How to Plan a Birthday Dress

I mentioned in my last post that I’m going to sew myself a dress for my birthday. I mentioned it for various reasons, most of them being that if I say out loud, I’ll feel like I need to actually do it, and by saying it’s for my birthday, it also gives me a deadline and I just can’t seem to function without a deadline breathing down my neck.

Do you get project paralysis when you’ve got a blank canvas in front of you? Too many choices, so you can’t actually narrow down what the heck you’re going to do? This is totally me, and I find that it works best to take any limitations into account, because limitations help hone your choices by booting out the choices that simply won’t work.

So, we have a time limitation with the birthday deadline: Saturday, May 8th (Not my birthday, but I want the dress done for the Sunday before my birthday) which gives me roughly four weeks. In all honesty, my creative brain totally thinks I’m going to be done with this in a week. My logic brain is worried I don’t actually have enough time to finish this because hi, it’s spring (gardening), school sports are starting up again for some of my kids, I have another secret project that’s going to be taking up a lot of my times, and OH YEAH I HAVE FOUR KIDS. (The four kids yelling thing is something my BFF keeps stage-yelling at me every time I get down on myself for not being “more productive.” I’m supposed to now always yell it whenever I’m thinking of things that I need to take into consideration when thinking about starting new projects, according to her.)

The fabric: Kokka Natural Garden Voile, purchased from Miss Matatabi during a sale in December. I have a rule that if I gasp out loud because a fabric or yarn is so beautiful, that I really need to figure out how to buy some. I gasped at this, saw it was on sale, and bought the rest of it. Not sorry at all. STALKS OF LAVENDER, people! SHUT UP AND TAKE MY MONEY!

Another limitation is the amount of fabric I have for this dress: 4 3/8 yards (8 meters). I know that seems like a lot of fabric, but it’s not because a) I am a full skirt addict, and b) I’m a plus-size gal with a lot going on up top. Of course, I want to do a beautiful circle or pleated skirt that swooshes around, but I just don’t have the yardage for it. I think I’m going to have to go with an A-Line skirt, which isn’t my favorite…but I can’t fight the reality of yardage amounts. It was end-of-bolt, so I got what I could get, and there’s nothing else I can do about it.

Two other limitations: Modesty (Has to have sleeves and hit below the knee), and I don’t really want to spend any more money on extras for this. I’m pretty sure I’m going to have to line this because it is voile, but I’m hoping I already have something on-hand for that. I might buy 1/2-1 yard of a coordinating fabric, if my heart gets set on a contrast extra, like a Peter Pan collar, or cuffs, or a midriff section or something like that.

I haven’t made myself a dress in quite some time, and my measurements have changed a lot since then, so it might be a good idea to keep things simple–basic bodice, short sleeves, a-line skirt. There’ll need to be something extra, but I’m not quite sure what that’s going to be just yet. I’d like this dress to be prettily functional; nice enough for church, and not too nice for wearing to the grocery story on days where I want to be cute as I go about my errands.

OK…that’s not too tough. I’ve done it before! (Let’s just hope it doesn’t take me close to year to get it done like I did with the last one, k?)

Goals for this week:

  • Choose pattern
  • Make muslin
  • Adjust pattern
  • Buy lining, if needed
  • Cut fashion fabric and lining

It’s a big list, I know. Any progress will be good progress.

What spring projects are you thinking about right now?

Renaissance’s Easter Dress

 

I finished it a while back, but she wore it for our Easter church service at home, and I finally remembered to snap a couple of pictures of her.

SONY DSC

I’ve had this pattern earmarked for a couple of years for her.  I’d purchased some great dresses from Lands End about four years ago for Emily, and then they were handed down to Ren, and now to Rachel, and they are such a great silhouette that I started keeping an eye out for a comparable pattern somewhere out there in Sewing Land.  It appeared one day in the form of Butterick 6450–a bloused bodice with an elastic waist, short sleeves, and a swingy skirt.  It works really great for a growing girl.

