regard to both fit and attention to detail. I did make one hiccup though ... I made the pleats go the wrong direction, which means that center box pleat section above my torso hugs my tummy a bit more in the front than I would like. I didn't realize this until everything was sewn together and the seams finished, so I was not about to rip it out. It's still a full skirt, so it doesn't really bother me.
I did my usual construction with this dress - finished the insides with pinking sheers, top stitched hem, side seam pockets, etc. I did take quite a bit of care with the pattern placement and lining up on this dress. I didn't have enough fabric to match such a large scale print completely, but I made sure that the purple swagged dish drying lines were lined up at the side seams as well as across the sleeves. I also took care not to have a "bird headlights situation" across the front bodice - instead I just picked a bird that I liked that was usable given my fabric constraints and made him a bit off center. Due to the scale of the print, he's kind of the main bird you see at first.
To a more experienced seamstress, this will sound silly, but it makes me feel so accomplished - ALL my seams and darts line up perfectly. I had to make a lot of changes to the pattern to get it fitting me, which left me with side seems and darts that did not line up with each other. Each dress I've made has been out of a crazy novelty print, so no one has ever noticed but it really bugs me every time I think about it. This time I was determined to lined everything up, and I am so happy that it worked out. I had to document this achievement by taking pictures of each seam, lol. The photo on the bottom left is my waist seam at the zipper - oh yeah!
Speaking of the zipper, it took a few tries this time with get thing things lined up properly, but all that ripping out paid off in the end. I used a 22" invisible zipper with a white pull and it really is invisible :) Funny how that's always thrilling, huh? I finished the top with a hook and eye as per usual.
I love how clean my insides turned out even though I only finished things off with pinking sheers.
I also decided to leave off the facing (again) and use bias tape on the neckline. I really just hate facings in clothing - they itch and never want to stay where they should on me. The bias tape gives me a clean finish with nothing tickling my chest as I wear the finished product. The bias tape was a pre-made pack I picked up at a thrift store for 25 cents who knows when.
I love so much about how this dress turned out - definitely a winner for me. I know this will be another great conversation starter piece ... once the weather cools down enough to not want to rip it off after an hour. We are heading into the "ugly hot" time of year here, and it is so muggy and humid that I don't even want to think about it. Anyway, this dress will get a lot of wear in the fall and winter.
Now onto the sweater :) I went with Andi's new pattern, Sunshower from her Quiet Days collection for Knit Picks. It's designed with negative ease to give a fitted look, and it has an all-over lace body. I did my usual fitting equation for this sweater (Large bust and sleeves, XLarge waist) and it worked a treat. I love that her patterns are so easy to meld sizes with - I just did fewer decreases at the waist so that I ended up with the number of stitches for the XL size. No fancy math required :)
I think my favorite part of this sweater is the lacy detail along the bottom hem - sometimes it looks like hearts, other times it looks like leaves - either way it't really pretty :) The all over lace design is incredibly easy to do and was quick to memorize. I ended up using 3.3 skeins (685 yards) of Lion Brand Cotton-Ease in Marshmallow from my stash for this sweater that I've had in my stash since January (and I got a sweet deal on it, which is even better). I'm hoping that the cotton yarn and lacy design will help this sweater not be too warm for Florida. We shall see :)
The side of the body and underside of the sleeve have 4 rows of straight stitches that hold the decreases, and I love how pretty and uniform this makes the whole side look. I also made the sweater several repeats longer in the waist since I have a long torso and I wanted it to hit at my actual waist.
I chose some pretty white plastic rose-shaped buttons from my stash because I thought they went well with the overall girly theme of the lace and possibly leaf design along the bottom. The button band was the only section of the pattern that had any issues - I had to change the spacing of the button holes to get the top button at the V point in the knitting. This wasn't a difficult change, but it's worth noting if anyone else runs into the same issue. I put 12 stitches between each button hole, just for the record.
And now onto one of my favorite parts of this sweater ... the button bands! These came out so pretty that I seriously want to rip this baby open and show them off to everyone. Or wear the sweater inside out just so they can be fully appreciated, lol.
I followed Lauren's tutorial on how to back the bands with Petersham ribbon. I've used this method once before (on my Minty Miette cardigan), but my efforts were foiled by crappy ribbon. I had no idea that there were different qualities of ribbon back then, but it makes sense now - ribbon is just like fabric in that it's made of natural and synthetic materials. This time around, I hunted high and low locally for real rayon Petersham ribbon, but no one had any that I could find. I turned to the internet and was rescued by Britex Fabrics of all places. There prices seemed just like buying the cheapy ribbon at Joann's to be honest, and this was the real deal. I was ecstatic! To make the most of the shipping cost, I bought enough ribbon for all the cardi's I've previously made as well as this one. My non-gaping button dreams can now be realized! Anyway, if you have ever wondered about trying out this technique, DO IT! I'm really amazed at how pretty this looks inside, and the rayon is nice and smooth to the touch. I machines stitched my button holes (without interfacing the ribbon), secured all the holes and the ribbon ends with fray check, and hand sewed the ribbons in place. This took a few hours to accomplish completely, but it's so worth the time to not look like I'm busting out of my sweater since it's a fitted style. Petersham button bands forever!
So, if you can't tell yet, I am totally thrilled that not only I was able to finish such a large project by the deadline in spite of various difficulties and time-sucking real life duties, but also that I have such a cute outfit added to my closet! Let's just be real - a white cardigan goes with everything, so I know I will get a ton of use out of this piece, and the dress is a long time plan come to fruition. Thanks so much to Andi and Lauren for hosting this knit/sew along. I tried to participate the first time, but life got in the way, so I'm really proud I was able to get it all done. I can't wait to make another awesome outfit next year!

Dress Summary:
Fabric: 3 yards of Don't Let the Bird Do the Dishes quilting cotton by Michael Miller Fabrics - $18.50
Pattern: Simplicity 1419 with Simplicity 1873 neckline
Notions: 22" white invisible zipper - $1.50, light blue bias tape - thrifted $0.25, hook and eye - stash (free)
Hours: 10
Total Cost: $20.25

Sweater Summary:
Yarn: 4.31 skeins of Lion Brand Cotton-Ease in Marshmallow - $16.00
Pattern: Sunshower Cardigan by Andi Satterlund, $2.00
Notions: 4 Buttons from Joann's - $2.20, Rayon Petersham Ribbon from Britex Fabrics - $2.25
Time to Make: 1 month
Total Cost: $22.45


  1. Soo pretty! I love that fabric for your crazy birds dress (the bird at the top of the zipper is the best one hahahaha). And that cardigan is BEAUTIFUL! The white lace is practically ethereal :) Can't believe you finished that so quickly!

    1. Thanks so much! I love that you guys host this every year. I can't wait for next time :)


Thanks for joining in the conversation!