Summer of Love, Part One

Put your hand up if the following apply to you:

  1. You’d rather get dressed than get dressed up.
  2. A clutch of weddings either has or is about to rain down upon you.

I know the Year of So Many Weddings will seem like a safe harbor when I’m swimming with the sharks of Look at All These Babies, Do I Really Have to Remember Their Birthdays, but literally every weekend but one from June to October 2018, I went either to a wedding or a wedding-related event. And I wore the same few outfits to every last one of them! And so, honored guests, let me welcome you to the next few posts on my blog: what I, an un-fancy person, wore for chronic wedding attendance, a.k.a., The Summer of Love. Part One!

I have THOUGHTS about weddings in general (thoughts on thoughts on thoughts! So many patriarchal rituals! So much free labor, usually performed by women! So much dang money! But also the possibility of spending that money locally, often at female-owned businesses! Thoughtful marry-ees are working hard to erode the gendered baloney! Also I like passed hors d’oeuvres and theme parties!) which is why I look forward to never having one myself, but I do have fun at other people’s. I consider my main duty as a wedding guest to be 100% danciness all night long.

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This familiar friend is V1501 (Rachel Comey mock-tuck dress for Vogue) and you’ve probably seen it everywhere. I saw it first on What Katie Sews and now looking back, did I make the wrong size? Hers is sassier! Oops, I guess your marriage is annulled, friends. ANYWAY, this satisfies dancing requirements: it’s comfortable, the skirt’s swishy, and nothing is going to pop out. That seems like faint praise, but it’s about as high as dress-up clothes are going to get.

I did have fun sewing this though! I used my favorite yarn dyed linen/rayon blend, Kaufman Brussels Washer in Redrock (the same one I used for my very first post on this blog!). The skirt is a size 14, and when I wrapped the waistband pattern piece around my waist I made the instant call to add 2.75” inches to its length. I must have made a bizarre tracing error, because the lengthened waistband fits me comfortably, if a little loosely (I could have added 2.25” and been okay), but when I went to attach it, the skirt top was 2” wider than that (but hooow?).

I added another 1” dart to each skirt back, so now there’s 4 darts in total. I’ll have a close-up later, but it solved the problem, even while leaving me, to this day, baffled and confused.

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The skirt pieces are wider at the top than the hem! I’ve never seen this before! It makes sense, I guess – I’m wider at the hips than the knees. They’re seamed at the center front and center back, and the extra-wide front pieces allow for generous pleating.

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Swiiish! I used the selvage edge for those seams, since they’re straight lines and I’ve never met a millimeter of fabric I didn’t want to scrounge and save.

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I made a whole buncha changes to the top. I shortened the back bodice by 3”, topstitched the front pleats (why?? I don’t remember! Well, too late now), and raised the split at the sides by 4”. I did this little by little after the bulk of the bodice was complete, so I could push it juu-uu-ust to the edge of my bra. But if you have a cute bra you want to share, excelsior!

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Consider them dancing vents! I made this adjustment to the angle from hem to side, to make it more acute. The width at the hem of the bodice is unaffected, but the side seams meet higher up. I think in my fabric choice this dress is right on the edge of frumpy, unless you have the drama or gravitas to carry it off. I don’t! I don’t wear makeup or heels so I was comforted and sustained by the little bit of visible side.

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Naturally when I finally tweaked that angle to my own satisfaction it was also the time I hemmed the back inside-out. Tra la la. You can see the double darts here if you look closely, and the invisible zipper without looking closely at all! I still struggle with invisible zippers! Either you can see them, or I break them. This seemed the lesser of two evils.

I followed this EXCELLENT tutorial from Crafterhours to sew the all-in-one facing. I did skip the gussets and shoulder pads, so I can’t speak to integrating those with the facing! Finally, I took a cue from many bloggers who have sewn V1501 before, and sewed the top and bottom as separate pieces, joined by buttons on the inner waistband.

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My buttonholes are not centered either vertically or horizontally because I was slapdash! That’s between you, me, and the mulberry tree. I can store this puppy on a hanger no problem, though. Flex.

