Project: Misses’ Pullover Dress

Sew Tunes: Andrew Bird (Pandora Station)

Pattern: Simplicity, inspired by Project Runway

Fabric Used: 100% Cotton

New to Me: Flounce, the term and the technique

Trips to Store: 3, including the LA Fabric Mart

Loved One: Christine, my rock. We have been friends since our college days, and I consider myself one lucky girl to have her as a lifelong friend.

Day by Day…

When I was looking through the sea of fabric last week at Michael Levine in the Los Angeles garment/fabric district, I spotted this Amy Butler fabric, and instantly, I thought of Christine. And, it was my lucky day as it was on the discounted fabric table.

Joel Dewberry. Love. Amy Butler. Love too. I am very excited to be able to work with these designers’ fabrics back to back. For those just tuning in, I used Joel Dewberry’s fabric last week with my pillowcase project.

There wasn’t much description at Michael Levine’s about the fabric, so I did a little bit of digging on the interweb and found that the fabric comes from the Nigella Collection. It’s called “Ritzy Stripe” and is of home décor weight.

Other designs of Amy Butler’s that I am currently coveting…

Think reupholstered chair:

Or shower curtain:

So about the pattern. It’s Simplicity (pattern 2360), inspired by Project Runway. What struck me odd initially was that there were no views on the envelope of the pattern. But after a review of the directions, I soon figured out why…

Because it’s a Project Runway pattern, silly Jenn. It is meant to inspire the designer in you. The pattern gives you several elements to mix and match (sleeveless vs. three quarter length sleeves, v-neck vs. scoop, pleated collar vs. a ruffle), and you pick and choose how you want to construct the garment. It even includes a “Croquis Kit.” Translation: “croquis” is a French word meaning a rough draft. In other words, a sketch. In plain English, this is a sketch pad. Flashback to my paper doll days.

So how am I going to fashion my dress? An A-line skirt (pockets included) with a sleeveless scoop neck bodice that includes some flounce flare.

There are eleven pattern pieces, and for my version of the dress, twenty-three steps in the directions.

Monday, September 19:

Christine stopped by so I could take her measurements. I am basing the pattern size on her bust measurement. There is some ease (design AND wearing ease) in the dress. It’s about 4.5″.

Friday, September 23:

I really wanted to tackle a bit of the project earlier in the week, but it is Friday and I am just now finding myself washing and drying the fabric and cutting out and ironing the eleven pattern pieces.

Fellow sewists, do you use your fabric scissors to cut out the tissue pattern pieces? My paper scissors keep catching the tissue, so I used my Fiskars which I have reserved for fabric cutting only.  I’m interested in knowing if the tissue dulls the scissors. What has your experience been?

When placing the pattern pieces on the fabric (selvages together), I had to be extremely mindful of placement because of the stripes. And I had to make adjustments. For example, I had to rotate the bodice back section 90 degrees because the pattern diagram had it upside down and this would have interfered with the stripes.

This pattern has the most “cut on the fold” pieces I have worked with. I like this because it means no middle seams (only side seams)…which further means I don’t need to worry about the pieces lining up in the middle.

The prep work is done, and I am now ready to start the project.

Step 1: I changed my machine’s needle, then I stay stitched the bodice front and the bodice back. Something new to me: I had to reinforce the V on the back of the bodice, stitching along the stitch line, which I assume is 5/8″…hold on…just looked at the pattern piece. Simplicity has the stitching line marked on the actual pattern piece and the points to stitch between. Look at that. The actual pattern pieces have such valuable information. Then the directions instructed me to clip at the V.

After I stay stitched, I stitched the front of the bodice to the back at the shoulder seams. I clipped (using pinking shears) the seam close to the stitch line, and then ironed the seam flat. I then stitched the bodice side–front to the bodice side–back at the shoulder seam. I clipped the seam with pinking shears and ironed flat.

Since it is getting late, I am going to tackle the A-line skirt next, instead of following the next step in the directions, which is the flounce. I need some zzzz’s before attempting something new.

The first step of the skirt: pockets. I love when dresses have pockets. I kept the wrong sides together when attaching pockets to the skirt. This gives the inside of the dress a little more pizzazz.

I then stitched the skirt pieces at the side seams, leaving openings in the pocket. And then I stitched the raw edges of the actual pockets.

Good night.

Saturday, September 24:

It’s early in the morning, and I am ready to pounce on this flounce. My second trip to the fabric store was to purchase a contrasting fabric for the bias and the flounce. I cut the odd-shaped pattern pieces out. This is where trust kicks-in. I trust that it will not look like a ram when finished.

