Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Fall paisley and philosophy

I made this dress a few days ago and I've been wanting to get a modeled picture of it. But Rylee and I are both sick so there's no energy or patience (on either of our parts) for that.

The picture doesn't really do justice to the colors which are lovely, creamy browns and pinks. I bought them for her fall wardrobe but with no particular pattern in mind. I finally decided to use Simplicity 5695, which I originally bought because I couldn't get hat measurements quite right.

Because it's for fall and temperatures in Arizona in the fall can drop all the way into the low 70s, I made the sleeves slightly longer. I had my Cool Girl confidence to do something so simple and I like how they came out.

Sewing this pattern coincided nicely with a philosophical discussion over on Amanda's blog about non-technical sewing.  My first official foray into sewing was helping my mom, just a tiny bit, sew a prom dress for me. She was an accomplished sewer and made a lot of our clothing back when it was something you did to save money rather than the complete money-sucking hobby it is today. She was very clever with mixing and matching patterns and I remember picking out a couple patterns to merge for that dress. (I also vividly remember being tortured as a smaller child by long trips to the fabric store, a tradition I have happily continued). She could make anything. Anything. She once made my dad a suit. Although I don't think she ever drafted anything from scratch.

After she died I sewed a few costumes for my nieces because that was something she had always done and I wanted to continue that. Sewing costumes can be low stress because as long as they last a single night or two you're good. The most involved modification I ever did to those patterns was replacing all zippers with velcro. I also made a very easy vest or three for my sister's girls, cutesy little things made from holiday fabric with festive buttons.  Back when I was super skinny I made a few sundresses for myself but with no knowledge of FBA even skinny-me wasn't going to get a big wardrobe by my own hands.

Fast forward to now when I'm starting to sew more for Rylee. So far, this time around has been a LOT more fun. Why? Because of the wonderful, generous non-technical (and technical) sewers on the internet. There's a post I've been meaning to write for awhile called "Why Commercial Patterns Make Me Cry" and it will be heavy on those line drawings that purport to show three steps in a single picture. Because I usually have to stare at them for a good hour or so to figure out what is actually going on. The instructions usually make that worse. I think this is why I stayed away from sewing for so long (that and the FB with no A :-)

As I sewed the dress that is ostensibly the topic of this post I was thinking "This is just like vegbee's peasant top and I can make two of those in the time it's taken me to trace the pattern, cut out the tissue, pin the fabric and cut it out."  And you know what? Vegbee's tutorial was just as cute, way more fun and a LOT less stressful. I'll probably make the next dress like this one from that tutorial plus a few rectangles for the gathered tiers. Because do perfectly squared off corners REALLY matter in a dress for a two-year old?

I'm so grateful to and indebted to those I've met through these sewing blogs not only for the support and friendship but for the loads of free information. And this isn't limited to tutorials and patterns, either. I also now know that the Big Four aren't the end-all of commercial patterns. I bought my first Jalie pattern earlier this year and I'm going to put some Ottobre issues on my Christmas list.

So there, Butterick.


KID, MD said...

Another dress pattern I love... The long sleeves are super cute and I love the fabrics you used.

And once you Ottobre, there is no going back! So much better than Big 4. And in a novel twist, they actually fit the size they are supposed to. Shocking!!

Kitschy Coo said...

Lovely dress! As you know, I find 'real person' instructions 10000% easier to follow than commercial patterns. A lot of people must feel the same, as I read that Gertie and Kathleen from Grosgrain have received book deals based on their blogs!

Good luck with the Ottobre patterns, I don't use them as much as I should but I definitely like looking at the mags for inspiration!

Sister said...

Beautiful dress! About the non-technical sewing - you'd think a teepee would be common sense, but I couldn't figure that thing out without reading the directions and following them blindly, then I was amazed that it turned out right. I think some of it relates to how much common sense one has, and my father was famous for telling everyone I got the book smarts but zero common sense - sigh.