Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Near Miss

My striped dress has been languishing on the end of the work table for some time now. I posted that we were having difficulties - following the pleating marks on the pattern, there was no way to get the stripes to line up, and while at first I didn't think that would be a problem, these really are awfully DEFINITE stripes, and they look awful if they're not lined up. I sewed the skirt to the bodice and HATED it. And put it down for a while.

My first thought was to simply lose the idea of matching entirely and just go buy more fabric and make the skirt in horizontal stripes; since it's not a tight skirt, I didn't mind the idea of stripes around my hips. But the store was out of the fabric. Who bought 20 yards of this? And what were they making? So the dress stayed on the table, looking at me every time I walked in the room, making me feel guilty.

I let it sit for a while longer, and then one night, I cut the skirt off the bodice and loosened all the pleats. Since there was no more fabric, I had to make do with what was there. I attached the bodice to the skirt again at the center back and at both center fronts, then at the side seams, making sure to line up my stripes. From there, I just pleated by hand, matching stripes and trying to balance the pleats on each side. The seam allowance this time was pretty minimal - I'd used 5/8" before, and had to cut it off, and since this dress has a dropped waist I didn't want to raise it to some weird, unflattering level. Thankfully the black fabric almost eliminated the seamline anyway, but I think that worked.

After that, things got a little easier. I put the sleeves in (hadn't bothered when I thought the dress might be heading toward Wadderville) and gave everything a good pressing. I like the sleeve cuffs. I had them pinned each way for a while, trying to decide whether I wanted that much gingham visible, but it seemed pointless to hide almost all of it so I used the gingham for the under cuffs, which are turned back. If I'm feeling more minimal, I'll use the striped side.
Feeling much more positive, I put it back on the table to rest again for a few days.

(insert lost weekend here, followed by useless Monday evening).

Tuesday night was a whole different story. I blew off book club, got a few things done around the house, and then retreated to the workroom after dinner. All of a sudden everything started to move. I marked and made the buttonholes and sewed on the buttons. I LOVE the buttons. I got them at Pacific Trims in NY the last time I was up there, and they were exactly what this dress wanted. I knew that before I had a complete vision of the dress - I had black and white stripes, red gingham and red domed buttons in my head but nothing else for quite some time.

I tried the dress on after I sewed on the buttons, and now I have another small issue - I need to figure out which bra will work best with this dress because my usual ones are a little much, and I can see a smidgen of the gingham when I look down. I need one of my more minimal bras, which the underwear drawer has apparently hidden from me. Grrr.

It still needed something, but I didn't know what. I put the dress on Evelyn to stare at it and it came to me. I went digging in my junk drawer in the workroom and came up with two cherry appliques that I got a while back for no apparent reason. Except, apparently, they look freaking adorable on the collar.

Last of all was the hem. There's a good bit of skirt here, and by that point (around 11:00 p.m.) I just couldn't cope with the idea of hand hemming. Problem: I also couldn't cope with the idea of visible black thread on my white stripes, or white thread on the black. What's a girl to do? Machine hem with white thread, that's what, and then spend some quality time with a black fine point Sharpie marker.

I know it's cheating, but sometimes - especially on a dress that's been in the works this long, and was so close to being trashed - cheating is okay if it gets something finished and wearable.

End result: I love it. It's going to be up there with the Cherry Bomb dress in the category of dresses I reach for on gray days, or cranky mornings. Cheerful!

20 comments:

Elaray said...

This dress is a different look for you, but I love it! The cherry appliqu├ęs are the perfect touch.

Irene said...

Very, very nice! Love the cherries!

Little Hunting Creek said...

Those cherries are the perfect touch - what a happy dress:)

Lisette M said...

In how many ways can I say how good this looks on you? I love everything about this dress, the gingham touches are perfect and so are the buttons.

Connie said...

How perfectly cute! I think it can be summed up in your last photo-I love the kicked up look! Bee-utiful!

renee said...

What a masterful save! Those cherry appliques are perfect.

melissa said...

I love the retro charm of this! It looks fabulous on you! I've got some striped shirting (though mine's blue and white) that I've been meaning to make into a shirtwaister for the past two summers, but haven't quite got there...

And fabulous tip about the Sharpie. Now there's something I would have never thought of!

Claire (aka Seemane) said...

Your dress is too cute Karen!
And v. clever re: use of the black sharpie pen (will you have to top it up after the dress has been washed a few times 'cos of fading though?)

Carolyn (cmarie12) said...

Step away from the sharpie marker and buy some stitch witchery. It's faster to apply and gives you a great hem. I use this whenever I can't decide what thread to use on a skirt hem too.

Otherwise you're right...this is a very cheery dress and would brighten up any gray morning.

couturearts said...

It is so adorable!

Jane said...

I love your dress, it is such a happy dress, and it looks great on you.

Kris said...

The dress is fab. Good for you! Sometimes things have to sit for awhile before I figure out what to do with them as well. It's like I have to mull it over, even though I don't realize I'm doing it. This also applies to stuff around the house needing fixed, built, jerry-rigged, etc.

MrsRum said...

Black sharpie! Dear heavens but you have made my day. Beautiful dress, smashing idea!!

Lori said...

the dress looks fabulous on you. Nice job finishing it and finishing it to successfully.

Vicki said...

What a fun dress. It worked out so well in the end.

The Slapdash Sewist said...

Excellent save! The stripes now run seamlessly from bodice to skirt and the retro flair is perfect. Love the sharpie story. I'm not above it, though I generally use my machine's blind hem

Anonymous said...

It looks like you took Tim Gunn's motto and 'made it work'! What a fresh looking garment!!! Congratulations on the victory!
Renita

velosewer said...

I'd be kicking up my heels in this dress too. Love it.

Ann's Fashion Studio said...

You can't help but be cheerful when you wear this dress..it looks great on you.

TE said...

I've become a fan of clear nylon thread, for those times when stitching must cross multiple colors. Get the good stuff - Gutterman or Sulky - and it will be your friend in both bobbin and top threading.