I always feel like I'm catching up in sewing. (And perhaps life, but that's a more existential thought for another time) Do you know what I mean? If not, let me explain.
I came late to life to the sewing world; I didn't learn as a child but started in my thirties. And I came late to the craft movement that started in the late aughts and continued over the past decade. Sure, I dabbled in crafting. I knit all through my twenties and even had an Etsy page before it was utterly mainstream. But I never made a living out of crocheting amigurumi, and I never considered myself a person who could make a career peddling her wares.
So, when I decided to open this business, I felt like I had a lot of catching up to do. There were all these wonderful people who were blogging and chatting and posting on Instagram, and through some sort of magic, they all seemed to know each other. I felt like the new kid at school who stands at the door to the cafeteria, utterly intimidated by the room before her.
The new kid in old clothes.
Because of my late start, I have all these patterns that I want to try that have been around for years, some for decades. And all these sewing bloggers are trying new patterns, breaking new ground, being the cool kids on the block. But these patterns are new to me (and probably some of you) and I want to sew them!
So, all this is to say, forgive me for treading some familiar ground in this blog. And I hope I can add something to the conversation and not repeat what others have said.
Okay, with that off my chest, my sewing this week has been consumed by knits. I announced on Sunday the next theme for our boxes, and it inspired me to make one of the choices from the Medium Weight Box, in particular, the black and crosshatch color-blocked Zadie Dress.
Since Zadie came out last year, I've been wanting to make it. There are so many things to love about this pattern. The diagonal lines are super slimming, the option for color-blocking make the dress eminently customizable and the knit fabric make the dress wonderfully versatile. However, as months passed from its first release, the pattern had become one of those patterns that you'll get around to eventually, but never really do. With this month's theme, I decided to change that and to break the cycle of procrastination.
As I said earlier, I chose the Black Cotton Jersey and Black and White Crosshatch Cotton Jersey combination for my dress. The fabric itself was wonderful to work with. It has good recovery and it's very soft, especially the crosshatch jersey, which I now want to make into snuggly pajamas. I blatantly ignored all the advice given to color-block with the dark colors on the outside because I wanted the crosshatch on the cap-sleeves. I wasn't exactly sure how this would work, but I discovered that the crosshatch patterns creates a bias-effect which is nicely slimming around the waist. So, I was super happy with the end result.
I also got to use my serger on knits for the first time with this fabric. (That being said, a serger is definitely not necessary for this project). I'm still getting used to the thing; I've been a sewing machine girl for three years now, but I think it went well. I still ran everything through my sewing machine though, one because lots of this pattern's construction requires the precision of a sewing machine, and two, I'm a little uncertain about achieving the correct seam allowance on my serger. The fact that the machine cuts off the excess so you can't go back and check your work freaks me out a little. I'm sure I'll get over the fear eventually, but for now, I'll get some more practice before I use it exclusively.
Before cutting, I lengthened the bodice by two inches because I didn't want the empire bodice. I realize that I basically negated a big portion of the style intention of the pattern, but I don't like empire waists. They always make me feel like I'm wearing a baby doll dress and I always, always find myself tugging at the waist trying to pull it down. It's like having your sleeves be an inch too short; it just doesn't sit quite right. Also, having sewn Tilly and the Buttons patterns before, they always end up short-waisted on me, even without the empire waist. Thankfully, the pattern has very clear shorten/lengthen lines and making that pattern adjustment was easy. Now, it hits my natural waist, which is awesome because I love to wear belts with dresses like this and the belt will perfectly cover the waist seam.
Sewing itself was pretty straight-forward. There are some fiddly bits with attaching the side panels, but the instructions are clear. The construction was very similar to the Heather Dress from Sew Over It which I made a few years ago, so I at least knew what the process would be and where I would need to be precise.
Once I put the dress on to check the fit, though, I found the neckline gaped enormously in the back. I don't know if the fabric stretched (I didn't stay-stitch the neckline, so maybe) but my guess is that my posture is to blame. I don't have a dowager's hump or anything, but I have winged shoulder blades that create a hollow area just below my back neck. A gaping back neckline is a common problem for me.
Luckily, because of the raglan sleeve, removing the excess fabric was easy. I unpicked the neckband, turned the seam where the sleeve meets the bodice into a dart and removed 1" out of each side. I then shortened the neckband by 2", sewed it back on, and everything laid perfectly flat. Yay!
The last little adjustment I made was to shorten the dress by 3". The original length hit me just below the knee, which is a perfectly fine length, but because I want this to be a summer dress, I raised it to be above the knee. Easy peasy.
Overall, I love this dress. It's a great addition to my wardrobe and will get so much use this summer! It also reminded me of how much I love sewing dresses in general. I haven't made one in almost a year, but it's so satisfying to get an entire outfit out of one sewing project. Now I just have to wait for the warm weather!!