Monday, August 4, 2014

Staycation dress

This past week, I've been on a staycation. You know a vacation where you don't go anywhere. I know some people do it all up and visit places around the city they haven't been too. We went to a couple of events at the library and into the woods, but for the most part, we just stayed home. Which was fine. Great even. I got the chance to play with the kids which I usually do not get to do because I am at work all day.

But why am I telling you all this? Because not only did I get extra time around the house to clean, I also was able to sew! Unbelievable right? I spent approximately an hour a day while the kids were having quiet time in their beds (formally nap time, we let them read in their beds to give the youngest time to be able to nap and not feel pressured by the older kids).  

For this project I chose to do a shirtwaist dress with my simplicity 1880 pattern. 
I decided that I was going to get this right. I was very deliberate and careful. Did this mean I didn't make any mistakes? Absolutely not. It just meant that I made fewer and when I did, I carefully unpicked them and redid it.

For fabric I used a quilting cotton which I thought looked kind of like a feedsack print. I picked it up at Walmart for $2/yard on clearance. I know that I need to be getting American made fabrics, but as a beginner sewist, it is so hard to justify the cost. 

I did sew in interfacing this time because of the issues I have had with iron on in the past. It did really well, but I think it was really a bit too heavy ( they only had one type of sew in at Walmart). The fabric turned out heavier than I expected. This will be a good fall dress when paired with a cardigan.

This project cost less than $15 for fabric, interfacing, zipper, & lace hem tape. I already had the pattern, buttons, thread, and freezer paper (which I used to trace the pattern).

I used a fashionable stitch's sew-a-long to help me along the way. 

Changes I made to the pattern:
- I added an inch to the waist (1/4 inch on each side seam of the bodice and 1/8 inch on each seam of the skirt panels)

- I sewed up the pleats, which I believe makes them tucks, right?

- I did the collar as instructed by a fashionable stitch and it looks so much better than my first attempt.

- I also followed the sew-a-longs directions for sewing the sleeves in flat, which was much easier than the method in the directions! I decided to make them look nice, I would do French seams. They look great on the inside, but I do think the gathering looked better inside out before I finished the seam.

Things I learned:
Well, it would wear you out. Because this is only my 5th real sewing project, the whole thing was a real learning experience! 

Where I am at now...
And you thought I actually finished it didn't you?

While I did machine stitch the hem so that I could wear it to church this morning, I stitched it with a basting length stitch so that I could easily rip it out and do it properly. I plan on actually doing that this time.

A fashionable stitch doesn't carry these kits unfortunately

I am considering doing a matching belt. The pattern comes with a sash style belt. Which do you think would look nicer or do you like it belt-less?

Also, I had wanted to put on rounded shirted patch pockets. However, when I mentioned it to my husband, he said that it would dress it down (too much to wear it to church). My mother in law went on to say it would look like a house dress. Not that there is anything wrong with house dresses I love them, but I am not at the point of making them because I don't have that much to wear outside of the house yet.
Pocket inspiration photo
I am trying to determine if I want to add the pockets and only wear it to the store or possibly to work if I wear a company logo cardigan over it. The only problem is that I do not have much to wear to church which is almost the only place I go outside of my home, work, and the store.
I don't know, what do you think?

Oh and I almost forgot. A few things that I am proud of..
My button holes. My sewing machine does not have a special buttonhole stitch or anything, but it did have directions in the manual on how to use the zigzag stitch to create buttonholes and I think they look pretty dag on good :)

My invisible zipper. While it is not 100% it is so much better than my last attempt. I think it looks great.
I still had an issue with seam finish with the zipper. Was I suppose to finish the seam before the zipper was put in?
At least I only cut the zipper tape with the pinking sheers because that isn't visible. Apparently I didn't take out my basting stitch on the side of the zipper. 

And I changed up my sewing area. I was inspired by this photo on pinterest
I have a few vintage suitcases and thought I could easily do this. What I didn't consider is that all of my suitcases are not square. They are thinner on the handle side than the base side so when you stack them they lean. I turned one around backwards to help some, but I could not stack the last round one under the top and have it be able to be open. So it is set to the side. It is the one housing all my patterns. I have each of the other cases filled with my fabric stash, yarn stash, sewing whatnots, etc.

I have the kids sewing stuff pushed up against mine, so that looks a little messy. I am okay with that though because it is still accessible to them and doesn't look too bad. The knitting basket in front has the stuff that I am currently working on so that it is easy to reach when I do have a few minutes to spare. 


  1. Great job Brandy, I can't believe you were able to sew a whole dress from start to finish with only quiet time during the week - amazing. I think the fabric is a great choice for the dress and does make it look very 1940's.

    About the belt, if you can find the materials, I would say to make one. I have 2 shirt dresses with sash style belts, and I don't like wearing them. I usually use a purchased belt instead, but would like to make a matching one someday.

    Regarding the patch pocket, I think they would dress it down a bit. It works in the inspiration photos because the girls are all glamed up with red lipstick, high heals and great hair. If you took the time to look like that every time you planned to wear the dress, than go for it! But if it seems daunting to take that much time, I would skip the pockets (I have this sort of debate with myself when sewing sometimes - but I know it is rare that I take the time to go all out with my appearance).

  2. That fabric is seriously charming and oh-so-beautiful! Awesome job on this dress - very much including the button holes.

    ♥ Jessica