Friday, July 17, 2015

Floral flora

I've been silent too long! Honestly as much as I love my two crafts, my family, my podcast, and my career they have been taking up all the time I could be using to write this blog. Over the last year I have continued to alternate devoting my creation time to knitting and sewing--most of it has been documented on Ravelry and/or Instagram. In most cases nothing varied so much from the pattern that it seemed worth blogging about, but yesterday I made something that really got me excited. I present you with the story of the Flora dress.

Flora was born a black and white polka dot dress at H&M. Last November I went to Chicago and realized I didn't bring enough clothes with me, so popped into H&M and grabbed Spotty (on the left) off the $7 rack. Now while a knit sundress is hardly seasonally appropriate for late autumn in the Midwest, layered with leggings and a sweater I muddled through the weekend. The dress fit well so I wore it frequently throughout our mild California winter always under something since the back is quite low, honestly too low for me regardless of the season. All through the winter, I kept telling myself I'd turn Spotty into a pattern someday.

That day came two nights ago. I was itching to sew after spending the previous week painting my living room and foyer (followed by a brief, but relaxing trip to the Russian River), but my current WIP wasn't calling me so out came tracing paper and Spotty. I folded the dress in half and laid it down on the paper a half an inch over from the edge. First I traced the skirt, along the hem and side seam. Then I folded the top down on the seam line and traced the waistline. I added in half inch seam allowance at waistline and
an inch along the hemline. This piece would be cut twice on the fold for the front and back skirt.

Next I traced the top front, adding half inch seam allowance on the tank straps, neckline, and bottom. To make the top back I traced the front and raised the neckline by about 3-3.5". Along with retracing my standard tank pattern as an A-line tank, this all added up to a good night's work!

The next day I was on fire! I finished everything but the hem on my upcoming wax print culottes. I adjusted the waistband on a favorite, unworn skirt (more on that if I keep up this blog). So it was time to give Spotty a new life. I had been planning to use a bright blue knit I had in stash, but when I went to unearth it from the jumble of knits out popped this crazy bright floral I had picked up at Stonemountain and Daughter. It was a bolt end I found upstairs with a circle of fabric missing and another equal size circle that had faded--I think they gave me the remnant for around $4. Perfect for a test run.

Within 30 minutes the fabric was cut and the dress was assembled. I had been hopeful, but not truly expected it to work since I really winged it and taken at least one short cut (Spotty has bust darts--I traced the dress as is and omitted them). But it worked! I finished the edges by folding them over a half inch and using the twin needle. The hem was folded over an inch and finished, again, with the twin needle. Almost there, I had forgotten the main reason that I want to remake most of my dresses and skirts. I hadn't added pockets! I borrowed the pocket pieces from Moneta and cut them out of pink cotton gauze. I opened up the side seams 2.5" below the waist and inserted them. Done!

While I wouldn't call it perfect, this dress has a lot going for it:
  • The back and front neckline are my ideal depths
  • I like that the skirt is not gathered, but still flares
  • I love that I can make it in about two hours
For this version I still might make (or find a belt) for when I want to bring it in and/or add elastic to the inside waistline. 

For the next version:

Remember the pockets before sewing the side seams
  • I think I could finish the armholes and hem as I did this time, but I think I will reinforce the neckline next time to tighten it up and keep it from sagging
  • I need to get serious about a swayback adjustment as I continue to get bunching in the lower back
  • I might bring in the sides

Originally I wrote "H&M knit sundress knock-off" on the pattern pieces, but after finishing this sweet dress in this happy flowery print I rechristened the pieces Flora. I am looking forward to more of these!