Another Grainline Farrow

I have decided that for Winter 2017-2018 I really want to dress like an overgrown three-year-old in A-line dresses and bright tights, so I’ve made two more to help me with this goal. Here’s one of them:

is from a , who seems to have lots and lots of print sweatshirting. It’s medium-weight and lovely and soft on the inside but I’m already starting to notice a little bit of pilling after very little wear; luckily the pattern is so busy that it hides it so far.

Here’s a closer view of the fabric, plus a bit of the neckline finishing:

I decided to do a contrast piping (just regular Wright’s) on the front pocket seam to make that seamline pop:

Matching this seam is WAY WAY easier if you use and baste UP from just a few inches below the seam. Then you can check to make sure it’s matched before going back and sewing the entire front seam for real.

I didn’t do a great job drafting the hem facing (it’s wobbly in parts) but with double-needle stitching and a non-ravelly fabric all I had to do was trim the excess, and everything turned out fine:

Here’s the back center seam, where you can probably already see a tiny bit of pilling:

I cut size 10 in the previous versions I made and in fabrics without stretch they were a little tight in the armscye; for this version I cut a 12 at the shoulder, narrowing to a 10 just above the pocketline seam, and that gave me the added ease I was hoping for. (This fabric has virtually no stretch, so it ended up being a good test of the sizing.)

I also made the Grainline Farrow in a sleeveless version in black sweatshirt knit to wear as a jumper, but I’m not very happy with that version—the fabric I found is slightly too shiny and polyestery, and the first time I wore it, with a gray t-shirt and gray leggings, I felt like a postulant in an order of Courrèges-inspired space nuns. (Which is not a BAD feeling, to be sure, but wasn’t really the aesthetic I was going for.)

Once you have the rhythm down this dress is ridiculously easy and quick to sew, even given the piping, bias neckline trim, swapping out for the double needle, etc. etc. The hardest part is finding suitably thick, stable knits! (Recommendations welcome!) If you’re less impatient than I am I highly recommend either shopping in person, or ordering swatches before committing; I have a couple of pieces in my stash right now that I ordered too rashly and will now need to find alternative patterns for … I am going to make a few in woven fabrics (probably flannel) but the knit ones are so comfortable!

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The perfect airplane dress

I’ve been traveling a lot lately (including a few long intercontinental flights) and I wanted a soft knit dress that would let me sleep comfortably in the seat and let me feel like myself walking through the terminal. (Yes, I know, I could just wear yoga pants on the plane like 99.99% of humanity but I don’t really feel like *myself* in yoga pants, unless I am actually Doing Yoga.)

I even considered—gasp!—buying RTW, but I could not find a knit dress that was longer than knee length, heavier than t-shirt weight, or HAD POCKETS. And we all know that pockets are NON-NEGOTIABLE.

Enter the .

So I made this up in a cotton/poly sweatshirt fabric (slight stretch and fleece-backed!) and it is really, really comfortable. I did some altering—I cut a 10, but used the size 0 neckline cutting line for more of a scoop. I cut the pocket backing out of a lighter-weight fabric, instead of cutting the skirt front and pocket backing as one. Since the whole point of pocket seam lines is to put piping in them, I really wanted a seam there and not a fold. (Also, if you cut the pocket backing separately, you can get away with less yardage of your main fabric.)

I deepened the pockets (no surprise), lengthened the skirt slightly, and shortened the sleeves. I faced the hem instead of turning it up, but did not face the sleeves or the neckline (I used knit bias binding instead). I even used a double-needle for the bias binding, which I’ve never done before (in 30+ years of sewing). Verdict: it was easy, I’d do it again.

The pockets are a bit droopy here (I was carrying a LOT in them) so next time I think I will add a little elastic to that seam to help keep them from gapping. Also, you can’t see in these pics, but it has a little bit of shaped high-low hem that dips lower in back. (Some people hate high-low hems, so I figured I’d point that out.)