I might use the skirt separately, with a tank or cami, for like…a summer fête? If I ever need to act ladylike on a riverboat? A grift where I pretend to lose the church roof fund and also carry a lace hankie? IS THIS WHY PEOPLE DRESS NICE?

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More wedding guest outfits coming soon, in this the Summer of Love!

Pattern: V1501

Pattern cost: $10.29

Size: 12 top, 14 skirt, with variations, above

Supplies: 3 yards of Kaufman Brussels Washer Linen Blend in Redrock, fabric.com, $33.42; buttons, zipper, Gather Here, $3.60; thread from stash

Total time: 13 hours

Total cost: $47.31

Vacation Roberts

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Here’s something a bit different today – the background! Professor Boyfriend and I went on a semi-spontaneous 3-day trip to Mexico! We both have family (and in my case seasonal employment) in Europe, so whenever we’ve travelled together it’s been to visit various dads and sisters and things, or for work. It was a bit strange going somewhere just, like, ’cause, but once I got over the hump we booked a trip and a few weeks later we were on our way to Isla Holbox in the Yucatan (which I first learned about on Made by Meg, funnily enough – I’m a travel copycat!).

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I was excited to road test my new Roberts Collection jumpsuit months ahead of schedule. This jumpsuit almost wasn’t; my fabric order showed up a full meter short, but luckily it’s an ikat fabric with no wrong side and no obvious up-or-down so I was able to creatively cut a size 4 from 3 meters of 45” cotton. Before cutting, I shortened the bodice pattern pieces by 1”. This is easy on the front, but there’s a diagonal seam on the back, joining the bodice to the leg. I cut horizontally just below the ‘sleeve’ (it’s a little overcut kimono thing, so not really a sleeve, not really an armsyce), overlapped my pattern pieces by 1”, and redrew the diagonal from the center to the side seam. I then made sure the seamline matched that angle on the back leg piece.

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That diagonal back seam is the only one I flat-felled, before deciding the fabric was too soft and squashy and life was too short! Everything else is serged and top-stitched.

You might notice one of my shoes is darker than the other. It’s wet. I fell off one pier (and later, out of one hammock).

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I’d love to figure out a different way to finish the ‘sleeve’! I think even extending it slightly and hemming it before sewing the side seam would be better. This is a simple bias tape finish but it’s wrinkly and strange around the armpit. Or maybe a facing would be best? I’ve heard from some other sewists that they struggled with the Marilla Walker Roberts collection directions, but the sleeve is the only place they really fell down for me.

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I was never going to pattern-match with my shortage of fabric (I have just shreds left) so I cut the pocket facing on the cross-grain, and frankly I dig it! The pockets are a nice size, too.

I went to Gather Here for buttons and brought home snaps instead. Then I learned that different size snaps require different size snap setting tools. Oops. I thoroughly mangled one, returned the rest, and ordered snaps + tools (which Gather Here doesn’t stock, and I wanted to make sure they’d match) from GoldStarTool. They have a great selection, fast service, and they’re cheap cheap cheap. I recommend them for hardware! Though, the minimum order was 100 snaps. I needed 5. All is snaps now. Luckily I love installing them! Bam! Bam! SNAPS!

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The Roberts neckline facing was a great opportunity to try a new-to-me facing finish, which I discovered on Made by Rae. Since the facing has a concave corner it was the perfect tidy, low-bulk finish! I’ll definitely use it going forward, though you can see I didn’t quite roll my interfacing far enough to the wrong side everywhere.

I love this summer outfit! So easy and relaxed and breathable, with good sun coverage. I want to make another, possibly a solid one in linen? I mean, I always want another anything in linen. I exist in a permanent state of wanting linen.

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How’s that for comfort?!

