Monday, January 13, 2020

FO: Christmas Dress At Long Last

Everything about this dress feels like a down right Christmas miracle, and I am so happy to finally have pictures so I can show it on my blog :) First thing's first: Look - I made a dress!
So I have had this fabric in my stash for maybe 7 years? Something like that? I bought it soon after deciding I wanted to sew my own clothes and had all these grand plans for a closet full of Modcloth style novelty print dresses. The problem with a Christmas dress and me is that I will love the idea of having one, but I never actually have the time to make it by the time I realize I want to wear it. I always think about making it when the holiday craze has already begun, which means I am working a ton and spending my very little making time on gifts for others. So this fabric, which is an adorable Christmas tree damask style print quilting cotton by Michael Miller, languished in my stash all this time, always with the hope that one day I would actually help it fulfill its destiny as a dress. This year, I finally made it happen. I was singing in a local church's Christmas concert on December 3rd and was told to "wear something Christmas-y", and when I took stock of my wardrobe I immediately thought how cute it would be to have this fabric as a dress finally. So Saturday night (the night before the concert) at about 8 pm, I pulled out this fabric, cut out my pieces, and had it almost entirely sewn before going to bed at midnight. After going to my own church the next day, I had to set in the sleeves, hand stitch a bias neckline facing, and hem the skirt. I was finished just in time to fix myself up and get to the concert. Under normal circumstances, I would not recommend starting a dress the night before you need to wear it, but I have to say it really worked out for me this time around :)
The only reason this worked out is because I used a pattern I knew would basically fit me. Since losing weight, I have been able to fit into my Take a Seat Dress and my Don't Let the Bird Do the Dishes Dress again, even having them be a bit too big (which is a miracle since they were always just a smidge too tight even when I first made them), so I knew that using Simplicity 1419 would at least yield me a reasonable fit dress with little to no tweaking. I used this pattern for both those dresses as well as for a Halloween costume and a muslin, so I've adjusted things about the fit overtime and had it pretty much down to a science. This is a Lisette design, and it works as a great basic dress base. I've changed the neckline and sleeves on top of making my usual lengthening and hollow chest adjustments, so the pattern pieces are there and ready to go no matter what I want to do with it. Also, it has pockets, which as an absolute necessity in anything I make.
The fit on this is close, but not exactly perfect. But who really needs it to fit perfectly on something you won't wear beyond one month a year? I am still losing weight, so I don't really want to spend the time and effort and fabric on making clothes that should soon not fit me anymore, but I justified this because I really didn't mind if this only fit me for the month after I made it. So I got to sew again, yay! There are a few things I need to fix about this pattern should I make it again soon, and you can see one above. See how it is bunching up off my back in the photo above? I now know that the way I corrected for my sloped upper back was not correct, and it lead to this issue. I can fix it for next time, but to make this one fit better I added darts in the back neckline to help minimize the volume. It's still a bit baggy in the middle, but it wasn't going to keep me from wearing it.
I didn't get too particular about pattern matching since I was on a time crunch, but I did try to make sure the front and back matched up at the waist as best I could. I'm pretty happy with my results there. Also I did a lapped zipper because they are my absolute favorite.
I went with my preferred bias tape neckline on this dress, just like the last several versions I've made with this pattern. This is the original neckline height from the Lisette pattern, but I omitted the collar and keyhole detail. I hand stitched the bias tape in place because I've just found it lays so much better than machining this area due to the curves, and since it's just around the neck it really doesn't take that much time. Also I loved wearing this with my vitreous enamel cardinal pendant and earrings. I went all out several times and wore a red bow in my hair and even (gasp) red lipstick. I seriously never wear lipstick because I feel like it makes me look weird, but I am warming up to it after this little experiment.
Here's a look at the neckline bias and the lapped zipped up close. I used a 22" green zipper from my stash and it was basically the perfect color. I just love it when that happens, but at this point it's a game of averages because I seriously have so many zippers it's probably more surprising when I don't have one that will work on hand. That's definitely a tip I would give anyone - get your zippers at the thrift store, folks. I bought a bag of over 100 for $10 several years ago, and I've grabbed a few more here and there to add to that selection. It's a crazy tub full, but unless I need a very specific type of special zipper, I never have to put a project on hold because I have to go pick one up. Also, I really have to give a lot of credit for the speed of this project to the fact that I have a serger now. All of my seams were pressed and then serged, making it really so quick for finishing the insides. No matter how quick I need to make something, I still always finish the seams because I don't want it to all unravel in the wash. Definitely worth it even if you only finish the insides with your serger.
So that's my Christmas dress :) I was so happy to have it finished, and I made sure to wear it as often as was appropriate during December. I wore it to the concert, to church several times, for family photos, and to work on Christmas Eve. Now I feel like my time was worth it even if this dress doesn't fit me next year. I got lots of compliments on it every time I wore it, which is also always nice. It's very cheerful, very green, and very me.

Check back soon to see a few other projects I made with this fabric! It amps up the cute factor in a big way.

Fabric: 3 yards Christmas Tree Damask print quilting cotton by Michael Miller - $12?
Pattern: Simplicity 1419
Notions: 22" green zipper - $0.10, white thread - $1.00, white packaged bias tape - $0.25 (thrifted)
Time: 6 hours
Total Cost: $ 13.35

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