Good Morning! The other day I was at Sewing Sister’s house and she showed me some beautiful fabric she had purchased at Michael Levine’s on her “Rainbird” trip in California. Besides being an oh-so-pretty floral, the fabric was as soft as cocoa butter against your skin. SS (Sewing Sister) talked about making a dress for summer and then commented how she often put great fabric away for “later”.
Why do we do that??? I am the Queen of Packing Away Gorgeous Fabric (It’s a dangerous land full of trolls and dragons). I buy something I love and then won’t cut into it. I say that I am waiting for the right pattern or creative idea or blah-blah-blah. But the truth is I am just a big chicken!!! I thought about this chicken-ness and decided to give it a name: “Sewing Intimidation Syndrome”. (If SIS ever shows up in a future edition of the DSM –Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychological Disorders–I want some credit okay?)
Well, right then and there, SS and I decided we would meet up for a sewing day and tackle our SIS together (because we are brave like that). SS’s SIS is more about using a pattern than cutting fabric so we decided to face that too. I was wearing a shirt I made from a Nancy Zieman pattern and SS said, “That is exactly what I want to make—except as a long dress.” Done.
To get ourselves prepared, we each watched a “Sewing With Nancy” episode online. SS says Nancy reminds her of favorite aunt, Jane. I think of her as the Home Ec teacher of my dreams.
When SIS-elimination Day arrived I showed up at SS’s house with 2 version of the pattern (it was so weird that I had 2 of them), thread, ball point needles, and 2 panels of a digital print knit that I purchased from Marcy Tilton. SS had the Michael Levine floral and a completely different cut of fabric to go with it. Awesome!!!!
Day 1: “Imagineering” and Coloring Outside the Lines.
Remember how Walt Disney called his people in research and development “Imagineers”? That’s what we were on day 1 of our dressmaking. SS and I started by drinking coffee and laying our fabric and patterns out on her floor. What is especially cool about SS’s floor is it is a school house floor. SS’s home was once the Old Garden Valley School House. It was built in 1939 by parents in the valley who wanted their kids to get an education (because that is what you did back in those days…..build your kid’s school). The floor is wood, but it feels soft to me and I can feel the encouragement of generations of learners come up from it.
Both SS and I included some challenges in our projects. SS wanted to use different fabrics for the front and back sections. I had enough fabric on the panel’s to make a front and back but not the sleeves. Also, I wanted to make the dress longer than my yardage. Oh!! And our pattern had a top, skirt and pants; but no dress version.
Just saying, I think this approach was the absolute right way to approach Sewing Intimidation Syndrome. If you are afraid of messing up the picture in your color book start by coloring outside the lines. All of a sudden the spell is broken.
Triple S Becomes a Fashion Consultant….
So we were working away on the floor, happy as magpies when Sewing Sister’s Sweetie (Triple S) chimes in from the peanut gallery. “You know what you should do………….”
Now, my mother raised me to be polite. So I didn’t roll my eyes, put my hands on my hips or say “Listen Logger-boy, you chop down trees; I sew dresses”. Instead I paused and said something demure like, “What, Triple S?”
“Well,” says Triple S, “You should change the front. Cut all those tree branches out, put the colored section on top and put black right below it. It’ll make it “pop”.” (I barely kept myself from snorting “Change the front!!!! Are you crazy???? I like the front!!”) Instead, I (again) said something demure like, “Well, that’s an idea…….”. And walked over to the mirror with some black fabric–just to pacify him. Again, my mother raised me to be polite.
I placed the black fabric over the tree branches; put it next to the colored section; and…………it looked…………really good. Danged if he wasn’t right!!! SS whispered to me, “You know the black does make it pop. Should we tell him????” We told him, and there was no living with him after that. At All!
SS had some great black knit in her stash and she generously shared it with me. The extra black solved all of my project issues. I now had enough fabric to make sleeves and add length. Another win for Imagineering!!
Placing and Cutting
Design placement was an issue on both of our dresses so we modified the way we cut. Usually, I follow the standard procedure. I fold the fabric, place the pattern pieces on the top side or on the fold, cut, and hope for the best. This time we laid our fabric flat and positioned the pattern pieces so we could put the designs where we wanted them. To accomplish this we had to flip the front and back patterns to make full pieces. The tricky thing about this was ensuring that we did not add any extra space in the middle!! It probably would have been more accurate to trace each half and tape them together, but flipping is what we did instead. It was kind of fun, and made for some exciting moments.
I had to cut my front bodice from one fabric and the rest of the front from another. Here is how I accomplished it: I flipped and cut on the digital print first. Since the colored section was going to be on the top of the dress, that became the dividing line for the front bodice. After cutting, I laid the bodice and pattern over the black fabric. Then I flipped and cut my remaining section with an extra 5/8 inch seam allowance at the top. After cutting, I attached the colored top to the lower front section and had a full front piece. It looked pretty darn cool, if I do say so myself!
Creating length was our last cutting challenge. Remember, we were making longer dresses from a shirt pattern. To be honest, we mostly eyeballed it. I realize this would have given us a D- in our imaginary Home Ec class. But our teacher was on vacation and it worked out. For my dress, I pulled out the skirt pattern to make sure I was basically on track and estimated how much longer I wanted the dress. For SS’s dress, she had me lay on the fabric next to where she was cutting. Both of our methods worked, when we were finished, we had two dresses roughly the length we wanted them. It was a good day.
This is probably the right time to end today’s post. (I am still trying to keep my word count below 50 million.) There is, of course, much more to the story of the dresses and I can’t wait to share it with you. As they used to say in my Saturday Morning cartoons…… “Stay tuned, there is more to come!”
Oh!!! One more thing. I made a mistake. (As you know I make a lot of them, it is part of my charm) I was wrong about leaving for our Sewingjourney this Saturday. It is Next Saturday, March 14th! I hope you didn’t get someone to take care of your pets yet!! Other than the date change, everything is still going as planned. Have you tried to guess where we are headed? It’s in Oregon, the Blog Dogs can’t go and you need to wear something you can change out of when it get’s grimy. Doesn’t that sound like the best sewing adventure ever??
Okay my dear friends, time to say “goodbye” for now. Enjoy this beautiful Spring. Make something that makes you smile. I think you are wonderful!!