Once upon a time called a week before Christmas, I decided I would make myself a dress for Christmas Eve. So I spent two days cutting out and asembling a muslin. I have made this dress a grand total (including muslins) 4 times. During construction of this particular muslin I realized that the two prior dresses made with this pattern (it's the same pattern as this dress), I had put the collar in backwards. Why you ask? Well it is a repro of a vintage Dubarry pattern. I bought it from this lovely lady, and I love, love, love this pattern. Well sort of, but we'll get there. Here's the thing, Once upon a time when people knew how to sew, and it was common place for people to make their own garments, they knew how to put clothes together. So instructions were not exactly very detailed. The instructions on this dress consist of a picture, a few tips, and some bullet points eluding to what happens first. Otherwise you're on your own. I'm sure a more advanced seamstress would scoff at my idiocy, but seriously guys, the thing was a pain in the you know where.
That being said, once you have half a clue how the damn thing goes together, it's actually fairly easy to assemble. The bodice is a little tricky being that the front bodice is in three different pieces. Actually it's four. Vintage patterns also don't tell you how many times to cut out each piece and the collar/button placket is supposed to be cut 4 times. Not two like someone we all might know, named Ashley, thinks. But the point is it's pretty much, seam here, seam there, zipper, buttons, bada-bing-bada-boom, you've got a dress. Except for the hand stiching. There is a lot of hand stitching (I am exaggerating, I just really hate hand stitching) and I really, REALLY, hate hand stitching (I told you).
So I started this dress back a week before Christmas. And I finished it on Monday. I have never been so unmotivated on a sewing project ever. Over the last month I literally have done, like, one seam here, and another seam there, and drug my feet so much. I believe this is because I very very excited about it until I realized I didn't have enough fabric for the whole dress and had to make it two-toned. The only black fabric I had was this awful, coarse, super thick weave, polyester (which longtime readers may recognize being left over from this skirt, which has since been donated because I became enlightened about appropriate skirt lengths on me.). I really wanted this dress to be just the print, and was super bummed when I didn't have enough. This will teach me to buy clearance fabric and expect it to be enough for a dress. Long story short, it took me for bloody ever to finish this dress. And every time I did work on it, it was like the dress kept expanding, and the pieces kept multiplying, and there were some days when I could see no light at the end of that polyester lined tunnel... Sigh... But finish it I did, and now I am quite happy with it! Even if it is Polyester!
Another thing about this particular project: I have been trying to make sure that each and every garment I make challenges me in some way. My hopes are that this will make me a better seamstress, but it will probably just make me go prematurely grey. But I did learn some valuble things with this dress:
1. if you are using rayon for a collar/button packet it is really, really, a good idea to use interfacing. Because if you happen to not use it like someone who might be me, you will use more curse words than you were aware you knew, and probably even make some up. Especially when making button holes. I will have nightmares about this for years.
2. Polyester and Rayon are not good friends. I should probably start paying attention to that whole, don't mix fabrics of different weights/drapes thing.
3. Overlocking your seams is the world's greatest invention ever. Seriously. After sewing a seam three times and having it fray in six different spots, overlocking was like a miracle. We're going to be good friends for a long, long time.
4. Vintage Bakelite buttons taste disgusting. FYI.
5. Adding lace may be pretty, but it is a pain in the arse.
6. When in doubt, pin the hell out of everything. Even if it means taking forever to actually stitch together, you will be much happier about how even your fabric was if you pin the snot out of it.
7. Yelling at your sewing machine does not make it work any better and makes your five-year-old sister tell you that it can't understand you, so what is the point of telling it to stop being a jerkhead. My profanity inventing became less imaginative as the project wore on.
In all honesty I am actually really happy with this dress. It fits well, it wears well, it's actually very pretty even if I hate the skirt's fabric, and I am pretty pleased with th construction. I'd never worked with rayon before and was really scared to! While it is a little finiky, with an ounce of patience and focus on not rushing anything, I was fine! The polyester was actually worse to work with. Stupid Polyester. Stupid being 80 degrees this week so that wearing polyester is awful. I think I have fully exhausted this subject. All I know is I am very glad to see this dress done!