Taking blog photos on a relaxing vacation was actually a blast! It was a chance to wander and explore for half an hour each beautiful evening, and we always concluded by watching the sunset from the beach. Holbox would be an Instagrammer’s paradise! So many murals, all the signs are hand-painted, plus vivid tropical plant life – we walked by a dozen amazing ‘backdrops’ for each one we photographed (partly because my boyfriend won’t take pictures if it means standing in front of someone’s house, or even on a bit of sidewalk that seems like it might belong to someone. He’s a very polite young man). My only regret is that I can’t compete with the super-saturated backgrounds we did find. 😉

This would have been a low-cost trip, by the way, except that all of our travel was impacted by winter weather (none of the flights we actually took were the flights we initially booked, and thanks to a connecting flight cancellation the whole trip was pushed back by a day, so we paid for shuttles/accommodations we couldn’t use. Also Air Canada is a fart in the sky and rebooking with them took 11 hours of grim effort). It was so luxurious to eat maracuyá gelato in 86°F weather with a fresh sea breeze, but I probably won’t choose to travel to or from the Northeast in February again. I already miss my summer clothes, though – it was nice to get a glimpse!

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Love from among the palms!

 

Pattern: Roberts Collection jumpsuit

Pattern cost: $8.50

Size: 4, shortened 1” above the waist

Supplies: 3 meters of dark green ikat cotton, $26.16, Etsy; $10.49, snaps, GoldStarTool (set of 100); thread from stash

Total time: 8 hours

Total cost: $45.15

Icarus Flops

A few weeks ago I posted about my plan to sew the Ready-to-Sew Jean-Paul boilersuit in time for The Sewcialists‘ #sewmenswearforeveryone. I wasn’t sure what fabric exactly I wanted to sew it in (a drapey rayon? A structured denim?) but let’s flip to the last page of this mystery: I chose wrong.

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Look, this isn’t terrible. It’s a wearable garment with no major fit issues. It’s comfortable, surprisingly practical for winter (I’m basically fully dressed before the jumpsuit goes on! Fully dressed as a cat burglar but still =^owo^=), and I learned something while sewing it. It’s not a dead ringer for my inspiration, but again, not terrible.

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I was never going to be spare and distrait and dramatic, but my main mistake was in focusing on the color of the garment in this picture, rather than the fabric substrate. I bought an olive green gabardine with 3% Spandex; the color was spot-on and I thought the stretch would be an asset (you’re fitting a lot of zones with a jumpsuit), but while the rayon/poly blend has a nice weight and drape and doesn’t wrinkle, I miss the crunch of natural fiber.

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Honestly, I miss the wrinkles! For a piece drawn so literally from manual workwear, wrinkles showing its use pattern are, for me, part of the allure. I also prefer sewing and pressing natural fibers; I don’t have a ton of experience with polyester, but the boilersuit involves a lot of patch pockets and topstitching, and the springy-spongy texture was harder to keep straight and true. All this plus stretch!

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Okay, enough of fabric, on to pattern. I sewed this almost exactly as written and was happy with the fit; Ready-to-Sew includes half sizes, which is awesome. If you’re a pear like me don’t do what I did and use your waist measurement for the waist; it sits much closer to my hips. It’s fine, thanks to the straight silhouette, but barely.

The collar and collar stand pieces are asymmetrical (I think!) but I failed to notice this and cut them on the fold and nothing dire happened! My only deliberate change was to the front pants pocket.

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The pattern calls for this to be lined, but it’s all straight edges, so I figured I could fold and topstitch. I made one change to the pattern piece, below –

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Nothing to it really – I just grew on a little flap, hemmed it, and then folded and topstitched the remaining edges. The fabric requirements were accurate. The chunk I have left is a little larger than two of these patch pockets!

There’s some funny bunny stuff in the pattern. For example, the horizontal pleat is folded and topstitched from the right side, but it would be much easier to sew as a tuck (or even baste as a tuck and then topstitch).

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That wide pleat is also folded over itself when you create the right button band. It’s a bulky area. I would prefer facings there, especially if working in a heavier denim or canvas. The left button band has a facing already.

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Argh, the dirty details of my topstitching. I used snaps mainly because I recently wanted 5 snaps for a different project and the minimum order was 100. Everything is snaps now! I made a little hole when installing one, darn it, but hopefully some rice stitching there will keep fraying at bay. I also lined up the snaps with each other vertically instead of checking to make sure the actual seams lined up – double-check your laps (in both senses I guess!).

