Friday, June 13, 2014

30 days of sundresses!



third time’s a charm, right? well in that case i’m honored to be participating for the third year in melly’s 30 Days of Sundresses Series!

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last year and the year before i did quick and easy sundresses for me—which is a rarity! i don’t often sew for myself, but i use melly’s series as a push to do some selfish sewing at least once a year ;) and this year is the same…but different.

a few months ago i had the chance to be on project run and play, and i came away from that experience determined to increase my skill set. rather than go for a quick and easy dress this year i decided to put on my big girl panties and make myself a Real Dress. with a zipper and everything.
i know! crazy!

and then, not only did i make one dress, but i made myself TWO! double crazy!

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believe it or not, both of these dresses are made from the same basic pattern—a princess seamed pattern that i drafted for a gown i sewed for our anniversary back in october. i think princess seams are universally flattering—and if you’re a busty gal the best BEST BEST thing you can do for yourself is invest the time into perfecting a princess seamed bodice to fit you like a glove.

when i made the pattern back in october, i used THIS set of instructions as a starting point. you plug in your measurements, and follow the instructions carefully, and at the end you’ll have a basic princess seam bodice. i had to tweak it quite a bit, but it was a start. the entire gown was a leap of faith—which i discuss more in my blog post about it. dressing a not-standard-sized-or-shaped body can be the ultimate in frustration. but i made myself a gown that a) i absolutely loved and b) fit me perfectly and c) gave me the confidence to admit that i CAN sew for myself. if i can make a strapless fully lined and boned evening gown, i can certainly do a sundress, right? a Real Sundress? with a zipper and everything? yup.

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for the first dress—which actually started as a potentially wearable muslin—i had to take in my pattern a touch here and there. then i extended the a-line down through the skirt, just going as wide as my fabric allowed. this fabric is upholstery fabric—a remnant snagged from my husband’s upholstery shop. i throw pieces i like for clothing through the washer and dryer as a litmus test as to whether or not they’ll work.

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the dress got brown piping, simple straps and two patch pockets and boom—one dress done.
i almost called it day with this one—but i was all hopped up on sweet success and marched on to my original plans.

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for dress two i focused on turning my previously strapless bodice into one with straps. then i gave it a straight skirt, and did some easy colorblocking—the bulk of the dress is in a navy bottomweight with a touch of spandex, then i cut the front center piece from a lighter turquoise. i think it gives the dress a flattering illusion type look (without being quite so sexy) and i couldn’t love it more.

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the back has a semi-exposed zipper in a bright yellow. because, why not?

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i feel so comfortable and confident in both of these dresses i almost didn’t totally hate the photoshoot. almost. ok, i still hate having to pose and i feel like i turn into the World’s Most Awkward Woman when the camera turns on me, but rest assured i love my dresses. 

so this year, i don’t have a tutorial or pattern for you. but what i do have is some encouragement: get yourself a well fitting pattern. it’s not that difficult. it may be easier for you—as it was for me—to draft from scratch. but once you have that basic bodice the sky is the limit. these dresses don’t look alike at all, but they started from the same pattern and took me about 2-2.5 hrs each to sew.

stretchy knits have their place, but sometimes a gal just needs a well fitting dress. and it’s not impossible. at the very least it’s worth a couple hours and a couple yards of fabric to experiment!

melly, thanks again for having me! your series gave me the push to create two new garments for myself that may well be my two favorites in my closet! xoxo
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