The Jennifer Dress

As soon as I saw this pattern while shopping a Butterick pattern sale at JoAnn’s several months ago, I knew I wanted to make this for my sister-in-law who loves that 50’s retro vibe. So I am once again sewing someone else stylish for Fresh Make #18.DSC_0551DSC_0546DSC_0554
The pattern I used is Butterick 5982. I basically made a sleeveless version of view C. As mentioned above, I bought the pattern on sale at JoAnn’s for $1.40. I named it the Jennifer Dress after my sister-in-law.DSC_0574
The fabric is a soft, smooth lawn cotton we purchased at The Fabric Store on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles. My photos unfortunately do not do this fabric justice. It’s a calico like print of rich blue colored flowers set on a creamy white background, and it’s looks beautiful against Jennifer’s sun kissed skin.

One of the design details I really like about this pattern, along with that adorable bow, is the flat center skirt front. The gathers go up to an inverted pleat on both sides and then it’s flat for about 6″ in the middle. A flattering element for those of us whose waists and bellies aren’t what they used to be. (No, Jennifer, I’m not talking about you! I’m sure you would look good with gathers around the whole waist. I’m just speaking in general.)

Please excuse the coloring in this photos. I took it in the early morning and then went to Jennifer's house and gave the dress to her. So no retakes.

Please excuse the coloring in this photos. I took it in the early morning and then went to Jennifer’s house and gave the dress to her. So no retakes.

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back view

back view

The bodice is fully lined in a white cotton. I did some “slow sewing” as I attached the lining by hand along the zipper and waist. I also did a hand hem after machine sewing hem tape on the bottom edge.
You might notice some picking at the neckline. You can read about that below if you're interested.

You might notice some puckering at the neckline. You can read about that below if you’re interested.

Jennifer is on the front porch of her newly purchased home!

Jennifer is on the front porch of her newly purchased home!

LET’S BE HONEST:
1. It is always a joy for me to sew for others. The drawback is coordinating fittings or sacrificing a few when that person does not live that close to me. On the first fitting, before I applied the lining or did any finish work, the neckline layed flat on Jennifer. On the second fitting, it pooched out as if the fabric was stretched when I attached the lining at the neckline. I was flummoxed and the truth is it didn’t matter how it happened, I needed to find way to fix it. I was not up for ripping out the lining and re-doing the whole bodice. I had not yet attached the lining at the waist, I decided to run some rows of basing stitches on the lining layer only, close to the neck edge and ease in the extra width. You can see this in the photo of the dress inside. It’s not a proud sewing moment for me, but a reasonable solution. Jennifer was fine with it.

2. It’s a bit confusing as to how the bodice is supposed to fit on this pattern. Of course, the beauty of sewing is you can make it fit however you want. I just want to point out that the photo of the orange dress on the envelope front has a semi-fitted bodice, and the illustrations look close-fitted. Additionally the description on the back of the pattern says “close-fitting.” Jennifer’s bodice fits like the photo, which is a good thing because she doesn’t care for form-fitting clothes.

3. The pattern is labeled EASY. It might be easy for this style of dress, but would say it does required some intermediate sewing skills. At least some experience with gathers, zippers, facings and linings.

4. Jennifer wanted the dress to hit below her knees, so I added 5″ to the skirt bottom when cutting out the fabric. It was just enough for a 2″ hem.

I think Jennifer loves her new dress. When she put the finished dress on for our photo shoot, she didn’t want to take it off. But she did because she wanted to keep it nice to wear on the first day of school. She’s a third grade teacher.

Thanks again for reading my blog. I welcome your comments about this dress or your experiences sewing for others. Cheers, Lori

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Happy Folk Skirt

I’ve only made two skirts since starting this blog, and my go-to Jean Skirt now has a rip in it from being caught on a metal edge and is out of commission. I thought it was time to sift through my ever growing pattern stash and find a fun skirt to make for Fresh Make #17.DSC_0485DSC_0498DSC_0501 The pattern I chose is Simplicity 1888. I bought it several months ago during a pattern sale at JoAnn’s, most likely for $1.00 but possibly $1.40. (JoAnn’s 5 for $5.00 recently have become 5 for $7.00. Hey, you can still count me in!) I was drawn to this pattern because it looked like a good balance between fitted and flared, and the gathers were where I like them – at the bottom, not the waist! I named it the Happy Folk Skirt because, depending on the fabric, this skirt can either have a hippy folk feeling or ethnic folk feeling.

I made view C.

I made view C.

I purchased the fabric at Mood on La Brea in Los Angeles. I was excited to stop by there on my way home from seeing my sometimes model and always daughter off at LAX for her second year of college. I hadn’t been to Mood in six months, and as it usual it was overwhelming. I forced myself to focus in the task at hand. This is a cotton woven fabric with lycra. It’s actually stretchy! I bought the indicated amount of 3 1/4 yards at $12.00. I managed, however, to have quite a bit leftover and probably could have gotten away with 2 3/4 yards.

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The skirt has a wide, curved waistband that sits best a few inches below the natural waistline.

I top-stitched the seams and waistband with quilting weight thread.

I top-stitched the seams and waistband with quilting weight thread.

There is a 7" ruffle at the bottom.

There is a 7″ ruffle at the bottom.

Inside peek. I serged all the seam edges and the waistband edge.

Inside peek. I serged all the seam edges and the waistband edge.

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LET’S BE HONEST:

1. I had a hard time on sizing with this one. My waist and hip measurements put me between a 16 and 18. I usually measure the actual pattern pieces and adjust accordingly. With this pattern, there was no information about where the waistband/yoke should sit – at the waist, slightly below the waist? According to the photos on the pattern envelope, it looked like the skirt sat a few inches below the natural waist. I just decided to cut a straight 18 and let the skirt fall where it may. The skirt panels turned out too big through the waist and hips, so I trimmed off 3/4″ from the side side seams (3″ total) and 1/4″ (1″ total) from the sides of the waistband. (Totally embarrassing update: literally 5 minutes ago, I discovered on the back of the pattern envelope, in the yardage chart “Skirt C – worn 1″ below the waist.” Now wouldn’t that have saved a lot of aggravation if I had read that!)

2. I love the styling on this pattern. The panels create the perfect amount of flair for a flattering fit and the ruffle is a fun touch. I love the fabric, too. I do feel however, that the fabric is not optimal for this pattern. This fabric had the folksy feel I wanted for this pattern so I ended up overlooking the fact that it was a bit heavy and stiff for this skirt. I think it would be perfect for a pair of shorts or capris.

3. I should have cut 2″ off the bottom before attaching the ruffle. I already shorten the skirt panel pattern pieces 2″ before cutting the fabric, but it still turned out a bit long. I think am getting lazy or impatient, because I tried it on several times before adding the ruffle but just didn’t carefully evaluate how much length a 7″ ruffle would add. Oh well. It looks fine with my 3″+ platform sandals that I love. 

4. I made the t-shirt that I’m wearing also. It is Butterick 5215. More on this pattern another day. This wide ribbed knit fabric is also from Mood. I love the lilac color with the red and white print. I think it actually acts as a neutral against the bold red.

Overall, I do like my Happy Folk Skirt and I know I’ll be wearing it plenty this fall. Have you got any fun skirts in your sewing queue? Cheers, Lori