SONY DSC

This is View C, sewn up in a cotton lawn from Miss Matatabi.  I underlined the bodice with white cotton voile for modesty, and attached the same fabric as a lining beneath the skirt.  (Note to self: Don’t mix and match underlining the bodice with a lining for the skirt in this pattern in the future–it got messy when it came to attaching the zipper versus the encased elastic waistband.  Pick one method of under/lining and go with it for both the bodice and the skirt.)  I did not do the gathering on the sleeves, and I was surprised that I ended up using the full length of the View C skirt.

The skirt is seamed down the center front and back on the bias, which is something that I’d like to avoid in the future because I want to sew up a couple iterations of this in gingham prints, but that bias seam will cause all sorts of headaches with a gingham. I know it will be easy enough to throw a different skirt onto the bodice in the future, but sigh…more thinking ahead.  It worked well enough with this abstract print, and the skirt has turned out really well and fluttery without the danger of flipping up in a wind gust, à la a circle skirt.

SONY DSC

Construction was easy, with no weird head-scratching moments.  I like bias binding on my edges, so I really love that bound neckline–makes me so pleased everytime I see it!  The instructions on how to hem the skirt were really good and gave a nice finish.  The zipper instructions were a mess and I ended up just hacking the stupid thing in there, but that’s just because I am missing the gene that lets me understand how to put a zipper into anything.  Good enough.

I’m planning to sew up this pattern, with a few design changes, at least two more times this year.  It’s a great dress!

SONY DSC

At the End of Week #2 of COVID-19 School Closures

We are now 1/3 of the way through the initial school closures here in Washington State, and are now enjoying the escalated “Stay Home” measures that were announced this week by the governor, dictating that we not leave our houses unless there’s an essential need (groceries, medical, etc.).

The kids are doing really great with their online learning, and I actually learned that their school district is one of TWO that made the immediate jump to online learning for the school closures.  Cue the “I’m so glad we moved into this particular house” gratitude.  We get to walk down to the bus stop each morning to pick up the school lunch deliveries (practicing safe social distancing of course), and I get to have a quick chat with some of my neighborhood mom friends, so we don’t feel completely socially isolated.  It’s not that bad, actually.

Crafting-wise, I basically just sewed up medical masks this week.  Not exciting at all, and a little anger-inducing because all I can think about while I’m sewing these up is how frustrating it is that we don’t have enough medical supplies on-hand for something of this nature, despite the fact that scientists have been warning us for years that we were historically due for a pandemic of some sort.  And then my thoughts wander down more angry roads, and I just end up steaming mad about lots of things.  So…no, I don’t like making medical masks AT ALL.  BUT, I have friends who work in the medical field and one of them texted yesterday asking if I had made any because her hospital really needs some, so I drove the twenty I’d made over to her house and left them on her doorstep.  I guess I’ll need to make more, but I need a break before I go back to them.

img_20200326_133434

I’m going to use my “break from the masks” to attach the binding to my March Blank Quilting project, which just arrived back from the quilter this week; and I’m starting to work with the “Best Friends Farm” fabric that Jaftex/Henry Glass Fabrics sent me as a bonus for April; and I did my part to support a small business by buying up some yardage of an absolutely gorgeous floral print from Style Maker Fabrics that I’m hoping to turn into a dress by Easter.

 

So, because goals are my self-love love language, I’ll end this with a “Goals for the Next Week” list:

  • Finish the Florabelle Hexie Stripes quilt.  Photograph it and share it online.
  • Finish piecing the individual blocks for the Best Friends Farm quilt.
  • Finish the muslin for my Blue Floral Easter dress.
  • Photograph and share the dress I finished for Renaissance a couple of weeks ago.
  • Move forward in some meaningful way with my sewing pattern database/spreadsheet.  The plan, pre-COVID-19, was to have it completed by the end of the next week or so, but things got way too crazy to keep up with it, so it’s a minor project that’s limping along at the moment.  I’ll worry about it more once things calm down in the future.
The week after next is Spring Break, which means there will be no online learning and schoolwork to keep the kids entertained throughout the day, AND we’ll still be mandated to stay home, so…I guess I should come up with some ideas for that as well.  Any suggestions?