Saturday, May 9, 2020

FO: Mint Gingham Dress

So it's been a while since I blogged YET AGAIN. I thought I was going to be better about this since my absence is not due to lack of making things to show, which is very different than my reasoning for the past 2 years. I'm still avoiding sewing clothes in general, but about a month ago I came across a box full of my very old projects. This box has been hanging out in my spare room ever since I moved last April, and before that all the contents of the box were hanging out in a drawer anxiously awaiting me to give them my attention. This dress was among the projects and since Easter was coming up and this was a very springy dress, I decided to go ahead and finish it up. 

I started this dress during Me Made May in 2014. At the time, I had decided this pattern (Butterick 5982) was the perfect princess seam bodice block that I could do all the fitting work on and then produce ad nauseum in various adorable cotton prints à la Modcoth. So I made a few muslins, changed the pattern, got it to fit me, then cut into this adorable mint green gingham seersucker fabric I bought at a thrift store, which I loved, as well as my super fancy lining of a white poly cotton bed sheet from the Target clearance section. Everything looked good in bodice assembly, but when I added the lining it became too tight across the bust. I was soooo discouraged. Here I had put in all this work (which was a lot for me at the time) and thought I would be fine in the finished dress only to have it not turn out that way. I was new to fitting myself back then and I really didn't know what the problem was nor how to fix it. So I stuffed the dress, all the pieces still to be sewn, extra fabric, and pattern into a big ziplock bag and forgot about it until now. 

I remembered the problems when I first opened this project up back in March, but given that I have lost so much weight recently I knew the dress wouldn't fit my body now anyway so it wasn't as precious of a project anymore. I tried the dress on as it was, which was bizarre - word to the newer sewists: don't sew your skirt to the zipper and not to the bodice, please. My justification was that I wanted to try it on with the zipper but before fitting the skirt in order to make any bodice adjustments I needed. This was a terrible idea that caused a lot more work for me now. Anyway, the dress was too big, as I expected. I scooped a bit out of the princess seam under the bust and took the waist in about 2 inches. It looked a little roomy still, but it was no worse than a ready to wear dress might be and I didn't want to spend a ton of time working on it given that I am still trying to lose more weight. So I just decided to attach the skirt after that. This was a challenge - not only had I already attached the skirt to the zipper, but I also had never figured out the new pleat layout to make it match up to my bodice. Even if I had done the pleats back in the day, I would've had to change it now given my change in size. So I had to make up the pleats as I went and hope that they looked even enough in the finished dress. This was a big pain in the butt, and my mental state at the time didn't really help things. I found myself on the night before Easter in a big wave of depression but with this dress still unfinished. I knew I wanted to get it done, but I just wasn't feeling it at all. I muscled through, and I even cleaned up and made myself take blog pictures just after hemming the dress on Easter before taking my kids to hunt eggs, but these smiles are quite forced. Interesting how the context of our photos can change with how we are feeling. Anyway, it wasn't the best weekend overall, but sewing does help me when I'm down, so I got a mental boost knowing this project was finally finished 6 years after I started it.
That said, this is probably the most ill-fitting thing I've ever sewn to completion. After attaching the skirt it became clear that the bodice was too long. I have a long torso and I am always worried about things coming up too short at the waist, but back in 2014 I overcompensated for this. That is why I have all that bunching at the waist. It's not awful when worn just since most things will bunch a bit as you move around, but it does bug me. I just wasn't in the mental space to unpick that whole skirt and redo it 1/2" shorter. So it stays.
The upper bust looks pretty good though. There is a little bit of wrinkling at the sleeve seam but it wasn't anything I was willing to unpick them over. Also the sleeves are quite roomy, again not something I wanted to mess with. I do love the neckline of this dress. It's high enough to not feel like you're going to show much but still open enough to not feel strangled. A good combo :)
It's still pretty loose at the waist even with my alterations - I really should have taken in the princess seams as well as the side seams - but it made the dress quite comfy to wear on Easter. Here you can also see how wide the sleeves are. They are totally lined and enclosed - I was not going to unpick them now. 
I am happy with how the zipper itself turned out, and that was done back in 2014. I love a regular slot seam zipper. The long waist is pretty obvious in the back, but fortunately I don't have to look at my back when I wear it, lol.
I am also very happy with the lining. I've actually made very few lined items, mostly because it feels like I'm making the dress twice. I'd rather just pick a fabric that doesn't require a lining, generally speaking. Plus lining = extra layer = very hot in Florida. But I do love how they make everything so neat and tidy inside a finished garment. The last part of making this dress involved me hand sewing the lining to the zipper tape just to ensure a smooth finish, and I really like how it turned out.

So, that's my dress. 6 years in the making only to turn out as a cute but not great fitting item, lol. Sorry, dress. I do love mint and gingham and seersucker, and I still love this style of dress. The only thing it's missing are pockets, which I still can't believe I didn't include even way back when, but I just couldn't be bothered now. I'm glad it's done, and should things open up again soon I will certainly wear this to church while it still fits me. So yay for finishing old projects even if it's not a total win - done is better than perfect!

Fabric: 3-ish? yards of mint green gingham seersucker - $3.00 (thrifted), white poly cotton bed sheet - $1.00
Pattern: Butterick 5982 - $2
Notions: 18" white zipper - $2, white thread - $1.00
Time: 6 years? and then 3 hours
Total Cost: $9.00

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