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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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