I stitched the front and back pieces of the flounce together at the notched ends. I then took the single layer of fabric and stitched ½” from the raw edge on the inner curve. I then notched out triangles. It’s time to hem the outside curve.

Grrr. The first attempt was a complete fail. Thankfully, a woman in Florida had some good advice:

“Stitch through a single layer of fabric around the bottom of the hem 1/4 inch away from the bottom edge. Press up this 1/4 inch so that the stitches just slightly roll to the inside of the hem. Now, turn the hem up 1/4 inch again. Press the hem with steam. This will help ease in the hem to remove any extra fullness. Stitch the hem in place.”

I think the pattern’s directions had intended the hem to be narrower, but this larger hem makes the stitching much easier. But the second attempt is still far from perfect, and because the cream fabric is so light, you can see right through it.

Time to scrap the cream fabric for the flounce entirely. I had enough of the Amy Butler fabric remaining to cut out the flounce pattern pieces again. I placed the pattern pieces so that the stripes are horizontal. I repeated the above steps, and came to hem time. When I reached a curve, I would use the hand wheel to make the corner, and then use the foot pedal. I felt more in control this way.

Between the fabric and the online 411 about hemming on the curve, it turned out a-o-k. As they say, third time is a charm.

I then attached the flounce pieces to the bodice sides (right side of the bodice side to the wrong side of the flounce). The notched triangles on the inside of the flounce’s  curve really helped out when lining up the raw edges. I basted the pieces in place, and then with right sides together, I stitched the bodice sides to the main bodice section.

And there was symmetry on both sides of the bodice. I made one minor adjustment to the back so that the flounce was identical on both sides.

Next came the binding for the armholes and the neckline. Initially, I wanted to use the cream fabric for both the flounce and the binding. Let’s see if the contrasting binding works out better than the flounce did.

Because of my DIY bias tape making during week eight‘s apron making project, I was able to identify pattern pieces as being the binding by the diagonal arrow, meaning to cut on the bias so that there is stretch when placing along the raw edge of an opening, like the armhole or the neckline. Awwww, it’s all making sense. I stitched the band at the notched ends and ironed up one edge 1/4″. I then placed the edge that was not folded against the raw edge of the armhole and stitched 3/8″. I then flipped the edge that was folded 1/4″ to the inside of the garment, and stitched in the ditch. There’s that phrase again (flashbacks to week ten‘s project). Well, I was close to the ditch.

Enough binding for one sitting. I starting to feel like I am bound to the chair. So I switched up the steps and decided to attach the bodice to the skirt next. Once done, the stripes on the back of the dress lined up. The stripes on the front were a bit off.

But nothing a super cute belt from Anthropologie can’t fix. Something like this, but I am not sure if I would do black or brown with this dress. Decisions, decisions.

I needed a break from sewing, so I ran over to my screen printing friend’s place. I got a mini tutorial on the art of making screens, and screen printing. Stay tuned for a screen + stitch (+ sip) project.

OCH = Oretha Castle Haley

Monday, September 26:

I am cutting it close. After work, I need to tackle the binding for the neckline and placing the elastic at the waist. I started with what I thought would be the toughest part – the neckline binding. I used the same technique I used for the armhole binding, cutting the fabric on the bias. I must have not done it correctly because there was not much give when placing the binding along the neckline. After three tries, I decided to take a third trip to the fabric store to purchase already made bias tape (wide single fold). I ironed flat one of the folds and placed the unfolded edge along the neckline and stitched 3/8″. I then looped around the folded side to the backside of the dress, and stitched in the ditch. This time, I was closer to the ditch.

And we have arrived at the last step: the elastic band at the waistline. I used 1/4″ elastic instead of the 1/2″ that the directions called for because there was not enough room. I took the seams from the bodice and the skirt, pinned an extra long piece of elastic to the inside, then stitched, creating a casing. It looks unfinished, but I am not sure how to fix it since there is not much fabric left to use pinking shears.

And with only 1 hour and 20 minutes to spare, we have reached the end.

I am waiting for the “fitting” before sewing shut the elastic casing and bringing up the hem.

Project Wrap-up

Sew Happy:

  • From start to finish, I loved the feel of the fabric. And I didn’t grow tired of the design.
  • Even though the flounce took about 4 hours to get, it was fun figuring it out.
  • This is a perfect project for this point in the experiment. I don’t think I would have been able to make it through any earlier.

Not Sew Happy:

  • The curved hem. Enough said.

Helpful Hints (to self)

  • Although buttonholes and zippers were not part of this project, I should make these two things extracurricular activities. It can’t be an “out of sight, out of mind” sitch.