Remember the Sew Bossy Initiative? This is a fun little sewing challenge where you get paired up with a fellow blogger and basically tell them what to sew next – complete with you sending them the fabric, pattern, and anything needed to finish the garment in question. Your sewing buddy will do the same for you.
Well, I got paired up with Rachel Pinheiro, and while we were fairly quick about getting the patterns and fabric to each other, it’s taken an entire year for me to actually sew my dress (and poor Rachel, I sent her a pattern that ended up being a no-go, so she’s still trying to decide what to sub in!). On top of that, I’ve actually had this dress completed for over a month! Oops! Well, better late than never, I guess :)
Rachel sent me Vogue 8664 as my pattern for the Sew Bossy. While it’s a gorgeous design, part of the reason why I dragged my feet on sewing it up is because I simply did not like the skirt included. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a pretty, fitted skirt. But I don’t do fitted skirts, they just don’t work with my lifestyle these days (and by “lifestyle,” I mean, I sit on the floor a lot. Ha!). So I sat and considered it, and debated if changing up the skirt would ruin the whole fun of Sew Bossy (since I’m not really letting Rachel boss me at this point). Fortunately (well, unfortunately for Rachel hahah booo), Rachel ended up scrapping the pattern *I* sent her, so we decided it would be fine for me to change out the skirt to make something more suitable for my daily life. As fun at this challenge is – it’s not very fun if I end up with a garment I’m not actually ever going to wear!
This actually ended up being my birthday dress- which I decided to do about 10 days before I needed it. I don’t even go out for my birthday these days, but man, sometimes it’s nice to just wear a new dress that makes you feel good, you know? And I feel pretty good in this dress!
Anyway – back to the Vogue pattern! I cut the size 6, with the B cup pieces (I don’t wear anywhere near a B cup, fyi, that’s just the pattern piece that had the closest finished measurement to my body), and made a muslin of the bodice to check the fit. My fabric is a cotton sateen with a heavy stretch – Rachel bought it in Brazil, isn’t it amaaaazing?! – so I used some old stashed stretch fabric for my muslin. Out of the envelope, everything fit mostly well, except that I did take about 1″ out of the center back (not an uncommon adjustment for me). I debated on whether or not to sew the sleeves, but I’m glad I did in the end, because they’re pretty awesome! They get their shape from two giant darts at the sleeve head; the body of this particular fabric I used also helps :)
The other major change I made to the pattern was to swap out the skirt for an A-line. I used the skirt from my Belladone pattern – pockets and all – and I think they matched up pretty well. Plus, you know, it’s wearable. For me, anyway :)
Construction-wise, I made a few changes. The main one was that I did not line the bodice as called for. Rachel sent me enough fabric so I could self-line, but I used up pretty much all that while cutting the skirt and pockets. Anyway, I don’t think I’d like this fabric as self-lining – it’s pretty thick and heavy for a summer dress, two layers would be crazy! Instead, I drafted a facing for the neckline (this was as easy as tracing the edge of the neckline and extending it to 1″ wide for a narrow facing piece, then adding seam allowances). I debated with what to do about the arm holes, since the sleeve doesn’t go all the way around (and thus, this is where that lining really helps). In the end, I bound the arm hole edges with flat bias facing, which covers all the raw edges and also makes the insides look pretty :) You do see topstitching from the outside, but it’s not very noticeable with this fabric.
I also changed the midriff to be a contrasting solid color. I actually cut the dress to be all the same self-fabric, but after I sewed everything together… it just looked like a hot mess! Too much pattern being broken up in too many places. Yuck! So I painstakingly ripped out the midriff (which had already been topstiched at this point, ugh) and replaced it with a solid navy sateen that I had in my stash. You probably recognize this fabric because I’ve used it multiple times on multiple garments (including my lace trench, these Maritime shorts and this Belladone. And I STILL have more of this fabric! Man, that shit is awesome).
So here’s the major glaring flaw with this dress – the damn waistband seam allowances show from the outside! This happened for a multitude of reasons – mainly, I didn’t interface the outside waistband (i.e., the navy solid). I had already interfaced the feathered waistband, which after I ripped out I put on the inside of the garment, and I didn’t want to re-interface because, fuck you, that shit is expensive. Don’t look at me like that. It might have been ok, except I also didn’t trim my seam allowances, or even attempt to grade them. Why? I don’t know. I have no idea. Anyway, they’re totally visible from the outside and it doesn’t look the greatest, but, whatever. I’m not ripping that shit out again, I can live with it.
Speaking of interfacing, I have discovered a most brilliant solution for interfacing fabric with a high stretch content – stretch interfacing! Whowouldathunk?! I used this tricoat interfacing from Fashion Sewing Supply (the only place I buy interfacing from; srsly, it’s all amazing). It gives a bit of interfaced support to your fabric without actually compromising the stretch! Which means my waistband still stretches, despite being interfaced. It’s fucking awesome. I used this stuff on the neckline facing as well.
As I mentioned before, I made my neckline facing 1″ wide. Generally, facings are closer to 2″-3″ wide. Why so narrow? I wanted to topstitch it down (partially to keep it on the inside of the garment, and partially because of all the topstitching already on the dress), and didn’t need a giant flap of interfacing beyond my topstitching. Even though I topstitched the facing, I also understitched it first – it helps everything roll to the inside and press flat before that final line of stitching.
Here is the arm hole facing. It is sewn in the exact same way as I sew bias facing for a sleeveless dress.
For garments with very visible seams that need to be matched up across a zipper, you can’t beat a lapped zipper. It makes things sooo much easier to match, as you can see it while you’re sewing (as opposed to an invisible zipper, which is sewn on the wrong side).
And that’s it! A bossy birthday dress :) I’m happy to report that I did finish this in time for my birthday – woohoo! Also, these are the last photos I have of my hair this color, fyi. I actually dyed it over the weekend (right after I took these pictures, of course, ugh), and now it’s purple! Stay tuned for that ;)
Consider this a Sew Bossy success! I can’t wait to see what Rachel dreams up for her fabric, because I know whatever she makes is going to be amazing (like everything else she makes, gah). Thanks to Heather Lou for dreaming up this fun challenge, and to Rachel for agreeing to pair up with me!
How bout you? Ever participate (or would you participate) in Sew Bossy? Does it give you a mini heart attack to imagine someone else telling you what to make? Spill!