The above picture was actually taken on day 2 of wearing this dress—it was so comfortable on the flight over that I washed it in the hotel room so I could wear it again on the way back!

This dress was SUPER simple to make, so I decided to make two—the version below is also in fleece-backed sweatshirt knit. This is a heavier knit so it was actually a bit warm! This also had less stretch than the other version, so I ended up taking the sleeves out and cheating on the seam allowances so that I could move my arms. (If I make this again in a less-stretchy fabric I will cut a 12 or even a 14 in the sleeves.)

So as not to have TWO nearly-identical gray fleece dresses, I decided to add a collar to version 2; it’s a single layer collar finished with bias binding.

I have already planned two more of these (including one in ). It’s just a really comfortable, well-drafted pattern that goes together quickly and has excellent pockets—what more could you want?

a carefree mind of her own (the Seamwork Veronica dress)

Hey, a new dress! This is the (with the , plus more than a few of my own).

Anyway, back to the dress! Obviously, I had to add pockets:

When I saw the subscriber modifications (specifically, the front panels for the skirt), my first thought was “pockets!” and my second thought was “STRIPES!”.

This fabric is a heavyish cotton knit with moderate stretch, so I fused some tricot knit interfacing to the pocket backing to keep them from pulling out of shape too much. I also zig-zagged some clear elastic along the pocket opening edge (although from this picture it looks as if I could have pulled it a bit tighter).

I added gathers to the center front and the center back to add some extra ease, and lengthened the back skirt about 3/4″ for a BBA (bubble-butt adjustment):

Because it’s a knit fabric I didn’t have to put in the back zipper (the dress goes on fine without one). When I make this again I might cut that piece on the fold to get rid of the center back seam entirely.

Also because this is knit, I didn’t do facings—I did bindings instead. I used my tried-and-true “eyeball it” method and ended up cutting the neck binding about two inches shorter than the neck measurement, which seemed to work fine:

The same technique worked for the sleeve bindings:

There are a few more refinements I would like to make—the waist elastic is a bit bulky (even though I used a thinner fabric for the inside casing). I might try it with sew-through elastic next time to get a more even gather. The stripes are a bit off on the front waistband—I thought about cutting it on the bias and stabilizing it with interfacing, but I was too lazy. It would have been a cool effect … Sewing the waistband was definitely the trickiest bit, especially with this fabric. I am sure it would have been easier with a lightweight woven.

The bodice could also be shorter by about an inch, because the weight of the skirt pulls it downward and you don’t get the nice blousy effect you see in the pattern photos.

I’m surprised that this worked as well as it did because the pattern is not really intended for knits (  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ ) and I changed it *so* much. I made it in a rush because I needed a comfy knit dress for a couple of looooooong plane trips. It held up fantastically, and looked just as good getting off the plane as it did getting on.

Next version is definitely going to be a gray sweatshirt knit, possibly with piping along those front panels, and I’m also planning on making it in a blue-and-white woven seersucker (because you really can’t have TOO MANY striped dresses).

Anyone else sewn this pattern? What were your modifications?

Purge 2017: The Final Few

So I was about to wrap up everything for the Great Dress Purge of 2017 when I realized that I had never taken/posted pictures of the dresses that didn’t have any. (Oops!) And needless to say, those pigs in pokes were not bought.

So I’m going to keep the Purge open another week, and here are those last few unpictured dresses waiting for new homes:

(UPDATE: this one is taken) The lollipop-tree dress (number 14):

This dress has a center-back zip, a rarity for me (I have a stiff shoulder that makes reaching to the middle of my back a hilarious, Mr.-Bean-esque activity):

(UPDATE: this one is taken) This is the “Sherbet seersucker Frankendress”, number 18:

I didn’t *quite* match the stripes at the waist seam:

But there’s a nice seafoam-green zipper, if you like that sort of thing:

(UPDATE: this one is also taken) Here is the ‘abstract windows shirtdress’, number 37:

And a better view of the print:

And last but not least, the ‘black pink/gray/yellow floral Heidi’, number 10:

All the dresses (and their measurements) still available are  (four left!), and the form to request one is , and all the other details and frequently-asked-questions are here. Just a reminder, all dresses are US$20 each (plus shipping) and I’ll be donating half of the proceeds to .