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In terms of style, I like the lowered waist, the valiant effort to straighten my cuddlesome figure vestigial darts notwithstanding, the leg shape, the horizontal pleat. I’d like wider sleeves, maybe a wider collar, faced button bands instead of a collar stand.

My cardinal sin was in not knowing myself!! I just want to wear plants and animals. I’ll hang on to this jumpsuit for a minute, but if I could snap my fingers and make it broadcloth or canvas, I would keep it for sure. This is your friendly neighborhood Obvious Reminder – construction is important, fabric choice equally so.

Critical reception of this jumpsuit ranged from (grownups) “That’s…a lot of suit”, a silent but much appreciated thumbs-up, to (children) “Amazing” and because of a game where I was meant to be captured by pirates “Perfect, you’re dressed like a servant already”.

Sadly this wasn’t my only sewing project that went a bit flumpo recently. I just sewed the Lazo Trousers by Thread Theory but no pictures because I can’t get inside them! Pure bush league eff-uppery, I sewed 10 waist 12 hip but could really use a 12 waist minimum to probably a 16 hip. I’m particularly disappointed in myself because the fabric was a gift from a friend – the ‘short end’ of lightweight wool, purchased in 1948 (!!) from a Pennsylvania mill by her great-grandmother, who worked there. I was so excited to be working with a fabric that passed from working woman to working woman over the decades, and to use this traditional menswear fabric to clad my lady legs. Even when it became clear the ship had sailed on these legs getting into those pants, I finished them; it didn’t seem to honor her work and the fabric’s journey just to toss them aside. The finished trousers are actually quite lovely if very small (though the directions for the zipper fly installation are fully bananas). I’ll pass them on at an upcoming clothing swap. Blame it on my juice!

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Pattern: Ready-to-Sew Jean-Paul boilersuit

Pattern cost: $11.50

Size: 41 waist, 46 hip

Supplies: 3.5 yards of olive bengaline suiting (rayon/poly/spandex), $24.32, Joann; thread, $1.91, Michaels; snaps from stash

Total time: 12.25 hours

Total cost: $37.73

Green Monster

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♪Laaast Christmas, I wore this dress

And the very next Christmas, yeah, I still wore this dress♫

See also: my 30th birthday and a murder mystery party. Dear the Internet, meet my Event Dress. Am I overdressed? Probably. Do I mind? Not so much. Do I shave my legs? Certainly not.

Once again I’ve blatantly copied an Allie Jackson make, which is funny, because she’s got such a clear classic/preppy/feminine slant and my style icon might be Gadget Hackwrench from Rescue Rangers (Google with caution, by the way. Image search makes it clear she has, ahem, a fandom). Anyway, I’m getting off track. Years ago Allie J sewed a lush, goddess-like, emerald green dress, and I wanted one too! Only the pattern she made called for 10 yards (!!!) of fabric, and even before taking my relative height & girth into account, that was not in my budget!

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I’m not shy about spending money on quality fabrics for everyday clothes, but for something I would only wear a handful of times, I needed to scale down. Enter M7381, a dress with similar style lines, just a little less extravagance. From 4.5 yards I ended up with this, and enough scrap fabric to make an Ogden cami.

I used a rayon challis in a similar shade of green, and while certainly inexpensive, it wrinkles like heck. See these knife pleats?

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Actually you don’t, because they’re vertical wrinkles I’ve come to terms with. Something about the length and sweep of this dress brings out my latent desire to stand like Madam X, but sewing was not un-fraught, if I remember correctly. This was actually my 30th birthday present to myself nearly two years ago, but its season has come around again! Things I remember clearly from the sewing process: hating cutting the long skirt on my insufficiently long table, figuring out a way to cleanly encase the elastic in back that is now lost in the mists of time, and trying on the dress pre-sleeves and realizing that the raised waist/pleat combination was pure prom.

THANK GOODNESS for the sleeves.

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Like I said, the back has an elastic waist (no other notions needed), and there’s a blouson effect. The bodice is fully lined. Somehow I stretched out the neckline; whether it was sewing on the bias, or the dress’s long periods of time spent on a hanger, what’s done is done.

