Sunday, September 27, 2015

A Ribbon Trimmed Polka Dot Dress, Take Two

This project plan began several years back when I decided I really ought to have dark summer dress in my wardrobe that would be suitable for a funeral if I should have to go to one. There have been three deaths in my family in the last four years, and I can tell you that when there's a death in one's family or circle of friends, the last thing one wants to do is scramble to find something to wear to the funeral.

In TV or movie funerals, all the female characters are generally shown in plain black dresses of a conservative cut worn with black hats, black stockings, black pumps, and pearls. In real life, people wear whatever they already have to funerals, and many women don't own those items. I wasn't about to put together an outfit like that even in advance, as it would be absurdly over the top compared to what other people would be wearing. I also don't wear black. Dark brown sounded like a good alternative. After a search for a suitable fabric, I ordered a brown cotton print with cream polka dots online. I then chose this pattern, which is Vogue 2900, for the dress, and decided I would trim my brown polka dot version with cream ribbon.

Here's the finished dress. It required 30 pieces of fabric -- how typical of Vogue Patterns! The pattern called for grosgrain ribbon, but Fabricland didn't have cream grosgrain ribbon in the right width, so I went with satin ribbon. The pattern also specified that I should stitch the ribbon on with a single line of stitching through its centre, but when I tried that it looked horrible. I found I needed to stitch the ribbon along both edges.

I made the slit neckline one inch shorter than called for, and I also had to lengthen the bodice to make room for my chest (otherwise the waist would have been just under my bustline), and then I ran into problems when it came time to put the zipper in. The 22" invisible zipper I'd put in it only went to the waist and then I couldn't get the dress on as the waist would not fit over either my chest or my hips. I then went on the hunt for a 26" invisible zipper. To my dismay I learned that it is standard for fabric stores to only carry up to 22" zippers in dress weight zippers. There are longer jacket zippers, but they are too coarse to put in a dress, and there are 50" duvet zippers, but they only come in a few colours. I finally found a 36" zipper in a shop on Queen Street West and cut it down. Even then, it was just a regular zipper, as invisible zippers don't come in that length. I think from now on when I make dresses for myself I'm going to have to put a 22" zipper in the back and another 8" at the waist on the left side, as that'll be a lot easier and less expensive than tracking down a longer zipper in the right colour.

I was pleased when I was finally finished. The result was a dress that is quiet enough for a funeral and yet not so sombre that I can't wear it elsewhere. As I was finishing it I had a sudden remembrance of a similar dress my mother made for me when I was about 14, circa 1988. That dress was a navy blue cotton with white polka dots and several rows of white grosgrain ribbon trim around the neck, sleeves, and hem. It had short sleeves and a round neck, but like this one it had a fitted bodice and hip section with a flared skirt, and it too was a Vogue pattern. I was very fond of that dress, and now I have a more adult, contemporary version of it to both remind me of it and enjoy on its own merits.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Filial Offering Slippers

This project plan was a very straight forward one: I decided to make my mother some slippers for her birthday in December, I selected a pattern, bought a skein of yarn, and knitted them up. The pattern I chose was the one pictured above: the Peach Basket Slippers, designed by Wendy Gaal, and priced at $5(USD). My mother is allergic to wool (I can't be thankful enough that I didn't inherit that allergy), which meant that I had to go with an acrylic yarn. I bought a single skein of Caron Simply Soft, in Ocean, which is a sort of teal.

And here's the result. I am pretty sure that this was the first time I had ever done any double knitting. It proved quite easy and practical and I'm not adverse to doing more some time. The construction was interesting. The body of the slipper is knitted in one piece, and then one picks up stitches around the slipper and works the cabled band in a continuous strip. The sizes come in narrow, medium, and wide, and the length is set by the knitter. My mother has wide Irish feet (which again fortunately I did not inherit, yay genetic lottery!) so I went with wide, and knitted them to be approximately a size 7. The result is a comfortable, sturdy, well-fitted, attractive slipper that should be fairly hard wearing. I'll be making these again even if it should turn out that my mother doesn't think these fit right and/or feel right and/or look right, and takes them apart in order to make herself something else with the yarn. This is, unfortunately, not at all unlikely.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Tip of the Hat

In the spring of 2012, when I was buying the materials for this linen jacket, I thought it would be nice to make a linen hat to go with it. I selected Vogue pattern 8405 and bought extra linen for the project. I very much liked the shape of view D of the pattern, as well as the manner in which it was trimmed. Using a bit of extra ribbon to hide the seam of the ribbon band is a very clever idea, and looks so good.

It took me over three years to get around to actually sewing this project, and after I had actually worked with the linen to make the jacket, I decided linen wouldn't work for the pattern after all because the required hair canvas interfacing would show through it. I bought a half metre of ivory twill instead. Finding a ribbon for the band proved somewhat challenging. This band is created by sewing a checkered ribbon on top of a plain satin one, but while the satin ribbon was easy to find, tracking down neutral-coloured, attractively patterned ribbon in the right width proved unexpectedly difficult. I looked in Fabricland and in the ribbon stores on Toronto's Queen Street West, and had no luck. Finally I ordered a metre of ribbon I liked from an Etsy vendor.

And here's my version of the hat, in twill with a tartan band. It turned out quite well. It fits well and is becoming to me, and I like my ribbon and fabric choices better than those of the sample. Mine is not as evenly top stitched, though. I never can seem to get top stitching just so.