ALL DRESSES HAVE POCKETS. (Everyone seen ?)

It’s the only way to live/In cars

Once again I reflexively reached for the bodice from Simplicity 2389 and that :

This one is Liberty print—a piece of fabric I have had for a long time. I think this pattern is from 2009, but I’m not sure; it could be earlier.

Ironically, it was purging so many dresses that finally led me to cut into this long-hoarded fabric … even the fabrics that I loved the most (yeah, looking at you, popsicle print) only gave me a kind of “happy to have known you” feeling as I packed them up to ship them to new wearers.

So with this empirical evidence reassuring me that it is unlikely that I will wish I’d saved some special fabric for some theoretically ‘better’ use*, snip snip went the scissors into this Liberty!

I’ve worn this a couple times so far and it has made me very happy. Beep!

(Oh, and speaking of the Dress Purge of 2017 … there are , but August 6 I will be sending whatever hasn’t been purchased off to Goodwill and tallying up the totals.)

(*also it looks like this fabric is still available from third-party sellers in a different colorway)

The Purge (2017)

It’s been forever since I posted, I know—sheesh, 2017, amirite?—and I just moved house, which of course has everything topsy-turvy. (I have *almost* got sew-able, though.)

As part of moving I had to round up all the random plastic tubs of fabric and dresses I had cached all over the old house like some kind of textile squirrel, and all I can say is … whoa. It’s pretty easy to say “oh, I don’t have that much stuff” when you can only see one or two bins at a time, but when moving them takes double-digit trips (in a Honda Fit, but still), saying “I don’t have that much stuff” only provokes bitter, bitter laughter.

So: I’m purging! Very, very slowly, but still … and, as the zeitgeist would have it, I’m getting rid of the things that don’t “spark joy”. Some of what I’m letting go is fabric (mostly I’m giving to local swaps and Goodwill but I’ve put some up on Etsy, ), and some of what I’m letting go is vintage (still trying to figure out what to do with vintage when you’re way too busy/lazy to list it online the way it should be listed), but some of it is dresses I’ve sewn myself.

I’ve always had a hard time letting go of dresses I’ve sewn, for one reason or another. Part of it is that, well, I really LIKE them—I wouldn’t have made them, otherwise. Part of it is of course the ‘sunk cost fallacy’: “I spent X hours and Y dollars on this, I should keep it until I figure out what to do with it … “. And of course there are all the same reasons that anyone keeps clothes they no longer wear regularly: “I might fit into this again someday/I might need it/I might take it apart and make something else out of it/I have wonderful memories of wearing this” and so on.

And a large part of it is that I feel that handmade dresses should be worn by people who will appreciate them!

People have often asked me to sell (or make replicas) dresses I’ve made and featured here, but sewing isn’t my job, it’s my hobby. So I don’t do custom work and I don’t have a dress or alterations shop. I usually point people towards the and go on my merry way.

All this is, of course, a long lead-up to me saying, “Hey! There are bunch of dresses I’ve made that I no longer have physical or psychological space for—would you by chance want one?”

I’ve put them all in a Google Spreadsheet . Most of them are linked to blog posts where they were featured; a few I’m still trying to track down. (You could treat those as grab-bag or lucky-dip dresses if you want!)

I’m not trying to make a bazillion dollars here, so every dress is $20, plus . I will ship internationally (with the warning that it will be expensive, and you’ll be on the hook for any customs duties).

If you see a dress you like, fill out with the dress you want and your email and mailing address, and I will send you a Paypal invoice for the $20 plus whatever shipping costs to wherever you live. Then you have a week to pay the invoice (or the dress becomes available to someone else).

I’ll strikethrough dresses on the spreadsheet as they are claimed and remove them when they are purchased.

