Wahoo a sewing contest! I’ve never entered a contest before and I have dreams of a three tiered podium with home-made ribbons. I have to admit the Indie sewing month challenge and first contest theme ‘dresses’ stumped me a bit. I was in a quandary as to what to make. I love a good dress and have oodles of fun fabric to work with, but I really, really wanted to use two of the fabrics I bought back in March at the Knitting and Stitching show. As I’ll explain this limited my options for dress patterns. So lets get to the fabric.
Fabric: a white eyelet (aka broderie anglaise) and a red and white striped cotton.
I wanted to find a pattern that would allow me to show off the eyelet, but struggled for a while to find the right one. So many fantastic patterns and with a contest as straightforward as ‘dresses’ I was half tempted to make something elaborate or flamboyant. But I’m trying really hard to make myself only use patterns that are appropriate to my fabric (and vice verse). Then I found it.
I loved the simplicity of the shape and thought the yoke would be just perfect for presenting the design on the eyelet.
In the process of exploring Indie pattern designers over the last month I’ve really enjoyed discovered a little bit about them. I’m amazed at all these young, creative women around the world (I’m sure there’s a few men too, but I haven’t found them yet)! Rae is based in the US and has quite a few patterns out, mostly women’s tops, children clothes, and purses.
So anyway, the Ruby Dress it was. If any of you have read some of my blogs before, you’ll know that I have adopted a very cautious approach to using PDF patters. A bit like trying to give a cat a bath I think. But I was pleasantly surprised by this PDF. The actual pattern is over 12 pages and is easy-peasy to put together. Assembling it took less than 45 minutes. I cut out a combination of size S (bust and up) and size M (upper waist and down).
Alterations: The main alteration was POCKETS. Pockets are what makes a good dress great in my books. The top of my new pockets are 10″ down from the armpit and nice and roomy. Though I admit it took me a little while to work out the best shape and had me scouring my wardrobe looking at all my dresses with pockets for the best shape and placement.
Finishing my seams: First of all I loved how there was an appendix of different seam finishes in the back, with simple but clear instructions (and images) on a variety of ways to finish the seams. Plus she recommends different seam finishes for different parts of the dress. Sometimes I get into a rut, using the same finishing technique when there are other more appropriate ways, so its nice to have a reminder (and instructions).
In the end, every seam was finished differently! The shoulder seams I used French seams on, so that no squiffy bits were visible through the eyelet. On the seam joining the yoke and the front & back I pinked the edges, pressing them down (versus up as recommended) and carefully top stitching. While it’s not ideal on the gathers, it was the best I could think of to keep nothing from showing on the yoke. And finally on the side seams, I simply zig-zagged on the edges and pressed to the back which seemed the best course of action having put in pockets.
Total time sewing: I’d estimate that I spent around 4.5hrs sewing the Ruby Dress but I think that’s not normal. There were three main areas that I really farted around. First of all, just as I had sewn my shoulder seams together I had a crisis about which was the ‘right’ side of the eyelet. I changed my mind numerous times, sewed, unpicked and resewed the shoulder seams. Then I decided after three changes of my mind, that if I couldn’t decide which was the right and wrong side, it was unlikely that anyone else would notice. Second I went all obsessive about the gathers. It can look so bad if they’re not nicely spread out, but I was a bit OTT about them. Finally, the pockets through me a little. Deciding the exact shape and positioning took me some serious thinking time.
So I reckon next time it’ll be quicker. And there will definitely be a next time! I love the simplicity of the dress and that it lends itself to creativity with fabric. But I’ll make the whole thing size small next time as it really wasn’t necessary as you can see from my unbelted photo here.
There’s a gazillion more photos over on my blog, Thimble&Threads, which you can view here.