The surplice neckline and high waist give this dress potential as a maternity/breast-feeding-friendly sew, in some sort of parallel universe where maternity also means cocktail hour. I mean, I am childless. But I’m pretty sure those things go together.

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May we celebrate many more Christmases, dress! Someday I might iron you again! And to you and yours: may you celebrate in the way that makes you happiest, and the New Year only bring you joy!

Pattern: M7381

Pattern cost: $2.50

Size: 10

Supplies: 4.5 yards Telio Viscose Rayon Challis Emerald, $25.11, fabric.com; $3.00, thread, Michael’s

Total time: 11 hours

Total cost: $28.11

 

 

I made the Peppermint jumpsuit!

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And it was…okay. The pattern is free (!) and found here. I think the style is actually pretty impeccable (is that a self-brag since I made one?) but I didn’t really adore the process of sewing it, and my fitting is very so-so.

I genuinely love this fabric, a light, soft black-and-white ikat cotton that somehow just doesn’t wrinkle, but it was so soft that the 3/8ths   seam allowances shredded easily. Not much manhandling or unpicking allowed.

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I added pockets, but about 5” too low! They’re comfortable for my hands but visually they should probably be sitting on my high hip, not my thigh. However, I think the way the pockets gape indicates that my thighs needed the extra breathing room, so it might have been a lucky mistake. I cut the size that should have yielded me a couple inches of ease by measuring the pattern pieces, but it’s a close thing!

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When I first tried on the jumpsuit I was really disappointed. The back gaped inches away from my body and the front was worse. It was loose, without being either easy or breezy. I needed to lose some length from the straps – eventually I settled on a whopping 1 ¼ inches from the front strap and a relatively discreet ¾ inches from the back. Turning the jumpsuit right-sides-out through the burritoed shoulder straps was nearly my Waterloo the first time, so there was no way I was going back in. I just tucked the excess under and stitched it down by machine! Thank you, black fabric! As you can see there’s a sizable lump on my shoulder now but at least the back sits fairly flush.

A note on the burrito method: wonderful in practice, a bit crap in effect, at least this time. I just couldn’t get the narrow shoulder strap to give birth to the second half of the jumpsuit. Eventually I opened part of the armscye seam to release the pressure and was able to turn the garment! I topstitched that opening shut, which was technically visible though hard to see, and eventually irrelevant because of the further shortening of the straps. Not my most notable success with a sewing technique.

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Shortening the straps had a knock-on effect, obviously. The bust darts now ended too high, and the high bust area, as you can see clearly above, is simultaneously too tight and too long. I am stymied. STYMIED. No idea what to do about that.

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Also, the zip now ended higher up on my back. I can get out of this on my own, but not into it, making this jumpsuit strictly a weekend garment! My coworkers are swell but there’s no one I have a zip-me-up-I-just-peed relationship with. I also added a button and loop at the top, since my zipper installation was too low and not right (sensing a theme?). I used this trick from Self Assembly Required for the loop!

Absolutely no issue with the body length though, even after my changes! So that was nice!

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I cut everything on the fold rather than my usual habit of cutting as stingily as possible on a single layer. My bum appears to be having a conversation with Woodstock from Peanuts. IT’S FINE.

I wouldn’t make this again without some serious tweaks, but it could be a good way to grow my understanding. Fitting above the bust is a big ol’ mystery to me. Once I read some books I could maybe sew this again as a practical test of new knowledge. Later. Much, much later.

Dang it, I still like this garment, though.

Thanks for finishing this saga! Any tips on fitting the high bust area? Which fitting zones give you grief?

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BYE!

Pattern: Peppermint Magazine free jumpsuit pattern

Pattern cost: $0.00

Size: between D and E

Supplies: 4 yards of black and white ikat cotton, Etsy, $23.40; zipper, Gather Here, $3.00; thread from stash; hair elastics, CVS, $3.71 (and I’ve got a ton left over for the same use in the future)

Total time: 8.75 hours

Total cost: $30.11