Here are some questions I thought you might have:

Q. Do these dresses have pockets?

A. ALL OF THESE DRESSES HAVE POCKETS.

Q. There’s a dress of yours I want that isn’t on the list! Will you be selling it?

A. Uh, maybe? You can email me and ask. (I won’t be selling any Liberty-print dresses, any Tetris dresses, or the Star Wars dress, though.)

Q. There are no prices on the spreadsheet, how much are the dresses?

A. Every dress is US$20.

Q. What are you going to use the money for?

A. I’m going to give half of it to charity (likely Planned Parenthood or ), and I’m going to use half of it to buy more fabric. (Yes I know this negates the whole concept of “getting rid of stuff” … but, FABRIC!)

Q. What if I don’t support the missions of either of those organizations? 

A. Easy! Don’t buy a dress!

Q. I want to buy a dress but I would like you to ship it (some way other than Priority Mail Flat Rate). Can you do that?

A. Sorry, flat rate only, as I need to minimize the time I spend in line at the Post Office for my own sanity and the sanity of those around me.

Q. Will you make (my requested alterations) to the dress before you send it to me?

A. No, I’m afraid not … your local dry cleaner/alterations shop can help you out.

Q. Are these dresses new?

A. All of these dresses have been worn. Some have been worn more than others. (Any notable flaws are listed in the spreadsheet.)

Q. Are the measurements body measurements or garment measurements?

A. They’re garment measurements, measured flat across the front and doubled. Make sure to leave wearing ease for yourself!

Q. Why don’t you just give them all to Goodwill and be done with it?

A. I’m worried that they will be treated as rags because they don’t have labels. 😦 I want them to go to good homes!

Q. Speaking of labels, will you put a label in the dress to show it was made by you?

A. I won’t sew one in for you, but if you add $2, I will throw one of these in (until they’re all gone). That $2 will go directly to charity.

Q. I would like to pay some other way (not Paypal).

A. I’m sorry, I can only take Paypal.

Q. Will you be purging any of your sewing patterns?

A. Maybe? (Oh god I haven’t even thought about culling the patterns yet … ) If I do I will put them up on .

Q. When will this purge end?

A. At dawn. When they’re all gone. However, I have to get these OUT OF MY HOUSE so anything that’s not gone in a month or so (end of July) will probably go to Goodwill after all.

Q. I have a question that you were unable to anticipate! How can I ask it?

A. Leave your question as a comment on this post and I will answer it as soon as possible.

Here are some of the dresses, patiently waiting in their bins for new owners:

Prisoner of my own device

This is the dress again—this pattern is definitely one of my favorites now, even though I’m convinced I look faintly ridiculous in it. (Actually, “Faintly Ridiculous” would be a great title for an autobiography.)

This is some old Marc Jacobs stripe denim/canvas—it’s plenty heavy, either way. I made another dress with this a while back, but it just didn’t work and I both took it apart AND bought more yardage. So I had plenty of fabric to work with.

This dress is all about the stripes—here’s the side panel:

And the pocket:

And the back, which is just kind of ‘meh’ but at this point it would have been masochistic to take it apart to get that back panel to be more even, so …
¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

And here’s a better view of the front insert, which I did actually take apart and recut when the first try didn’t work out evenly:

I didn’t actually make any of the adjustments to the pockets that I wanted to—mostly out of sheer laziness—so I am still having to bend over to fish things out of the very bottom. But that’s a small price to pay for HUGE POCKETS.

So far I’ve been wearing this with black tights and ankle boots, or black leggings and gray Keds. (The biggest issue is finding a coat that fits over it, because of the extreme A-line.)

Here’s what it looks like on (you can tell I’m bad at selfies …)

img_7983

I was wearing it all day, so it was a bit wrinkled at this point. (Also, I needed a haircut, since remedied.)

Pretty sure there’s going to be at least one more of these before I’m done … maybe something in broderie Anglaise for summer?