crafts · patterns · Sewing

The last planning post: Dresses

Finally, we come to my favorite part of my wardrobe – the dresses!  I have done a good job filling my wardrobe with dresses, after years of hardly wearing any.  When I sat down with my friend to weed my cl0set, I knew some hard choices were about to be made.  Not all of my handmade dresses are keepers, but I have a terrible attachment to them!  But common sense prevailed, and we must say a sad farewell to these dresses:

Vogue 8631: Alas, my love for the fabric could not compensate for the lack of adequate closures.  I spent the whole time I was wearing the dress worried about flashing someone (I do not like wrap dresses!)  Then my husband ran it through the drier, and that was that.

Simplicity 2848:  I suspect that I might actually be a bit past the age where jumpers are cute.  I always felt silly when wearing it, so I have given it away.

Vintage Vogue 1219:  Suffered from overfitting (a common affliction for me when I started out!)  Twas also a bit stiff from the underlining.  I gave it away, but I want to make this pattern again!

Vogue 7617:  Didn’t fit well in the chest, and once again I used a stiff underlining.  I have learned my lesson now, and consider carefully if underlining is appropriate.  I want to make this again too!

Sadness!  But also happiness, because it all helps to make room for new projects, especially after a large clean-out of my thrifted dresses (I have no attachment at all to something for which I paid under 5 dollars.)

I tried very hard to evaluate my dresses, with an eye on what I actually like to wear.  I came up with a few categories:

1. Short dresses, which can also be worn over leggings as a tunic.

2. Ponte dresses.  It’s my favorite fabric right now, and I can’t get enough!

3. Updated Vintage. I love, love, love vintage, but I also don’t want to be uncomfortable or feel like I’m wearing a costume.  Vogue pattern magazine did a spread earlier this fall with updated versions of their patterns.  I was inspired to update some of my patterns for fall and winter.

4. Sleeves.  I love sleeves, why don’t more dresses have them in the winter?  It gets cold here!  Having said that, no sleeves at all are better than a short sleeve.

What don’t I wear?

1. Anything that wrinkles excessively. I like to use the damp dry setting on my drier, which I find takes care of most wrinkles.  If something is going to always be wrinkled, the end result will be me never wearing it.

2. Dry clean only.  I only dryclean coats if I can help it.  My husband doesn’t wear dress clothes for work, so I have no reason to go there.  Anything that needs drycleaning will sit in a bag for 6 months before I get around to it.  I can use the wool or handwash settings on my frontloader for many items.  I avoid lining items because I don’t want to wash something with a lining.

3. Overfitted dresses.  I have recently discovered pencil skirts, so I don’t mean that – I mean anything I can’t take a deep breath and/or move my arms freely.  I have started using stretch wovens, and I’m in love with them!

With that list of rules in mind, here is some project inspiration!

Simplicity 2308: I purchased this fabric to copy the Milly dress here.  Milly is currently my favorite brand.  I love the fun fabrics they use, so I was thrilled to find a similar print.  Mine is not metallic, and is an ITY knit rather than a silk chiffon, and the scale is slightly larger.  I think this pattern has a great deal of potential, but it all depends on the fabric choice.  I’m hoping mine is good!

Simplicity 2054:  I plan to make the version with detatchable cowl using this lace print ponte (available at Joann’s this season.)  This is such a plain style htat I think it will benefit from the print.  I’m not sure about the sleeves – articulated elbow or not?  I think the dress is pretty plain without it, but I’m not sure it fits  my style.

New Look 6067:  I adore this dress – look at those fun pleats!  My fabric is a heavier cotton sateen (Jones NY via Fabricmart.)  It’s navy with red dots.  I had considered using this fabric for a trench coat, but to be honest I don’t wear the two that I have.  This dress has a bit of a retro feel to me, without venturing into costume, which I feel is a danger with this sort of fabric.

Simplicity 2145:  Yes, this is the knock-off of Kate Middleton’s Issa engagement dress.   I plan to make mine in red, so that it’s not so completely a copy.  I loved that dress when I saw it, so I must make this!  The red is a beautiful color, can’t you see this for the holidays?

Simplicity 2282: I have really been longing for a peplum this year.  Last year I made Vogue 1209, which has a back peplum.  I wore it Tuesday, and remembered how I love it! I’m planning to use a RPL woven suiting.  It’s navy with a really subtle black pinstripe.  Simplicity 2282 is a good match for the Stella McCartney dress I fell in love with (minus the front bit of peplum.)  I do plan to open up that neckline to a scoop.  Crewnecks are not for me.  Lastly, I plan to use a contrasting piping around the peplum, and possibly the princess seams (the Sew Convert made this dress and used piping to great effect!)

Vogue 8745:  The inspiration dress is from Modcloth (where it is available in gray – I changed the picture to match my fabric.)  I plan to lengthen this top (and cut longer ruffles.)  I’m also planning to make a black leather obi belt (via my trusty Kwik Sew pattern) to define the waist.  I need one badly, as I keep wishing I had one when wearing other dresses!

Vintage patterns: Vogue 9660(1950s,) Vogue 5782 (1960s) and McCall 5336 (1970s)

I’m considering fabric options for these three projects, but I may yet change my mind.  I’m currently feeling very inspired by the 1970s, so McCall 5336 is up first.  I’m looking for a lightweight woolen with drape to make the short hemline/long sleeved version.  My inspiration for this dress is from Diane Von Furstenberg’s Pre Fall 2011 collection (here... there are no exact matches, but the feel of the collection shows what I am aiming for.)  I am thinking of a warm brown or orange-red for fall.

I  am not sure where I am going to start.  Right now I have the McCall’s 6167 on the cutting table (I was convinced by your positive feedback on that one!) and after that I want to make Simplicity 2256 (the ponte jacket.)  After that I will work on a dress.

I am possibly sort of OCD about planning!  It’s curious though… without a plan like this I will go a month without sewing, but with the plan I feel inspired!  I know I won’t get to everything, but that’s not important to me – what’s important is that I have projects ready to go when I get the sewing urge.   It does not often coincide with the planning urge, so I often end up stymied by what to make.   I plan to cut several projects at a time too – it keeps me from using cutting as an excuse not to sew (I hate to cut, even with the rotary!)

8 thoughts on “The last planning post: Dresses

  1. I have enjoyed these set of planning posts. I know that if only I planned in advance, I wouldn’t end up with armfuls of unfinished objects! Anyhow, love the peplum dress and the Issa dress! For the dress with the elbow slits – I honestly don’t quite understand their purpose – I think it would just give me cold elbows…

  2. I agree you should make another version of the Mary Dress, because that is one cute dress. But I champion your ability to get rid of stuff, even when you’ve made it. Sometimes you just need to know it’s time to say goodbye…

  3. Thanks for posting about that New Look pattern. I just went out and bought it to make something. I’ve been buying a bunch of stretch cotton twill printed fabric for dresses at I don’t know if you’ve ever shopped there, but the stretch twill is only about $5.50 a yard. They are a great dress weight and some of the prints are very interesting.

  4. Hi! I made the Cynthia Rowley Simplicity 2054 recently and wasn’t very pleased with it. I am somewhat curvy, and it seems that the model’s figure on the pattern envelope is the one best suited to this pattern. Keep in mind that it does not have any bust darts. I found that the armscye was larger than I usually like and that I had to take in the sleeves quite a bit. Frankly, I was disappointed with the quality of this pattern.

    It’s partially my fault though – I ought to have realized the pattern wouldn’t work for me.
    Hope this helps!

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